California’s Free Mind does not lack for soul. Whether he is producing for Westside Gunn, Vic Spencer or Killy Shoot, he maintains a signature sound that sticks to your ribs long after you listen. A proud student of Dilla, Free just blessed us with his Donut Of The Soul beat tape that would be sure to make Mr. Yancey proud. He just released The Soul Section, his debut vocal project featuring Jamil Honesty, Josiah The Gift and many more. As if that wasn’t enough, he also produced all of Killy Shoot’s Balance of Man EP which contains some of both parties best work to date.
RD: How long have you been making beats?
FM: I started making beats in 2002, when I was a junior in high school on a Casio keyboard that my dad bought for me. It wasn’t until 2011 when I began to take it seriously, though.
RD: Listening to your work, it’s pretty apparent that Dilla and 9th Wonder are big influences. Is there any particular body of work from them that inspired you?
FM: Those two are definitely huge influences for me. There isn’t any particular body of work that inspired me, though. It’s their complete body of work that inspired me and continues to inspire me. I’m a fan of their music. It’s timeless.
RD: You made Hitler Wears Hermes 6, how did that happen? Were you surprised when you got word that Gunn would be using your work for the project?
FM: That was actually crazy how that whole thing happened. I posted a beat video on Instagram and someone tagged WestSide Gunn in it. He reached out to me after that and had me send him beats.
RD: Let’s talk about working with Killy Shoot on The Balance of Man. I recently started to get into Killy’s stuff heavy and this is some standout material.
FM: Killy is my brotha. We started working together in early 2018. I presented the idea for us to do a project together and he was with it. The rest is history.
RD: Personal favorite vocal track you’ve produced thus far?
FM: Soul Glow with Supreme Cerebral is my favorite thus far. Everything about that track is flawless.
RD: The Soul Section just dropped, can you take us behind the scenes on the project? How long did it take to put together?
FM: It took me a year to put it together. I had a lot of songs but none fit what I was trying to do. Track number one with Definite Mass was the very first song that I had for the project, that’s why I used it as the opener. Over time I built relationships with the other emcees, but none of them were the original emcees who were supposed to be on the project. Jamil Honesty is the only exception to that. The song with I.E. MOE was recorded back in 2012. I had him record it again and send it to me so I can mix it for the Soul Section. On the last joint with Killy Shoot I sent him the beat and told him to bless it for me. It’s always easy working with Killy because he gets me. He knows what I’m looking for. We have good chemistry.
RD: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
FM: I see myself making great music still. A lot of great musicians will have a Free Mind track in their catalog.
RD: What do you want listeners to feel when they hear Free Mind production?
FM: When someone hears my music, I want them to feel exactly what it is that I felt at the time I created it. That’s always my goal. I don’t make beats, I tell stories.
RD: Plans for the rest of 2019?
FM: 2019 will be even better than 2018, and 2018 was great. I plan on releasing my tribute to Dilla and my compilation album in the summer. Later on this year, I’ll be releasing an album with O the Great.
Follow Free on IG and Twitter @3rdEyeFree