Hank Shocklee

Here’s an excellent interview with Hank Shocklee from the legendary Bomb Squad, who produced timeless albums such as Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, Ice Cube’s AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted and Slick Rick’s Great Adventures… to name a few. Although the number of classic albums since 1993 seems way off to me, his thoughts on the music industry is definitely something I agree with. F*ck a format! Link, Shocklee Entertainment, mysp*ce.com/hankshocklee

What is this nonsense about format, why does everything have to have a format? And why does everyone have to make a hit record, I never made an album full of hit records, I purposely would never do that! Once you get into that mindset the first thing you are going to do is stylize every record like that last hit record, and thus there is only gonna be one or two of those records that you can take. After that, you’re looking for a whole new flavor. But everyone’s making the same record, ten or fifteen of them and making the same format; verse, chorus, verse, chorus, verse, chorus…I don’t even hear verse, chorus, bridge anymore. I don’t even hear bridge, bridge, chorus anymore. You can close your eyes and you know where everything is gonna come, what are the intervals? 8/16, 8/8…it doesn’t matter, nothing varies, so what happens? Everyone gets bored out of their fucking minds. So yeah, you don’t have time to listen to the record because it’s fucking work! People give me CDs all day long and you know what, they are fucking boring. You get that same intro all the time, you get that same chorus music all the time, so that you know what’s gonna follow the chorus music, it’s boring. That’s the reason why nobody is buying it, you bought music because there was an element of surprise, because when you listened to it there was excitement, because of the element of surprise.

The business right now has moved from analog to digital, and what that means is that now anybody can have access. The middleman is pretty much almost eliminated because back in the days the only way that you could be in the business was you had to be signed to a major label, the only way that you could record a record was you had to have a big enough budget to get into a recording studio, and the only way you could release a record was to get it into a retail store. That, to me, is the old analog business and now we are in a digital realm, you can get a pretty inexpensive sorfware program like Fruity Loops, make your own tracks, record them in Pro-Tools and upload it onto MySpace or get it on one of the digital download companies like Orchard or what have you, or even make a website and put it up yourself. So now what it does is give the producer? More hands-on control of their entire career…but with that, as in everything, there is a tendency to be abused. So now we are inundated with all kinds of information, good and bad. We are flooded with all kinds of material, good and bad.

…there’s two schools of thought with the music business. One is that it’s losing ground, the other is that it’s actually getting bigger than it has ever been and the problem now is that you have to create a new paradigm to deal with the changing business. What does that mean? That means you can’t be lazy anymore!…[major labels] would hype one situation and one song and then everyone would have to buy the album just for that one song. And that started happening from ’93 to be honest. There is only about five or six albums that you can say from ’93 on till today that can be considered classics. And what do we mean by classics? An album that you can listen to from top to bottom and every single song is banging!