Zaytoven Shares Wisdom About Staying Relevant, Loyalty and Work Ethic In New Mixtape

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Just in time to spread some end-of-the-year inspiration, Zaytoven teamed up with his longtime publicist, Tamiko Hope, to put out the second installment of her “Experience Hope” series. The 54-minute project is densely packed with Zaytoven’s wisdom, stories and advice told from his irreplaceable perspective, divided into topics such as Mindset, Reinvention, Loyalty, Investing, and so on. Their trusting relationship and made for one of the most insightful Zaytoven interviews the world will ever get. “When people are listening to him speak, it’s like they’re in a trance,” Tamiko told me, and I definitely have to agree. It’s almost effortless to get lost in the words of motivation as Zaytoven eloquently interweaves his experiences through past decades that propelled him from playing the organ at church every Sunday morning, to cooking beats while sitting in his barbershop chair with his keyboard on his lap, to becoming one of the most revered and trusted names in the hip-hop industry today.

“This was in my momma’s basement back when ain’t nobody know about no Gucci Mane,” Zaytoven recalls. “He’s calling my phone a hundred times at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning after he left the club [saying] ‘Zay, I need to come! I got a song I gotta record.’ But those are the sacrifices I made.” As Zaytoven reflects on the early stages of his career for “Experience Hope With Zaytoven Vol. 2”, he reiterates how crucial it is to listen to your gut and stay with artists you see potential in, no matter what. This includes getting up at 5:00 A.M. to let Gucci Mane into your parents’ house because he’s been sitting in his car, waiting to be let in to work on a song.

Nowadays, you’ll see Zaytoven up on stage alongside dudes like Travis Scott and Gucci Mane, looking like a full-blown superstar, finessing his keytar. When you hear that signature piano riff tag go off in the beginning of a track, it’s an indicator that the song is going to be an automatic hit. However, it took years, almost two decades actually, of consistent hard work and sacrifice to get to this point.

A smooth shift in recent years augmented the limelight to include not only the people in front of the mic, but also the brilliant minds behind the boards. Zaytoven is one of the few figures who remained consistent through the waves, masterfully navigating the complicated path between remaining true to one’s sound and switching it up to stay relevant. There’s clear reasoning behind why artists like Migos, Future and Gucci Mane constantly choose Zay as their go-to man, and that’s due to his unwavering loyalty and work ethic. During the early days when not many others believed in the rappers, Zay always allocated his time towards helping them out because he believed in them and had the wise ear that recognized their potential that not many others saw initially. “I think that’s why me and guys like Gucci and Future are so close and work so closely. They know I’m dependable and they can count on me. If they need something at any time, whatever they need, I’m gonna be there. I’m not gon’ close the door. I’ma say, ‘Yeah, I can do it.’” One word that hardly has a place in Zay’s vocabulary is “no”. With this sturdy mentality, Zaytoven was rightfully trusted to be the mastermind mind behind projects like Future’s “Beast Mode” and Gucci’s “East Atlanta Santa”, and hit songs like Migos’s Versace and Usher’s Papers.

Nonetheless, the industry has changed since Zaytoven’s start in the 90’s. “They want more of you now,” Zaytoven told me. He says a main difference between back in the day and now for producers is the expectation of the role. “Now, I gotta be on-screen, do shows, all of that. Back then, I could kind of stay behind the scenes.” He also reminisces about the time one hit song could carry him through the entire year. “Back when I had my song, So Icy (with Gucci Mane), that lasted about a year. I could live off of that song basically for a year. Now, it’s like you could have a big record, but in a matter of three months you gotta put out another one or have something else going on.”

Despite those pressures, Zay never compromised his authenticity or quality, and this is the main reason he has been able to stay relevant for so long. On “Reinvention”, he explains when he began feeling the need to change his sound and make more pop or R&B sounding beats, he soon learned sticking with his signature sound was what the people actually wanted. Each time Zaytoven would present an array of beats to someone he was working with, the gravitation towards his more original, raw trap beats was undeniable. “That made me realize the person I am in this music, or what I built on my sound, my trap sound or whatever, is who I am in this, and that’s what’s gonna keep me around.” Artists like Usher would receive beats from him and say, “This big-sounding music is cool, but can you give me the same music you been giving Migos and Future and all them?” The organic, unwavering preference towards Zaytoven’s genuine sound despite his stab at the “new” sound truly spoke for itself.

The “Experience Hope With Zaytoven, Vol. 2” motivational mixtape is reminiscent of a podcast and also features exclusive beats from Zay himself on each track. The project is rich with countless gems that will serve as incredible boosts of hope for people reaching for their music industry dreams.

Tamiko Hope says there’s a lot of exciting potential for the next installment of “Experiencing Hope”. The series’ overall main mission is to simply inspire people all around the world, especially people pursuing a career in the music industry. Tamiko has two editions of “Experiencing Hope” out, the first one featuring insight from names like Sonny Digital, DJ Spinz and Dun Deal. Tamiko holds motivational seminars and constantly invests time into creating content that inspires and moves people, and she expresses a motivational tour to different schools and studios is something she sees in the horizon. Her audio series uniquely bridges together inspiring quotes, exclusive beats and real-life scenarios in the rap world told by the artists themselves, and that’s as real as it gets.

Source: The Source

HNHH Goes “Behind the Beat” with Swiff D [@swiffd]

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Photo Credit: John Christopher Photography

Interview: Swiff D shares insight into his production for Lil Wayne and Kevin Gates, and the incomparable genius of J Dilla.

Swiff D was the one kid in Ontario, California who was listening to Biggie growing up. “You could walk down the block and hear a whole Suga Free album from like 15 boom boxes simultaneously,” he says of the West Coast fixation of his neighborhood. “My main thing was not wanting to sound like what everyone else did, but making sure people knew where I came from.”

The producer has done a good job of balancing his origins and his infatuation with J Dilla, bringing him together with artists as diverse as ScHoolboy Q, Jadakiss, Anthony Hamilton, Kevin Gates, Lil Wayne, and Bryson Tiller. While his focus has always been hip-hop, his array of influences has given his production an R&B edge, bringing out the more melodic sides of his collaborators while always maintaining a knock that would make Dilla proud. “Since I’m a musical guy, I liked everything that Rodney Jerkins was doing back in the day,” he says. “Stuff that had heavy drums, but was still musical and fun. It wasn’t too pretty, but it was still something you could bounce to. I told myself that if I did R&B stuff like that, whatever I’ll do, I still wanted it to sound like it’s bangin’. I gravitated to that sound.”

Swiff comes from a musical family where everyone sang or played an instrument, but as a shy kid he began with drums before vocals, which eventually brought him to production. He went to college with basketball as his primary focus, but music quickly began to take precedence as he earned placements for his beats.

