By: Torrence Phillips
The Bomb Squad was a legendary production crew that helped shape the sound of hip-hop in the late 80s and early 90s. Comprised of Hank and Keith Shocklee, Eric “Vietnam” Sadler, and later Gary “G-Wiz” Rinaldo, the Bomb Squad worked closely with Public Enemy to craft their iconic sound.
The Bomb Squad’s innovative style of sample-based production and funky orchestrations had a major influence on a wide range of genres, from industrial and alternative rock to R&B and hip-hop. They pushed the boundaries of what was possible in the studio, and helped lay the foundation for the future of hip-hop production. The Bomb Squad’s production style was characterized by their use of dense layers of samples, combined with a wide range of sound effects and other noises. They were known for their innovative production techniques, including the use of high-speed, multi-layered drum loops, and the chopping and manipulating of samples to create unique sounds. Their style was also characterized by a relentless, aggressive quality that often approached the level of musical assault.
Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, released in 1988, was The Bomb Squad’s first major production, and it quickly became one of the defining albums of the golden age of hip-hop. With its heavy use of samples, hard-hitting beats, and politically charged lyrics, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back established Public Enemy as one of the most important and influential acts in rap music.
The Bomb Squad went on to produce several other classic Public Enemy albums, including Fear of a Black Planet and Apocalypse 91…The Enemy Strikes Black. Over the years, The Bomb Squad has worked with a number of notable acts, including Ice Cube, LL Cool J, EPMD, and Run-DMC. They are also credited with producing several classic albums, including Public Enemy’s “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” and “Fear of a Black Planet.”
Despite their brief lifespan, The Bomb Squad’s impact on the music industry can still be felt today. Some of The Bomb Squad’s greatest hits include Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise,” “Don’t Believe the Hype,” and “Fight the Power,” as well as Ice Cube’s “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted” and “The Predator.” These tracks remain some of the most enduring and influential hip-hop tracks of all time, and they continue to inspire new generations of musicians and producers. Many current artists, including Kendrick Lamar, Tyler, The Creator, and Run The Jewels, cite The Bomb Squad as a major influence in their music.
In honor of The Bomb Squad’s legacy, we’ve put together a playlist of some of their greatest hits:
“Bring the Noise” by Public Enemy
“Fight the Power” by Public Enemy
“Welcome to the Terrordome” by Public Enemy
“Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos” by Public Enemy
“It’s a Shame (My Sister)” by Monie Love
“Can I Live” by Ice Cube
“The Boomin’ System” by LL Cool J
“Gold Digger” by EPMD
“King of Rock” by Run-DMC
“Revolutionary Generation” by X-Clan
This playlist is just a small taste of the incredible body of work produced by The Bomb Squad. Their innovative approach to production continues to inspire and influence artists across all genres to this day.