You’re known as a talented MC and producer. What are you enjoying more right now?
Well, to be honest, I only started producing because nobody around my way was making the type of beats I wanted to rap to, nah mean. Back when I started doing music, we was poor and couldn't afford to have internet or nothing like that to network. So me and my man Fuge went to Guitar Center and chipped in to buy an MPC 2000. It was hard at first but once I got the hang of it, I started picking up on the little things that some of my favorite producers were doing to fully complete their beats. As a musician you are always a student who is learning new things and if you’re not than you’ll never get better. I love making beats but my passion is rhyming. There’s nothing better than hearing a real dope beat and writing a song to it on the spot.
Is it ever hard finding a balance between the two crafts?
Of course, especially since I started producing for other artists. I got people getting at me all the time for beats, so trying to work with other artists while working on your own shit gets real frustrating at times. Plus I gotta deal with the fact that I like to keep the best beats for me and my crew. That right there is the hard part because on one hand you wanna get your shit out there to make a name for yourself and on the other hand you want your own music to be better than everyone else’s.
How did your Better than Your Album mixtape do for you?
It was great! The response has been exceptional and it has gotten more downloads than all of the previous Tragic Allies projects combined. I’ll credit that to having Statik Selektah host it and the fact that I’m giving it away for free on the website!
You were able to bring a vintage yet modern sound to the project. Was that intentional?
I’ll tell you what, man, I was an ‘80s baby and I came of age in the ‘90s so that vintage sound is in me. It’ll always be in me and you can tell by listening to my music. I hate the sound of today's music. It makes me sick! I’m not saying that we don’t incorporate a modern sound to our music but we do it to a degree. You won’t be hearing no A-B-C, 1-2-3 type shit in our music, nah mean. I respect the culture too much to be babbling about a bunch of nonsense over “club beats.”
No doubt. Whether it’s with Tragic Allies or solo, your music always has a message to it. How important is that to you?
It’s very important. Look at where the game is right now. The kids of this generation have been mislead and brain ashed. I can’t tell you the last time I turned on the radio to listen to music. Most of the songs on the radio sound like something a child would write. Today’s music has no substance or intellectual value. I prefer to try and reach the youth and lead them in the right direction. Sure, I use to rap about a lot hood shit when I first started but nowadays I don’t glorify it. The message is different. I think working with artists like Killah Priest has helped me in that aspect. As an artist and a person i’m always evolving but at the same time I want to make sure I represent the culture how it was intended to be repped.
Killah Priest shouted you out as a talented producer he’s working with when I interviewed him awhile ago. What have you guys been working on?
Yeah? Word! That was a good look by Priest! I didn’t even realize it until a couple cats around the way were coming up to me like ‘Yo, I seen in an interview that you were producing new stuff for Killah Priest. Can I get some beats?’ It’s funny how people see you working with known artist and all of a sudden they wanna fuck with you. As far as production though, I’ve done multiple beats for his Psychic World of Walter Reed album and actually got a feature on there as an MC too. In fact, he recently shot a video to one of the tracks I produced on that album. I can’t wait ‘til that shit drops. A lot of people will be surprised because he has really taken his time with this project.
What’s it like working with Killah Priest?
Priest is my dude, yo. He has been a big influence on me as an artist. He has shown me love since day one and for that I can’t thank him enough. He’s a real emcee, bottom line! He’s a true legend in my mind so I always wanted to work with him. I remember making some beats back in the day and putting them aside like ‘Yo, one day I’ma get Killah Priest on this shit!’ Funny thing is, some of those beats that I put aside for him, he has used.
How does he make you a better producer?
His lyrics alone make my production better. When I produce tracks for him I always try to make sure it’s some of my best work. He’s one person that I’m not worried abut giving my best stuff to.
Do your beats change when making them for others versus yourself?
Hell yeah, because Tragic Allies music has a certain sound and feel to it. While sometimes when working with other artists, I’ll purposely try to make something to fit their style without compromising my sound.
How did the Tragic Allies come together?
It’s funny you should ask that because I just wrote and record a new song for my solo album called “Lookin’ Back At The Past” which sums up how we came together. I’ll hit you with a preview but the readers gonna have to wait til the album drops to peep that. (laughs)
How is your debut album The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil coming?
That album has been done now for, like, three years but don’t sleep because it was ahead of its time then and still is now. We got features from Killah Priest, Bronze Nazareth, Planet Asia and 60 Second Assassin. I handled a bunch of the production but I got some crazy beats on there from my man Crucial the Guillotine. My man DJ Woool came through and produced a track called “War Melody” that we released a video for awhile back. The album is gonna take people back to the golden era of hip-hop where albums were cohesive and creative. Check for that soon!
Switching gears, how do most of your beats come together?
Usually after a blizz! (laughs) I have many different techniques that I use depending on what type of mood I’m in or what type of style of beat I’m going to make. I mostly sample but when needed, I’ll play some keys over the samples to fill in spots or to add extra elements. Over the years I’ve learned so much just by listening to other producers’ beats and picking up on the little things. I feel that it’s the little things that can take a beat to the next level.
What equipment do you use?
I have an MPC 2000, a midi keyboard and a super computer that I use in conjunction with software programs like Fruity Loops and Pro Tools. And I know the talk about Fruity Loops and what people have to say about it but honestly, if you use it properly than you can make any type of beat. It’s not what you use to make beats, it’s how you assemble them and “produce” them. Meaning, making sure the drum pattern sounds dope with the flow of a samples or EQing the sounds properly to make it sound cohesive.
You opened up the Grey Skies Studio. How essential has that been to your career?
It was the best thing that I have ever done because it allowed us to record whenever we wanted. No more paying for studio time, no more dealing with wack engineers who don’t care about your music who are only there to press record and stop, no more recording on other people’s time, none of that shit. Now I’m more hands on with the music. I’ve become a pretty good engineer because of having the lab too. We use to record like five times a week at one point. Now we have five projects out that we released and still have like 100 unreleased songs in the cut. It’s a blessing to have my own lab.
Who would you like to work with next?
If I could somehow get in contact with Nas and work with him than that would be a dream. In my opinion, he’s one of the greatest ever, if not the greatest. I feel like I could produce some crazy songs for him and even go bar for bar with him on a feature. Make that happen for me, fam. I’m sure people will not be disappointed!