You have been N.O.R.E.’s go-to producer lately. What’s that like?
We linked up. I met N.O.R.E. through DJ EFN and Crazy Hood Productions. We linked up and the first joint we did was “Cocaine Cowboys.” That made a lot of noise and had a pretty good following. I started engineering all of his sessions and whenever he wanted to record we would go to the studio. We just started kicking it and vibing and became good friends. We had good chemistry so we just kept working. Everything is gravy.
N.O.R.E.’s an entertaining guy in interviews. Is he just as entertaining in the studio?
Yeah. He’s a real animated guy. He always tells you how it is. He’s real blunt and he’s a real fun dude to be around. He keeps that energy always in the studio. The sessions will always be funny and a lot of high energy and we’re drinking Tigerbone and smoking. It’s a real fun atmosphere and it’s real fun working with him. He’s a real genius at what he does and the way he crafts his rhymes and the way he records. He doesn’t always write. He’ll just come with eight bars sometimes and then go in and out of the booth. We have real good chemistry and whenever we’re in the studio, we knock out five or six joints at a time. We work and we don’t bullshit and we have a good time.
How much liquor has to be consumed to make it an official studio session?
You’d be surprised. We’re very dedicated to what we do. Sometimes we don’t even start drinking until we’re almost done or three quarters through with the session because we really don’t want to lose focus of what we’re doing. We’re in the studio to work and make great music. We handle that but we do smoke. But as far as the alcohol, that comes later on at the end of the session and takes us through the night if we’re going to go out and kick it. But don’t get me wrong. There are sessions where we come from drinking and then we record and those are awesome too. It goes both ways.
What are some of the crazier things to happen in a N.O.R.E. studio session?
Some of the craziest things? Sometimes we have funny characters that might come through. But most of the time it’s just really us and we’re just chilling. Nothing crazy ever happened. It ain’t that wild. There’s no crazy ninjas doing flips. We just have a good time when we’re in the lab together.
That’s disappointing to hear.
There’s always funny shit going on but nothing just crazy-crazy.
What do you try to bring N.O.R.E., production-wise, that you know he’ll sound good over?
That’s a good question because he’ll go both ways. Either something real clubby that you could hear him on the radio with, something real commercial like a real club banger. Or I could give him something real gritty-gritty, East Coast hip-hop that I know he’ll think is crazy. He won’t even say nothing. He’ll just tell you to turn the mic on and he’s ready to get in the booth. He’s real versatile. He can do it all. He can do southern, he can do East Coast, he can do club, basically just some fire. Whenever I make a beat that’s fire, I can hear N.O.R.E. on it and if it’s fire, he’ll jump on it and if not, he’ll say it’s not for him.
Do you feel like someone like N.O.R.E. is a perfect match for your sound or are you still looking for that artist that completely meshes with your style?
To be quite honest with you, I do enjoy the work I do with N.O.R.E. Whenever I have some fire, like a beat that I like a lot, I’ll always let him hear it first because I just enjoy what he does over my production and I respect him a lot as an artist. Me being a Queens native, I looked up to N.O.R.E. and always respected him. Just having him in my circle is something that I really appreciate and I’m blessed to have. And from a producer standpoint, I try to work with a lot of other artists too. There’s a lot of other artists coming out of Miami now too like Garcia and Webbz and Triple C’s. Those are dudes that I grew up with as well. I stay working with everybody. I dabble in other genres too like R&B. You gotta kind of keep it open as a producer.
What’s it been like working with Garcia?
Garcia, he’s kind of a legend in his own sense in Miami because he’s been putting it down for Miami hip-hop for awhile already with the whole Crazy Hood movement. They’ve been going hard since the ‘90s. I feel blessed to be in that circle with DJ EFN and Garcia and Heckler. Garcia’s a really talented MC too. He’s one of the realest MCs that we got. He’s a real dedicated lyricist and he doesn’t just talk whatever he feels. He puts thought into the rhymes that he puts down. You gotta respect him. I respect him and I like working with him too. I’ve been honored enough to do his last project, Life Unscripted. I engineered and I mixed down the whole album. That’s another MC that I like working with as well.
Who do you think is the future of Miami hip-hop?
Well, we got this kid LMS that I’m working with. He’s really dope. Webbz is doing his thing from Miramar. There’s a new guy, Billy Blue, who’s with Poe Boy. He’s doing his thing and putting it down for the 305. You have guys like Dynas and THC Crew and Disco. Those dudes are all doing their thing and right now as we speak, they’re on their grind out here putting hot music out for Miami, for the 305 and the 954. It’s just a movement right now. Everybody knows everybody. We all try to work together and keep it moving. Shout out to all of those artists. They’re very talented and expect to hear their names in the future.
When did you start to realize that you could make it as a producer?
