The code of the beat.

Hank Shocklee “Turns Off His Brain” With Reason; Says “Public Enemy #1” Came From Pause Tape

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Beatmaking Pioneer Says Propellerhead Reason’s Possibilities and “Simplicity” Is Crucial; Tells How He and Public Enemy Created Their Own Sound After Shunning Radio Early On

By AMIR SAID (SA’ID)

Earlier this year I was invited to Syracuse University’s Replay Symposium on copyright law and Sampling. The event, which sought to explore the complex relationship between copyright law and policy and the art of sampling, was impressive, as it featured much more nuance and depth than I’ve typically found at these sort panel discussions. Equally rewarding was the fact that the event featured several knowledgeable (and “spirited”) panelists. Among them, Hank Shocklee—veteran beatmaker/producer and leader of the infamous Bomb Squad production team of Public Enemy fame—often stood out.

After the symposium, I was able to speak with Hank Shocklee one on one. In our conversation, I found him to be someone who shares the same concern for the scholarship of beatmaking (especially the art of sampling) as I do. Moreover, I also recognized that his efforts in support of this concern were similar to mine own; we both in our own ways work to advance the importance of the study of beatmaking as a musical process. Thus, I wanted to share two recently released Propellerhead video interviews of Hank Shocklee, as I think each video does a great job in demonstrating the scholarship of beatmaking.

In the first video that I’ve included here, Hank Shocklee sits down with Propellhead and speaks about how their Reason software program has revolutionized his production methods and overall workflow. Specifically, he recounts how Dr:Rex, Redrum, and Kong gives him infinite manipulation possibilities. Shocklee’s so impressed with Reason that he goes so far as to say that it allows him to “turn off his brain for a minute.” (Some endorsement, huh.)

In the second video, Shocklee goes more into detail about his early start as beatmaker, revealing that he “stumbled across filtering.” He also discusses how and why he intentionally broke from the common BPMs of the time. He also points out that the song “Public Enemy #1,” Public Enemy’s first hit, was actually spawned from a “pause tape,” and that he “stumbled across” filtering.

For the purpose of scholarship…

Artist Interview: Hank Shocklee (Bomb Squad)

Artist Interview: Hank Shocklee (Bomb Squad) Bonus Footage


The BeatTips Manual by Sa’id.
“The most trusted source for information on beatmaking and hip hop/rap music education.”

Articles, Beatmaking, Beatmaking Pioneers, BeatTips, Editor's Choice, Filtering Sounds, Hank Shocklee/The Bomb Squad, Music Education, Pause Tape, Propellerhead, Propellerhead Reason, Propellerhead Reason Dr:Rex Kong, Propellerhead Reason Redrum, Public Enemy, Recording, Mixing, and Mastering, Setups In Action, Sound Design, The Art of Sampling, Themes, Theories, and Concepts

About Author

Amir Said (aka Sa’id) is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BeatTips. A writer, publisher, and beatmaker/rapper from New York, Said is the author of a number of books, including ‘The BeatTips Manual,’ ‘The Art of Sampling,’ ‘Ghetto Brother,’ and ‘The Truth About New York.’ He is also a recording artist with a number of music projects, including his latest album ‘The Best of Times.’ Follow him on Twitter at: @amirsaid and @BeatTipsManual

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