You guys have been banging out beats for awhile, both together and separately. How did Sid Roams come together?
Bravo: We started making beats when we were 15 years-old and we didn’t really know what we were doing. We were just experimenting, buying equipment and trying to make the most out of what we had. We just started trying out different things. That was just how we started producing together. That’s not when Sid Roams really came together. Sid Roams is a recent incarnation. That’s me and Joey Chavez coming back together after a brief hiatus. Sid Roams is really us back together and out here in New York.
You guys aren’t from QB but you would never know in listening to some of your beats. How do you bring the grimy, hard QB sound out?
Bravo: The New York environment is just that way. It just creates a certain mentality. We’ve always had moody music. Everything that we always did was always moody, but there’s something in New York that brings out a certain sound. Plus being around these cats, we were immersed in Infamous Mobb and Un Pacino. There are a lot of hungry street cats out here and your sound ends up paralleling what’s around you. But there’s a vibe in New York that’s hard to avoid if you’ve lived here long enough. I’ve lived here for 12 years and it gets inside of you and it changes your approach to music.
You’ve worked with Infamous Mobb on their last two albums. When you’re working with IM3, what do you try to bring out of them?
Joey Chavez: Honestly, man, that’s a hard question. We just try to bring out their best. We really just try to catch them at the right moment. That’s what it’s all about. If the beat is right for them, then it’s all about getting it to fit for them in the right way. It seems to work pretty well because we have a pretty good chemistry with them.
You guys are executive producing Big Twin’s debut solo album. How’s that coming?
Joey Chavez: That album is going to be crazy. It’s 75% Sid Roams’ production. On top of that we got Jake One. We got Sebb, who’s down with the Alchemist and has done work with Twins before. You got Havoc. That’s pretty much the gist of it right there. We’re keeping it close with how far we reach out for beats.
What’s it like working with Twin?
Joey Chavez: Twin is fun to work with. He’s a clown. He has that grimy voice and he’s a clown. We have a lot of fun most of the time working with him. It’s crazy. We have this conversation all the time about his voice and how crazy and how dynamic it is. It sounds like that dude naturally has doubles in his first take. It always sounds like that and you can’t even tell. He’s good to work with like that. That process has been a slow one for us. We’ve been working on that project for probably the last two years.
Big Twin has such an original voice. Do you try to give him any specific kind of beat to maximize his strengths?
Bravo: Twin is a straight-up street dude and he has the experience that he has. He’s going to rhyme about his life and everything that he says is real. That’s just how he is and that’s his personality. It’s hard to get him to stray too far from that. But the thing that we try to do and the thing that we try to encourage is his dedication to hip-hop music. As much as he says he’s from the streets, he knows how important it is to know hip-hop and work on that. We try to provide those opportunities with real hip-hop beats where his grimy flow is going to match what he talks about. But as far as his content goes, he always chooses his content and what he raps about. Twin is always Twin. But as far as the texture of his voice and everything, for a lot of people, it’s too dirty for them. That voice is too monotonous or too gritty. I’ve definitely heard people respond like, ‘I can’t deal with that. It sounds like he swallowed glass or something.’ But then I’ve also heard other people who are just enthralled the minute it comes on, like, ‘What’s up with that? That voice is crazy. There’s some personality right there.’ If it’s one thing, it’s distinctive and we just try to create the framework so his voice is really presented right.
What are the best types of beats for Twin?
Bravo: We definitely have a pretty good sense now of what a Twin beat sounds like. We’ve been working with him for long enough and even with Prodigy now, there’s a certain feeling that you get from a beat. The more you produce, the more you know what fits each rhyme style. With Twin, we have a pretty good feel for him. That’s the type of thing where the minute that we finish a beat, we know who it’s going to work for and we can pretty much apply it off the top. And when you play it for the artists, more often than not your hunch is right. That’s basically how we’ve been doing the whole Twin record. Whether we’re doing beats for someone else or not, we know when we have a Twin beat. He has a certain kind of beat that he likes to rhyme on and we’ve figured that out.
You’re also working with Prodigy? How’s Prodigy’s H.N.I.C. Part 2 coming?
Joey Chavez: We’re both fans of P. As long as he ain’t doing something that’s absolutely stupid, then we’re going to be feeling it. As far as I can tell, this album is dope. There’s a lot of content that he’s putting in here that I think he’s been hesitant to put in the past because of how people see him. I think with him going away, he’s starting to open up and express another side of who he is. The other day in the studio, he was talking about the intro to H.N.I.C. and he was just dropping knowledge on that and the culture and how to raise your kids. And from right there and right after the intro, he just cut it off and went into the gutter and into that ignorant shit again. It’s interesting that he pointed that out.
Joey Chavez (continued): On H.N.I.C. Part 2, he didn’t cut it off (the knowledge) and it stays consistent throughout the album. He’s talking about stuff that means something to him. You’re still going to get your thug shit too. A lot of people probably have a lot of questions for him too.
Looking at how the album is coming, would you say H.N.I.C. Part 2 is better than H.N.I.C?
Joey Chavez: I don’t know. I feel like those are two different times and two different eras. Will this one be better? I don’t know. That’s a hard one to answer right there. That’s really in the eye of the beholder.
