You and Torae are working on an album titled Double Barrel. How did that project come about?
I think the first time I met Tor was at Masta Ace’s studio. Ironically, the first time we met we did a skit for the EMC album. Ace has all of these intricate skits on the album with scripted characters. And then I heard him on the Primo-produced joint “Get It Done”. I’m always checking for Primo’s shit so that’s the first time I heard Torae rhyme. We set up a session to do a track for the Newport Authority mixtape and since then we been working on music. Check out “Casualty”, “Good God” and “Jesse Owens”. Shouts to Torae and go cop his album “Daily Conversation” in stores now!
How’s the album coming so far?
We have about six songs. We have more songs recorded, but, have mutually agreed that only the best material will make the final cut. The whole thing is that we’re not really in a rush, especially with the internet’s effect and this new pressure to constantly leak out music. When our music is right and up to our standards then we’ll put the album out. There is already enough forgettable shit out there right now so we aren’t trying to add to that.
How do you and Torae work together?
It’s a pretty straight-forward process. I basically work on beats and if I make something that I think fits the theme of the album, I’ll send it to him. At that point he’ll let me know yay or nay. Once he’s written to a beat he likes he’ll come to the lab and record it. When it comes to recording vocals I definitely try and push him to bring the most energy possible but he’s a pro so it’s never anything forced. On the flip side to that, he also brings dope ideas for songs that I might not have of thought up.
Buckshot has talked about the project coming out on Duck Down. Is that correct?
Big shouts to Dru Ha, Buckshot, Sean P and the whole Duck Down staff. I consider them part of my extended musical family. As of right now, the Double Barrel album isn’t even half way done so we haven’t even thought about a label situation, but, I will say Duck Down would be a great fit for this project and Dru Ha and I are always in contact so it’s possible we could end up rocking with them but as of now we haven’t signed with anyone.
How is your follow-up album to your debut compilation Port Authority coming?
Port Authority 2 is the tentative working title but that could definitely change. Right now, I’m picking out the beats and planning out the guests so nothing has actually been recorded. I’ve slowly started reaching out to certain artists and building new ideas for the album with Shylow and DJ Linx, who were a huge part of the last album.
What do you want to do on the new album that you couldn’t do on the first Port Authority?
There were a couple of things on the first one that I wish I could have changed. I’m definitely going to make the next album shorter and it will have more posse cuts. And when I say posse cuts I mean actual posse cuts with four to five MCs on a track killing it. I’m going to attack each song with interesting collabo’s yet not so random that it doesn’t make sense. A lot of people just throw random, big names over a beat which usually doesn’t makes sense and turns out being very mediocre.
You got a lot of props for your production style on Port Authority. Are you going to come with the same vibe on the new album?
Absolutely, just bigger and better. I’m going to keep it raw and keep it with samples. That’s what I do and that’s what I love to do. I’m digging for records every week, trying to find the perfect joints. And when I do find them they go towards the Double Barrel album or my next solo producer album.
Do you have anything recorded yet for the new album?
I don’t have anything recorded, but I do have confirmations from MCs I’ve reached out to and beats that are ready to go. I’m still mapping everything out.
What was it like working with Masta Ace and EMC on their album?
It’s just natural working with them. I consider them extended family. They took me on the road with them across Canada. Ace really gave me my first placement on A Long Hot Summer. Ever since then we ended up doing Nostalgia, which was one of the biggest songs off my album. Working with them is a blessing because they’re really talented individuals and we get along. It’s important that you get along with everybody that you travel with especially on long tours. We’re definitely looking forward to going to Europe in the spring.
In the underground, you’re a household name for production right now. Are you ever surprised at how fast fans found you?
I definitely sit back and think about my whole move from Toronto to New York. It just all happened so fast. In the span of five years I moved to New York and worked my ass off. It’s definitely been a blur. I’m grateful if people consider me a household name in hip-hop production, especially on the indie scene. I just hope to keep making bigger moves and make things bigger and better on Port Authority 2. Hopefully I can use the momentum off Port Authority to poly bigger guests on part two.
Did Port Authority go as far as you wanted it to do?
