Today we celebrate a veteran producer who is as active as he has ever been; Britain’s very own Farma G. He is one-half of Task Force, and has become one of the most sought-after producers in the American underground. His work on Rome Streetz’ Street Farmacy impressed many, with some listeners calling it Album of the Year. The praise didn’t slow him up one bit, as he continued to release projects with Chuck N Lock, Mooch and Tylisha Haskins. Here’s what he had to say for himself.
RD: You’re not new to this, you’re true to this. As a member of the highly respected Task Force, what can you tell American listeners about the mid-late 90’s UK scene?
FB: The UK has always had a great hip hop scene, but around the turn of the millennium there was a shift and the interest was becoming more international. Many of us started to travel all over the globe to perform. We had a golden age over here around 2000-2006 ish, with great artists like Ricochet Klashnekoff/Jehst/SkinnyMan/Rodney P/Broke N English and Fallacy to name a few. The scene died down a little bit, but we had a resurgence in the past few years with guys like Lee Scott/Jam Baxter/Black Josh/Children of Zeus etc. We also have the ‘road’ rap thing going on over here which is hugely successful, seeing artists like Giggs collaborating with Drake and Swizz Beatz. We got the ‘drill’ thing, grime is huge and become a more mainstream phenomenon with artists like Stormzy headlining the famous Glastonbury Festival next year. The foundations are solid.
RD: Outside of your partner Chester P, who were some of your favorite collaborators in the first phase of your career?
FB: To be honest, as rappers we were not feeling anybody from over here like that! We had our own lane and didn’t really want or need to make affiliations or connections with any of the other artists. We knew a lot of them personally and shit was all good, but when it came to Task Force music it was just me and Chesta. We had a track with Jehst, one with Kashmere but that was about it.
RD: In 2017 Tha God Fahim and Mach-Hommy reached out to you for two tracks for their collaborative effort Dollar Menu 3. How did you link with them? Would it be fair to say those placements led to more opportunities with American emcees?
FB: In my opinion Mach-Hommy is one of the modern day greats, I heard his HBO album and from the first track I knew it was special. At that time I discovered Daniel Son and Giallo Point’s Remo Gaggi and it blew my mind! Then I discovered that Giallo was from over here and started speaking with him about what he was doing musically. After that, it felt like I had been hit with some kind of God energy because I suddenly felt like I had found my path. I found an email address for Mach and sent him like 100 beats, then never heard from him! Months later, he sent me ‘Niggarati Manor’ and left instructions to post it on my Soundcloud page and say it was produced by Farmabeats. At this time I had no formal production name, I was just known as Farma. So I posted the track and the rest is history. FarmaBeats was born. I started approaching emcees that I liked and sent them beats, and because of the Mach affiliation was also getting approached directly for work. I will always have Mach and Giallo to thank for those two career defining moments that changed my direction from being an aging UK rapper to international hip hop producer!
RD: Earlier this year you released The Sentimental Alien, a producer album with a wide array of guests. What went into the creation of the album and the selection of the guests?
FB: The album was conceived over a few long nights looping up old South American samples, I knew I didn’t want to use any drums at all and had already picked the title. I felt nostalgic about the beauty of the music, and picked artists that would be able to compliment the music with their diverse skills. I never really liked UK/US emcee collaboration tracks, personally don’t think it works very well. So I decided to make it a US track alternating after a UK one, then the listener can just flick throught the tracks they didn’t check for.
RD: You continued on a torrid pace throughout the entire year, would you say it was your busiest to date?
FB: Production wise, yes. I have been stacking beats for almost a decade and only ever really shared them with one person, so many of what you are hearing are older and only needed a tweak here and there to bring them up to date. The learning curve for myself was all about the mixing and arranging music at a much faster rate to what I had been used to in the past. The FarmaBeats vaults are a little bit bare at the moment so I am stacking up beats getting ready for the new year.
RD: Let’s talk about Street Farmacy with Rome Streetz, to say it was met with much acclaim would be selling it short. Did it feel special during the recording process? How early did you realize there was a certain chemistry happening?
