It’s been awhile since our last interview in 2005. From Fat Joe to Lil’ Wayne, you’ve made a lot of huge placements since then.
I’ve been doing a lot of hits and a lot of misses, more misses than hits. There were a lot of albums that I had tracks on but then nothing would come out. It didn’t bring me down. I just kept moving forward. I stayed on the grind. I got picked up by EMI this past summer. EMI Music Publishing recently signed me. I recently signed a publishing deal with them. I’ve just been working my ass off. I’ve just been trying to get it popping.
You’re working on Lil’ Wayne’s Tha Carter III. How’s the album coming?
All these records leaked. I feel like through the leaks, something that was supposed to be great is now flawed. Some of these records that leaked might have been scraps or records that he was just rapping on, trying some different shit and trying some experiments and whatnot, but some of these records that leaked are fucking classics, dog. If the album would have been put together with some of these classics and some of the shit that nobody has heard before, I know this record would have went down in history as a big, big record. And I’m not saying that it still can’t, but there’s been so much that’s just gone out to the streets and it’s kind of fucked up. But I know Wayne’s got a lot of material and I definitely have a lot of material. Regardless of the fact that some music was leaked, there’s still going to be a lot of monsters on the album regardless. We really can’t wet it. We just have to keep working and do what we do.
How does Wayne have so many songs leak out?
I just know from what I heard. CDs get stolen and engineers start leaking different tracks. Working in different studios, songs get snatched up. I really don’t know the details so I can’t speak on it. I know none of my music was leaked by me. That’s all I know. All I know is that I would hear an Empire mixtape with my beat and Lil’ Wayne on it and I would be like, ‘What the fuck is that doing on there?’ I’m talking about records that were on hold for Tha Carter III for a year. “Rappapompom” and “I Run With Trouble” were on hold for Tha Carter III were on hold for a year and a half. We did those right after Tha Carter II. Those were on hold and we knew nothing was touching them. It was just a matter of time before those actually got out and leaked.
We still got records that haven’t leaked and luckily one of my biggest records to date, “Gossip”, was actually world-premiered on the BET Awards. With it premiering like that, it was much more special than it dropping on an Empire mixtape. I really don’t respect these dudes dropping these mixtapes just to get a name for themselves. If they want to do a Lil’ Wayne mixtape, you need to holler at Lil’ Wayne and do it officially. They lost me a lot of money. These beats cost money. These beats cost time. And here I am working my ass off to get in the game and get it popping and I have some dudes that are trying to get a quick come-up and drop a joint with my music on it without my permission. That shit fucks me up. A lot of my dudes worked on that album and it fucks me up.
I don’t see how somebody can do that. The whole problem with the shit is that the music got stolen. That’s what it all boils down to. I think somehow, somebody stole a bunch of fucking joints from the studio, a hard drive or a car. Wherever this music was at, it got stolen. It was never intentionally leaked. And then obviously somebody put up some bread, got the music and dropped Tha Carter III before Tha Carter III even happens. This shit fucks up a lot of things. It fucks up an album that can make history. It fucks up the producers who are working on this album and the engineers who are working on the album and it fucks up Lil’ Wayne. There is a lack of good music and here it is, all getting fucking leaked to the streets and shit. The shit goes from being a big movement and from being a hot record that is a potential movie to being a mixtape monster. There’s five volumes of The Leak. What the fuck is that? That shit is ridiculous to me. When dudes make a living off of dropping an entire album, come on, man, that shit is just a little bit ridiculous.
You produced “Rappapompom” and “Gossip” for Wayne, two of his biggest hits recently. How did you become Wayne’s go-to producer?
It’s just being consistent and consistent. I would constantly go check him and every time I checked him, I had heat. When he rapped on them, it just seemed like we made really good music. When I hand him a CD of beats, he knows there’s not going to be no bullshit on there. I’m not going to be doing any experimental shit and it’s going to sound weird and dudes are going to be embarrassed playing my beats. They know it’s going to be that heat. The Streetrunner CD is that heat! I try to do that with everybody that I fuck with. I don’t let nobody get short-changed when we work on music.
How do you maintain that level of consistency while bringing different sounds and styles to artists?
Basically I go in the direction that I want to head in a particular beat. I don’t like doing anything simple. I like to do things a little different all of the time. It’s really hard for me to take a sample and really just loop that shit up and not do nothing else to it. I always try to be creative and I always try to take it to the next level and whatever comes out of it, comes out of it. You can kind of blame my sound being a little different from everybody else’s because I love hip-hop, but then at the same time, I’m in the South. I gotta shop a lot of beats to artists in the South. Out here, I’m trying to shoot my beats to Rick Ross to Lil’ Wayne to Ludacris to Jeezy to whoever. I’m trying to give them that heat. It’s almost like a Southern sound but it’s still hip-hop.
And then when Fat Joe comes around, I’ve always known what to do for him. I can make a Joe Crack beat easy. That’s not a problem. Me and him click when we listen to music. We have the same taste when it comes to music.
What is a Fat Joe session like?
