Oh, man, I’m good. I’m just getting ready to head to the studio in a little bit. I have a session.
You’ve been doing some work with Loud.com recently. Can you explain what exactly you are doing in conjunction with them?
I call Loud.com the future, man. It’s the most incredible thing on the internet right now for artists to showcase their skills and compete for a record contract with the legendary Loud Records, home of the Wu-Tang Clan, Big Pun and Mobb Deep. It’s history over there. There’s nothing like this. I go on every day and I check out the different profiles of the people signing up. It’s getting bigger and bigger. Cats are going on there and they have some talent.
What do you look for when you listen to new artists?
Typically, what I look for, man, is definitely the delivery. I look for different things on different beats. If I hear the rapper rapping the same stuff on a bunch of different beats, then I’m not really interested in it. I want a rapper to switch his flow up depending on the beat. I want to hear different things on different beats. I want to hear diversity in the flow and lyrics. I tell the cats on Loud.com to not just spit a battle rap. Put a hook on there and make it a song. We’re listening for the total package. There are a lot of artists out there that definitely have a lot of potential. It’s really incredible to watch.
You and partner Dre have three artists signed to you, C-Ride, Dirtbag and Joe Hound. What’s going on with them?
We just did a deal with Bryan Leetch over at TVT for C-Ride. Joe Hound has a situation over at Skeleton Key and Capitol. Dirtbag is over at Slip N Slide. All of these are Epidemic projects. We’re really excited about these projects. They all have albums that they’re working on and projects coming up. They all have single dates. We just want to see them get their own careers rolling.
Is it ever a challenge giving each project the proper attention it deserves?
Me and Dre, with our scheduling, we work with artists in their own sessions. Right now we’re working on Brolic, who just signed to DTP. He’s going to be huge. We’re also in the studio with Lil’ Mama. We have sessions with them. At the same time, our own artists are in separate studios recording their albums. It’s a good thing Cool and Dre isn’t one guy, because we can balance it out. Dre will be in one session and I’ll be in another one and we can make it happen.
It’s pretty simple, actually. We’re already in the mixing stages for Joe Hound. All we really have to do is go in there and make sure the mixing is right. With C-Ride, he’s just starting his project. He’s recording now. Dirtbag’s album is pretty much almost done. We’re just doing three or four new records with him. Everybody gets 100% from Cool and Dre. We try to give everybody our best.
What potential does Dirtbag have?
I think Dirtbag can definitely touch some people out there, man. Dirtbag is one of those artists that has a great street presence. He has some real inspirational records and he has some real street records. Dirtbag is definitely one of those artists that I think is going to touch the music industry. Now he’s being given a shot. He’s getting that support and expanding his fanbase, and he already has a fanbase that’s been waiting for him to come out already. He’s really getting his shot to come out in the game.
What does it mean to you when labels send their new artists down to work with you and Dre to help mold them and make them hit records?
It’s a blessing, man, that people come to holler at Cool and Dre and say, “We need a hit.” I think that’s something that you gain throughout your career by being consistent and putting out solid records. People usually come to us when their album is pretty much done. They know to go to us for their singles. Brolic said he wanted to work with us, so he came out to Miami. We ended up doing two records with him and then that went to them wanting us to executive-produce his project and do seven records with him. It’s definitely a blessing that we’re mentioned with the likes of the Timbalands and the Scott Storches and the Neptunes. It’s a blessing to us. We’re just going to keep riding that wave.
How’s Dre’s album coming?
We had a minor little setback with the whole label situation, so basically we’re in a transition right now. We don’t know where our project is going to come out. We’re at a standstill. We’re going to redo the whole record. We’re taking a whole new approach to the record. We’ll probably keep three or four records from it. It’s called Trunk 2008. We’re looking at it coming out in the first quarter of 2008.
How frustrating is that?
We look at everything like it happens for a reason. It didn’t come out because we didn’t want it to come out with a half-assed promotion and not do the numbers that we thought we could have done. We’re like, ‘You know what? Everything happens for a reason.’ We’ve been focusing on the production and we’ve been in the studio every day since December, and as a result we have all these singles coming out and we’re ready to fuck the game up.
Dre is definitely more visible than you. Do you enjoy being in the background?
Definitely, man. I’m a laid back type of person. I like to be in the studio. They call me Nicholas Cage, the Family Man. I have a family. Of course you see me out there too, but Dre, that’s his thing. Before we even started the production thing, we were artists. We were an R&B group. I’m living my artist dreams through Dre. I want Dre to do great things as an artist. I’m going to be next to him. I’m going to be there with him. The way it’s going now is great and I’m just taking it one day at a time.
You guys just recorded “New York Part 2” with Ja Rule, Fat Joe and Jadakiss for DJ Khaled’s We the Best album. What was it like recording that?
It was cool, man. The crazy thing is that we had the beat for awhile. We did the beat originally for Nas. When Khaled started working on the album, we were like, ‘We need to do a ‘New York Part 2’ record and get them all back in the studio again.’ It worked out. Ja Rule was the first one to lay his vocals down. Then Fat Joe did it and then Jada. It was just a beautiful thing, man. Everybody came together and did a great record.
You did the first “New York” as well. How does it feel coming from Miami and making New York anthems?
It’s a beautiful thing the way that first record worked out. That beat was originally Jadakiss’ beat. We had done the beat and I had given it to Jadakiss. At the same time I gave it to Jadakiss, Dre gave it to Fat Joe. That beat had a totally different feel to it. I hit Joe up like, ‘What’s up? Jada wants the beat.’ Joe wanted the beat so we gave it to Joe. Joe hit Jada and told him he had already started recording it. Jada was like, ‘Cool, I just need another one.’ A few months go by and Irv Gotti hits me that Ja is back in the studio. We give them another beat and I stated singing the KRS hook to it. Dre was like, ‘We can use that for the hook.’
