You just got off tour with Poison Pen, Immortal Technique and Diabolic. How are you recovering from that?
I feel pretty well, B, the fact that a lot of drama’s involved, you know?
I think you’ll have to speak on the drama.
Drama can always be good or bad. It depends on what kind of drama it is. You’re dealing with different personalities and everybody got they own personality. You just have to, how could I say it, you have to basically cater to their personality sometimes, you know?
Does that mean you had to be Poison Pen’s wingman/guardian?
(laughs) In some cases, yes! But, you know, he’s like my big brother. Then again, they’re all my brothers. We’re like a family. We all look after each other.
From seeing a show, I know the crowd that comes to see Immortal Technique is a little different from Poison Pen’s music. How do you see that?
Well, at the end of the day, we’re all for the same cause. We just express it a little differently, but at the end of the day we’re all for the same cause.
From seeing you DJ, what I didn’t realize was that you had skills on the turntables. Do those skills get looked over because of your production?
In some cases, but the thing is, a lot of people don’t know that I started off DJing and I’ve been DJing for awhile. The people that know me now know me for producing. They’ve never seen me on the turntables. I put myself out there to DJ some spots now, so people do know that I can get busy. I’ve been in the DJ scene for a minute, it’s just that when I got into the production, I took some time off. Also, with Serato, it makes it easier for people to get back into DJing. I love it.
Will we see you on tour more in the future?
That’s be cool. Shouts out to G.I. Joe. He’s always been a good DJ and I really respect him. As far as being on the road, I love that. I’ve been on the road and I have a lot of experience on the road since 2000 when I was rolling with Breez Evahflowin. He took me under his wing. I been had the experience. You’re just in a different town every day and you get to experience a lot of different stuff. It’s cool. I love it.
How do you think DJing helps you make better beats as a producer?
I think DJing helps a lot because basically, as you might do a lot of cutting, you might start to realize what parts you would like to cut up. If you think about it, a lot of the greatest producers out there started out DJing, like DJ Premier and Pete Rock. And DJ Khalil, Buckwild, Charlemagne and other producers out there who started off DJing. It’s easier for them to grasp the concept of it and to go about making the music because they spend so much time spinning records so they know what to listen for.
Should more producers experience DJing before making beats?
Well, DJing is not for everybody. I mean, anyway they could learn producing, go right ahead. I just think it’s easier for a DJ to make music. It’s easier for them because they have a better understanding of the records that are out there. You don’t have to necessarily be a DJ to make good beats. Look at Kanye, for example. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have a DJing background but he knows music. At the end of the day, it makes it easier for a DJ to make good music though.
You recently produced some tracks on Poison Pen’s new album The Money Shot. How do you approach working with Pen?
Pen and I, we have that chemistry since the first song we did together called “Lumber.” That was supposed to be the first single for Top of the Food Chain. That was back then. I know what kind of music he likes to rock over so I’m able to give him the beats that he likes.
Do you prefer being in the studio with him when he’s working and drinking or do you stay as far away from that disaster area as possible?
(laughs) See, you’re giving me good words! Disaster! If I’m available, I’ll stop by his session but there’s times when I’ll just email him the beat and he’ll take it from there. He doesn’t need me to babysit when he’s doing a verse on my beat. That’s what it is.
You put out a lot of sample-free beats, especially on The Money Shot. How important was it to have those on The Money Shot?
I like to do both because I have that versatility. A lot of producers are learning to play today after sampling before. It helps to have that advantage.
How did you see “Facebreaker” coming out when Pen told you Swave Sevah was getting on the track?
I know when Pen and Swave are on a track together, I know that eight times out of ten it’s going to be about somebody getting beat up or knocked the fuck out, definitely on some belligerent stuff. If it was anybody else, I don’t know how they would have approached that beat but I think they took the right approach on “Facebreaker.”
Are they both that violent in real life?
I mean, at the end of the day, it’s like this. If trouble was to come to them, they’re going to handle theirs at the end of the day. That’s all I’m going to say.
So if I see Pen and Swave Sevah coming at me, what do I do?
Hide your face! Or I’ll put it this way, if you come peacefully, you’ll leave without your face!
Pen has a good but odd ear for beats. How do you give Pen what he wants while still having it be a DJ Static production?
To be honest, I just know what he likes. He can pick very good beats and I’m not just saying that because I produce for him. The other tracks he took are very dope too, like the tracks from Chum and the other tracks on his album. With Pen, as long as those drums are knocking, you know, it’s just that kind of vibe with Pen. It just has to hit hard at the end of the day. No homo.
It’s a good thing you said “no homo.” I really thought you were talking about some homosexual activity before you said that.
Nah, nah, nah, not at all. That’s why I just said “no homo.” Pause. And I’m pretty sure I’ll read that in the interview so I’ll basically get that clarified. But it’s just a vibe thing with Pen at the end of the day.
How do you like The Money Shot as an album?
I think it’s a really good project for Pen. You know, Pen’s come a long way and at the end of the day, Pen wants to sell records. We’re in the business of selling records. The Money Shot is definitely an album that represents him and I’m pretty sure it’s going to go further places in the future. Other than that, I think it’s a really good album.
Why didn’t “Squab,” that you produced, ever go on an official album?
I’ma keep it brief. When I made that beat, I made it more like an A-list one and basically what happened was that beat was purchased by somebody else. I wasn’t able to let Pen rock to it on the album but he was really upset with me. At the end of the day, we settled our differences and we kept it moving. That’s the situation with that song right there.