Sales-wise, hell no. That’s to be expected with the current climate though. I wish we could have shipped more albums. People couldn’t find the record and it was same old story when it comes to indie labels. On the positive side, it did reach a lot of people via the internet and internationally and I have new fans all over the world now. I still have people hitting me up that are still just discovering Port Authority now. In the sense of it reaching the true hip-hop heads, I’m not mad at it. It did its thing.
How are you going to make sure Port Authority 2 does better?
That’s a good question. Ideally, I know what I’m looking for in a new situation and I’m trying to improve on the last one. I definitely learned a lot working with Soulspazm/Rawkus. With whatever new situation presents itself I will definitely have a list of things that I want to do differently this time around. I also feel with the first album I wasn’t prepared to tour so I’m working on incorporating more of a live show on this next album that way I can bring the beats and raw hip-hop anywhere on the map and make it more exciting then just pressing play on a laptop computer.
Buckshot gave you props when I interviewed him on being able to bring him that heat. What does it mean when you get props like that?
That’s extremely humbling. I grew up on Black Moon and now to be considered a peer of his and an industry equal is incredible. It makes me feel like all the work I put in paid off. And I definitely want to shout out Buckshot, that’s much appreciated. Definitely look for more collaboration's between myself Buckshot and Duck Down. Hopefully I get some tracks on the KRS-One album.
What’s it like working with Buckshot and Duck Down?
It’s cool as hell. It’s a big camp. Sometimes it can be a little hectic as far as organizing songs, but I gotta give it up to Dru. He runs a tight ship over there. I still don’t know how he does it! I think I have three tracks on the upcoming Heltah Skeltah album and I’m amped about that. Sean P has been killing it but I’m really looking forward to Rock getting back in the picture and them killing it as a duo, they will be unstoppable.
Do you find that you’re in demand more for beats now that you have a lot of good things going for you?
I definitely get hit up more frequently for production these days. I’m definitely working at a steady pace and I’m grateful for that. My man Theo has been making some things happen for me as well via placements and shopping tracks.
Some producers who are known for underground hits say they have radio and club records ready to go for artists. Do you have those beats in your arsenal?
I definitely have those kinds of beats. The thing is, they’re not forced. I don’t sit down and say, “Okay, so-and-so at a major label is working on this project and let me make something.” I just sit down and work, if it happens, it happens. If I make a beat that can be shopped to someone on a major level, then so be it. I never force those beats. I just let them happen.
What’s your beat-making process like?
I get up in the morning, get a cup of coffee and put on music, whether it’s records I have in my collection or records on my iPod. I just wake up and listen to music and catch a vibe. I chop up some drums and just go at it. Whatever happens happens.
You’re a producer known for enjoying his cigarettes every now and then, as you even named a mixtape Newport Authority. When I spoke to Torae, he said you won’t smoke in his car.
(laughs) You gotta be respectful sometimes. It’s not a habit that not everyone embraces. I’m not a belligerent smoker where I need to smoke every three seconds. When I’m in the car, I can hold out. (laughs)
I definitely like my Newports and on a long drive, as soon as I get out, I’ll probably smoke a cigarette, but it’s not that serious. Ace despises smoking and has bugged me to quit smoking. When I’m with those dudes, even if we’re outside, they’ll stand back 10 feet from me. They hate the smell of it.
What’s worse, the belligerent smoker or the non-smoking advocate that’s constantly telling you how bad it is for you?
(laughs) It’s a fine line. I’m lucky Ace and my friends around me care enough to tell me to quit. He doesn’t do it in an annoying way, but yeah, you get those preachers. Smokers know smoking is bad. I don’t think a smoker is going to tell you that it’s good for you. I don’t need to be reminded of it every 20 seconds. I’m the type of dude that’s going to quit when I want to quit. I’m won’t talk about quitting smoking all the time but never quit. I hate those types of smokers.
What’s your focus going to be for the next month?
I’m just going to work on beats for these two projects and also shop beats for some major projects. I got nominated for a Juno, that’s like a Canadian Grammy. That’s really big for my team and I. I’m going out to Calgary for the ceremony and Torae is tagging along for a performance we got at Junofest. After the Juno’s I have 3 shows lined up in B.C. and after then a month after that we’re going to Europe. It’s all about music right now. I’m traveling or staying in the studio. All good shit though!