Stu, you’ve been busy working on a lot of different projects, from the full-length LP with Blaq Poet to working on Copywrite’s new album God Save the King. What was it like working with Copy?
It was pretty easy to work with Pete. He’s a real talented dude. I’ve been listening to him probably since I was a freshman in college. I know what type of beats he sounds good on as far as the tempo and as far as what type of vibe on the beats that he would gravitate towards. I sent him a ton of beats and he took a bunch and maybe out of every seven or eight, he picked, like, two and then recorded on them and sent them back. I wasn’t in the studio with him but he would send them back and it was always pretty crazy what he came up with. I pretty much sent him all of my new shit that I was making and he picked the ones that he was feeling and he laid them down. It all came out pretty good as far as I’m concerned.
When you send out beats, you have your idea of what artists would sound good on and they have their own ideas. Do you feel like Copy picked the best beats or did you have others you wished he’d taken?
There were a couple of them that when I make them, I think, “Oh, wow, everyone’s gonna want this one” or whatever. There were one or two that he said were crazy and he planned on using those and I was excited to hear the finished product but he didn’t use those. There were a few of those. But of the ones he picked, I’m pretty happy with the way they sound. It’s a good mix of him picking ones that I really felt strongly about.
Is it a little intimidating sending music to someone that you’ve been a fan of for a long time?
At first it was. It’s like, ‘Oh, wow, what if he doesn’t like my shit?’ He was hitting me up on Facebook and it was cool. We were going back and forth but the first time I sent him, like, fifteen beats and I was wondering about what if he didn’t like any. But then we did a freestyle for HipHopDX and it came out good and then we did another one. Then there weren’t any inhibitions at that point.
The “Workahol” beat was something I hadn’t heard from you before in your other productions. Did you feel like that was a departure from your usual sound?
Nah, it was different. It was a different tempo. It was a little bit slower. I talked to my partner in crime, Vanderslice, and he said I always do beats that sound like you could murder somebody to. I tried to branch out with Copy since he’s not talking about killing people and robbing people. There’s nothing wrong with talking about that. But I was looking for different types of vibes and that’s one of the ones I came up with.
Did you surprise yourself at all with that beat?
When I made it, I knew someone was going to want this and he said right away that he wanted it. As soon as I sent it out, ten minutes later, he said he needed this. When I heard the sample and then as soon as I started chopping it up, I knew it was going to be pretty good.
I love the gritty, dirty Stu Bangas sound but also hear your production growing. How do you see yourself maturing as a producer?
I’m becoming more than just samples and drums. That’s what I started with, just chopping samples and chopping drum breaks. And now I’m trying to get more into different types of synths on the beats and trying to make the overall sound quality bigger and better and trying to get some major label placements. There’s a couple of guys talking to me and Vanderslice who shop beats to major label guys. If that happens, good. If not, no big deal. I just do it because I like to do it and working with talented artists. That will continue, going forward.
I just want to keep on making dope music. I figure the rest will take care of itself. I’m not too concerned with chasing big names. I just want to make dope music. The other stuff, I’m not concerned with.
Is it a challenge getting beats heard with how many producers are out there today?
Not too much. There’s a lot of competition, but you just have to catch the rappers at the right time. I get pretty good feedback and I just try to pay attention to what guys are working on stuff. That’s what the internet is good for. I know what guys are working on projects and I’ll send something to them. I’ll put certain things aside for guys when I know what they’re looking for, specifically.
You and Blaq Poet did an album together, Blaq Poet Society, last spring. What was it like working with Poet on that?
It was pretty crazy, man. I’ve been listening to Poet since he was on Tommy Boy and Screwball and “Who Shot Rudy” and all that stuff. I never thought I’d be working with him. Working with him was good. He’s a nice guy. He’s pretty straightforward. That project was kind of like my baby and it came out how I envisioned it, as far as the whole horror movie theme to it. Putting it together with him and Vanderslice was like a dream come true and being thoroughly involved in the process of making the record.
What are you working on next?
Vanderslice and I linked up with a label out in Virginia called Man Bites Dog Records. We’re putting out our producer record called Diggerz With Attitude. It’s all our production. We’ve got Roc Marciano on it. Alchemist is rapping on it. Evidence, Ill Bill, Vinnie Paz is on it, Poet’s on it. There’s a bunch of other guys. So we’re doing that and we’re almost done with a whole record with Smiley the Ghetto Child. We’re almost done with that and that’s all me and Vanderslice’s beats. And we’re about halfway done with the Wais P record and me and Esoteric are about a quarter of a way done with the whole record. And I did a joint for Ill Bill’s next solo record that’s out this way and I did one for Vinnie Paz’s next record that has Mobb Deep on it, and I’m super-excited about that because I’m huge fans of those dudes. I got a few records on Chino XL’s project and I already heard back on that. I’m just trying to make beats and get them on other people's records and I’m always looking to do more projects.
Can you take us through the making of a Stu Bangas beat?
First, I find a dope sample and lately, I’ve been so busy with my nine-to-five and I got a kid now so Vanderslice will hook me up with some samples. I would say 80% of my samples come from him. He's the best dude I know at picking samples. I’ll trade some stuff with him for some samples and after I get some stuff I like, I’ll probably just throw it in Pro Tools, the part that I want to use for the beat, and then I’ll add some synths and bass over it, speed it up or work on the tempo and find the right drums I want to use for it.
What equipment do you use?
I’m still using the MPC 2000XL. I don’t think I’ll probably ever switch from that. I’m too comfortable with that system itself and then I got a Korg keyboard I just got that’s pretty sweet. I have a Micro-Korg that I’m still working with to put stuff over the samples and Pro Tools to record.
I finally figured out where you got your email handle, Thornton Melon, from. Shouts out to Rodney Dangerfield.
Back to School! (laughs) That’s like a classic movie. It’s really cheesy and campy but that dude really cracks me up in that movie for some reason.
Do people usually get that reference?
Nobody ever gets it. I was sending Jaysaun beats a couple of years ago and he was asking me who the fuck was Thornton Melon and I told him not to worry about it, it was a long story! (laughs) Nobody ever gets it.