Your Gangsta Grillz mixtape just dropped for free download and it’s showing what you can do to a wide audience. Are you happy with how it’s doing so far?
Yeah. It’s doing a few things for me. The main thing that it’s doing is it’s getting my buzz more up. It’s getting the Terrace Martin awareness up. It’s also showing that you can do real music and still have a ball with it. You don’t have to follow no types of trends. You can be yourself. It’s also showing the buzz of a few new artists on there and it’s showing the reinvention and rebirth of a few artists that we know already. It’s showing the younger cats and the older cats. It’s following the each one, teach one format. It’s a whole sound and there is no age in music. It’s something new and it’s free so everybody can get the shit! (laughs)
Fans have known about you for a while but you’ve never been in the spotlight like that yet. Does this mixtape show fans the whole scope of your talents?
I think this is the project that shows it the most so far. I think it is so far. I mean, I’m still so much a fan and a student of the music, man, that it’s like I don’t even know if I’ll ever reach my peak. Music is such a weird thing. You never master it. I’ll just say that it’s a good expression for this point in time right now.
How important was it for you to have established legends like Snoop Dogg on the mixtape along with up-and-coming artists like Problem, who hasn’t gotten his break yet?
For one, it was very important because I’m from a few generations down from Snoop, Quik and Kurupt and I kind of feel like my generation, I think we lost the respect for these cats and I say “we” as a whole, not me and my guys, because I feel like we lost some type of respect and I’m always reading these blogs and the blogs always feel like guys like Snoop, Kurupt and Quik are washed up. They’re just being disrespectful and I felt like it was my responsibility not only as their little homeboy but as a fan to do this because there wouldn’t be a lot of stuff out now without guys like Daz and Soopafly and Dre and everyone. It wouldn’t have the meaning it has now. There would be no Terrace Martin’s, Glasses Malone’s, Bishop Lamont’s and the Problem’s.
When I hear cats being disrespectful to them, I want to remind them that it’s very important that we keep these cats close to us. It’s kind of like history. It’s like classic books. If you don’t study those books you won’t ever pass those tests and don’t ever think that you’ll be as great as your teacher because you won’t be. And keep in mind I didn’t say that, Miles Davis did. So don’t diss me, diss Miles! (laughs)
Why do you think these legends don’t get the respect they deserve today?
That’s such a tricky question. I’m going to try to answer it all the way around because on the East Coast they treat their vets a little differently than we do over here so I’m going to try to answer it as generally as possible. You know, I think, it’s just kind of like, when you have a kid or you have a hardheaded little kid and they grow up and they’re a little taller than their father, they want to test him. (laughs) I think my generation, they just got fucked up morals. They didn’t grow up going to church on Easter. I don’t know. It’s a weird thing because most of these little guys are wack in my generation because they didn’t study. You gotta study!
When your peers hit you up to work, what do you look for in them before you make a decision?
They have to be different. It’s funny, I was just saying in my head that I would rather deal with the wack dude with a great heart that wants to be good than the talk of the town who just wants to be like everybody else. Bring a new light. Okay, we talked about the khakis and the Chucks in the ‘90s. We talked about the low-riders. Let’s talk about some new things. Being vegetarian is like the new thing in California! (laughs) I look for artists to be different and somebody that has sound, dude. Somebody that you can hear and you know it’s them, not that it sounds like somebody like blah, blah, blah.
And I’m glad you said “peers” because there are not a lot of peers that have their own sound from here to New York. Everybody sounds like somebody, dude. I should say everybody sounds like whatever’s going on now, that’s what they sound like. It’s a crazy thing. It’s like they’re not being producers, they’re being reducers. They’re fucking up the art form.
What is your place on the West Coast right now?
I see my place on the West, I mean, on the West, I kind of see me, I hate to say it and I hope everybody reads this ,I don’t see me growing on the West. That’s why I did a tape with DJ Drama, so I could grow with the whole world. I was born and raised in L.A. and everybody knows me in L.A. On the West right now, man, I’m just really trying to get my music out to the world right now because right here, it’s a weird thing going on right now in Los Angeles, California. I can’t speak for New York because I don’t live in New York but I can speak for L.A. and hopefully I can be one of the guys to put the band-aid on music in general.
There’s a lot of talent in L.A. but the excitement from fans and artists doesn’t seem to be there. Am I missing something?