First Placement

“Bobby Valentino’s first album – I had a song on there called ‘Gangsta Love,'” he recalls. “I was a sophomore in college, and I though I was the man, it was so funny. I texted everybody and told them – cause the album was coming out Tuesday, I told them to go buy that album ’cause I did a track on it. A lot of people didn’t really know that I was serious about it, but they saw in the credits that it had my name, and they were like “oh shit, this is for real.” So, I went from there to going down to my first studio in LA, and started shaking hands with everybody. A little after that, I got on Anthony Hamilton’s second album. Those were the first two big joints.”

Some of Swiff’s earliest collaborations came with his role as the in-house producer to Southern California trio Pac Div, who he has continued to work on-and-ff with ever since. He’s contributed beats to both their studio albums, The DiV and GMB, as well as their many free projects. The beatmaker reveals that his first encounters with one of the group’s emcees, Mibbs, was on the basketball court.

“I met Mibbs on a basketball court my freshman year. I saw him dribbling – it was kind of an insult how he was coming down the court, and I was like ‘man, I need to know who this dude is cause he really think he the greatest dude.’ And from there on, we had played on the same team together,” he says.”They always rapped, I didn’t make beats at the time, but I knew kids at my school who rapped as well that I thought was tight. I would make Mibbs and LIKE battle everyone at my school, and they would just torch everybody, destroy everybody. LIKE was making beats already back then, and his beats were incredible, still are. Just off bouncing ideas back and forth, I got better and better.”

While they became collaborators pretty quickly, Swiff recalled one hilarious story that more or less got things started. “There was one time they put me on the spot – this was the birth of it,” he remembers. “They wasn’t really rocking with me back then, but I had some new beats. LIKE wanted to hear ’em, and he told everybody to go outside to the car, and it was like 50 people. They all was trashing me, thinking it was gonna be garbage. And I made a huge change in that moment cause everyone started wildin’ out. From there on, we decided we needed to team up, and I was their go-to guy. And it did what it did. To this day.”

Producing Kevin Gates’ “Paper Chasers” and “Time For That”

Kevin Gates’ “Paper Chasers” from his 2013 mixtape, The Luca Brasi Story, has become something of a fan favorite. Swiff says he didn’t actually know much about Gates when he did the track, but once he heard the final version, he was sold. “Kevin killed that joint!” he exclaims. “After that, I wound up meeting him, and he’s a real cool dude, right. Real standup dude. The same way he talks on camera is the same way he is in person, starts dropping game instantly. He had everyone in there dying.”

Swiff says “Time For That” was a beat he nearly trashed, but went back to one last time only to realize it had some serious potential. He decided to bring it to Atlantic hoping to place it with one of their artists. “The day I took it there, I played it, and they said “this is a Kevin Gates record. This has to go to Kevin Gates, I’m sending it to him right now.” And then, probably a day or two later, he has the full song on his Instagram. And I was like ‘Whoa, ok, this is happening.’ And I had two joints he was doing for the album – the first was a single, and the second got squashed cause they didn’t finish it in time. It was supposed to be the next single. I was just blessed cause a little time before then, I was gonna delete that beat. A little piece of advice, save everything.”

Bringing the beast out of Lil Wayne

The intro to DJ Drama’s Quality Street Music features an exhilarating performance from Lil Wayne, one many have likened to his unstoppable mixtape streak in the 00s. Weezy doesn’t sound that hungry as often these days, and Swiff’s heavy, introspective beat surely had a hand in bringing out such a furious verse from the legendary rapper.

After playing the beat for both Meek Mill and Dr. Dre, Swiff got an exciting call from DJ Drama who wanted to know if the beat was still open. “So they put the phone to the speaker, and played me Wayne`s verse,” he says. “I was like “What is that?” And they told me not to let nobody get that beat, it’s the craziest shit, and it’ll destroy when it comes out. Wayne seriously spat on that, and it meant a lot that it was just him on there.”

According to Drama, Wayne took to the instrumental right away. “They were telling me that they were in the studio, and Wayne was down to do the first song on the album, but he wanted to hear something that he knew was the one. He basically said that as soon as he heard that beat come on, he knew it was it. He knew he had to go in, mixtape Weezy, and pull out his tricks. I’m just honored cause that’s my third placement that I’ve had with Wayne – and he destroyed this one. And that beat is hot. It’s like the perfect collab.”

Taking inspiration from the church on ScHoolboy Q’s “Studio”

Peaking at #38 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topping the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay charts, ScHoolboy Q’s “Studio” is Swiff’s biggest hot to date. While it has strong R&B tendencies, Swiff was sure he wanted a rapper on it, bust most importantly he wanted to capture a familiar sound in his life.

“I just wanted to make something you’d hear in church. Church has the best musicians,” he reveals. “Somewhere in a jam session it happened – but I always envisioned someone rapping to it. So like I didn’t play it for any R&B people – I didn’t really play it for anyone actually. Schoolboy was one of the first I played it for – and I saved it for him. I didn’t know it would be his joint, but it ended up being the perfect blend of everything.”

Of course, the church can be found in many rap and R&B artists music, an element Swiff pays a lot of attention to. “I’m a real big fan of church chords. T-Pain is one of my favorite artists of all time – he incorporated the church in so much of his music. And I grew up in the church, so obviously a lot of that stuff is what I like to hear. I feel like any music with melodies like that will always win and always have longevity. Always. No ID told me that same thing. That’s why Kanye always wins – he always has the proper melodies. He incorporates it into everything, and it makes Kanye who he is. Zaytoven is also the pinnacle of that. He has stuff in his beats that the average person would never think of putting in there. And that’s why he’s incredible.”

Almost meeting J Dilla

Dilla is a great influence on many producers, but he holds a special place in Swiff D’s heart. As someone with a drumming background, Dilla’s gritty percussion is something to aspire to, and the otherworldy boom bap of his instrumental project, Washington Park, suggests he could be a worthy successor.

“Everything Dilla did was incredible,” says Swiff. “Obviously there were some things he did that you could tell he was probably high doing that shit – he musta been too high, shit was too weird. His stuff had the perfect mix for every beat, perfect drum for every sample – he was the drum god. His music too – he could blend samples together so that their frequencies would hit a certain way and change the notes. I was like damn Dilla is making bridges out of samples. The actual sampled music wasn’t even going that way.

Swiff regretfully recalls a time where he and Pac Div were scheduled to meet his hero. “He died in 06, and we were supposed to meet him that year – two weeks before he had passed, he says. “I thought this was about my favorite moment of my career. I just wanted to ask him what was on his mind when he made certain cuts. Not even how, I just wanted to ask him what he was thinking, and how can I get there. And when he passed, I cried like it was my own relative. I went to my mom and broke down cause that was on my bucket list. I’ll never get to accomplish that. A lot of checks on my list – worked with this person, hit single with this person – but I never got to meet Dilla the master of it all. I met Slum but not him.”

