EXCLUSIVE: Chuck D interview by Flatline

Flatline: When you look back on Public Enemy's debut, what do you remember most about putting the album together? Chuck D: Well, what I remember most about putting the album together, is that I wrote it while working as a messenger for my job, and I wrote it traveling the highways of Long Island…and putting the album together in the studio, at a studio called INS Recordings, Steve Lindsey was the engineer. Hank Shocklee, Bill Stephney, Eric Sadler and myself, it was around the time the Mets were winning the World Series in 86, so it was an interesting time. We were right across the street from City Hall in lower Manhatten, so going into the city every day recording the album was an experience. We kinda put it together pre-production wise in our studio in Hemstead, Long Island. Flatline: When you hit the studio did you come prepared with a book of rhymes or did you sometimes write lyrics on the spot when you would hear a track? Chuck D: That never happened because time was money and we put together the album with $17,000 was our budget. We came into the studio always prepared for vocals to come through on the spot. So we kinda like made demos and was prepared to actually record the vocals, at least the vocals in the studio, being prepared right. Flatline: Around the time of creating Yo! Bum Rush The Show, what records were you listening to and did some of the records end up getting sampled? Chuck D: Well, our whole thing with Yo! Bum Rush The Show, we knew that there were breakbeats, but what we did, based on not trying to get sued, is that we tried to, and did, we re-created some of those breakbeats and sounds, through taking some of the sounds and re-created some of the patterns. Eric and Hank kinda re-created the sounds, and also Bill Stephney played bass on a lot of those records as well. DJ Johnny Juice scratched on the album, as well as Terminator X, and we kinda put it together in parts and stages. Flatline: Can you talk about some of the equipment and production techniques that you and The Bomb Squad used in creating Yo! Bum Rush The Show? The sound you created was unlike anything else heard before. Chuck D: It's because we tried to re-produce some of the breakbeats and the sounds that were on records and tried to re-make them over with the primitive equipment that we had at the particular time. Hank could tell you exactly the drum machine that was used, and I would sit together with Eric Sadler and try to figure out, kinda, real basic arrangements. From chorus to verse and try to form the album, sort of like off the skeleton of Raising Hell, which was a great blueprint for the album. Flatline: Public Enemy's show is super high energy. What did you take away from touring with some of the greats in the early days of PE? Chuck D: We took away from the fact that we had to be distinct and different. So, we made sure that when we made It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, that our tempos would go faster. We would be a little quicker in the delivery of songs. We would raise the beats per minute. Our beats per minute were kinda like embedded in the same beats per minute of Run-DMC's Raising Hell. Big changes came in the next year and Rakim and KRS-One, changed the game on how to rhyme and the sounds were a little bit leaning towards more James Brown-ish type sounds. But before that, Yo! Bum Rush The Show dealt with mimicking a lot of the records that were out at the particular time in 85/86. Flatline: For the 25th anniversary, there will certainly be more touring but there's also two new studio albums, one produced by Gary G-Wiz, and another with some potential big name producers. Can you tell us more about the albums and the concepts behind them? Chuck D: Well, the two albums that will come out will actually, in the digital age that we exist in today, will actually be really a part one and a part two, not too far apart. So, songs are individually produced by people - Most Of My Heroes Still Don't Appear On No Stamp is the one that's gonna come out in June, and The Evil Empire Of Everything is gonna come out in September. There's probably gonna one song off of each that ties into each other, since peoples listening habits are really quick and disposable. We hope to really kinda bring attention, that these two records, really are side one and side two. So we're looking forward to that, and like I said, these songs are being assembled by various producers on each and every song, but it's our responsibility and job to tie it together as a story. So here it is, 25 years later, and making sure that the music, the sound and the topic all line up right. - Flatline for HIPHOPGODS/RAPstation.com
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