You’re right. There’s a few things. No. 1, musically-speaking, music, it comes in seasons who’s hot. To me there’s nobody that can control that. It’s a season thing. Back in the ’40s and the early ‘50s, there was a thing called cool jazz. That represented the West Coast. That was Miles Davis and Charlie Parker and they came to L.A. and played some laid-back music. The New York guys were so aggressive and on the bebop that they called what was going on in the West Coast corny. The Chet Baker’s was out here playing and even John Coltrane moved out here. Everybody knew that L.A. was popping and then it got back to some other shit where it went back to New York. It kind of went back to New York. Music has it’s seasons and it’s the same thing with hip-hop. To me it’s always going to kind of be like that. In my opinion I don’t see it cracking everywhere at one time to the fullest like it could but it’s just always been like that in music in general. That’s one answer.
The other side on the West Coast, we tear each other down out here, man. We tear each other down out here. We talk bad about each other. We feel like everybody on the West Coast is waiting for Snoop and Dr. Dre to save them but there are a lot of people out here and Snoop and Dr. Dre can’t save everybody. You gotta find your own lane. Murs found his own lane. Souls of Mischief found their lane in the ‘90s. But everybody else is waiting for Snoop and Dr. Dre to save them but sometimes you have to have your own piece of the puzzle to have the puzzle make sense.
Can you consciously try to bring that excitement back?
I could be if I keep on doing what I’m doing, which is getting awareness back on the West Coast. The biggest thing about me doing a mixtape with DJ Drama, not only is he one of the biggest DJs in the world and a good friend of mine, he also has a way of getting music in places where I can’t get it to. People will ask, “What is Locke High?” I’ll probably be the last name they mention on the mixtape but that’s okay as long as they realize that there is some other shit going on in that side of the planet. “Let me dig and see what else is going on in this side of the planet. Who’s Problem?” The West Coast is bubbling and hopefully the things that I do, I bring more attention back over here to this side. I try to but I can’t do it all by myself. Thanks to cats like Game and Murs who bring attention to this side but we need about 20 more people doing it with their own individual sound though.
Are West Coast producers chasing the Dr. Dre sound?
You know what? I feel a lot of people are chasing that Dre sound. I’m one of the ones who is chasing the sound in a certain aspect of what I’m trying to say. I’m one of the ones that’s chasing that sound. He’s great and I’m definitely going to chase greatness.
When I play the saxophone I’m chasing John Coltrane and I’m chasing Charlie Parker. I take anybody I like, like Hi Tek or DJ Quik, I try to close my eyes and imagine how can I make this sound like something where me and Dr. Dre were alone in the room with a drum machine? And that’s what cats don’t do. They say, “I’m going to make a Dre beat right now!” I say, “Let me take some of the elements and make it mine.” That’s when you’re trying to push music forward. It’s okay to try to make someone’s music yours but know that there will only be one Dr. Dre and there will only be one DJ Quik. Try to take their production skills and make it yours. Just take those elements and try to make them yours to try to birth your own sound because they took elements from other people and made them theirs.
Your production style doesn’t have one element that identifies and possibly pigeonholes you. How important is that to you as a producer?
It’s very important. You know what? I learned that from playing at 12, 13 and 14 years-old. This is going to be funny but I learned that from playing weddings. I was playing the horns. They don’t want to hear one sound .They want to hear Marvin Gaye and top 40 and pop and all that.
I also learned from talking to my father. Certain cities used to have only one radio station where they would have to play everything at one time. Like back in the ‘60s they would play one John Coltrane record and then they would play The Beatles. They would play “Jump Around” and then Charlie Parker. Whatever was hot they would platy. There was just good music playing on the radio at one point. And that’s what I try to do with my music so you can’t stamp it and say it’s the Terrace Martin sound. I want to touch everybody and everybody may feel something different. And I make all kinds of music. My music doesn’t have one type of sound. It’s just music.
It definitely says a lot about your skills as a producer when you can bring out the best in Murs and Snoop Dogg on the same track like you did on “Time Is Now” off Murs’ album Murs for President.
Oh yeah. And Snoop is one of the only artists in the world who could, on a song, he could come with a piece of that song. He can rap over anything, dude. He can rap over classical music. He’s one of the only ones. I know one other person like that who’s flawless over anything and that’s Tone Treasure on my mixtape. They adapt to anything you throw at them, dude. It’s amazing. It’s the weirdest thing. I wish I could do that.
How do you and Snoop work together on beats?
You would have to come get a five piece order of chicken from Rasco’s Chicken and Waffles and come ready to laugh, sing and dance. It’s a ball, dude. We do it because we love music but we just have fun when we’re doing it. It’s not dark in the room. It’s a party. It’s magical, man. It’s a ball. And I learned so much from him because he is a walking icon. Like he knows a lot about all different kinds of music and he told me a few things about jazz and everything. He never runs out of ideas, dude. A lot of cats from that era like him and DJ Quik, they’re like that. That’s why when I hear cats being disrespectful, I know they don’t know them and if they had a little bit of what they knew they would be amazing.
