Yo! Bum Rush the Show is the debut studio album by American hip hop group Public Enemy, released on February 10, 1987. It was recorded at Spectrum City Studios in Hempstead, New York,[2] and became one of the fastest-selling hip hop records, but was controversial among radio stations and critics, in part due to lead rapper Chuck D's black nationalist politics. Despite this, the album has since been regarded as one of hip hop's greatest and most influential records.

Yo! Bum Rush the Show
Studio album by
ReleasedFebruary 10, 1987
StudioSpectrum City Studios, Hempstead
GenreHardcore hip hop[1]
Public Enemy chronology
Yo! Bum Rush the Show
It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
Singles from Yo! Bum Rush the Show
  1. "Public Enemy No. 1"
    Released: March 1987
  2. "You're Gonna Get Yours"
    Released: May 1987

Musical style


Yo! Bum Rush the Show debuts The Bomb Squad's sample-heavy production style, which is prominent on the group's later work.[3] Joe Brown of The Washington Post described the album's music as "a more serious brand of inner-city aggression", in comparison to Licensed to Ill (1986) by Def Jam label-mates the Beastie Boys.[4] On its musical style, Brown wrote "Public Enemy's mean and minimalist rap is marked by an absolute absence of melody – the scary sound is just a throbbing pulse, hard drums and a designed-to-irritate electronic whine, like a dentist's drill or a persistent mosquito".[4] The album's sound is accented by the scratching of DJ Terminator X.[5] Chicago Tribune writer Daniel Brogan described Public Enemy's style on the album as "raw and confrontational", writing that the group "doesn't aim to – or have a chance at – crossing over".[6]

Title and packaging


According to music journalist Jeff Chang, Public Enemy embodied the "bumrush aesthetic" of underground black radicalism and used their debut album's cover to illustrate a resurgence in the spirit of militancy. The cover features the group in a poorly lit basement, "readying themselves to bring black militancy back into the high noon of the Reagan day", as Chang described and compared to the 1987 Boogie Down Productions album Criminal Minded that followed. Chuck D is shown dressed in white Islamic clothing, Professor Griff is on the far right wearing a red beret, and Flavor Flav has his hand reaching out over a turntable, which Chang interpreted as him blessing the vinyl record. A second black hand is shown reaching at the play button to "begin the revolution", in Chang's words. A line of repeated text is printed at the bottom of the photo, described by Chang as a punchline, and reading: "THE GOVERNMENT'S RESPONSIBLE . . . THE GOVERNMENT'S RESPONSIBLE . . . THE GOVERNMENT'S RESPONSIBLE . . ."[7] The cover marked the first appearance of Public Enemy's logo, a silhouette of a black man in a rifle's crosshairs.[8]

Release and promotion


Yo! Bum Rush the Show was released on February 10, 1987, by Def Jam Recordings and Columbia Records.[9] It was promoted with the release of two singles that year: "Public Enemy No. 1" in March and "You're Gonna Get Yours" in May.[9]

The album was largely ignored by radio programmers,[10] including most African-American radio stations.[11] On record charts, it reached the 125th position of the Billboard Top LPs and number 28 on the Top Black Albums in the United States.[12] Jon Pareles reported in May 1987, however, that it had become one of hip hop's fastest selling records.[8] By the following year, it had sold more than 300,000 copies in the US,[10] and 400,000 by 1989.[13] On October 3, 1994, the album was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, indicating 500,000 units moved.[14]

Critical reception

Retrospective professional reviews
Review scores
AllMusic     [2]
Christgau's Record GuideB+[15]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music     [16]
The Guardian     [17]
Q     [19]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [20]
Spin Alternative Record Guide7/10[21]
Tom Hull – on the WebA−[22]

According to Robert Hilburn in 1988, Yo! Bum Rush the Show was widely acclaimed by critics.[10] However, fellow music journalist Christopher R. Weingarten later recalled American critics were originally lukewarm to the album.[23] In Chang's estimation, white journalists in particular strongly criticized Chuck D's pro-black nationalist sentiments.[11]

In a review published in The Village Voice under the title "Noise Annoys", John Leland avoided the group's politics entirely and simply found Chuck D boring, instead preferring the more entertaining rhymes of Flavor Flav.[24] Fellow Village Voice critic Robert Christgau said the group has "literary chops—amid puns more Elvis Costello than Peter Tosh, their 'Megablast' is cutting anticrack narrative-propaganda--and they make something personal of rap's ranking minimalist groove." He found them lacking in levity, however, and complained that "Chuck D takes the bully-boy orotundity of his school of rap elocution into a realm of vocal self-involvement worthy of Pavarotti, Steve Perry, or the preacher at a Richard Pryor funeral."[25] Pareles was more enthusiastic in The New York Times, hailing Yo! Bum Rush the Show as rap's "grittiest" full-length record. While still finding Public Enemy plagued by the "adolescent macho" he deemed prevalent in the genre, he said its songs are "far more convincing - and unsettling - when [Chuck] D takes on money and power", and concluded: "At a time when most rappers typecast themselves as comedy acts or party bands, Public Enemy's best moments promise something far more dangerous and subversive: realism."[26]

According to Chang, the album fared better among critics in the United Kingdom, where music publications ranked it as one of the year's best records.[24] In NME magazine's critics poll, it was named the best album of 1987.[27] The single "You're Gonna Get Yours" was also listed at number 25 on their list of Top 50 tracks of the year.[28] It was also voted the 14th best album of the year in The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop, an annual poll of American critics nationwide.[29]

In subsequent years, Yo! Bum Rush the Show has been considered a classic and one of hip hop's most influential records.[30] In 1998, it was selected as one of The Source's 100 Best Rap Albums.[28] In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked it number 497 on a list of the 500 greatest albums of all time,[31] although the album was removed in the 2012 version of the list.

