I’m good, man. I’m real happy. I’ve been getting a lot of calls.
Something that’s probably helping you get more calls today is 50’s new track “Straight to the Bank.” How has producing that track helped you?
Oh, man. It’s changed my whole career. I’ve always had a great career, but it’s like I’m starting all over from scratch. It’s like a brand new beginning right now.
That’s a pretty big statement considering what you’ve produced in the past.
Just working with the best artist in the business…I’ve always admired 50’s work and being able to show my versatility, nobody can pigeonhole my sound. I can adapt to any change in the music business. To let people hear that side of me, it’s like I’m brand new.
How important is it for you to stay relevant and change with the times?
I like to stay with the times as far as equipment. I like to stay up on what’s on the radio and what’s in the club. I also study music, period. I study anything from Roger Troutman to R.Kelly to Dr. Dre to anyone that’s successful in their craft.
Was “Straight to the Bank” done with 50 in the studio?
Actually Yayo started it and 50 put his magic over it.
Would “Straight to the Bank” have been better if you were with 50 in the studio?
I think it would have been pretty much the same. A couple of things may have been different. But I’ve been studying their sound for a minute and I knew that that track would probably be something they would be interested in.
Can there be a negative effect to working with 50 Cent, especially with artists who don’t like him?
That’s their problem. I think working with 50 is the best thing ever. We have a great relationship. I’m very cool with his whole camp, especially Yayo. We’re real tight. It’s nobody’s business how cool I am with them and what I do with them. I’m still a businessman and I’ll still sell tracks, but I don’t think I will ever sell tracks to Dipset again anyway.
What went wrong with Dipset?
I don’t even want to comment on that. I will never sell tracks to them again.
What’s it like working with Tony Yayo?
I think he’s one of the best artists coming out, period. I think he’s really underrated. I thought his last album was incredible. I thought “So Seductive” was a classic. Really, it was the timing of his album. That’s why his sales weren’t as big as they could have been. I think it was his timing and the fact that he had just come home.
If the allegations against Tony Yayo are true and he did beat up a kid, is that going to change your opinion of him?
Nope. Not at all. People make mistakes. I don’t think he did it. I don’t know who did it. I wasn’t there. It has nothing to do with me. Me and him are real cool. That’s my peoples and I’m there for him, regardless. He’s good people and I think his music is going to get stronger.
You also did “Where I Belong” off Mims’ Music Is My Savior. How important was it for you to give him a different sound than the type of track fans were expecting?
I wanted to give him the best track that I could. I bring real creativity out of the artist. I format my tracks like songs and they know where to go after that.
How do you balance producing songs with a street edge versus commercially-appealing songs that have single potential?
I learned from being in the business how to make singles, radio records and gutter, street tracks. I know how to diversify my stuff. And I hope to be in the game another 15 years.
You’ve worked with McGruff in the past. Is he still rapping?
I don’t know what he’s doing, but I’m sure he’s doing something big. He’s really a talented dude. I always liked his stuff. Just in general, I’m in touch with a lot of people from Harlem.
You’ve done a lot of work with Ja Rule. What stands out the most about working with Ja Rule?
I think he’s an excellent songwriter.
Can Ja Rule still be successful today?
I think he can still be successful. I think he just has to concentrate on what made him big. He’s a songwriter and the key to everything is the structure of a song. He’s an excellent songwriter.
You did some good work with Canibus on 2000 B.C. What do you think of that album today?
I think that music that he was making back then was pretty timeless. He needs to be current and make some new records.
Would you ever work with Canibus again?
I would work with anybody again. I just want to get my product out in general. Well, I wouldn’t say “anybody.” I would never work with Dipset again.
What was it like working with Royce da 5’9”?
He’s talented and it was a pleasure working with him. I love to work with people who really know what they’re doing and can really adapt to good music where you can hear the music ten years from now and still appreciate it.
What does “Murdergram” featuring Jay-Z, Ja Rule and DMX mean to you today?
I think that’s one of the truest, most timeless and most incredible records I’ve ever made. There will never be a supergroup like that again. It’s not going to be easy to ever do that again. To get Jay-Z, Ja Rule and DMX in their prime, they will never make something like that again. They should have made an album.