How did you first link up with the legendary DJ Quik?
Me and Quik, we started working together on the Murs project and then we’ve been working a lot ever since. Right now we’re just doing a whole new breath of fresh air music together. Him and Kurupt are actually doing a photo shot right now for their new album Blackout. That will be out in the first quarter. We’re working on the Pussycat Dolls record and a lot of pop records right now. Not so much rap but a lot of pop records right now. And me and him’s sound together is amazing because a lot of people know the main two cats who influenced me are Battlekat and DJ Quik. I know what he’s going to do before he does it because I’ve studied him so much and it’s also like college. It’s like going to school at the same time. I’m at the University of DJ Quik.
You’re also recording an album with Murs. How did you first come across Murs’ music?
I’m from L.A. and Murs is from L.A. I’ve always heard about Murs and my daughter’s mother grew up with Murs. He’s been bubbling in L.A. for years. He’s been hustling. I’ve always wanted to work with Murs and I didn’t meet him until I met him with Snoop but I knew when I shook his hand and looked him in his eyes, I knew what I was getting. I heard his records with 9th Wonder and I heard where he’s never been and I took him there and he took me where I had never been. I had never worked with cats like that before and I loved working with him so much that we’re halfway done with our album. We have a group called Melrose, just me and Murs. It will really be out next year. I’m sure you do interviews with a gang of dudes where they talk about what’s coming out but everything I’m talking about is really coming out.
How is the Melrose album coming so far?
Fun, up-tempo, not typical, no samples at all. It’s all live musicians. It’s me playing the saxophone and keys and we got poetry on the record. It’s a very fun record, dude. It’s the kind of record where you can play it from top to bottom and have a ball. We’re not offending anybody on the record with negative stuff. It’s all positive and right now nobody out here is positive. (laughs) We’re not doing gangsta rap at all.
And fans should also not expect soul beats like 9th Wonder.
No. Expect if the Beatles ate fried chicken, Just Blaze walked in briefly, then Stevie Wonder comes in and hangs out briefly for the night and Marvin Gaye comes in and takes everybody home and John Coltrane plays the saxophone for everybody and Charlie Parker plays alto saxophone for everybody and Battlekat comes in and plays keyboards and Quik comes in and plays key-bass. That’s a lot going on. Imagine that.
How do you stay consistent and sane with all these different projects going on?
Because I do it for the love and I don’t do it for the money at all. And when you do something because you really love it, I tell people every day, I didn’t give myself the ability to do music. God gave it to me. I’m not talented at all. I’m gifted. It’s a gift, dude. I don’t know anything but this so I don’t know how to get tired from doing this. It’s like how do you get tired from breathing? (laughs)
And I’m not trying to be deep but anybody that knows me, I’m a fourth-generation musician. I don’t know anything else. All I do every day is music. I try to be the best person I can possibly be and I do fall short at times. I also breed pitbulls but music is what I do. But that’s it. I don’t get tired and I don’t put a lot of stuff on my plate. I used to put a lot of stuff on my plate and then I pissed people off when I didn’t get back to them. I didn’t know how to manage my time. I stack project and I manage my time and work quick. I’m working with Snoop but the project I’m zoned out on is the Melrose project, Kurupt’s project and I have an artist named Bad Luck. That’s three projects but I’m always stacking music every day. But those are the projects I’m focused on.
Are fans starting to pay more attention to your talents?
Definitely. I read the blogs a lot. I just started reading the blogs. I love when people like my music. There’s a lot of people that say some mean things to and I’m not going to lie and tell you it doesn’t bother me when I hear these weird hater things said but it keeps me pushing because four years ago they weren’t talking anything about me. (laughs) So now people are really just started to hear from me.
What I’m going to do because this is HipHopGame, I really want to work with an East Coast artist. I want to do 10 songs with someone who’s really popping. I really want to work with Max B really bad. Man, if you could hook that up because people have tried and they said they tried but if Max B met me and we were in a room together, for 10 days I would come out to New York and we would knock out an album and two mixtapes. Tell him I already got the music ready and it’ll just be me and him. That’s what I really want to do.
I think once I do something like that it’ll get me popping on that end and it’ll get Max B popping on this end because you know what? I know who Max B is and I am a fan of his music because I go to New York a lot. I got homies who don’t know who Max B is but they need to know because he is the shit. So, Max, call me. Just imagine me and Max on some songs because he sings too! So imagine something that’s hella musical with some earthy-ass drums and all that! We could kill the game right now but who knows. Right now I’m posted up. That’s really what I’m doing and I’m talking to the world. And I really do appreciate when guys do want to interview me because I’m not all the way popping yet but I am popping and I’m having a ball climbing to the top.
