Hank Shocklee on sampling techniques for Public Enemy: “We never looked at records as something to jack”
“It’s creating our own instrument out of the sound, as opposed to having the sound become the instrument,” the producer says.
Image: Rebecca Sapp / Getty
Producer and DJ Hank Shocklee has revealed how The Bomb Squad developed their own approach to sampling whilst working on early Public Enemy records.
Production outfit The Bomb Squad became known for their use of samples, and how they would often utilise multiple samples in a singular track.
They produced some of the most well-known records from hip-hop group Public Enemy, including their debut 1987 album Yo! Bum Rush The Show, 1990’s Fear Of A Black Planet, and more.
Speaking to Reverb.com in a new interview, Shocklee explains how the sampling process for the records worked: “When I heard a lot of the older Grandmaster Flash and Treacherous Three and all those records, most of those records were done with bands. If you looked at the R&B in those days, it was all band members and maybe a drum machine.
“I was working with Eric Sadler in the studio and we couldn’t get the programming of Clyde Stubblefield down. Back then, the drum machines sounded pretty primitive – there wasn’t no MIDI, there wasn’t any fixing up of the timings, the swing and that sort of thing. So I said, ‘Look, let’s just use the record’. We’re gonna use parts of it, not just loop a certain portion of it. Let’s use parts of it.”
He adds, “And then from that technique, we started getting smaller and smaller chunks. It was sacrilegious to take two bars and loop it. Everything that we wanted to do had to be made from records. So, that taught us a certain understanding of textures. We never looked at records as something to jack. We looked at it for what kind of a texture that we can extract from it.”
The Grammy nominated producer later concludes, “In other words, it’s creating our own instrument out of the sound, as opposed to having the sound become the instrument.”
Shocklee recently scored music for the film series YE! A Jagun Story. You can watch the trailer below:
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