Bryson Tiller and future projects

With many successful collaborations under his belt, doors continue to open for Swiff, and naturally, there’s many projects he can’t can’t speak on at this point. However, he does have some exciting new music on the way. “A lot of people I been working with as of late – Bryson Tiller for instance – I been working a lot on his album. Just tryna get in the groove of doing my favorite style – R&B shit. It’s got some rock elements to it,” he reveals, humbly as ever. “I’m just working, bro.”

Source: Hot New Hip Hop

Murda Beatz [@MurdaBeatz_], The Producer Who Made Friends With Everybody

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By Eric Diep

To get hot at 22, this producer social engineered as much as he sampled.

Raised in Fort Erie, Ontario, 22-year-old producer Murda Beatz got his start as an in-house producer with Migos, producing 2015’s relentless “Pipe It Up,” and this year landed major collaborations with Gucci Mane (“Back on Road”), PARTYNEXTDOOR (“Like Dat”), and French Montana (“No Shopping”). Murda, whose real name is Shane Lindstrom, connected with that marquee talent over social media, but has also made an effort to meet guys like Chief Keef and Quavo in person, rather than sending beat packs over email. He’s cultivated relationships within their camps, and expanded his network through old-fashioned word of mouth.

“I never wanted to work a 9 to 5. I was always a different kid in class,” Murda said recently, over the phone from a studio session in L.A. “I always asked my mom, ‘Why am I left-handed? Why is everyone right? Why am I different?’ I just knew I was different from everyone else. I still feel like that today, sitting in rooms with people.”

Murda spoke with The FADER about traveling to America to jumpstart his career, and the relationships that have propelled him so far.

What was your upbringing like?

I grew up with my parents always listening to rock music. My dad wanted me to play guitar, but I always had more of an ear for drums. He really wanted me to be a guitar player, like him. I was like “Nah, I like to play drums.” My uncle was like, “Yeah, that’s cool, then we can all jam together.” They play guitar, I play drums. I was playing my uncle’s drums until I got a Pearl [drum set] in my early teens. It was an all-black Pearl. I played at school functions and stuff. Talent shows.

Was your dad in a band?

No. He always had a passion for music and always wanted to do something in music, but just never had the opportunity to do it. When he saw me being able to do what I wanted to do, he was all for it and believed in me. One of the only people in my life to believe in me from jump.

When did you start making beats?

I started producing when I was 17. I went to a high school called Fort Eerie Secondary School. It’s kind of not that nice of a school. I started to focus on music at the end of high school, so I didn’t even want to graduate. But my mom wanted me to graduate, so I did.

How’d you learn to produce?

Some friends of mine showed me FruityLoops and I started clicking away. And then I just stayed home a lot of that summer. Just learning. I pretty much completely taught myself. I was gonna make beats for a friend that was freestyling, and I wanted to make some beats for some upcoming rappers in Toronto as well.

Were you exclusively working on FruityLoops?

I had an electric drum set. But right after I got FL [Studio] on my own computer, I sold my pair of electric drums. I went to Guitar Center and traded it in for an AKAI MPK49 keyboard,so I could start making beats with the piano. And eventually got KRK Speakers. I had my first placement three months into producing, with Soulja Boy.

Did you look to Toronto for inspiration as you were getting started?

Some of my friends were telling me that I should be waiting until I get better, and trying to build up artists in Toronto. At the time, I was like, “I’m not gonna really wait.” I’m 18. I’m just gonna go to Chicago and get work with the Chief Keefs and go out and build my name in America off of social networks and stuff. Cause I knew that’s how I get bigger faster than just sitting at home. When I started five years ago, Lex Luger was really big, and Southside. Toronto wasn’t that poppin’ at the time.

How’d you go about making a name for yourself in America?

I went to Chicago and tried to get big in the drill scene. With GBE, Lil Durk, all those guys. Then I wanted to get my music into Atlanta. Found these guys the Migos on the internet before they blew up. Started sending beats to Skippa Da Flippa. He started showing them my beats. From there, they started liking the stuff, and they blew up. They started flying me out and I started living with them, around 2012, 2013. Going on the road with them. That’s how we built our good relationship that we have now. I’m glad that we still have that close bond. Now, I can help them in ways and they can still help me in ways.

Did you ever consider going to college?

I was gonna go to a music college in Toronto, but at the time I was like, “Nah, it’s not worth it to spend the money. I rather teach myself.” I learned early in the game that it is better to move around and meet people and build relationships. It is better to build these relationships in person than just to send beats. There’s thousands and thousands of producers who send beats and just pray that someone will record on something. When you really start to travel around, you realize that building personal relationships in the industry is better. I really only work with people that I have a relationship with. No one is really throwing me in the room with people to work with. I work with who I want to work with.

What was the session for “Pipe It Up” like?

I’d just got to the house in Atlanta. It was like 10 or 11 at night. [Migos] were drinking Hennessey. I never really see them drinking alcohol. They’re never drinking liquor. So I was like, “Oh, you guys are drinking Henny? Alright. Let’s drink some Henny tonight.” We started drinking Henny and I started playing all the new beats I brought with me. I was playing Quavo beats and I skipped over that beat. And Quavo was like, “Wait, go back to that beat.”

So I was playing it and he was like: Pipe it up, pipe it up, pipe it up. I was like, “Yo, just go in and record that. Just go. Don’t think about it.” When he came out he was like, “Man, this is fun. This is exactly how we made ‘Versace.’” He finished the verse and in the next couple of days Takeoff did his verse to it. I knew when we made that hook that song was going to be big. Quavo knew too. We all knew.

Why do you and the Migos get along so well?

We just have good chemistry. I know their families and stuff. It’s been three to four years now, so that bond can’t really be broken. We are always going to be making music together.

Boi-1da is one of your mentors. How did you connect with him?

I met [Boi-1da] a bunch of times in Toronto. The first time, I met him at a Rich Homie Quan and Wiz Khalifa show backstage. I started talking to [his camp] more and started going to his house and making beats with him. I learned a lot making beats with him, about mixing and everything. He’s a guy that I looked up to in the industry. He’s a very humble guy. He’s very successful.

In his Beat Construction interview, Boi-1da called producing a “team sport.” Do you agree with that?

There’s more people on beats now. People are collaborating. People are using samples. People are just taking elements from other people and producing records together. It’s kind of like in the pop world, where there is four people on beats. I feel like that’s happening more in urban music as well. It’s good to see that. I am actually producing records and bringing people in for certain things. Molding records together. Co-producing after records are made and placing them as well.

You’re one of three producers credited on Drake’s “With You.” How did that one come together?