You’ve worked with most of the key artists from the mid to late 90s. How do you look back on those days and what does that mean to you?
It means that I’m actually a part of rap music for real. Fans can never forget that. That’s crazy and that’s really important for me.
How do you look back on your work with Wreckx-N-Effect?
Wow. That’s taking it back, huh? Working with them, I made their biggest album just like Cam’ron’s biggest album Come Home With Me. I’m proud of that. “Rump Shaker” sold 2.5 million with the single. They’ll never make records like that again. I feel like I’m the reason why a lot of artists are successful.
What do you bring out of the artists you work with that makes them deliver their best work?
I don’t know. It’s just my music. I love music. I try to make the best music ever. I study the best. If you watch Kobe Bryant, you can see that he studied Michael Jordan and you can see how great of a player he is. He studied to be the best and that’s what I’m trying to be. I’m trying to be the best at what I’m doing.
Where would you be today without Teddy Riley?
That’s my mentor. He’s shown me how to arrange and get my production where it’s supposed to be. He’s one of the greatest of all time. I look up to that dude. Without him, I don’t think I would be producing.
You also have your own artist, Ca$hflo, that you’re developing. What made you want to work with him?
He’s going to be one of the greats. He’s an excellent songwriter and it’s a blessing to have a songwriter who’s as gifted as he is. Right now it’s just about what label is going to give us the shot. He’s going to be one of the best.
From looking at your discography, it would have been more predictable for you to work with an artist from New York. Why did you go to Newport News, VA for Ca$hflo?
I love a challenge because the South is hot right now but I’m going to have him broken in New York. Most people try to break their artists in other cities, but I’m going to break him in New York. That’s the hardest place to break anything.
You’ve done a lot of work with established artists. What has been the best part of developing a new artist for you?
I love that people don’t know about him and that I’m helping bring it to the world. That’s really the best part that I’m looking forward to.
Are you looking to sign other artists?
Always. I’m looking for artists. I’m looking for producers. I’m a businessman. I’m looking for what’s unique and what’s the next biggest thing.
How do you know when you’ve found the next biggest thing?
For producers, to work with my camp, I’m looking for somebody that’s very talented in all aspects. I don’t want anybody stuck on one thing. I also want somebody who works harder than me. That’s hard because I work hard all day, every day. I do tracks like it’s math. I do about six to seven tracks a day and I keep a strong five. So at the end of the week, that’s over 25 to 30 tracks. If I don’t get a hit out of a batch of that, then I’m doing something wrong.
How has your production techniques changed over the years?
I got a lot tighter. My ear is even a lot more accurate than anybody else’s ear. My music gets better every year.
What equipment do you use?
The MPC 2500. I also use the Motif and Pro Tools.
Do you ever see yourself going digital with Reason or Logic?
I’m always trying to work with everything. I might dabble in it, but I love the MPC sequencer and laying my stuff in Pro Tools. I guess that’s kind of like Logic anyway.
How close attention do you pay to new production trends?
I don’t love music today. I only respect the best. I feel like a lot of the things in the music business are more business than music. I feel a lot of people are getting on because of who their friends are. I would never sell out myself. Somebody would have to be extremely talented or be an asset to what I do for me to be involved in their project. It has nothing to do with their relationships.
You also run The Music Factory studio. How important is it for you to have that?
I’m opening it up to the public and I also want to have my producers working in there. I have everything that the major recording studios have. It’s an asset. It’s definitely going to be one of the best studios in the business. People are really going to appreciate it.
What’s next for you?
We’ve been getting a lot of calls from Whitney Houston, Jennifer Hudson, T-Pain, Britney Spears and Joe. Tony Yayo’s album is going to be big for me. That’s going to be a classic. I know people felt him before and they’re really going to feel him now. I think he’s definitely one of the best rappers coming out.
What advice would you offer to up-and-coming producers?
Up-and-coming producers that work hard and make great music, give me a call.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Check out my MySpace and just look out for “Straight to the Bank” by 50 Cent.