It’s ridiculous. I come with a beat and it can be five minutes and the song is done. And then I take the Pro Tools session. I do that extra stuff to it to make it crazy and then it comes back and the song is just bananas. It’s too easy! We’ve done records where he’s dropped a verse in less than a minute after the beat loaded up into the Pro Tools. It’s not hard to do this music and that’s probably why there’s so much of it out there. It’s just not hard. It’s really easy.
How’s Fat Joe’s new album The Elephant in the Room coming?
Oh, man, his new album is crazy. One thing about Joe, and this is from a producer’s standpoint, my man Joe can pick beats. In his album, you can always count on hot beats. This album, I happen to have done 2-3 tracks on this. He’s got tracks from LV, Cool and Dre, Scott Storch, DJ Khaled, the Runners, Primo and Swizz Beatz. So with that lineup of producers…That’s one thing with his shit. The album is going to be crazy. It’s definitely coming along. It’s going to be a great album.
Joe hasn’t gotten a great response to his first singles, “Crack House” and “I Won’t Tell”. Will fans like the album better?
The “Crack House” joint with Lil’ Wayne, people got that one misunderstood. The “Crack House” with Lil’ Wayne is not supposed to be a “Make It Rain Part 2”. That was him letting you know that his album was going to be crack. There’s no video to that. It’s a big beat and Fat Joe is spitting ill rhymes and Lil’ Wayne is on the hook. Dre’s in the intro. That shit is all family right there. That shit is all tight like that. That’s just a record to warm up the streets and warm up the listeners, like, ‘Check this out. We’re going to be killing people on this album and I would just like to let you know.’ And the J. Holiday record is just some smooth, fly shit. Once the visuals come together with the song, people are going to understand the fly shit behind it. Joe always wanted a record like that, like some smooth, fly shit. And J. Holiday is dope right now. He’s coming off one of the biggest records of the year and this is a real smooth record for the ladies. It’s definitely not a dude’s first choice to rock to or ride to in the whip, but it sounds fresh in the club. Once the video comes into play with the visuals, people are going to understand it and understand the overall movie that he’s trying to give people with the record. If he would have come with J. Holiday first, people would have said Joe was coming with that soft shit. He had to break the ice with the “Crack House”.
Do you think Elephant in the Room will be a Fat Joe classic?
Oh, yeah. It’s going to be! Any fans who liked Me, Myself and I will equally like The Elephant in the Room. To me, Me, Myself and I was definitely one of his dopest albums and so is The Elephant in the Room. This dude has been in the game for a minute and he’s surpassed a lot of rappers who were doing it with him in the ‘90s. You can listen to ciphers from 1996 and he’s rapping alongside people who aren’t even relevant in the game right now. Joe managed to stay relevant in 2007 and going into 2008. That shit is incredible. You can’t knock that. You can say you don’t like how he raps and you can say you don’t like the Puerto Rican rapper. You can say whatever you want, but you can’t take away the fact that this man is still doing it and he’s still relevant and he still makes hit records and he still makes hot music.
Getting back to Lil’ Wayne, will Tha Carter III be the classic that Wayne fans are anticipating it to be?
It’s definitely going to be a classic. There’s no doubt about it. It would have been more ear-candy if there wasn’t so much Lil’ Wayne Carter III material out there right now. It would be different if there wasn’t 70-something records out there floating around in this year alone. That kind of takes away from it, but at the same time, the album is still gonna be crazy. The game needs this. Whenever it does drop, the game definitely needs a Lil’ Wayne album, just like we need a hot T.I. album to drop or a hot Jeezy album or a hot Jay-Z or Ludacris album to drop. We need these albums to drop because these are the only albums that are selling. If artists aren’t selling and records aren’t going gold or platinum, what else, as far as a music producer or music listener or music engineer, whatever part you might play in this game, what else are we going to have to look forward to?
There’s a lot of debate over whether Lil’ Wayne is the best rapper out. Where do you weigh in on that debate?
I mean, right now, it seems like it’s the truth. There are a lot of dope rappers, but the shit that Wayne’s doing is very versatile. He’s killing all kinds of tracks and all kinds of music. He’s killing all kinds of features. It just feels good to say that. Until I see somebody else doing it in a higher demand than what he’s in, I just feel confident in saying that Wayne, right now, is the best rapper in the game. He’s the hottest rapper to listen to and the hottest rapper to go cop and whatever you might do. He’s definitely the truth right now.
Are you involved on Lil’ Wayne and Juelz’s album I Can’t Feel My Face?
Oh, man, that’s another one! I definitely got a monster on that one. It’s just been a wait. I really don’t know what the politics is on that and I don’t know when it’s going to drop or if it’s ever going to drop, but I do know that that shit will be a fucking crazy-ass album because these dudes are hot and they definitely complement each other on the records that they make. It’s dope to hear them. You’re hearing Lil’ Wayne and you’re hearing Juelz Santana and it balances out real nice. Two dope MCs coming together to make one hot album is something I’m definitely looking forward to being a part of. Whenever it does go down officially, I’m going to be working on that album for sure.
Will you be working on Juelz’s next solo project?