Track listing

1."You're Gonna Get Yours"4:04
2."Sophisticated Bitch"
3."Miuzi Weighs a Ton"
  • Ridenhour
  • Shocklee
  • Ridenhour
  • Shocklee
5."Too Much Posse"
  • Ridenhour
  • Drayton
  • Shocklee
6."Rightstarter (Message to a Black Man)"
  • Ridenhour
  • Shocklee
7."Public Enemy No. 1"
  • Ridenhour
  • Shocklee
  • Ridenhour
  • Drayton
  • Shocklee
9."Yo! Bum Rush the Show"
  • Ridenhour
  • Drayton
  • Shocklee
10."Raise the Roof"
  • Ridenhour
  • Drayton
  • Shocklee
12."Terminator X Speaks with His Hands"
  • Ridenhour
  • Drayton
  • Sadler
  • Shocklee
Total length:50:48


  • Chuck D – vocals, co-producer
  • Flavor Flav – vocals
  • Terminator X – lead scratch
  • Hank Shocklee – co-producer, mixing, drum programming, synth programming
  • Eric Sadler – co-producer, mixing, drum programming, synth programming
  • Stephen Linsley – bass, recording & mixing
  • Bill Stephney – bass, guitars, co-producer, mixing
  • Vernon Reid – guitars
  • Johnny "Juice" Rosado – rhythm scratch
  • Rick Rubin – executive producer, mixing
  • Glen E. Friedman – photography
  • Steve Ett – mixing




Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[35] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

See also



  1. ^ a b Hartwig, Andrew (aka br3ad_man) (January 16, 2005). "Public Enemy – Yo! Bum Rush the Show". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved December 6, 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Yo! Bum Rush the Show – Public Enemy". AllMusic. Retrieved December 6, 2009.
  3. ^ "Hip-Hop's Greatest Year: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back". Rolling Stone. February 12, 2008. Archived from the original on February 17, 2008. Retrieved December 6, 2009.
  4. ^ a b Brown, Joe (April 3, 1987). "A Bestiary of Beastly Boys". The Washington Post.
  5. ^ Jenkins, Mark (July 1, 1987). "Review: Yo! Bum Rush the Show". The Washington Post.
  6. ^ Brogan, Daniel (April 3, 1987). "Review: Yo! Bum Rush the Show". Chicago Tribune.
  7. ^ Chang 2005, p. 248.
  8. ^ a b Pareles, Jon (September 29, 1991). "Review: Apocalypse 91 ... the Enemy Strikes Black". The New York Times. Retrieved December 6, 2009.
  9. ^ a b Strong (2004), p. 1226.
  10. ^ a b c Hilburn, Robert (July 9, 1988). "Public Enemy Merges Punk, Rap". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  11. ^ a b Chang 2005, p. 250.
  12. ^ Billboard Albums: Revolverlution. Allmusic. Retrieved on January 8, 2010.
  13. ^ Leland, John (September 1989). "Do the Right Thing". Spin. p. 70. ISSN 0886-3032.
  14. ^ Gold & Platinum. RIAA. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  15. ^ Christgau, Robert (1990). "Public Enemy: Yo! Bum Rush the Show". Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s. Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-679-73015-X. Retrieved January 21, 2017.
  16. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  17. ^ Wasir, Burhan (July 21, 1995). "Reissues: Public Enemy". The Guardian.
  18. ^ "Public Enemy: Yo! Bum Rush the Show". NME: 47. July 15, 1995.
  19. ^ "Public Enemy: Yo! Bum Rush the Show". Q (108): 132. September 1995.
  20. ^ Relic, Peter (2004). "Public Enemy". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 661–662. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  21. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). "Public Enemy". Spin Alternative Record Guide. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  22. ^ Hull, Tom. "Grade List: Public Enemy". Tom Hull – on the Web. Retrieved February 26, 2023.
  23. ^ Weingarten 2010, p. 60.
  24. ^ a b Chang 2005, p. 255.
  25. ^ Christgau, Robert (June 30, 1987). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  26. ^ Pareles, Jon (May 10, 1987). "Review: Yo! Bum Rush the Show". The New York Times. Retrieved December 6, 2009.
  27. ^ Staff. Albums of the Year Critic Poll. NME. Retrieved on December 6, 2009.
  28. ^ a b "Albums and Track of the year for 1987". NME. Archived from the original on November 14, 2011. Retrieved October 17, 2014.
  29. ^ 1987 Pazz & Jop. The Village Voice. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  30. ^ Rausch 2011, p. 44.
  31. ^ "RS500: 497) Yo! Bum Rush the Show". Rolling Stone. November 1, 2003. Archived from the original on October 20, 2007. Retrieved December 6, 2009.
  32. ^ "Public Enemy Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved July 11, 2021.
  33. ^ "Public Enemy Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved July 11, 2021.
  34. ^ "Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums – Year-End 1988". Billboard. Retrieved July 11, 2021.
  35. ^ "American album certifications – Public Enemy – Yo! Bum Rush the Show". Recording Industry Association of America.



Further reading