We ran over to the studio and Irv was like, ‘That’s incredible.’ They asked us if we had the beat for that and we said “yes,” but we really didn’t have the beat. We took the beat we gave Joe and we called him up about it. Joe said he wasn’t really feeling that beat no more and that he couldn’t write anything to it. He was cool with us giving it to Ja Rule. We take it back to the studio and Ja Rule does the song. That’s how it went down.
How important is DJ Khaled to the Miami scene?
Very important. Khaled is like the heartbeat of Miami. When he’s on vacation and when he’s not on the radio, it’s like, ‘What the hell?’ You can’t even listen to the radio without Khaled on there. He’s definitely a very big part of the Miami scene.
Are you working with Fat Joe on some new music?
Definitely. That’s our brother right there. He’s about to start on his new project. We’re definitely going to be there. The last time, we didn’t really do anything because our schedule didn’t really permit for us to work together. With Joe, we like to get in the studio with him and really, really work. We like to vocally produce him. We have a different relationship with Joe. This next album that he’s going to be starting on, we’re definitely going to be in there to help him crank out some hits.
How is it working with Fat Joe in the studio?
He’s fast. He’s like the coolest person. Beyond music, that’s family right there. One thing about Joe is that he knows hit records. His track record proves it. Like the “So Much More” record…The story behind the beat for “So Much More” is crazy. I had started that beat in the crib. I had went over to Khaled’s crib. Joe invited me over. I’m playing a rough version of the beat in my car. We’re following each other over to Khaled’s crib. Joe pulls up to me at the light and says, “What the hell is that?” “That’s a new beat I’m working on.” “That’s my next single.” Just like that, Joe said it. There wasn’t even a hook on “So Much More.” Joe has a keen ear. When it comes to beats, Joe knows it. Joe had “Lean Back” for a few months and he said, “This is going to be the biggest record ever” and it didn’t even have a hook on it.
One of my favorite Fat Joe songs is “Prove Something,” which you guys produced. How did that song come together?
We actually produced that record when we were staying in New York. Atlantic had us up in their corporate apartment. I had our drum machine and keyboard shipped up. We were in the apartment cranking out. We did all the beats for that Loyalty album on headphones in a little apartment. That album is a classic.
That’s the “Wildflower” sample by New Birth. What’s crazy is the group that we sampled the record from came out with a book and we were quoted in the book about what it meant to us to be able to use that sample. The way we flipped it, you would have never known it was the same thing. The way we flipped it, it just sounded so grand.
What’s it like working with Game?
Game is our brother, man. Game is great. Game is talented as hell. Game comes to the studio and he’s focused. He tunes in and he knocks those records out. We already have two songs guaranteed on his album. One of them is “Street Riders” with Nas and Akon. We have another record called “People” with Mary J. Blige. He’s coming down here in about a month so we can do three or four records. We’re excited about that. He’s great. He’s a great person.
How do you and Dre work together on beats?
There’s no set formula. He can come in and a beat can be damn-near done. He might just add a hook to it. We might start on the drums first before Dre drops a melody on it. There’s really no set formula to it. We just go in the studio and bang out.
How have your production techniques changed over the years?
I think your ear changes over time. You hear stuff differently. You listen to records and stuff that you wouldn’t have heard three or four years ago, you hear now. You’re looking at shit on the radio like you’re Neo from The Matrix. You kind of figure out a formula that works and what drums to use on certain things. You learn what keyboard sounds sound good. You’re always learning.
What equipment do you use?
Right now we use an Akai MPC 2000, Roland Phantom, Motif, Roland 5080, Proteus 2000, ASR 10 and we have an arsenal of soft synth sounds that we use.
What’s your focus going to be for the next few months?
We’re going to be making sure these artists’ albums come out and they get their careers on the right path and rolling. That’s going to be our focus. We’re making sure all of these singles are coming out. We’re going to keep cracking the industry over the head and hitting everybody with that Cool and Dre heat.
You finally have all of these projects lined up, from Dre’s album to your artists’ albums. How does that feel?
We’re just thankful. God is great. We’re thankful for the situation that we’re in. We’re going to work hard and make sure that each situation is a winner in its own right. When Dirtbag’s album comes out, if he’s on the road and promoting it, that’s enough for me and Dre to get back and start working on his second album.
C-Ride is going on the road in a month for six months to promote. We took this kid who was doing his thing on the streets and making these mixtapes, and now he has an opportunity to make a career for himself. That’s an accomplishment for me and Dre. Now these artists have an opportunity to make a career for themselves.
What advice would you offer to up-and-coming producers?
Don’t stop. If this is what you believe in and this is what you want to do, then don’t have a Plan B. If you have a Plan B, that means that you already gave up on Plan A. Get your drums up and you have to think, there are a million other producers trying to crack in the game. There are almost as many producers as there are rappers now. You have to be creative, be original and get your drums up. Stay focused.
If you’re a local producer, try to get your name up and give beats out to every local rapper in your area. Don’t worry about the money. The money will come. The name has to come first and the money will come second. Get out there and get all of those little rappers doing mixtapes to rock your beats, just tell them to give you a shout out on the beat. You can sell that beat a year from now.
Just keep on the grind and don’t give up. If this is what you want to do, keep grinding. Me and Dre went from working on beats in a garage to a multi-million dollar facility. Definitely keep hope alive.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Loud.com is giving out opportunities to everybody. Loud.com is the future. Where else can you hear beats from everybody and download them for 99 cents, upload your tracks and be heard by everybody? Loud.com is the future. Cool and Dre, we the best. And look out for Epidemic.