Because Prodigy starts serving his upcoming jail bid in January, is there a sense of urgency to finish the album?
Joey Chavez: Yeah. He’s on a timeline. But in the end, his work ethic is so strong. From the moment that he found out he was going in, he’s just been nonstop in the studio. He’s so determined and so driven. Me and Bravo, the other day, were just admiring his work ethic. That’s why he is where he is because he’s driven that way. He knows that he’s about to be gone and isn’t going to get a chance to speak to the world and he’s really driven by that and he’s really utilizing his time. In the end, I don’t think people are going to be able to notice that he rushed it or that the album falls short. The quality is still there regardless of the time we had to work on it.
Bravo: I just wanted to add to that. The other day, he was leaving our studio to go to another studio and then he was going to go to a video shoot and a radio interview. I was like, ‘You’re really going in.’ He got this big grin on his face and he was just like, ‘Watch, I’m going to do everything too. I’m going to complete it all. I’m going to do everything.’ He had this, almost, like, I don’t know, this almost childish grin where he was like, ‘I’m going to pull everything ff and I’m going to blow people’s minds.’ I don’t know. That dude is really built for hip-hop.
How do you guys work together on beats?
Bravo: Basically, we can do it any of three ways. One of us will start a beat or we’ll both start a beat together but in the end we finish everything together. We see everything through in the end. The idea might be one of ours but then the other one will throw in their two cents or play on top of it or play around with arrangement ideas. When it comes down to the mixing session, we’re trying to put our best foot forward and keep the highest level of quality control as well.
Do you guys worry about getting individual credit at all?
Bravo: Part of the reason we created Sid Roams was because of the confusion that was going on over those things. A lot of times a beat might get credited to Joey and I worked on it. We just gave up and said we were either going to do this and put all these beats out as Sid Roams and put all our beats out and be powerful or we were going to sit there and nitpick over who did what. We end up finished the beats together regardless of who starts it, so it’s hard to be like, ‘Okay, this is produced by Bravo and co-produced by Joey Chavez’ or vice versa. If we were doing that we would be breaking the beat apart and what it’s about in the end is the Sid Roams sound.
What equipment do you guys use?
Joey Chavez: We’re using the MPC 2500, a Motif and a digital performer. Those are the essential pieces to the puzzle. Outside of that we have miscellaneous drum machines and equipment but it’s mostly the MPC, Motif and the digital performer.
Where do you want to take your label Dirt Class Records in the future?
Joey Chavez: In 2008, we’re first looking at the Prodigy release, which will probably be in the summer of 2008. We’ll be following that in 2-3 months with the Big Twins project and then the Hard White project. There’s this setup going on for 2008 with the things that we have been working on in the last few years. This is a big year for us because everything we’ve been working on is coming. We have a couple of official mixtapes coming like Big Twins and a Hard White mixtape. We were talking to Evidence from Dilated Peoples about doing something. And me and Bravo are going to do a Lost Tapes type of project full of stuff we’ve done but never put out. There’s a lot going on for us and we’re looking forward to it.
Speaking of Dilated Peoples, you guys produced “Mr. Slow Flow”, which was Evidence’s lead single off his debut solo album and has an entirely different sound than the music you’ve done with QB artists. How important is it for Sid Roams to have that kind of versatility?
Joey Chavez: We came from the West Coast, which is where we kind of started off, so that was already there. Even if in the credits it looks like it was just me that was fucking with Dilated, in the end Bravo was a part of that as well. He was working on beats and putting his two cents in. We had that in place before we came to New York. We had to take over when we came here and flex and absorb our sound. I think in the end we’re still kind of doing the same thing we’ve been doing, which is sort of creating a dramatic mood for these MCs like Evidence or Prodigy. I think it seems to work well for us.
Bravo: I think there’s a way that Queensbridge records are made that holds true to a traditional hip-hop sound. And I feel like that’s also true for Dilated Peoples. So it’s not hard for us to make this transition because I feel like both of them are part of this tradition and they’re not losing this tradition. You don’t hear Queensbridge records that sound like Down South records and you don’t hear Dilated records that sound like Down South records. Even though the records are different and the audiences are different, they still have that same essence. Al does the same thing. Al is from the West Coast as well and he’s been producing records with Dilated from the top and he’s got a huge name in New York from producing for Mobb Deep. There’s still the connection between the style even if the audience is different.
You guys have a ton of different projects to work on. What’s your main focus going to be for the next few months?
Bravo: The focus for us is to finish the P project that we’re working on, which is like a mixtape like Return of the Mac. It features Big Twin and it’s to set the stage for the other stuff we’re pushing out at the end of the year. We’re trying to finish this stuff up and do it from the heart. We’re getting all this done before P goes and then we have to spend a lot of time mixing it and getting the sound right and making sure the project is as complete as possible. But we have a lot of stuff to work with and it’s fun and exciting. The next few months are going to be exciting.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Joey Chavez: We’re just here and we want people to spend money on music these days because it’s really hard for artists to continue doing what they’re doing and to really go out there and find what they’re looking for. And we want to send out our appreciation to the fans we have on MySpace and who appreciate what we’re doing. The love is what keeps us in it and it’s definitely the payoff. I definitely want to send that out.