I got the sample from Cardiak. I did the record. I placed it, and then Nineteen85 touched stuff up at the end of the beat. So it was a good collaboration. It turned out to be, I’d say, one of the fan favorites on VIEWS.

What’s your relationship with PARTYNEXTDOOR?

Me and Party met a year and a half ago, in Toronto. We started chilling together and started to work together. We are really good at making music together. He’s a real genius. I feel like he’s one of the most influential artists of our time — at least of the last five years. He’s definitely influenced a lot of the R&B.

Are Party and Jeremih still working on a collaborative album, Late Night Party?

I don’t know what’s going on with that [project]. But [their song] “Like Dat” was a crazy, crazy club record. I made that beat on a plane from Miami to L.A., in the middle seat with iPhone headphones.

How do you find new sounds?

I see if producers I work with want to send me melodies they’ve created, or samples. There’s people out there that make their own samples. They sit in the studios and use all the hardware. Create samples and just chop them up. They compose music and chop it up and make samples out of it. Or we’ll go back into old samples. On VIEWS, Drake and 40 sampled old DMX records and stuff.

You tweet “Keep God First” a lot. Are you religious?

Well, I believe in God. I’m a very spiritual person, and parts of my family are Christian. I really started believing in God at the beginning of this music stuff. Everything that’s happened I have spoken into existence. Everything in my life, music wise, I’ve talked about and it has ended up happening. I definitely feel like God has a plan for everyone and has helped me along the way. I pray every day. Keep God first. Be specific for when asking for things.

Source: The Fader

!LLMIND Discusses Madlib, J Dilla, 9th Wonder and Much More on The Cipher

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On working on Supastition’s Chain Letters album:

“My experience working with Supastition was definitely a benchmark for me, because it was my early experience of actually producing. So I went from making beats with no real regard for arrangement or song to now, okay, let me go ahead and be a producer. That album in particular was my first experience of being a real producer.”

On whether being in the studio with an artist results in better music than not being in the same place:

“It’s case by case. Sometimes magic can happen just from J. Cole hearing one of my beats, and being touched by it so much to write an amazing song. Other times, we can get in the studio and build from scratch and really flesh out ideas… To me, there’s nothing better than that human-to-human connection you have with someone.”

On Madlib and J. Dilla:

“Those two guys are master diggers. They find the most obscure records that you’ve never heard before. I can never pinpoint where they get their drums, because they’re just so good at finding rare shit. I was always inspired by that, like, if those guys can find those samples, then why can’t I?”

On sampling:

“I believe there really aren’t any limits to the creativity in sampling, depending on how well you can transform that sample. It’s like cooking. It’s like transforming a fruit into a sauce. Layering different sounds and instruments on top of samples is all part of the process. It’s all art. It all depends on how you flip it.”

On first getting to know 9th Wonder in the early 2000s:

“Me and 9th Wonder used to e-mail each other beats all the time – actually, it was through AIM. I remember leaving my AOL AIM screen name signed in, and I’d come home and see 10 mp3s on my desktop from 9th Wonder. And I would send him beats. On my old computer, I have probably five or six hundred unreleased 9th Wonder beats, just sitting on the hard drive.”

Source: SOHH

Chuck Inglish Profiled ‘Behind the Beat’ On HotNewHipHop

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Chuck Inglish of The Cool Kids shares a few drum secrets and calls out rappers who are only making music to get famous.

One of the first Chuck Inglish beats most people heard was track one of The Cool Kids’ breakout EP, The Bake Sale. Its unmistakable use of vocals saying the instrument they’re taking the place of was ingeniously self-aware. Aside from the beat’s conceptual cleverness, the song manages to not sound too busy or cluttered, despite using vocals as part of a beat with more vocals layered on top. The beatmaker behind The Cool Kids never returned to that sound (he would probably call it a gimmick at this point), but it precluded many more years of extremely fat bass hits and funky bass lines that toe the line between new and old school.

Evan Ingersoll sits in the HotNewHipHop studio, swiveling subtly back and forth in the producer’s chair. He’s wearing an unassuming USA Soccer jersey, New Balance sneakers and horn rimmed glasses. Asked why his drums have such a fat, distinctive sound, Chuck answers with a question of his own: “have you read Outliers [by Malcolm Gladwell]?” He’s 40,000 hours into his drums, achieving the author’s theorized prerequisite training time multiple times over. “Drum machines make me happy,” he explains more plainly.

As a kid, Chuck played the drums at the encouragement of a father who always wanted to be a musician but never had the time. After showing an adeptness, he got formal lessons. He also learned how to read and write sheet music for drummers, giving him “a nice introduction into how music theory went about at a young age.” His love for rhythm eventually extended to the bass, as evidenced in his beats, which tend to eschew synths in favor of bass melodies. “I love coming up with bass lines,” the Michigan native explains. “Bass tabs and bass scales are a little bit easier for me to wrap my head around.”

40,000 hours of work will inevitably grant you a lot of insight, but Chuck is reluctant to give away all of his secret sauce. He did share one insight into his sound, courtesy of Dave Sitek (of TV On The Radio). Most producers (and audio engineers) pay attention to a red light that warns when an audio channel’s output is too loud and may distort. Producers shouldn’t rely on that light as a rule, Chuck advises. “Use your ear to decide how much volume or headroom you deserve with that shit. If it distorts you’re an asshole, but it can be loud, it can be pushed,” he details. “When I push it there, I put a compressor over it and I take down the attack so it doesn’t come out as hard. And I take down the release so it forces it through.”

On a particular heavy mushroom trip (more on those later), Chuck placed his face in front of a speaker for hours, engulfing himself in the beat. Feeling a beat on a physical level is a common refrain for Inglish, and he uses it to explain how different types of drums should be compressed and mixed. “When the bottom hits, you’ll feel it in your feet. When the mid hits, you hit it in the waist. If it’s a top kick,” the producer continues, motioning to different places on his body, “you should feel it right here. Snare should be right here, hi hat should be right here.” Music is nothing but combined waves of sound, so Chuck is not hallucinating his musical understanding as much as he’s intellectualizing something most of us can only understand on a visceral level. “No drums should be on the same spectrum,” he affirms. With this in mind, it makes sense why the “What Up Man” beat feels so effortless and clean.

Chuck has a well-documented love of cars, an has said a car is his favorite place to listen to music. However, he doesn’t point to complex acoustic theory. Sometimes, the most simple reason is the best: “I listen to shit in the car so much because that’s just how I grew up. When I first heard some of the most fire songs, it was in the car.” Positive memories create positive attachments, and he produces with these real life environments in mind – “beach, car, headphones.” However, not all real life environments are created equal in Chuck’s eyes (and ears). One that draws particular ire is computer speakers. Listening to music on laptop speakers is an injustice to the music, and he makes a simple comparison to get his point across – “Would you watch ‘Transformers’ on your iPhone first?” Of course, many people do just that, but that’s another rant for another day.

