We just finished getting Akir's "Legacy" out the door for mastering.
It should be out in late February. I'm looking forward to getting that
"Legacy" come out?
It's everything we wanted it to be. It's prolific and it's running the
gamut. It's got singers, Hasan Salaam, Abiodun from The Last Poets, Immortal
Technique, Poison Pen, Jean Grae, The Heatmakerz, and The Fyre Department
hot. It's real hot.
you do for the album?
I did about
a third of the production, all of the recording, and all of the engineering.
It's almost as much as my baby as it is his.
you help dudes like Akir in the studio as far as direction and technical
all, I'm not an MC. I do about everything else. It's nice to have someone
around that does different things and has a different perspective. I worked
at Daddy's House for awhile, so I've seen the commercial side of things.
I can bring a marriage between the commercial and underground.
you think Akir's album will do?
I think it's
going to do very well. The difference between Akir and Tech [Immortal
Technique] is that Tech is a niche artist because of the things he speaks
about and his stage show. We have to do more strategic marketing with
Akir. We just have to get his music out. Once people hear him, he'll take
been working with Akir since he started. How have you seen him grow?
each other since we were 16. I was writing rhymes and he was just a fan.
Then he started writing rhymes and he started blowing me out the box!
We had a radio show at our boarding school in Massachusetts. His freestyles
are crazy. The way he can take anything and make it flow is beyond me.
He's grown exponentially.
the most anticipated albums right now is Immortal Technique's. How's "The
Middle Passage" coming?
working on it. There is so much demand for him right now that every time
we start to work on it, he gets booked for a show or something comes up.
We're really into it right now. He's got most of the writing completed.
He has some guest appearances that I'm not allowed to speak on yet. The
production is absurd. I have a couple joints on there. He has some real
high-caliber production right now. We renovated the studio too so the
sound quality will be phenomenal.
it recording Immortal Technique?
in a way that makes me enjoy working with him. He comes in with no distractions.
There is nobody in there except me and him unless they're supposed to
be there. He knocks out most of his verses in one take. He must practice
a lot because he knocks just about everything out in one take. He's very
meticulous about the recording and mixing process, which I really appreciate.
He sits there with me and pays attention to what's going on and gives
me his ear and input. At the end of the day, we come out with a product
that we love and everyone else will be satisfied with as well.
been with Tech from the beginning as well, how have you seen him grow?
to me. My sister remembers when we were 15 causing trouble. Nobody was
trying to be a rapper or producer. We were just in high school. Now, she's
like, "My friend from New Mexico loves Immortal Technique."
It's crazy. He's exploded. He's built for this. He was made to do this.
And for the
record, his main criticism had been his breath control. He's been on the
gym and it's definitely evident that he stepped up his flow, his lyrics,
everything. The whole album is next-level.
with The Longshots on "Hunger Music," as well. How did you help
I had a lot
of the same duties I have with Akir and Tech. I gave them direction. They
came with some ideas and all that, and I helped them with that. Out of
all the cats I worked with, I've seen them grow the most. Rock is a real
energetic cat and Crayon was a more laid-back and cool cat, and they came
to me and we were just working. Their flows got tighter and their lyrics
got a lot tighter. I engineered all of their work and I did the song "Game
of Love." We're supposed to start working on some new music. I can't
wait to see what they have in store.
do you see The Longshots going?
New York-minded. They're working on a more universal sound. I heard "Hunger
Music" didn't do so well, but they'll definitely be back with some
all the work you've done, what are you most proud of right now?
a three-way tie between completing "Revolutionary: Volume Two,"
which we banged out and said, "Let's put it out and see what happens.
Also completing "Legacy" and leaving Bad Boy and starting this
whole shit. Those are my three accomplishments that I'm most proud of.
you start working at Bad Boy?
I had finished
college and I was familiar with making beats. I was familiar with computers
because I worked in computers at college to put some money in my pocket.
I was referred to the director of the studio. She brought me in and gave
me a try as a librarian. I kept everything straight with the Biggie DAT's
and the Black Rob reels and the 112 stuff. That was before everything
went digital. I was more familiar with the computers than anyone else.
All these engineers had 20 years under their belts but didn't understand
computers like I did. I was in that environment for 16 or 17 hours a day.
I learned a lot. I assisted the in-house engineer, Jimmy Lee, who taught
me most of what I know. Jimmy got fired on some bullshit. I ended up taking
over his position. In a couple of months, I left. The money was not right.
