One of the benefits of working at a big university is that we occasionally put on big events. This past Monday and Tuesday, the Creative Industries Faculty (of which I do IT support for (and where Viper Pilot does training runs at the sonic academy of hyperaudio marksmanship)) hosted the 3rd annual Art of Record Production Conference. This is the first time the event has been held in the southern hemisphere, and I was lucky enough to be able to stretch my lunch break out to take in some of the panels and presentations.
The keynote speaker was Hank Shocklee, who produced most of Public Enemy’s early work (Don’t Believe the Hype, 911 is a Joke, Brother’s Gonna Work it Out, etc.). He was loaded to the gills with insights about production, and his enthusiasm for music as a form of communication is infectious. However, one thing that really struck me (because I feel kind of dumb for not realizing this before) was his deconstruction of his production work for Public Enemy: their music has no steady bass line, no melody, and is meant to sound like rock music without the guitar.
Go on, dig up yor dusty old copy of Fear of a Black Planet. The role of the guitar is played by all the samples Shocklee throws at you. James Brown stabs, traffic noise, alarms and the like do the work. Mad!
I’ll let you cadets research the history yourselves. While you’re at it, peep the link above to Shocklee’s Myspace site and check out the video for Shocktronica – Shocklee beleives that poetry and drum and bass will save music. Here, however, for your consumption some Public Enemy mashup: