I'm just trying to make a dollar out of 15 cents.
you been working on lately?
doing a lot of stuff with Joe Budden. I recorded his whole "Mood
Music 2" mixtape. I've been working closely with Kay Slay and Papoose.
I've been working close with Blok Gang. Jae Millz' people just contacted
me looking for beats. I'm just trying to stay busy and get on as many
projects as I can. I need to get that resume up.
it working with Joe Budden?
Joe is a
talent. Joe is a monster. It's definitely a blessing that I got to work
with him. Hopefully I'll be on his upcoming album. He's not one of those
dudes that thinks he is a celebrity and you can't talk to him. He's definitely
not that type of dude.
he handles suggestions when you work with him?
too often that you have to offer him suggestions. He comes in and he's
ready to go. It's hard for him to write at home. I think I'm the first
person that got him to try that. Usually he writes in the studio. There
have been a couple of times when I make a suggestion and it's been all
you think is holding up his album?
I think it's
a lot of nonsense. I think he got caught up in that big power-shift over
there. They just need to let him do what he does and make his music. I
think it's these little-girl games that go on in the industry that people
don't expect millionaires to be playing. A lot of that stuff is out there
is true, and unfortunately, and he got caught up in it.
it working with Papoose?
I think he's
one of the next dudes. I like the directions he comes from. He doesn't
attack songs the way other artists do. Case in point, we did a song called
"Pimpin' Won't Die." Before people hear the song, they're going
to think that he's talking about how much of a pimp he is. But he looked
at pimping from a different perspective. I hope the listeners are ready.
Unfortunately, a lot of people are suffering. As soon as they think somebody
is trying to teach them something, they stop listening to it. I hope they
up with Papoose's album?
I'm not sure.
Every now and then, I'll ask him or Slay, but they're waiting for the
right situation. Everybody wants that right deal. No one wants to be a
slave. There are some cats out there expecting far too much for what they
bring to the table, but there are some that really deserve it like Papoose.
I think once he gets his shot, he's going to surprise a lot of people.
get any benefits from Kay Slay and Envy since you're working with their
I can't speak
for other producers, but I rarely throw the word "friend" around.
Slay and I are developing a good relationship. He just called me for a
beat for Papoose. Envy and I have known each other for awhile. I don't
use up my favors, so I don't ask them for too much. There's a mutual respect
there. I have that open lane with them where I can submit tracks to people
they work with. I can call them directly. I like going straight to the
person in charge. If I can't go through them, I don't want to be a part
of their project.
also been working with Lake, what's he been up to lately?
working with him for a couple of years. He's working hard. He's trying
to make Death Row East. I think he's over the beef with Nas. I don't know
what's up with that. I don't like to count on other nigga's money and
I mind my business. Hopefully Lake and Suge hammer out what they need
to hammer out and we make that first quarter.
made Akinyele's "Put It In Ya Mouth," did you think it would
be as big as it was?
When I first
heard it, I knew it would blow up in the underground and the streets.
The beat had "radio" written all over it, but that was a difficult
track to clean up. That track should have played on the radio all day
long based on the beat alone. It blew up a lot bigger than I ever would
have thought it would have based on the subject matter. I don't like to
pat myself on the back but it feels good to have made a classic record.
They still play that record a lot down South in the clubs and stripclubs.
you and Akinyele go back and forth creating that song?
back in the 2-inch reel days. I laid the track down, and he went in and
started rocking. I let him do him. I made a suggestion here and there.
I tried to make him change the "apologin'" line. I'm not feeling
the idea that we can mispronounce words because it's Hip Hop. He told
me to trust him on that. He's a strong-headed dude, so we kept it. "Apologin'"
still bothers me to this day when I hear it.
still in touch with him?
that you ask that because he called me a week ago and we spoke for about
an hour. He's doing a traveling strip club thing. He said him and his
girls are doing well. He sounded good. I was glad that he reached out.
it working with Naughty by Nature?
incredible. That's almost for the storybooks. Nine times out of 10, when
you send your CD into a label, it just gets tossed in a pile. I sent Tommy
Boy my music, and Treach called me a week later. He was playing one of
my tracks over the phone. That's one of the few people I've met over the
years that has good business. A lot of people say how they'll call and
they never call. They got me in the studio right away and paid me right
away. They were very cool. They didn't have airs about them. I wish it
had gotten on the album. It didn't get on the album because the powers
that be felt threatened by it. I'm not hating because Treach looked me
right in the eye and told me that. It was a real hard song.
you deal with the politics and bullshit that goes on in the game?
A lot of
prayer and working out. People see me and think "steroids."
No, it's stress. I don't want to be bitter or angry. Case in point, a
lot of people say "Put It In Ya Mouth" should have been the
jump-off for me. I thought some dudes were friends and there would be
a look-out situation. That wasn't the case. My name didn't get passed
around to anybody, they didn't credit my name right on the album, they
told me they would change it and they didn't
I'm bitter with a lot
of guys in New York. A lot of people wonder why New York cats don't get
opportunities, but a lot of those people wondering are the culprits as
to why a lot of other cats aren't getting opportunities.
is it to separate business from friendship?
A lot of young producers feel comfortable around me and ask me questions.
I'm a sincere dude, and I tell them, "If you talk business around
people, never tell them that you love what you do." They were going
to give you a million-dollar budget, but it just went down to $300,000
because they know they can stick you in a studio all day and you'll be
happy. This isn't "show-friends," it's "show-business."
you do to prevent people from jacking your beats or style?
You just have to stay on your grind. A lot of cats don't want to put their
music out there because they're afraid somebody will steal it, but if
you never put it out, no one will ever hear it. I have prayer. You have
to learn your craft and trust somebody. That's what this business is.
your first shot on LL's "14 Shots to the Dome." How was that?
my first beat I had ever done. Doctor Butcher, who produced for G.Rap,
knew LL. LL came right to my door on Farmers and 112th in Queens. I told
him my idea and the track came along. It was a good experience. We didn't
get hit off crazy with that, but to be on the album and be able to put
that plaque on my wall was a good experience.
you learn from LL?
my first lesson that there was no room for love and friendship. You have
to handle you business. You can't be cocky, but be confident. You can
respect somebody, but don't be star-struck. Don't be afraid to turn down
that check if that check just seems like slavery. Don't be afraid. Do
what you have to do to do what you have to do.
side of that coin is that producers feel they have to build up their resume
to be able to sell beats. How do you deal with that?
to pick and choose. Everybody's putting out their mixtapes and trying
to come up with new things on the mixtapes, and the new thing is putting
out all original beats. As producers, you don't want to give beats out
like that. If somebody hears a beat on a mixtape, they're not going to
buy that track if they would have bought it before hearing an artist on
the track. You just missed out on a check. Some more people are talking
about you but you missed out on a check. The other side of the coin is
that people have heard you and may go to you later. You have to have throwaway
beats and beats to sell. But do you want to put out throwaway beats? No,
you don't want to do that either. You don't want to put out something
that you're not really feeling. It just goes back to being on the grind.
Make sure that hot beat that you just gave away isn't your only hot beat.
Make it one of a thousand hot beats that you have.
you decide who gets free beats?
I don't know.
I'm pretty sure that the two tracks I did for Joe won't make his album,
but he's a high-profile artist. That's how I try to look at it. Certain
people who maybe have shown that they don't grind as hard and aren't on
top of their game, and maybe they have a connection where they can get
a couple of spins here and there, I'm not going to hit them with a track.
I love what I do, but I'm trying to make a living. I'm not just going
to throw a beat away.
you look for in an artist to make you want to work with him?
He has to
be a talent and he has to be a grinder like I am. Everyone knows I'm not
a hard dude to catch up with. Nobody's ever left my studio unhappy. I'm
more of a producer than an engineer. I would never call myself an engineer.
