Producer Spotlight: J.O.D

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Producers like J.O.D. help our musical world expand, adding to the international base of talent with smoothed out beats that touch the soul. I first heard him on Smoovth’s SS96J album, and he happened to produce the cult favorite of the project, the haunting ‘Ouija’. As the years have gone on he has produced for Planet Asia, All Hail Y.T., SageInfinite and Left Lane Didon. With his resume always expanding, he is not letting his foot off the pedal. Here’s what he had to say for himself

RD: Your introduction to many listeners was “Ouija’, from SmooVth’s SS96J album, one of the standout tracks on the album. Would you consider that your first major placement?

J: That record was very important to me, it made me focus more on production and beat making, especially after Alchemist tweeted about it, that made me understand that I was on the right path, doing things the right way and that I had to believe in my beats. The original version of the joint I gave to SmooVth is slightly different from the one that was released, they had this visionary idea of looping just a small section of the beat where the drums are filtered out. At first I wasn’t 100% sure about it, with time I understood it was hypnotic and different. With SmooVth we have the idea of releasing the OG version as a Remix with some new features. The record I consider my first placement is Verbal Kent’s “September”, on his Anesthesia album from 2015.

RD:Give us a little background on yourself, how long have you been making music, and what is your musical history, did you play any instruments?.

J: I was born and raised in a seaside city in the south of Italy called Pescara. I don’t recall specifically when but I remember approaching Hip Hop at a young age, I used to dress with baggy jeans and loved graffiti, even if I had to discover rap music yet. A pivotal moment was my brother bringing home Puff Daddy’s “No Way Out”. It was 1997 and I was 9, that’s definitely when I started to be heavily into hip hop music. I played guitar for several years, but I’d love to learn to play drums. At first I was an MC I recorded songs and mixtapes for years before I finally understood that my true identity was in beat making. I come from a family where music has always been very present, my brother plays the piano and my dad is a double bass player and avid jazz fan. He bought my first drum machine, a Yamaha RX120, when I was still a little kid.

RD: You were able to land a placement on Planet Asia’s Mansa Musa album. That had to be very rewarding.

J: Yes, it was a big accomplishment. Planet Asia is a legendary artist and, as a long time fan, it was an honor being able to collaborate on a song with him. I was heavily into Durag Dynasty when I made that beat so when it was done, I immediately thought about his voice and flow and I tried to reach out. I sent him 3 joints and he got back saying that he would use one for sure. The fact that it was the first single from the album was also a big deal.

RD: After those works, you were able to lock in with some very talented MC’s for full projects. Break down the making on the Back Doe Lil Joe album with Left Lane Didon.
J: To me Left Lane Didon is one of the best and most original MCs right now.I reached out to him after I heard “AC Massacre” with Jay NiCE and Conway. Initially we wanted to release just a couple of songs but after I sent him a few beats we basically had the album. I’m really grateful to Lefty because he also put some other incredible artists on my beats, like Benny, Guilty Simpson, Tha God Fahim and he also introduced me to Jay NiCE, Chris
Skillz and All Hail Y.T.. The album has a really laid back summer vibe, but it wasn’t something we aimed for, it came out that way very organically.

RDShortly after you released the Onda EP, with appearances current favorites Left Lane/All Hail YT and SageInfinite. What led you to choose them for the features? And do you plan on doing another this year?

J: That EP was made very quickly, I wanted to put out something with a lighter sound compared to what I had release to that point. I chose them because I wanted to keep collaborating with them and because I knew they would be a perfect fit for the vibe I had in mind. Traum Diggz and Chris Skillz are also in the project. Right now I don’t have plans about a new solo project but now that you made me think about it I’ll definitely keep it in mind!

RD: After that came Blessed Are the Damned with another Delaware resident, Chris Skillz. Can you talk about making that project, and your thoughts on the growing Delaware scene?

J: Like I said, my relationship with Chris Skillz started with Back Doe Lil Joe. He told me he liked my beats and I basically told him that if he wanted I was down to do our own project. We started pretty soon and I think we did the whole thing in around a month or so. I really enjoyed working with Chris, we have great chemistry and we listen to a lot of the same stuff so beats and lyrics came out with no effort. We tried to reach out to a few labels to print the album, hopefully we’ll find the right place for it in the future. “A Feast Of Friends” is one of my favorite tracks. I’ve never been in Delaware but I’m really curious about the secret of so many talented artists. Maybe is the weather or the ocean, I don’t know. It’s incredible that those guys, Left Lane Didon, All Hail Y.T., Chris Skillz, Jay NiCE are all from there.

RD: Your second project with Creep Giuliano just dropped, and it’s getting the wax treatment from Tuff Kong Records. How rewarding is it to see a project of yours getting pressed up?

