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Image via Hank Shocklee/Instagram


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No matter what Hank Shocklee does with his remaining years on this mortal coil, he has already secured his place in the history books as one of the pillars of hip-hop. As a member of The Bomb Squad with brother Keith and collaborators like Eric “Vietnam” Sadler and Chuck D, he concocted the dense, paralyzing productions that anchored Public Enemy’s greatest albums, Ice Cube’s most powerful solo effort, and the debut solo effort from the legendary Slick Rick. Without his guiding light, we would have no Madvillain, no J Dilla, no Alchemist.

Since the Bomb Squad’s dissolution, Shocklee has remained on the bleeding edge of the culture, collaborating with and mentoring up and coming artists and producers like U.K. future pop singer Emika, whose 2013 album Dva he executive produced. And he’s expanded his empire to work in the worlds of sound design and film score composition.

The latest project to feature Shocklee’s name finds him combining those two elements is YE! A Jagun Story, a new Afrofuturistic film from the Nigerian-American filmmaker John Oluwole ADEkoje. The story follows the journey of Stellar (played by Dakore Egbuson-Akande), the leader of a group of women whose combined psychic power helps to heal the broken minds of African people living outside the continent, as she attempts to avenge the murder of her family. In close concert with ADEkoje, Shocklee created an entire soundworld for this film, utilizing some fresh technology — the Dolby Atmos — and music from a group of up-and-coming African artists to sonically immerse viewers within this cinematic environment. Taking a quick break at his New York office, Shocklee opened up about his work on YE!, the artists he called on to help root the film in the modern African experience, and a bit about his legacy as a producer and artist. – Robert Ham


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