When I made that beat, I was basically putting it out there because I was shopping it at the time. At the time, Pen wanted the beat and he really liked the beat but I told him that if it got sold I would have to sell it to get that money. Within that time, I sold the beat and we settled our differences or whatever and he was able to get over it. That’s really it. That’s really the reason why it’s not on the album.
As a producer, how do you decide when to give a free beat away versus selling certain beats?
I look at it like this – I like to put out good music at the same time, I don’t want to dig in people’s pockets. I still have a long way to go as a producer and I’ll look at an artist and see if he’s at a label or if he has money. But if I feel that you have that talent and you have that drive, I’ll definitely rock with you because I know at the end of the day, you’ll be putting me out there as much as you’re putting yourself out there. Now if you’re just some Joe Schmoe and you want to get a beat and play it for yourself, then I’m going to charge you for that and that’s what it is. You have artists like Donny Goines and Emilio Rojas that I’ve been working with. I’m a big fan of Donny’s and I respect his work ethic and if he wants a track from me, he’s getting it.
When you give those free beats out, do you expect that when they have an official album out that they’ll come back to you for an album cut?
If they’re willing to do the right thing, they’ll come back.
That’s easier said than done. Handshake agreements mean nothing.
That’s why it’s always good to have contracts. You definitely expect something with them and you can even put it in writing at times. Even if they couldn’t get me on the album, at least get me a situation where it could take my professional career to another level. Even if I don’t get a placement on the album, at least take me on the road with you.
Of all these new artists coming out, how many of these guys do you think are paying for beats as opposed to asking producers for favors?
I get more people that ask for favors, but that’s why we have this thing called the barter system. I’m pretty sure they can do something for me if I can do something for them. For example, let’s say I walk in the Sprint store and I want a phone and they want a beat. If you get me these phones, I’ll work something out for you.
In Da Circle, when I first started working for them, one of them used to work in the meat district. I used to get steaks and chicken breasts and I gave him a beat for that. It costs money at the end of the day but he was able to get me a good amount of food so I took it for what it is. If we have a barter system, then we can work something out.
How do you feel when you give a track out but then two or three days later the artists leak another track with another producer? It seems like a lot of artists are rushing their music out today?
That’s the day we’re in right now. You have to stay relevant as a producer and as an MC. You have to stay relevant. You definitely want to make sure the buzz is still there. That’s why people are putting out music as fast as they can. And with all the technology like Pro Tools and Logic, it makes it easier for producers to produce more music.
Do you have certain beats that you have to sell and then others that are more throwaway?
To be honest, no. I don’t do it that way. The way I do it is it all depends on the person and it depends on the song because at the end of the day, maybe an artist goes through the beats that I charge for and may not like it and then go through my free beats and want that. It’s vice versa too. I can let them come to the crib and go through my iPod and we can discuss the price and the barter system.
You were under contract with Beyonce’s pops Matthew Knowles. Are you still signed to him?
Not anymore. I’m a free agent at this point and I can tell you one thing, I’m glad I am. I’m glad I’m out of that situation. I got love for Matt but I just gotta move on and take it to the next level.
Why didn’t being signed to him work out?
Well, I could look at it for a few ways. Probably his interest wasn’t in the producers. He has so many entities going on that his time with producers was limited. I would also have to say that whatever I do, I give my best and I guess to them, my best wasn’t enough but then when I would play a remix that I did for somebody else, they would ask why it wasn’t theirs. But I guess it’s like creative differences also.
Were you trying to make more R&B beats?
Yeah. It was more R&B and pop and that watered down stuff.
It doesn’t sound like you were happy with the music you were making.
The stuff they picked, I mean, I was somewhat happy with. The stuff that I did and they dismissed, I really liked because I know it would have taken it to the next level. I’m not saying what they put out was wack. It was a good thing but they could have got more from me. They could have picked more from me.
Where is the line between a mainstream hip-hop and R&B beat today?
It all depends on the artist and how they do it. Two different artists can definitely be on the same track and approach it differently. I leave that for the artist to decide.
Now that you’re out of that contract, are you looking for another manager or are you going to handle your own business?
If I was to go with a management team or whatever, it would have to be with someone who really believes in my work and doesn’t really just jump on it because I got a placement with another situation and they want to get a cut of the money I’m making.
What advice would you offer to other producers looking for management?
What I could tell them is listen and have someone that represents you. Make sure you have a lawyer. That’s one. And really try to find out and make sure that they’re not just trying to take money from you and sign you because you just got that one placement. Make sure that these managers do the work. Don’t just sign with them because you got one placement and that’s it. That’s how people get caught up. You make them work.
Do you ever try to sample any Ghanaian music into your production?
One day I’m going to incorporate it. With the music now, it’s not like the old music so I would definitely have to dig into old African music or old Twi music but eventually I will. It’s definitely going to happen for sure.
If you were going to recommend Ghanaian music to someone, what would you recommend?
I’m not really good with the names but if I hear the tune I’ll know where it’s from. The music back then was called high life. Definitely check that out if you’re interested in Ghanaian music.
What projects are you working on today?
I’m just trying to get my music catalog up because you have to keep the balance up when you’re on the road. Sometimes I can make beats on the road but we’re so much on the move that you don’t really have time. When I’m back home I try to catch up on making music.
I also put out my mixtape with all 1992 music and I’m working on 1993 as we speak. I’m also working on The 2009 Wrap-Up. I’m also working with Phaze One and Immaculate Conception. I also got a female singer I’ve been working with a lot. Y’all can look out for that and also The Middle Passage, I’m supposed to be on that album. That’s Immortal Technique. I also got a placement on Emilio Rojas’ mixtape with Green Lantern and we’re working on Donny’s album as well. If people want to holla at me, it ain’t hard to find me. You can find me on MySpace and Twitter.