I’m feeling good. I just got my coffee. I’m smoking my cigarettes and I’m just waking up. I had a late night so my day’s starting a little later today, but I’m good.
Your debut album Port Authority is scheduled to drop May 15. Looking at the record now, are you happy with how it came out?
Yeah, I’m real happy with how it came out. I’m ecstatic about a couple songs that got added at the last moment that are dope. I wasn’t expecting that. The way it sounds and the way it’s mixed is great. My man Joe killed it on the mixes. I’m really proud of it. I’m excited to see what the people think.
What are your goals for Port Authority?
My expectations are really low. That’s not because I don’t believe in the music. It’s because I know how things are in terms of people actually buying albums these days with the downloads and all that. I just hope it opens doors for more people to want to work with me and that I can do another album with people I respect. As long as it gets people talking about me, I’ll be happy. But I’m prepared for the worst, sales-wise.
You chose “War” with Kardinal Offishall as your lead single to Port Authority. Why?
I just wanted to put a really energetic single out and the theme of the song fits with the theme of things right now. This song just spoke to me. In one sense, it’s like beating a dead horse. We know hip-hop sucks, but this just fit the whole theme of my album and what I was trying to do with it. I just sent him the beat and he loved it. He sent it back with the hook and the concept. We were both in a similar zone. And I can’t lie, the fact that Kardi is from Toronto like me, I had to show love to my hometown. I felt like that would set the vibe of me being from Toronto.
How did things change for you as a producer when you moved from Toronto to New York?
Everything changed. I wasn’t really producing in Toronto. I was just starting to make beats and my beats were terrible. I was working in the Cutting Room passing my beat-CDs out. If I had never moved to New York, I would not have been working with anybody. Moving to New York is the best move I ever made, hands down. Toronto is great, but there is only so far you can go there.
Do the fans in Toronto look at you differently now that you’ve had some success as a producer?
Here and there. I probably do get a bit more respect now that I’ve come here (NYC) and gotten cosigned by a lot of New York cats. For the most part, people don’t even know that I’m Canadian until I tell them. I don’t want people to look at me as a Canadian producer. I want them to look at me as a good producer.
In Toronto, sometimes they tend to feed on their own. They call it the “Screwface Capitol.” It’s weird. I don’t know why it’s like that. A lot of people don’t know me as Canadian but instead as a producer doing his thing.
You released some video footage with Masta Ace at the video shoot for “Nostalgia”. It looked like you guys had a good time.
Honestly, that whole two days was such a good time. It was a blast. My boy Kris was the director of the video. I don’t think Ace, when he showed up on Saturday, was expecting the video shoot to be like that. We had police blocking off the road and wardrobe changes. For an independent video, it was unheard of what we did. It made the people in it feel more special. It was shot in Fort Greene, where I live. There are so many elements that made the video so dope.
Do you feel you’ve been getting the promotion you need so far to make Port Authority successful?
So far, so good. As far as magazines and physical press, it’s been amazing. There are certain areas that are lacking, but overall, I’m very happy with how things are going. I feel like everyone online is aware of the record and the buzz is getting pretty good.
Did you look at any other producer compilations as a blueprint for Port Authority?
Absolutely. Soul Survivor by Pete Rock was my inspiration. I just thought it was crazy how he had so many crazy collaborations. I tried to do that but we couldn’t make them all happen for whatever reasons. I just loved how he had certain artists paired up and the beats and interludes he used. It’s a real inspiration for me.
You’re also releasing The Newport Authority mixtape with Mick Boogie for free download. What do you hope that does for you?
Really, I’m just hoping that it gets downloaded a lot. We’re going to press some up too. The purpose of that is really to get the buzz out on my name. As much as you may know that I produced for Boot Camp and Masta Ace, there are a lot of people who don’t know. I want people to know my catalog. I put some songs off Port Authority and recorded some exclusives for it. There’s some songs I cut off Port Authority. It’s also a discography to let people know what I’ve been doing. It’s just to get the buzz up.
How important is the free download today?
I’m not really hating on the internet like that. I see the importance of it and I see what it’s done. In certain areas, it’s just a whole new way of distribution with MySpace and mp3’s. You can reach people all over the world now without signing a contract. I’m okay with it. It’s a good tool if you learn how to use it correctly.
Based off the title Newport Authority, I’m guessing you like your cigarettes.
Yeah. I’ll be straight, I haven’t touched weed or alcohol in eleven years. All I have are my cigarettes and my coffee. It’s my crutch. It’s a big part of my creative process. Cats that come and see me know the deal so I thought it would be funny to name it that.
So we won’t see you on the patch anytime soon?
You’ll have to put 30 of them on my face and back. Eventually I’ll have to consider quitting but that’s a scary bridge to cross. I don’t think I need it but it’s definitely a part of the process.
How was it working with Granddaddy I.U. on “Veteran”?
That was such a humbling experience. Smooth Assassin is one of the top-five albums for me. He’s a cool dude. I wish that track was on the album. The album was already done. I met him through my boy Shiloh and we just started building. He was really feeling the beats and we just continued to build. I took that Beach Boys shit and sent it over to him and he loved it. He was like, “Let’s make this a song.” That was an experience.
You made the Beach Boys sound gully.
It’s actually a cover of the Beach Boys by Hugo Montenegro, but it sounds like the original. It was a version I had never heard and when I played it off the top, it just sounded so much gullier than the original. When I looped it up it just came together. It had more elements in this version that just made it more hip-hop. It’s one of those things that just happened.
You made it into Urb’s Next 100. Are you finally getting the respect you deserve?
I don’t feel any of that. I’m not concerned with that. I’m just happy that people are liking the music. I’ve always had confidence in what I did and now I’m getting more exposure so people can check me out. I’m aware of how things are and a lot of things I’ve done haven’t been distributed on a huge scale. I still have a lot of work to do. I’ve only done 10% of what Primo and Pete Rock have done. I’m just happy that people are checking for me now.
What was it like working with the Boot Camp Clik on The Last Stand?
That was like a dream come true. I’m a fan. Working with Buckshot, Ruck and Rock, Smif N Wesson and O.G.C., that was amazing. I grew up listening to those dudes. I gave Buckshot a beat-CD. It’s funny how the game works. Sometimes you hear back, sometimes you don’t. After a few months I didn’t hear anything so I decided to give him a call. They had recorded five joints and luckily most of them weren’t sold. I got on The Last Stand album pretty heavy and one of them is going to go on the Casualties of War compilation. That was cool and it opened doors for Buckshot to get on my project. It was dope. I got a joint on the Heltah Skeltah album too.
Working with Boot Camp is like a hip-hop stamp of approval.
Definitely. It definitely helped me. That’s what I’m saying about people knowing my music. That’s probably the first time people have heard about me. I’ve done some shit for Masta Ace and Brooklyn Academy, but it doesn’t get out there like that. The Boot Camp was the biggest project I’ve been on besides the Masta Ace project. It’s done wonders for me in terms of getting out there and selling beats.
What do you have to do from here on out to make sure Port Authority is successful?
What I really want to do is just work on new music as an artist. I know if I detach myself from the business side that things might not be done properly so I make it a point to stay in touch with them every day. I’m very in tune with the online stuff and the press. I’m definitely staying on top of all those things and making sure they’re done on time and that they’re properly executed. I’m not one of those artists who are detached. I definitely want to make sure everybody knows about the project.
What do you want to say to everybody?
If you’re familiar with my music and have been checking for it, thank you. It’s much appreciated. There is more and better to come with Port Authority. I’m not really big on convincing you why you should like my beats. I’m just going to let the music speak for itself and I hope you enjoy the album.