I definitely want to. I just haven’t had the opportunity to get at him and give him some new tracks. But I definitely will whenever that goes down and whenever he starts working on his album. Whenever it’s time for him to go in, I definitely want to give him some crazy-ass records to go in on. That’s definitely in the works.
Do you make beats with specific artists in mind or do you just make whatever comes to you at that moment?
That’s simple. For example, the track that I did for the Birdman album, I was at Hit Factory with Macho and Joe and we were working in the studio. We were going from one studio to another and we were walking in the hallway and we happened to see the Birdman. The Birdman actually asked me on the spot if I had that heat on me. I didn’t have shit on me at the time. I told him I would be back tomorrow with something.
The next day, as soon as I got up, I went in the studio and got busy. That night, I was with Macho again and Birdman pulled up to the Hit Factory and it was just like that. I had the record and he heard it. Shit was crazy and he recorded it that night. I got the Pro Tools session to it that night and it was a done deal. It was real easy. It’s the same thing with Fat Joe. When Joe asks for a particular style of record or a particular sound, I just make it and give it back to him.
For example, on Me, Myself and I, he wanted me to flip the Michael Jackson “Maria” record because his mom’s name was Maria. It took me 2-3 days to make that but it made the project. There are beats that I made only for Tha Carter III. I do that. Sometimes I get particular ideas for an album and I go in and make it and hope the artist likes it and takes it. Usually when I do it, it’s a no-brainer. I make it so hot that the artist can’t refuse it. It’s a no-brainer and they snatch it right up.
Are your production techniques changing over time or have you stayed pretty consistent with your techniques when making beats?
They definitely have to change with the times. The music is changing. The styles of music that’s hot is changing. I mean, you can’t be making a ’95 diddy-bop tape, hip-hop boom-bap track and expect all the artists that are hot right now to embrace it and like it. You sometimes have to adjust. You sometimes have to switch up your style and make it more Southern or more synthesized. Sometimes you have to make it have more of a sample and sometimes you have to give it less of a sample. You have to just make it and take it to the next level. My style is definitely changing and it’s definitely growing. Some of it is definitely staying the same. I’m known for really crazy drums and for beating up the drums and that’s not changing. That’s pretty much staying the same. But as far as styles and techniques and using more keys in the track, they are changing. You have to make it sound current and relevant in the game.
What equipment do you use today?
I use an MPC 2000XL and I use a Motif keyboard and I have a lot of records.
Who should we watch for coming out of Miami next?
I’m going to have to put together an all-star list, including myself! (laughs) Coming out of Miami, it’s so crazy. I’m not going to say all these guys are from Miami, but it’s safe to say Danja Handz is definitely at the top of the list. He’s out here in Miami. I see him working out here in Miami a lot. I’m not sure where exactly he lives but I would consider him a Miami producer because he’s out here so much and I see him so much. Cool and Dre are definitely there. The Blackout Movement has got some crazy tracks. My mans Infamous, who produced a lot of records that were on The Leak from Tha Carter III is definitely on the list. There’s Jim Jonsin. He’s always doing his thing. DJ Khaled always comes through with a hot-ass record. These are definitely the dudes that stay bringing out that heat.
And most of the times, they’re running radio. “This Is Why I’m Hot” was killing the radio and The Blackout Movement produced that and they’re out here in Miami. The artists that Danja Handz is working with are killing records. Look at what Cool and Dre are doing. That is the list right there. There are other producers out here that are hot too, like the Runners. The J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League in Tampa is dope. There are some dudes out here in Florida that are really, really pushing that fire.
What’s the next move for Streetrunner?
Basically what I’m trying to do is get these tracks on as many of these albums as possible. I’m trying to build up my rep in the music business as a super-producer. I’m trying to be on that level. I want to be up there, neck and neck with the Dr. Dre’s, the Just Blaze’s, the Kanye West’s, the Neptunes’ and the Scott Storch’s. I want to be right up there rubbing elbows with these guys. I don’t see anything else until I hit that level and not until then will I try to take on an executive role in this music business. I’m going to start my label and pick up a few hot artists that I feel 100% confident in working with and I’ll start doing that and start with the executive role.
And right now, I’m looking forward to Tha Carter III. I’ve been looking forward to Tha Carter III for two years now. Ever since I started on Tha Carter III, I’ve been looking forward to that album, definitely more than anything, for two years deep now. That’s the first one on the album. The Birdman just dropped his album. I got a nice little record on that joint. I recently finished a record with Jamie Foxx. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly with that. That’s going to be a huge look for me. LL Cool J recently finished a record of mine. I recently got word back from DTP that Ludacris might be interested in a couple of records. There’s definitely a lot of potential in 2008 for me to have quite a few records to look forward to.
What do you want to say to everybody?
If you’re reading this interview, I definitely hope you understand the Streetrunner movement and what I’m trying to do. I know sometimes people be extra-particular about music right now, but it’s my goal in life to make sure that I’m always coming with something that’s going to be for the true listener of hip-hop and it’s going to be good, strong, powerful music whether it’s on the South tip, the East Coast tip or whatever it might be. I’m just trying to come with that shit.