FB: I have said this publicly since the very first time I stumbled across Rome’s work…ROME STREETZ IS THE ILLEST! My introduction was through YouTube, one of his videos came up as suggesting viewing, clicked on it and went from there. We spoke, I send beats, asked for a track for my Sentimental Alien project which in turn produced ‘Jimmy Jump’. Flipped after hearing that, we spoke again and agreed to try to make an album together. The chemistry was immediate for us both, I make raw, simple tracks for emcees and that’s what I’ve been doing for nearly 20 years. Rome is a pro, he didn’t need any encouragement or instructions. Really appreciated the amount of time and thought he put into the whole project, even the title. Street Pharmacy was not the most original title, but with the twist of using both of our names with the adjusted spelling was some genius shit. Just before it was released, I started having massive bouts of self-doubt and became very nervous as to how it would be received. My joy at the response is immeasurable.
RD: Chuck N Lock are local boys for us, it was dope to see you work with them on a project. What can you tell us about working with them?
FB: They are great, working with those guys was so chilled and relaxed, I like how they work. They had a very good idea of what they wanted to do and how they wanted everything to sound, which I always appreciate in an artist. Having a vision of what you are trying to achieve is a major plus and makes my job much more enjoyable. I like their approach to writing lyrics, it’s not dissimilar to my own writing. I think the EP was a very strong release and hope that we work together again sometime in the future.
RD: You are the most seasoned producer we’ve had the pleasure of building with, you’ve seen a number of technological advances in your time. Can you talk about how your setup has evolved? What’s the one piece of gear you’d bring back to the 90s?
FB: I have always been an MPC head, so whatever I’m using it has to have 16 pads! I learned to sample on an Akai 950 with a Tascam 4 track, learned how to use an Akai MPC 60, and them moved on to the MPC 2000. Currently sit proudly with my Maschine MK3, which after a red wine spill has lost some function. I have been a Native Instruments Maschine user since the MK1. It does everything needed, my production is not layers and layers of sounds and effects, it’s not a sample chopped into 1000 bits. For the majority of the time it is a sample, chopped and looped with some drums underneath it…that’s it! That is core FarmaBeats, so I am happy with the Maschine but would not take it back to the 90’s. Learning to chop on the MPC 60 without seeing the sample was an invaluable lesson. Everything is good where it is.
RD: You had the unique distinction of producing a project with your own son, that has to be a very rewarding experience.
FB: It was something I wanted to do for years but I think he was embarrassed to be on a track with me hahaha. Honestly, Remus is so gifted and talented and he never stops writing and making songs. Farma & Son Est 92 was something I wanted to put out so badly, pretty much had to drag it into existence. We have been making music together since he was 9, and is now 25. He is an amazing person, he is kind, caring and loves his life and I am eternally grateful for being blessed with his presence on this Earth. The making of the EP was a beautiful and heartwarming experience that brought us closer together and made the father-and-son bond that much stronger.
RD: What can fans expect in 2019? Are your plans mapped out well ahead of time, or on a more case-by-base basis?
FB: Myself and WateRR have an EP called ‘Harvest Season’ that’s waiting to go. Uncle John just finished his Lyrical Assassin 4 project, which is insane! I am working on a project with a guy called Nomad Carlos, as well as with Prozay. Spoke to Rome about Street Farmacy 2 and that has the green light. Most exciting thing for me is a project that myself and Hobgoblin are producing together called The 7 Deadly Sins which has a theme. Each sin consists of 3 emcees over 3 different beats for 16 bars, so in all it will have 21 emcees over 21 beats! That is in the early stages, but I feel it will be ready sometime in 2019. Got a heap of other shit cooking, but those are projects that are definitely on the way.
We’d like to thank Farma for taking the time, and wish him well on all future endeavors. He is a class act and a true talent.
His Bandcamp is here https://farmabeats.bandcamp.com
His @ on twitter and IG is farmabeats