According to Jon Pareles of The New York Times, "From its first album, Yo! Bum Rush the Show in 1987, the group marketed itself as a distillation of black anger and resistance. It set out to be the voice of a community, not just one more posse of boasters".Yo! Bum Rush the Show debuts The Bomb Squad's sample-heavy production style, which is prominent on the group's following work. 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. 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". The album's sound is accented by the scratching of DJ Terminator X.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".
Q magazine (9/95, p. 132) – 4 Stars – Excellent – "... a stunning opening ... just the first, in retrospect almost shy, step on a remarkable journey ... a hard, droning extension of the basic drum'n'scratch Def Jam template that had served LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys so well."
Melody Maker (7/22/95, p. 35) – Recommended – "It wasn't just a new sound, a discovery. It was like being struck by a meteor."
NME (9/25/93, p. 19) – Ranked #49 in NME's list of The 50 Greatest Albums Of The '80s.
NME (7/15/95, p. 47) – 9 (out of 10) – "Yo! Bum Rush The Show announced a hip-hop group who smouldered beneath dark, sparse beats like no other, introduced us to the coolest vocal double act ever ... and featured as striking a statement of intent as you could wish for in 'Public Enemy Number 1' ... brilliant."