While everything Chuck Inglish and The Cool Kids have made is hip hop, Chuck’s influences are far more diverse. Growing up in Michigan, he had strong ties to artists coming out of Minneapolis – Prince and The Time. As a budding drummer, he listened to rock music to improve. He went through phases of listening heavily to 311 and Sublime, because of the drumming on each album. The Red Hot Chili Peppers had probably the biggest influence, showing him genre fluid and he didn’t need to be confined to one type of sound to make music. “The Chili Peppers – their favorite group was Parliament Funkadelic. Anthony Kiedis – the way he delivered words – it’s pretty much rap,” muses Chuck. “To me, that shit kind of like anchored me in a different direction.”

This is not to say Chuck Inglish didn’t have early indoctrination to hip hop – his father and grandfather loved “Paid In Full” by Rakim and Eric B so much they taught him to recite all the lyrics at two years old. It would be a party trick to have a young Evan Ingersoll recite the lyrics at family gatherings.

Just as he’s unattached to specific genre rules, he also agnostic when it comes to the programs (DAWs) he produces on. He’s used it all since he started producing in college, beginning with Acid Pro, then adopting early versions of Fruity Loops before moving on to Reason and Ableton. He’s used Logic, but isn’t a fan because it reminds him too much of his brief education in technical film production. He calls upon his versatile skill set depending on the need, granting greater flexibility for the sounds he can experiment with.

“If I wanna use a break or if I wanna use any sort of loops or any samples – things I’m gonna chop and make something out of – I’ll use Ableton. If it’s just an idea that’s pure synthesizer – maybe directing a couple instruments and playing or programming drums myself – I’ll use Reason. And if I’m doing everything live, I’ll use Pro Tools.”

Chuck hasn’t touched Fruity Loops since 2004, but not because of any ill-opinion of the program. He simply says, “when I see the step programming of the drums it takes me back to a place when my beats sucked. There was a point in time when my shit was not fire.” Like many perfectionist creatives, Chuck is overly critical of his past work. He’s quick to credit other producers who use FL Studio (the current evolution of Fruity Loops) though. “There’s a lot of people who developed their style with Fruity Loops – and it sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard before.”

Another thing Inglish prides himself on is rooted in his experience with all of the modern digital audio workstations. He can name which program any song was made on, just by hearing it. He says it’s because he knows the capability of each mixing program, down to the sample rate of the drums (naturally).

The past few weeks, Chuck has been back in the headlines with Sir Michael Rocks after tweeting that The Cool Kids were working on an album. People took this as an announcement that the influential group had gotten back together, but they had in fact done so back in 2014, releasing two tracks to much less fanfare than they’re receiving now. Chuck is nonplussed at the reaction, asking (semi-rhetorically), “us getting back together – what does that mean to everyone else?” The internet has a very short memory, and likes to re-hash things.

The Cook Kids have always had a contentious relationship with internet culture. They’re often credited as being progenitors of the “internet rap” that became popular on early hip hop blogs, replete with bright colors and (arguably) ironic throwback attire. This is just how Chuck Inglish and Michael Rocks dress; they never set out to start a movement. Nowadays, Chuck is just as likely to lament the overwhelming amount of music content and accompanying paralysis of choice that’s the norm these days as he is to repost songs on Soundcloud (which is often). As often happens on the ’net, even the narrative of their formation has been distorted. Despite what’s often reported, they did not meet on Myspace but in real life, person to person.

Whatever the perception of their relationship might be, it’s simple to Chuck. “With him, I never gotta worry about if the hook’s gonna be tight,” he explains of Sir Michael Rocks. “I just gotta tell him what the hook is. Boom. You come back the next morning, turn the shit on and be like ‘how the fuck did you think of that?’” On another mushroom trip the duo went on, they sat listening to a beat Chuck had made on repeat. Sir Michael Rocks turned his head, staring wide-eyed at his musical partner, cheshire cat smile stuck to his face like the Joker. It was as if Michael Rocks had just learned some secret he couldn’t wait to tell Chuck Inglish. That secret was revealed the next day in the form of the hook to “Bundle Up.”

The next album is already underway, according to Chuck. “We got everything mapped out to be one of the ills hip hop film that you’ve heard of all time,” he says. “It’s kid of like going through different chapters of the culture and shit.”

If you ask Chuck Inglish what’s wrong with hip hop today, he’ll point to one thing: greed. Not to say pursuing and making money is bad (he’s no ascetic), but he sees the pursuit of money (and it’s sister sin, fame) beginning to erode the quality of the music. When people try to take shortcuts to become famous or rich, it diminishes the importance of the process of making music. Creativity shouldn’t be easy, and Chuck’s 40,000 hours on his drums is something he holds as a sort of moral standard. For him, it’s impossible to extricate the music from how it’s made.

There are many ways the producer sees greed manifesting in hip hop. Most obviously, he blames industry greed for the death of the golden era hip hop sound via litigation against sample-based music. Forced, ill-fitting collaborations that are meant to cross-pollinate fans and don’t try and build something new with each artist’s respective sounds are one. “I’ve seen a lot of people get 2 Chainz on a song because it’s 2 Chainz and he can make the song go farther. That’s the worst way to make a collaboration happen,” Chuck opines. Another result of the greed Inglish sees is a high volume output of music that inevitably waters down the quality of the output and he says, “it’s annoying when I hear really talented people do half-assed shit.”

Chuck says the chase for fame and greed in an increasingly crowded genre also becomes internalized into artists’ mentalities, as they try to find ways to meet the industry’s expectation for them rather than putting in the work on the music. People shouldn’t put their own ego above the music, and he explains, “you are a conduit, not the product itself.” He continues his assault on musicians who make music for fame, laying the criticism that, “when it becomes about you and not the song, that’s when you become a meme. When you become bigger than the shit you do, you become a costume. A lot of rap is a parody of itself.”

He reserves his harshest criticisms for the recent rise of emcees freestyling their songs in the booth rather than writing them down beforehand, probably his most contentious point. “You should appreciate the process,” is his declaration. “You don’t wanna write the words so you can stay in the pocket, ‘cause you don’t have any fucking words. Which means quite rapping.” It may seem harsh, but music is life to Chuck, so he asks, “rapping is pocket, pattern rhythm all at the same time. And if you can’t know those three then what the fuck do you want to rap for?” Of course, the answer will be one or both of the cardinal sins he’s assigned to the industry: fame and fortune.

