- Bumpy Knuckles The S1Ws have been a part of Public Enemy since the beginning, often seen as the image of.." />
"I always wanted to be an S1, march my dance steps and carry two guns..."
- Bumpy Knuckles
The S1Ws have been a part of Public Enemy since the beginning, often seen as the image of the group. While Terminator X and DJ Lord speak with their hands, the S1Ws always spoke with their fists, pulling double duty as not only as part of PE's stage show, but also their security force. During the Kings of the Mic tour I had the opportunity to sit down with James Bomb and hear about Public Enemy's past, and future, from an S1W's perspective.
Lord Kel: I'm here with James Bomb of Public Enemy and the S1Ws. How are you James?
James Bomb: I'm fine. Peace.
LK: We're here on the Kings of the Mic tour and I just want to know your thoughts on this tour, and touring with Ice Cube, LL Cool J and De La Soul?
JB: It's a great experience to get a chance to tour with the guys again. We did it some years ago, 1987 with LL, we did it in 1989-90 with N.W.A, Ice Cube and De La Soul, we met across the world, we run into each other. So right now this is a great moment in Hip Hop with, I wouldn't say old school but a classic hip hop tour, with an old school feel to it. That's what going on right now, it's a great tour.
LK: So let's go back to the beginnings of PE. What were your thoughts on when they decided to incorporate the S1Ws into the stage show?
JB: The whole process was we were standing on stage, we were always the image of the group, but the incorporation of us drilling, that started in '87. When we first started touring, we didn't really move, we just changed positions so to speak. Then in '87 on the Def Jam tour we started drilling on stage.
LK: Any funny stories about that?
JB: There's a lot of funny stories. we got our ass handed to us on that Def Jam tour the first night at Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, Virginia. After the show Doug E. Fresh came in critiquing the show, telling us some of the things we were doing wrong and some of the things we should add in to the show. That's how the S1Ws started doing drills and martial arts during the show, we were already doing that, so it came natural to us.
LK: Through out the years, and particularly within the last couple years, you guys have collected a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction, you guys have even gotten keys to the city. In the beginning, did you guys think that sort of thing was gonna happen?
JB: I don't think when you start out, you think about any of the accolades that come with it. You know, you just keep doing what it is that you do and then along the way, those things happen. We just kept persevering, just kept pushing, kept fighting. We kept doing what we were doing and all that stuff was just a by-product of what we were doing as a group. We stayed together as a family going through rough times and good times too.
LK: It's not the usual Hip Hop group, or the usual music group for that matter, that receives awards like the Key to the city, NAACP awards, etc.
JB: That's true. I think when you're dealing with music, which is the universal language speaking to all people, I think it's a vehicle to help change culture, change mindsets and push forward whatever agenda that, maybe you have a leader or someone that wants to change how life is. We have a vehicle to do it with what we have right now. I think each one of us, from a young age, we were all engaged in some things politically. I guess people call it political, but it's really being conscious, being aware of your origin and the world. So that pushes forward everything.
LK: You have started doing music, like on "Superman is Black in the Building" and you've had some interludes on the latest album "Most Of My Heroes Still Don't Appear On No Stamp." How did to start to get into that?
JB: Chuck had challenged me, this was around 2002-2003, he gave me ten titles to write songs to. I said "Chuck I can't" and he said "No, all these books you've been reading, you should be able to build something around these titles." So I started like that. And that first song, "Superman is Black in the Building", I wrote something to that. After that, I just caught on on how to generate that, and the whole creative process of how to do it. Then I had two songs on "Beats & Places," one on "How You Sell Soul..." called "Time is God." The last two albums is the first time I actually used my own voice to record them. It's a cool process.
LK: I understand you got an album in the works.
JB: Yup, we're gonna do seven songs and see how the universe likes us. (laughs)
LK: I wish to the best of luck with that and I appreciate you talking to me.
JB: I appreciate it, thank you very much. Peace.
By Lord Kel for HipHopGods.com
Follow him on Twitter @lekdrol