You’re a good interview. Now that you’ve had a consistent stream of music coming out, are you going to keep up that pace?
I’m going to try until I run out of songs. Unfortunately I’m not like one of these guys that can sit around and do it every day like that because I do have a family and I still am a working producer and a working musician. I was doing a lot of those songs on my downtime and now that it’s the fourth quarter everybody is starting to record again and I got 11 more jewels to record and drop them. By then I should have some more downtime to just do a gang of music. It takes that. And I’m not knocking nobody, but if I was living at home with my mother and I didn’t have no deal and I had no car notes and no kids wanted anything and my dogs didn’t need this, then I could just do mixtape shit all day. (laughs) But I can’t. I still have to go to work because it’s still a job. I just happen to love my job.
Dame Grease just hit me back and said he wants to know if you can get Snoop Dogg on the project.
He wants to get Snoop Dogg on the project? Nope. Nah. It couldn’t be all that. See, that’s what I’m not going to do. If I wanted to do that I could just tell Snoop to call anybody I wanted and I could get to anybody but I wanted to fuck with another underdog that’s popping in his city like I’m popping in my city just to prove a point. Tell Dame good looking and I was supposed to go to the studio with Kurupt out there but I got sick.
It probably won’t work out but if it would, that’s what I would like to do because at the same time, I get a lot of cats that sometimes they want to mess with me because I’m with Snoop but nah, uh uh. (laughs)
It must get frustrating when other artists still see you in Snoop’s shadow.
Yeah. You know what? I feel about that two different ways. It’s hard to stand alone but then again, whether or not people want to believe it or not, I’m with one of the biggest rappers in the world (laughs), so fuck it, I’m going to roll out. And the other side of that is I don’t look at it like that because Snoop is really my friend. It’s a personal big brother and little brother thing where I don’t look at it like that. I look at him just like a bad-ass musician who is teaching me so much. I’m in school so much and I take that and I show it to my friends who don’t get to get close to cats like that but they don’t want to listen! (laughs)
What’s your beatmaking process like?
I usually start doing beats at 7:30 in the morning. My days are done by 5 and 6. But I get up in them morning and I usually pop the iPod on. I just got a grand piano in my living room and I usually start writing from the piano. If I hear something in my head then I’ll go over to my studio and hook up my drum machine and I’ll keep humming what I heard in the piano into the drum machine and it just kicks off from there.
But I don’t finish none of the beats from there. I’m not a beatmaker. I studied the best producers from Quik to Teddy Riley to producing a song with Quincy Jones. I don’t try to rush anything and try to finish it in one night anymore. Now I sit back and do the scales and wait for the artist to come and paint the picture for him. I’m involved in the artist’s writing and they come and do the vocals and they come back a week later and add the rest on top of that. I don’t rush records no more and it takes a lot longer because I care about this.
Believe it or not, me and Drama have been talking about this mixtape for a year and a half. That shit took me like a year. I wanted to get it right because I was trying to showcase as much as I could for my sound right now. I was trying to showcase as much as I possibly could.
What equipment are you using right now?
Right now I use all the analog gear. A real grand piano, Rhodes, the MPC 3000, I got Logic too. I got Pro Tools. I got four channels of Neve 1073’s, eight channels of API mic preset. I use a Sony C 800 mic. I got gear, dude. I got a lot of equipment. I got an EPK coming out on YouTube that shows all that shit too. I got a lot of gear. I didn’t go out and spend and buy a chain or a BMW or a house in the hills. I bought equipment!
What artists coming out of the West should we be watching for?
Be watching out for Problem. Be watching out for Bad Luck. And be on the look out for T. Lee. Those are the artists I have stock in. I’ll say it again – Bad Luck, Problem and T. Lee. If I missed anybody, it’s not because I’m not thinking about you. It’s just these are the cats that are pushing that line. I’ll say it again – Problem, Bad Luck and T. Lee.
What’s your plan for the next couple of months?
I’m about to lock it down with Kurupt and finish his whole new record. It’s his official record. It’ll be for all the Kurupt fans. It is the official record. A lot of heart and time was put into this record. His pen is ridiculous right now and his pen is moving a million miles an hour. This is the official Kurupt record. It’s not Kurupt Presents… or a Young Gotti. It’s Kurupt how we know Kurupt. It’s the same dude that shuts it down. DJ Quik is involved. Snoop is involved. Focus is involved. Wyldfyer is involved. Pete Rock is involved. Those names alone will tell motherfuckers that this is a deep record. For the next couple of months I will be doing nothing but that and my pitbulls.