Basically back in 2003 I went to a sound engineering school and when I came out of there, I had already dabbled in production. I went into the school and got my degree in engineering, which basically polished my whole sound. I wasn’t messing with nobody at that time. I had sent out a few beats to B-Real to Cypress Hill. He was taking submissions for a project he was working on and they hit me back and said that B-Real liked one of the tracks I sent him and was doing a track to it. That’s when I really realized that I could do it. I looked up to him and he was a legend, especially being a Latin in this industry. I realized that this was something that I could really do and I was going to pursue it and give it my all. And sure enough, a few months later I ran into Garcia and did a joint with him and did a remix with the B-Real joint with him. And after that I met EFN and then I met N.O.R.E. and the rest is history from there. This is what I was meant to do and make happen. Everything with my team manifested right in front of me and now I’m ready to do it.
How would you describe the change in your sound from when you first came into the game to now?
Well, basically, my sound, of course, over the years has developed. It’s gotten a lot better, for one. I go back and listen to stuff I did back in ’02 or ’01, I wasn’t executing right because I didn’t have the technique and the experience down yet. It’s like the more you practice, the better you get. I was just adapting with the times. You can’t be out of touch with what’s going on, even if what’s on the radio is not your particular sound. You can’t just turn your back on it. You have to basically embrace everything that’s going on in music all over. You have to listen to everything that’s out on the market and just kind of take a little bit from everything that you hear. I listen to a lot of Latin music and a lot of soul, just to get different ideas because basically, music is a universal language. People are doing hot music everywhere, all over the universe. I take a little bit of what I hear from everything and then I get inspiration and then I go to the studio and just let it out. I come with an idea and I lay down the drums. I lay down the bassline. I might have a sample and chop it up and see where the sample takes me and let it go. I’ll see where it takes me and I think my sound over the years has developed a lot and just meeting different artists and different people, it just helped me grow as a producer as well.
Are you trying to expand outside of Miami or do you feel more comfortable working with Miami artists?
I’m always open to working with artists from everywhere. I don’t mind that. I do feel a type of responsibility to bringing a certain sound out of Miami, not just the only sound that you hear coming out of it now. There is another sound coming out of Miami, hip-hop wise. A lot of people think it’s down south or it’s booty music. It’s categorized. There’s also the sound of hip-hop that’s hard drums and a heavy bassline. And that’s something that I want to expose to the rest of the world and not just Miami. I’m open to working with everybody else from everywhere but they’re going to notice that this is Hazardis Sounds from Florida. I want to come out with that and be recognized as someone who did that.
What track that you’ve done are you most proud of today?
To start off, I hold “Cocaine Cowboys” close to my heart because that was the first joint we did together and we got a lot of love off of that. People thought that one was crazy. I was real happy with the joint we did with N.O.R.E. and Sean Kingston. That was crazy. I had them both up in my studio and we did that together. It was a real great session and just working with those two dudes on that joint, it was an honor to have them on my beat. The joint came out real sick and to me that’s a classic joint.
There’s a remix I did for “Set It Off” with Swizz that had Busta Rhymes and Talib Kweli. It had Cassidy, Capone and Joell Ortiz. That was real crazy and I was real proud of that. I did a joint with Triple C’s and N.O.R.E. that I’m real proud of. And there’s a lot of new joints that I’m saving for my next mixtape that’s real crazy with Rick Ross. There’s a joint for the new War Report album that Capone N Noreaga are working on. It’s coming out real sick. You gotta stay tuned to that. There’s a lot of songs that we’ve put out in the last few years. I love everything I’ve put out but those are probably the ones that stand out the most for me.
When you sit down and make a beat, what’s that process like?
It could go either way. I could go in there without records but usually I cop some records from Fresh Vinyl. I start playing some records and I let the record play in the background and I might do something else or walk around the house and go to the bathroom. I leave the record playing and once I hear something jump out at me, I rewind it because I need to hear it again. That might be the sample I use. I might chop it up in there and lay some drums on the MPC and the rest is history from there. Once I got the first loop going then I just start going from there. I like sequencing in Pro Tools and I keep adding stuff and keeping the sequence going. I bring in new sounds from the Motif keyboard or in Pro Tools and once the song is good enough for me, I bounce it, put it on the CD and if I hear somebody on it, I’ll just go ahead and send it out to whoever I think could kill it.
Who do you want to work with in the future?
I’m finishing my new project, Hazardis Material Volume 2. Check for that in early January. After that, I just want to keep working with different artists. Basically I’m going to keep doing my thing and shopping beats. I’m in the studio every day and I’m going to keep on doing what I love. We’re working on the new N.O.R.E. project and the new Capone N Noreaga project. There’s a few artists out there like Nas that I want to work with and other dudes from the south like Young Jeezy. I’m going to try to send some stuff to Talib Kweli right now. I like what he does and some of the other legends of this game. I’m going to keep working, man, and whoever’s looking for hot production can definitely holler at me and we’ll sit down and work it out.