J: Creep Giuliano is an Italian MC from Firenze, we’ve been working together for a couple of years now. He was a fan of the sound I was using the artists we talked about and he wanted to do that in Italy. The album did great and we had the chance to work with Tuff Kong Records so it’s a 100% Italian project! Seeing you album in a record store on in somebody’s collection is always rewarding, probably the biggest accomplishment for an artist. Kudos to Cuns and Domenico from Tuff Kong for believing in the project.

RD: The most recent placements for you are two bangers on Chong Wizard’s Soul Stone EP. This has been a very successful run of releases from him, did you make the beats with a superhero theme in mind?

J: I was introduced to Chong Wizard by Ceasar, a fellow Italian producer based in Los Angeles. I sent Chong a batch of beats and he got back immediately saying that he liked what he heard and that he was using two of them. I’m really happy with the records and with the artists Chong picked, M.A.V., Rigz, Teller Bank$, Pro Zay, Sekwense, all incredibly talented artists. I didn’t really make the beats with a superhero theme in mind, I was mostly focused on giving him something that would be fitting with the project.

RD: If you could release a production album with any 5 living rappers, who would they

JBLU, Evidence, Roc Marciano, Freddie Gibbs, Ghostface Killah/Raekwon.

RD: Shouts, plugs for upcoming projects? J: I have an EP with SageInfinite coming very soon and one with All Hail Y.T., an album with Junelyfe, one with Jay NiCE and one with SmooVth. Besides these I have a couple of placements on albums I can’t talk about officially yet. A S/O to everybody I mentioned in this interview and to all the producers that are making good music.

Cop Creep and J’s album on wax here
Cammina Sull'Acqua (LP)

Onda EP and Marinara beat tape here https://jodmusic.bandcamp.com

Blessed Are The Damned https://chrisskillz.bandcamp.com/album/blessed-are-the-damned

Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/officialjod

Producer Spotlight: Benji Socrate$

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Benji is a part of a collection of artists from NYC and Delaware that is shifting the sound of the underground. He takes great pride in repping the Dump Gawd collective, and has already shown a knack for putting together cohesive projects that you can play through. He can give a luxury feel, as displayed with All Hail Y.T.’s Deluxe Drugz series, or he can go for a darker sound as shown in Jay NiCE and Stack’s collab project The Holy Mountain. The different styles will serve him well, between the diversity in sound and talented roster of collaborators it’s safe to say we will be hearing quite a bit from this man for years to come.

RD: There’s not much personal info for you available, what would you like listeners to know about you that they may not?

BS: Well I don’t really like to let a lot of people know about my personal life, I like to keep to myself, but y’all are the homies so I’ll tell you a little bit. I’m 21 years old and I hail from Bronx NY. In my earlier years I grew up in Amsterdam projects in midtown NY until I was 14 then I moved to the Bronx. I’m a proud Puerto Rican. I believe that my love for music comes from being Caribbean and being raised around such a musically rich culture. I attend NYU on a full scholarship and I major in mathematics. That’s just the little background details about me.

RD: You have built up quite the resume producing for Dump Gawd member Stack Skrilla. How did your working relationship with him start?

BS: I have been a fan of Tha God Fahim & Mach-Hommy since late 2016 . I would constantly check up on the latest release that he or Mach-Hommy would put out. Around February of 2018 I checked Tha God Fahim dropped three new tracks with a dope emcee named Stack Skrilla (one of them was just a stack solo track named Ice T) so I looked into him. The first song I checked was Murdas N Silence cause it was a Camo Monk produced beat and there was visual to it. I checked it out and was immediately amazed by Stack Skrilla’s witty wordplay and hard hitting delivery. I checked out Ice T/ Hammertime after Murdas N Silence and that’s when I was like damn this dude is a beast. Then I notice in the bottom right corner of the Hammertime video a Bronx train logo and I begin to assume he was from the Bronx then I started to look into his Discography more. Mothership, After I heard Controversy and Mama said I hit Stack in a DM stating a little bit about myself and mentioning that I was amazed by the tracks he did with Fahim. I let him know I wanted to produce some tracks for him and he was down. I talked to Frozen who is Stack’s right hand man, and they were coming back from Atlanta so we just connected the dots. I met up wit them a week later and we started working on Stack’s debut tape Private Forum.