Even in fame, Chuck sees the importance of process. “‘On’ is a big responsibility, dawg. That shit eats people up,” he says, perhaps speaking from personal experience. “It destroys your life if you’re not prepared for it.” However, that destruction can be grounds for fertile growth. The struggle of coming up and having things not go your way can give you the hunger to be even greater, Chuck theorizes. Even if you, “don’t see things fall apart, even if you knew they were perfect, it doesn’t toughen you up.” Chuck Inglish and The Cool Kids have been through the ringer, from soundtracking video games to quietly popular underground releases. They’ve calloused themselves to the game, learning every step of the process. It’s taken 6 years, but The Cool Kids are ready to give us something we didn’t know we needed. Again.

Source: Hot New Hip Hop

Clams Casino on His Creative Process & Keeping Control of His Sound

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They say that good things come to those that wait. Today, we’re granted something very good after a long time waiting. New Jersey based producer Clams Casino has for over five years existed in two different realms of the music world – insane popularity among hip-hop heads, and insane popularity in the mainstream for his work with artists like A$AP Rocky and Mac Miller – although though the name itself has remained largely unknown. With his long awaited debut album 32 Levels releasing today, we got the chance to chat with him just as his career kicks into the next gear. Past work, his creative process, and control of his sound – he had plenty to say on it all.

Five years in the making, it’s surreal that your debut album is finally here. A few years ago you said that making music was just a hobby to you, what made you want to make it into a career?

Just when I realized I was able to. I never really thought it would be realistic, things kind of starting taking off own their own after I had gone through school. The music started taking off at the same time I was graduating so I just figured, “let me just see how far I can take it, and if it works out, it works out, and if not I’ll go look for a job.” It ended up working out so I never ended up getting a job for what I went to school for and just kept going with it. I think it happened over a few months. One of the big things was I’d gotten a bunch of music licensed on TV, for Adult Swim, the cartoon channel. They reached out and gave me a pretty good amount of money for the time for licensing a bunch of beats to play on their commercials. That’s when it kinda hit me, like “woah I can really do this.” So it was about five years ago when I became full time music.

Just on the note of your studies, you studied physical therapy and interned at a hospital while you were starting producing – what were your aspirations for that career path?

My favorite was working at a hospital in the inpatient department, which is like giving people therapy soon after surgery, or a few days after. I interned at a bunch of different levels of it. One of them was a little too much for me. My first internship was at a brain and spinal cord injury long-term care place, and I really wasn’t into that one. Then I worked with outpatients which was very light, people drive themselves to the clinic and do exercises and things like that, so I saw a good range of it. I liked working in the hospital, so I probably would’ve stuck with that.

Why call it 32 Levels?

It’s taken from a lyric from a Lil B song I had done, I’m God. When I was trying to think of a title the first thing I did was go to that song, because I feel like that was a major turning point in my career, and me making music. It really helped me find a direction, and where I was going to fit into music and my musical identity. I tried to get something from that song and it’s the first thing that popped out of that. So for me that’s the origin of it and why it’s special to me, but also I chose it because it can be open to interpretation for the listener. It can mean whatever, so that was important to me that they can think whatever they want to get out of it.

What do you want people to feel when they listen to this record?

Hopefully they feel or they hear things for the first time, or things that they’re not familiar with. I always hope to challenge people, and I don’t want people that listen to my music to be fully comfortable or to get everything or nothing more than what they expect. People that know my music, I hope that they get what they expect, but of course more, and I hope to challenge people and show them something new. That’s always something that I keep in mind, it’s at the forefront of everything that I make.

What made you realize you wanted to make your own album rather than releasing beats for rappers? Has that been a different process?

It hasn’t been too much. It’s a lot of the same, where I’m making a lot of stuff at home most of the time. I usually make the best beats that I come out with at home by myself, so that process hasn’t changed too much. Here and there I’ll make some things in the studio with other people or rappers but not very often. For other people’s albums and mine, there’s really no difference that I can see. For example, the Vince Staples stuff. We started working on the song for my album, and during that process he was asking for beats for his album because he had to finish his up. So those songs all came out of the process of working on mine, and the beat for his song Norf Norf on his album I actually made for my album. I couldn’t get anybody on it, and then he found it and made it, so it’s just funny how it works. So really, no difference from working on other people’s stuff and mine, it’s just where it ends up I guess.

I remember reading a while ago you saying that “I usually try not to think about who I’m gonna make [beats] for.. cause then I end up thinking too hard and it doesn’t work right.” Is that something that’s stayed the same in producing your album? Or are you now making beats with people in mind?

That hasn’t changed. I would say that every beat that is made, if I make it for somebody in particular, I’ll give it to them or they just won’t end up using it. But, that’s a good way to get stuff done – because then I’ll have a really good beat for someone else. I don’t know why, maybe it is because I overthink it, but for whatever reason, whenever I try to make something specific for somebody, 95% of the time they’re not going to use it. That’s still true to today, that hasn’t changed. So probably everything that was made on here was given to somebody else after the first person I thought of just didn’t work out.

And you don’t like to play a part in the songwriting either, why is that?

I like to leave that up to them. If they ask me for advice or with decisions they can’t make up their mind on, I’m happy to do that, but I don’t have too much to say lyrically to be honest, I speak in different ways. I don’t like to get too in the middle of that. Whatever they feel from the music I try to get that out in the best way and have them deliver that in the best way possible. I’m aiming for the best performance out of them.

Your previous work was chock-full of samples, particularly by female vocalists. 32 Levels has almost none of that. Why the decision to move away from sampling?

Well the process changed a lot mostly because of legal issues and not being able to release things that I’d sampled on. So after a little bit of that and finding that process a little frustrating, of sampling things and things not being able to get commercially cleared, after a while I had to figure out a way to switch it up. So now, most of the samples are basically being recorded either by me or by my buddies that play instruments. We’ll go into the studio and just record sounds, or play some drums, play a little guitar – not that I’m good at guitar or keyboards – I can do basic things, just enough for me to chop up and sample. I’m recording it all into my computer, everything still ends up in the process that I’ve always done as far as the software that I’m using and the computer program and stuff. The only difference is now I’m recording audio into it. I’ll be at home or running to the studios. In the process of this album I was going to a few different studios in New York and LA, and London, and the main points of those trips are to record sounds. I would go the studio for a week at a time or five days and just block it out, and record as much as I could, and not really even try to be making beats but just be recording all this sample material. When I got home I would just take everything that I’d collected over those months and during those sessions and I’d have stuff to pull from. I was gone for almost a whole year just going to studios and just pulling as much sounds from everything that they had.

With Rainforest and the release of your instrumental mixtapes, you really demonstrated how your music is able to sustain itself not only with vocals, but also as a standalone product. 32 Levels is fitting in your trend, getting a release with all the features, as well as an instrumental version – has that always been something you wanted to do?

