You produced “Brooklyn” for Fabolous featuring Jay-Z and Uncle Murder. How did you make that track happen?
The story is a little long. I’ll try to keep it short. I actually made that record for another rapper in Brooklyn about three years ago. Basically an A&R wanted me to put the Biggie part into the hook. I chopped up the “Brooklyn” sample from when Biggie was live at Madison Square Garden. I was trying to get the right feeling for his vocals. I gave it to his A&R and he never put it out or anything. He wasn’t signed. The track just kind of sat there. It went through Lil’ Kim’s hands and a couple of other Brooklyn rappers. To make a long story short, I brought some of my beats up to Skane Dolla at Def Jam. The beat was on there. At the time, he was working on Fabolous’ album and he hit me up a couple of months later that Fab was going to record the “Brooklyn” record. I was like, ‘All right, cool.’ A month later, he plays Fab’s vocals on the tracks and it was just Fab. Some time goes by and Fab’s record got pushed back. Then I got a call that Jay was on the record. I was like, ‘Wow.’ In a nutshell, that’s basically how that happened.
It took awhile to sell that beat. Did you think you had a hit when you first made it?
You know what? To be honest, I had only been producing for two years when I made that track. I’ve only been producing for five years. At the time, I didn’t know if it would be a big record or if anyone would get on it. I didn’t have that knowledge at the time. I didn’t know if anything would manifest from it.
Are you surprised at all with where the beat landed?
I definitely thought it had potential. I heard the first version over the phone and it sounded crazy. I’ve always been a fan of Fab. He rode the beat great. I always thought the beat was a little fast and it might be hard for an MC to spit on it. After I heard that Jay was on it, I thought it had the potential to be a great record. It was up to the public after that. It did what it did. I think the public liked the record and that’s basically all I can say about that. You can only do so much. The public dictates the rest of it.
And speaking of Skane Dolla, he manages you now as well. How has he helped you?
Well, Skane’s been in the music business for a long time, so a lot of people know his name and that’s always a good thing. He definitely has a lot of connections in the industry and is able to link me with a lot of hard-to-reach people.
Having a good manager is definitely a plus and I have learned a lot more about this business since linking up with him.
What was it like recording with Method Man?
It was great. That was my first official placement. At one time I didn’t even know you could make beats. The first time I heard Method Man, I was at a high school party drinking beer. That’s the first time I heard “Method Man”. I still remember the first time I heard him and I’ve been a fan of Method Man and Wu-Tang for years. Getting to work with them was an honor. RZA was in the studio when I went to work with Method Man. To be honest, they’re my favorite rap group of all time, so it was definitely a great experience.
You also produced Omillio Sparks’ single “DJ Turn It Up”. What’s it like working with Omillio Sparks?
I produced that with another producer named Dilemma. Sparks, he was the first person who was signed who ever recorded to one of my tracks. I’ve had a relationship with Sparks for three years. He recorded to five of my tracks. His album didn’t end up coming out on Rocafella. Then he went independent and signed to Koch. I also did the strings on “In the Ghetto”. Dilemma and I went down to Philly and got in the studio with Sparks. There was a great energy. We just tried to make something. We were trying to make something a little more current for him to do. I heard the rest of his album and I thought he might have been missing something that could play in the club and on the radio. We tried to give him something more radio-friendly. That’s how “DJ Turn It Up” came about, basically.
You’ve done a ton of work with Postaboy. What’s it like working with him?
Postaboy is probably the most important artist for me that I work with as far as me really becoming a producer and me really learning how to make songs. I worked with Postaboy before I got any placements. Also, before I worked with Postaboy, I never worked with an artist as far as going to the studio with the artist and making songs. I really didn’t know how to make a record or how to make songs. It was a real test because I knew I could make decent tracks, but could I sit in the studio and make songs with an artist and make complete songs?