I just happened to learn Pro Tools and learn how to get out of it what
I need to get out of it. I'm more of a producer. I can't sit here and
hear something horrible and not make a suggestion. I can't just let you
do your verse and think its horrible and just go on to the next one. I
need somebody who is appreciative of that and grinds like I grind. Even
if their car breaks down, get on a bus. I hate cats that show up late
or I call and leave them a message and I don't get any call-backs, I can't
deal with that. I can write hooks and lay things out. I'm not a dictator
and some cats don't need direction. I just need somebody that wants to
grind. If you're a lazy dude, don't call me. My patience is thin these
days. If I call you and you don't call me back, nine times out of 10,
I'm deleting your number from my phone.
have any artists?
I had a guy
I was working with. Unfortunately, he was a real flighty dude. If somebody
came through with some jewelry saying they could do some things for him,
he was gone. We had some real good music. I had DJ's ready to play him,
too. He had friends that work for Nabisco and Toys'R'Us telling him what
he should do and he went bananas. If you don't appreciate the work I'm
putting in and the favors I'm pulling, then I'll just cut the project
loose. I don't need the headache.
like the line between producer and beat-maker is blurred today.
unfortunate. They'll learn. There are a bunch of kids on the come-up that
have a lot to learn. There is a difference between making beats and being
a producer. You can't just make beats and be a producer. A producer has
to know how to bring the best out of an artist and how to get the best
sound out of them. You have to know what makes them tick. That's how I
look at it.
do you use today?
in love with my ASR-10. That's my central sequencer. I have a library
of studio modules, a Korg keyboard
I had thought about learning Reason
and all that. Not necessarily because I hear that other producers use
that, but just to know it and just to learn something different. It'd
be a new challenge. I'm cool with my ASR. People told me my drums wouldn't
come out right, but those same people come to me now to program their
the most important element in drum programming?
I think the
most important thing in drum programming is the swing. The swing of the
drums change with every track. Some tracks, you can quantize it to the
sample, but not all beats can be like that. There has to be a shift. It
has to sound natural. It can't sound too mechanical. I think some people
get too caught up in that. You can't be afraid to change things in songs.
any problems with computer-based programs?
No. The only
time I know if someone uses a computer is if they tell me. If you make
your beats on a bucket and car-hood and it's hot, it's hot. I never wanted
an MPC. I wanted a keyboard sampler because I knew I would eventually
want to play my own stuff.
a C4 beat built?
Sometimes I start with drums, sometimes I sample, and sometimes I don't.
I like to pride myself on the fact that I don't have a sound. The only
time you can tell it's my beat is if you hear the signature in the front.
I can play three sample beats in a row just to get people thinking I'm
a certain way, and then I can hit them with an original. Then they think
I have a New York sound. Then I'll hit them with a bounce track. I try
not to regionalize tracks. I just try to make good music.
your production developed over the years?
When I first
started, I was scared to do my own music. I was scared to play my own
stuff. I was always digging in the crates. I didn't think people would
understand where I was coming from. I didn't think people would get the
idea. The "Put It In Ya Mouth" beat was three years old when
Akinyele first heard it. I didn't think that was a Hip Hop beat with that
guitar lick. I didn't want him to hear it, but he was in my car and he
heard it. At the time, it was about filtering to get the bass-line, having
a library of break-beats to get your drum sounds from, multi-level horns
open to everything. I haven't discounted anything. If the bass-line can
be filtered, I'll do it. I'll try anything to get that "oh shit!"
coming up for you?
to get through this first-quarter. I want to see what's going to happen
with Lakey, with Joe, with Kay Slay's album, and with Papoose's album.
I'm going to keep on pushing and trying to find different ways to get
out there. I'm still going to be banging out these tracks.
do you have for up-and-coming producers?
scared. Don't be scared to push the envelope. Try out your ideas. Don't
be scared to be different. Just because your boy is using Reason doesn't
mean you have to use Reason. Just because your favorite producer uses
something doesn't mean that you can't be equal to them because you don't
use it. That's the beauty of it. There are no rules. Who cares where you
get your sound from if the beat is crazy?
you want to say to everyone out there?
If you heard
my music and appreciate it, keep looking for me. If you haven't heard
my music, my condolences. Look out for me. A bomb isn't a bomb if it doesn't