I did that because, firstly I didn’t know how the album was going to end up. When I first started working on it I really didn’t know. My intent was just to make music and whatever ended up being the best stuff would be what went on. So I didn’t know if it was going to be all hip-hop, or mostly hip-hop and some instrumental or some singing stuff. I really didn’t have any idea so I was just going with all different types of artists, whoever I could work with, and just experimenting. I got a lot of stuff I really liked, but not instrumental stuff. I know that’s such an important thing, especially for my fans and people that just want to hear from me, so either way, however it ended up, I wanted to make sure that there was a way to get access to all of the instrumentals. I know people are really interested to hear that, and there’s a lot of detail in there that I really want people to hear. Sometimes with the vocal stuff you just can’t hear that. It’s just a whole other layer and an experience that the listener can have, and so I’m glad to be able to have that for them too. It’s two listening experiences in one.

Did you know you wanted a certain number of instrumentals on the album from the beginning, or is that something that shifted and changed?

It definitely shifted and changed. Some of them were made in the studio with the artist, but I would say most of them, probably three quarters were made at home by me first. Some of the ones that are instrumentals are just ideas that never got finished. Like for example there are some beats on there that are instrumental, but I tried to get rappers on them for months or even longer. If nobody ended up using them then I would say, “okay, well now I’ll make an instrumental version of it.” I would treat it a little differently. I knew I’d have a little more room to add some detail, and tweak it. Usually it’s just because they’re laying around and I want people to hear them and nobody has used them.

It goes without saying that you were instrumental in the creation of the ‘cloud rap’ sound, which has now become much more mainstream with artists like Rocky becoming so huge. How has that knowledge influenced the creation of your music?

I’m aware of that and I try not to let that affect it. I just think it’s something that I did naturally, and I feel that of course I’ve played a big part in bringing that to light, but I feel like if other people start doing it and I stop doing it then that’s me giving it up to them. I don’t see why I should do that, so I just keep doing my thing and I do what I always do and if people want to try to copy it then they can do it. I definitely don’t feel like shying away from that just because other people may try to do it. It’s mine and I’ll continue to do what I always do.

Now that your debut is out, are you already planning your next move? What’s next?

I’m just getting back into making music again. There’s a lot of stuff I want to do. I want to move into scoring, soundtracks and film things like that. Also just getting back into other people’s albums and working behind the scenes, so it’s a little bit of everything. It’s good to not be working on the album anymore, it’s a little refreshing. I was getting so deep into it so it’s good to just do anything right now. Whatever comes in I’m happy to work on some new stuff right away.

Source: Howl and Echoes

Cookin Soul Goes ‘Behind the Beat’ with Hot New Hip Hop

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INTERVIEW: Spanish production duo Cookin Soul discusses their working relationships with American artists and the evolution of Spain’s hip hop scene.

The phrase “classic never goes out of style” was invented to describe artists like Cookin Soul.

Comprised of Big Size and Zock, Cookin Soul hails from Valencia, a city of two million on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. Lush, decadent, and almost exclusively sample-based, Size and Zock’s aesthetic is deeply reminiscent of Gang Starr, Pete Rock, Erick Sermon, and other luminaries from hip hop’s golden era whom they grew up worshiping.

Cookin Soul’s beats are soft as talc, smooth as silk. They are the sound of luxury, the soundtrack of slow motion. Size and Zock’s heavy use of soul samples from the ‘70s and ‘80s imbues their music with a nostalgic quality. How many other modern hip hop producers has released a tribute mixtape dedicated to Teddy Pendergrass? Ultimately, their beats are best experienced to enhance good times, perhaps while sitting on the beach, smoking a fat blunt, or while cruising down your local arterial five over the speed limit in the summertime, smoking on a fat blunt.

Big Size was born into hip hop. He was no older than 10 when his older brother took up DJing and let Size toy around on his turntables and spin his old school records.

Size began making beats on a his family’s computer at age 16. He asked his father for a new computer with better specs to sate his voracious appetite for hip hop production. His dad told him to get a job, so he found a temporary one building closets. “I wasn’t even building, my boss was building [them] because I couldn’t even build that shit,” Size explains.

After two and half months he quit and bought the computer he wanted. He started making beats full-time and never looked back.

Size had been making beats for a couple years when he met Zock. Zock lived in the same neighborhood as Size and was friends with his older brother, the DJ. They shared a penchant for warm, smooth soul samples and they formed a production collective with a guy named Milton, who would later leave the group. They would make beats at Milton’s parents house, in which the studio was immediately next to the kitchen. Hence, the culinary inspiration behind the name: Cookin Soul.

Size has always worked from home. His setup is spare — a computer, turntable, MIDI keyboard, and a good pair of monitors — and he collaborates with Zock almost exclusively via email.

“We actually don’t make beats together,” he says. “He makes his beats, I make my beats, and we show each other the beats that we have made. And maybe sometimes I’ll be like ‘oh, pass me the file and I’ll change the bass or play a new kick there or snare.’ But it’s usually a small detail.

Size’s DAW of choice is FL Studio. After hearing several producers recommend the popular program, he switched over from Cubase two years ago and never looked back. He gave me an endorsement of FL that the company should strongly consider making it an official testimonial.

“I was always like, ‘I don’t know if that’s going to be my thing,’” Size says. “But when I started using it, I was like, ‘Wow.’

“It’s easy to use. There’s nothing I can’t do on that program. On the other programs, I always have something I want to do and can’t do it. This one, I can do whatever I want. I have never found nothing where I’m like ‘Shit, I can’t do this.’ It already comes with a lot of things to mix and to master, and it just sounds great. It’s easy, fast. I love it, man! It changed my life. It made everything way better.”

Size has cultivated functional artistic and business relationships with dozens of American rappers. He even considers some of them friends. (“Young Roddy, that’s my homie”) Despite having visited the States twice, Size and Zock have only met two rappers in person: Fiend and Nipsey Hussle.

“I talk with people online a lot,” Size explains simply. “I just never met them face to face.”

Take for example Cookin Soul’s relationship with OG Maco or Curtis Williams. Last year, Size sent the Atlanta rappers a beat pack. They flipped two into a pair of scintillating summer tracks, “Money” & “Holeman & Finch,” and promised fans that they were piecing together a joint mixtape called OG Danco produced entirely by Cookin Soul. Zero tracks from OG Danco have been dropped since; it appears that the project has been shelved. Neither Big Size nor Zock were kept in the loop prior to the release of the two songs or in the afterman. “I don’t know if they gonna make more or not,” Size says. “You have to ask them that. My job’s already done.”

The relationship between producer and rapper is tenuous in the United States, where it is common for a rapper to drop a track without first alerting the producer that the song includes one of their beats. According to Size, this a less common practice in Spain and other countries. He maintains something of a “Que Sera, Sera” attitude towards this arrangement.