Dilemma and I co-produced everything with Postaboy. We worked for nine months and he’s a great artist. He has a great lyrical ability and he had cancer. We worked for nine months and put together a whole album and put together a whole listening party in New York City. He ended up getting signed to Floyd Mayweather and that went sour and now he’s with Compound. I’m glad that Dilemma and I were a part of it. Everything that Dilemma and I put out with Postaboy was his mixtape stuff. We haven’t released a lot of our music yet. We have all these great records that we had to hold onto because it wasn’t time to put the album out. So nothing has been heard or officially released, which I hope it is sometime soon.
How far do you think Postaboy can go?
I see Postaboy definitely coming out with his album soon in the future. Him taking this hiatus and not putting his album out, it’s going to take some time for people to accept him back in. We tried to get that buzz back a year ago and it started working. I think he has to just continue making great records. He’s got a great story and it’s not going to be a one album thing. He has some great records. He has a story and I think the public would really respect his story and his album. Of course you need radio songs and this and that, but I think he can definitely make his mark in the hip-hop industry.
Getting into your production techniques, can you take us through the making of a Versatile beat?
Right now, I do mostly hip-hop and I do some pop records and some pop R&B and work with some writers also. When I’m working on a hip-hop record, I usually start with the drums. I’m really into the drums and the sound of my drums. I usually try to get the right tempo, the right kick and snare and the right clap. I try to get a strong foundation. I also like to know what direction I’m going in and know what artists I’m trying to make the beat for. That kind of dictates where I go with the tracks. I don’t really have an exact method to the mayhem. I just kind of go with it. Everything I make, I just try to do the best as I can and really put 100% into it. I don’t really have one way to make tracks. It depends what I’m working on that day.
What equipment do you use?
I have a Micro Korg synthesizer, a Yamaha Motif, I have the Roland Juno, I use Reason and Pro Tools. I have turntables and I have instruments. I have acoustic guitars and electric guitars and live drums. I have a little bit of everything.
How important is it to you to play live instruments over your beats?
The live element is important depending on the record I’m making. I like the live element as much as I like the synthesized element. I think they’re both equally strong in their own avenues and also together. I like something that could sound like soul and synthesized. I like the computer sound and I also like the live sound and I don’t mind mixing them together. I don’t mind making tracks that are totally synthesized or tracks that are totally live.
What do you listen for in new artists to determine if you want to work with them?
A couple things go into that. There’s the person who’s just going to be talented, whether it’s a rapper or a singer. If someone’s talented and they’re grinding, I’m always interested in working with someone like that. Someone who’s grinding and working hard means a lot because if they’re not out there doing shows, putting mixtapes out and on HipHopGame and if you’re not signed, it’s real hard for me to want to work with you. You have to do your own work as well. You have to have talent, but even more importantly, you have to be on your grind and be on the radio. And I work with a lot of unsigned artists and I don’t ask for anything sometimes. It’s on the strength of just continuing to keep my name out there and work with up-and-coming people. I am looking for artists though. I am looking for at least one rapper and definitely a female pop artist, like a singer.
You’ll see me doing more of that too. I just have to find the right person. The first time I heard Postaboy, I knew it was worth it. I knew it would be great when he first played me some records. I have to be sold. I have to be that into it for me to want to work with an artist like that. It will happen again. It just has to be the right person. Every day, every decision I make is a thought-out process of where it’s going to take me and if it’s going to help my career or not. It’s well thought-out because it’s that important. Every decision I make determines where I’m going to end up five years from now or 10 years from now. That’s why when I work with an artist, I have to be instantly impressed. I’ll probably work with them for a couple of weeks or a couple of months until I’m totally sold and we can work.
What do you want to say to everybody?
I just appreciate all the support out there. I’m happy that people are liking the records I’m making. Shout out to my manager Skane Dolla and Dilemma, who I work with all the time. And shout out to the music fans in general. Hip-hop is making a good comeback now. Thanks for the support and hopefully you guys will be hearing some new music from me soon.