Cats were getting abused, motherfuckers were getting fired
to be out. I quit. At the same time, Tech and I were talking about getting
"Revolutionary: Volume Two" done. That's where I went from there.
you want to leave Bad Boy?
I'm not going
to trash-talk anybody. People know Puffy. He can be a dick at times, but
you have to be a dick to make the kind of money he has. The problem is
that a lot of the people around him don't have his resources, but they
have his attitude. Lower-level cats don't make a lot of money and are
considered expendable. I was practically making McDonald's money. I was
sleeping in the studio three nights a week. I tried to move up the ladder
but the nepotism is crazy. I can say, though, that I left on my own volition.
I left when I saw it was time to go.
said there are a lot of "yes-men" at Bad Boy."
lot of "yes-men" and there's a lot of sexual harassment that
goes on over there. I know cats at Atlantic and it doesn't seem to be
the same environment. Bad Boy was the worst of the worst to me.
are you using today?
Oh man, I
have a lot. The hardware I use is the Apple G5, AMD 3200, Digi002 Interface,
Yamaha MotifRack, Yamaha DX7, Oxygen 8, Yamaha RBX260 bass, the MPC-1000,
MPD-16, the Avalon-737 SP, two Technics, a Stanton SMC-201 mixer, the
Lexicon MPX-200 Effects Processor. For mics, I use a Neumann-U87, TLM103,
Blue Mics' "Blueberry" and a Shure Beta 57A . For software,
I use Pro Tools 7.0, Reason 3.0, Acid, Recycle, and Sound Forge 8.0. The
plug-ins I use are, among others, Waves Diamond Bundle, T-Racks, Synchronic,
Pultec EQ, and Amplitude.
making beats for the past eight years on software. I started playing piano
when I was a kid. I've made just about everything you've heard from me
on Reason. Now, I'm combining the MPC with Reason and Acid. With that,
you can get the best of both worlds.
your production grown in the past eight years?
lot more range to what I do now. I've always been a more musical cat than
a boom-bap cat. I'm working a lot more on my drums and EQ'ing them on
the computer. Tech just said that my new beats don't even sound like my
older ones. I do R&B joints too, but no one's heard those yet. I'm
all over the place.
is it to have a musical background to being a producer?
on what you're doing. Look at Premier. He doesn't have to do anything
except what he does, and he makes heat. Some cats are simple but I like
to get more complex. I like to get deep into it. I want to be able to
add strings to a hook. I want to be able to do more than chop and add
drums. I have an ear and I understand notation. It definitely helps as
far as orchestration and making a beat livelier.
and Jay Dee are doing instrumental albums
We were just talking about that. Akir and I might throw one together.
We might try and get Metaphysic involved, too. Tech will come to me with
ideas, too. He'll bring me a song and ask me to chop it. He'll sit there
with me while I do it. You may see beats produced by Immortal Technique
soon! We're just trying to keep our hands in as many things as possible.
coming up for you?
the main focus is "The Middle Passage." That's really it for
the next few months. We're talking about expanding the label a little
bit. We've got this singer whose voice is crazy! We're thinking about
working on a project with her. Tech and I are talking about working with
a couple of other artists. Right now, it's "The Middle Passage."
your goals for 2006?
Middle Passage" on its feet. New Year's came and I didn't have my
resolutions set. Akir and I are going to work on a compilation for ONE
Enterprises. That's going to have a lot of artists on there that Akir
wanted to work with. I really want to get an R&B artist because I'm
sitting on a shit-load of R&B beats. That's what I want to do to spread
my wings more. That's a pretty full 2006 to me. I've also been doing more
on engineering and sound design. I just won an award from the National
Black Theater for sound design.
do you have for up-and-coming producers?
Be a producer.
A lot of cats don't understand what production is really about. It's not
just about turning on your favorite software and playing some shit and
sampling some shit. It's not about being a beat-maker. Be a real producer.
Get involved with your artist and really understand the song and help
them craft the song the way you see it. That's what producing is really
about. That will get you experience. That's how you move up in the game,
by knowing how to do things. Get connected and exploit your connects.
Get your beats out. Don't complain about how cats aren't buying your shit.
I know that feeling. Just constantly stay on people and don't give up.
Don't be afraid to try new things. Don't stay on that 4/4 with the same
kick and snare. Go out to Tower Records and get a CD from a country you
never heard of and make some shit! Just play with it.
you want to say to everyone?
cop that "Legacy" album. Be on the lookout for Akir in early
March/late February. Watch out for "The Middle Passage." Much
success in 2006.