“If it’s mixtapes, sometimes this stuff just gets recorded, it’s already out, and then it’s like, ‘Yo, what now?’” he says. “You can’t do a lot of things about that. So sometimes you are a little bit exposed – I mean what are you gonna do – you can’t sue everybody over a mixtape track from Spain. You don’t have a lot of power there.”

Despite the inherent power imbalance, Size and Zock have managed to make a decent living off beats, which Size indicates is at least as profitable as Cookin Soul’s (seemingly) lucrative DJ tours.

“I have a lot of royalty money,” he says. “I have big records in Spain, in Europe, Asia, and of course in the States. You can get paid [off a mixtape]. You have to know when it’s possible.”

Big Size speaks of the Spanish hip hop scene with a note of pride in his voice. “Spanish hip hop has its own scene,” he says. “Spanish hip hop is not like American hip hop. Or French hip hop.”

Spanish hip hop has drawn influence from the United States and France in equal proportions. Now, the scene is thriving on its own accord and is directing trends throughout Latin America, though its trends seemed to emerge in parallel with those in the United States.

“Spanish hip hop has always been about lyrics,” says Size of the ‘90s. “You have to have dope lyrics. Lyrics that you take time writing. It’s almost like movies or like books. It was like that. Now it’s more about the flows and the beats. The beats have to be dope. If the beat is not dope, I’m not gonna listen to it.”

While Spain has not adopted American signifiers of machismo and wealth such as guns or making it rain at the strip club, Size notes the rise of a new generation of Spanish artists influenced by Atlantan trap. “Now it’s starting to become more about club music,” he says. “People are mixing it with reggaeton and trap music. People are saying ‘swag’ and all that.”

As with many items in our rich cultural cornucopia, we Americans are quick to forget the artistic and commercial impact hip hop has had abroad. (We enjoy the smell of our own farts, as it were.) Hip hop is at this point a surging, self-sustained lifeblood in nearly ever corner of the globe. Big Size & Zock’s humble beat-making operation out of Valencia is a reminder that, against all odds, worlds of consequence actually exist outside our own.

Source: Hot New Hip Hop

AraabMuzik Talks Musical Manipulation, Improvisation and Bouncing Back With “Dream World”

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Back in late February, hip-hop/EDM producer AraabMuzik aka Abraham Orellana fell victim to an attempted robbery in Harlem. And while the altercation left him with gunshot wounds to the head, it did not prohibit the gifted producer from jumping back into the studio to finalize his highly-anticipated new album, Dream World.

And the release is exactly that — a wide arrangement of 16 tracks that transitions smoothly through EDM, Hip Hop, R & B and back again. With a distinct mixtape feel, Orellana obviously has an ear for methodical track transitions, flipping the switch at a moment’s notice from the Indian chants on “War Cry” to the sultry vocal stylings of Vchanny in “Dream”. As such, we wanted to speak with Orellana ahead of the Dream World’s release about everything from the infancy stages of his career to his newfound range and growth.


You started out when you were around 16 in Providence, Rhode Island, which isn’t exactly a hub for hip-hop. How did you find your passion in both hip hop and EDM and eventually gain your footing in the music industry?

I’ve always had a passion for music — that wasn’t really something I [worked on] or decided on. So I just wanted to expand my talents and start producing my own music. Me coming from a musical family, and playing instruments, I wanted to just create my own beats and music. When that started I was able to learn and create lanes for myself as a music producer. That’s when I started exploring different types of genres of music. That’s basically how it started.

Since then you’ve been able to produce tracks and work with a lot of huge names. How has it been to work with artists like Kendrick, Cam’ron and Alicia Keys?

I started off working with Cam’ron and then Diplo in my early stages. Then I started branching off with different artists such as A$AP and Alicia. My sound has changed a lot to [the point] where I’m able to work with these types of A-list artists. It’s important as a musician to be able to be versatile, definitely.

You mentioned before that you played keyboard and drums, so as a person who plays traditional instruments, what do you say to those who perceive mixing and sampling as a ‘lesser’ form of art.

I mean, manipulating songs and samples and chopping them up and making it your own is definitely a skill. Not anyone can make something out of nothing or take something and make it completely their own. My generation [was definitely all about] chopping up samples and making crazy little songs and beats. But the new age now is definitely not like that at all. I’m not really hearing that in anything nowadays. People from the South and the West Coast aren’t too heavy on samples. The East Coast is definitely where you hear that most. Right now I’m trying to bring it back to those [sample-heavy] times. On the album, I have just a little bit of everything, [every] type of music and style. I wanted to give the people just a little bit of everything.

Listening to the album, the variety in your samples is really impressive — but it all still sounds like you. What’s the selection process and creation of this range like?

I actually created the whole Dream World album last year, but it sounded so much like [my debut album] Electronic Dream, I didn’t feel there was enough growth. I was literally only catering to my electronic fans. So I decided to make a more eclectic album. I dedicated 1/3 of the album to the genres I cater to the most — electronic, hip-hop & R & B, trap and bass. For example, my process for “War Cry” initially started by me looking for African tribal chants and after I came across the right video with a chant that I was vibing to; I sampled it, chopped it up and altered the melody of the chant. I also added my signature drums and breaks. I found a dope Indian chant that I included in the track as well and then added it as the hook. I like to have a number friends in the studio with me, so their responses to the tracks I create helps me know I’m headed in the right direction. It’s basically the same process I use when producing all of my music, no matter what the genre is.

You’re also well-known for your ability to improvise and freestyle with ease. Can you walk me through the stimulus of that improvisational experience?

Most of the time I don’t think. I just pick out the sounds and start playing around with different styles or whatever way I want to do it. I pretty much freestyle everything I do. I don’t really have a plan or anything when it comes to creating. You know whatever sounds good to me, I just go along with it. If it comes out the way I like it then I record it. It’s the same way with my live performances. I just do everything live, on the spot. None of my shows are the same. It’s all live and I always play the music differently.

I’m sure you probably saw that Flying Lotus tweeted about producers having to own their own worth, especially in relation to rappers. I just wanted to know your thoughts on that.

FlyLo has a point. But I don’t experience this too often because I have long-term relationships with most of the artists I produce for. There are incidents when rappers expect everything for free though. Those type of rappers come across as if they are doing you a favor but in actuality it’s a collaboration and I bring my core fan base to the table as well, so we can all benefit off the cross-marketing and make money.

What do you think this album will say about your growth as both an artist, or even as just a person?

This album [is] an album worked on for so many years now. I feel like I’ve progressed a lot and definitely been working to own this point now. I’m definitely excited for the album I put together. I definitely appreciate the wait [since] it’s been on hold for so long. … I just want to thank my fans and people who have supported me throughout the years. Just for all the loyal fans I have out there I know it’s something they’ll definitely appreciate.

AraabMuzik’s Dream World is out now via Empire.

Source: Paper Mag