A couple weeks later we dropped 4 for 4 EP and started getting noticed on Insomniac Magazine and other blogs. I went out to Delaware with Stack and Frozen to meet Left Lane, Jay NiCE & Fahim for a show that they were performing at that ended up being double booked for Talib Kweli 3 hour DJ set. Stack and Jay NiCE dropped Tha Holy Mountain with me and JLVSN production and we made a lot of buzz around that tape. Frozen filmed Made of Gold the first song off the tape and got the ball rolling from there. By this time the production for God Amongst Men was already done, but it was just so hard for us to find a studio to record Stack’s lyrics at.  Literally was the hardest project for us to make. We held off on it, and worked on our other ventures such as the Bars N Recreation concert that had Hesh, Nofvce ,Mavi, Psych Ward, Murky, T-Bruin, Stack Skrilla & Immobiliare. Stacks and I also worked on an EP called Chow that had Jay NiCE & Left Lane on it, I cooked up 5 beats for Stack, and Frozen curated the features. Once we released the EP, I had my very first beat set at a Bars N Rec show. I played Sharri Lewis at the end of my set and the crowd was feeling it. After that we started getting the ball rolling on God Amongst Men, craziest part was that I made every last beat on that tape off the iPhone. Stack took a trip out to Delaware to record the entire tape at YT’s studio. We ended up getting the cover art and found skits for the album then released it. It was an honor to see so many people fuck wit the album and list it as their album of the year contender list. Definitely my favorite project of the year!

It’s an honor to have worked with Stack and Frozen, they’re really the reason for the success I had in my career so far I owe it to them. They’re my family, Stack, Frozen, Lefty, NiCE, Fahim, Mach, YT, Chris Skillz, JLVSN, Jiginthebasement, Thrasherwulf are a huge inspiration on me & they are my brothers in this music shit.

RD: Dump Gawd seems like a brotherhood, you told me that you were able to lay some music down in Atlanta. What can you say about that experience?

BS: It definitely is a brotherhood. We’re always looking out for one another and showing love that’s coming from a genuine place. Myself, Stack & Frozen went out to ATL to meet up with Fahim & Thrasherwulf to knock out a project Stack and Fahim had been talking about for months. The experience was really amazing for me because it was my first time in Atlanta and I got to experience what life is like out there for a few days. The highlight of the trip really was meeting Fahim and getting to know him on a personal level which made our connection stronger. I’m a huge Fahim fan and pretty much everybody knows that so people knew how much this trip meant to me. As soon as we linked up and was in the BnB we got to work on the project. While they were recording tracks I was making beats for my project with YT Deluxe Drugz. I also made the beat for B7 while I was on in Atlanta. Fahim heard me making the beat in the kitchen and wanted it so I sent that to him. He picked it up a month later and got Mach-Hommy on it. That Stack Skrilla X Tha God Fahim tape was recorded in 3-4 days. I witnessed them break night recording tracks all night long until the sun was rising. I witnessed Stack and Fahim really do some extraordinary shit. The project to me is one of my favorite projects this year. I wish I could relive the trip, it was so much fun, on our down time when we would be down recording for the day we would just play video-games & have deep discussions.

RD: Together with All Hail Y.T. you made Deluxe Drugs, which has a more luxurious sound than some of the your other works. What inspired the sound and direction of that project?

BS: Y.T. reached out to me saying he needed a Benji pack, so I sent him some shit I had in the chamber. The beats he was fucking with were “Peyote”, “Speedball” , “Ecstasy”. On top of that I sent Y.T. an 8 pack of different sounding beats. The luxurious sound really came from me being inspired by YT’s past projects and listening to what I can hear him rapping on. What would fit the soundscape perfectly for this project I had in mind with him. I was mainly digging into a lot of 80’s soul and RnB records. Y.T. really helped me construct the soundscape to be the way it was. I just executed it the way I saw fit. Y.T. really brought the soundscape to life with his raps and adding Immobiliare and Smoovth onto those tracks as well just added the icing to the cake.

RD: What traits do you look for in collaborators? It can be personal as well as musical.

BS: The main traits I look for in a collaborator is someone who I think is dope. If you’re not dope to me I wont really go out my way to do a whole a project with you. I can collab with people who are humble and genuine. People who are in this music shit for the love of it not for fame or money. I have to connect with that person, and we gotta have some type of connection or else the music wont hit right. So with the people I collaborate with I make sure I get to know them and have conversations with them. If they’re in the city, I’ll link up with them and create if they are down.

RD: Pro Zay has been very active lately, you guys just dropped the joint project BenZi. What can you share about working with him and that project?

BS: Pro Zay is the muhfucking homie. I love his music and find myself always revisiting classic Pro songs like Scary Hours, Red, Blood Stained Sweats, Slump, & many more. Pro  is one of the dudes that off of first listen you wont really get what’s going on, but the more you look into it the doper shit gets. I think his voice is fucking dope and the shit he says is raw as fuck. Plus Zay is so down to earth, he really has the passion and drive for this shit. He dropped a project called 3Piece with Farma, Camo Monk, & Deadstock (Sadhu & Hesh) and the tape was fucking dope. I hit him up thru the DM to let him know that project was ill, and he replied back we went back and forth praising one another. I think he recommended that we do an EP together and I was down for it 100%. After I got back from Cali I was working on the Pro Zay pack. I was finished with those beats probably around late April, I sent him the pack and he got back to me with a couple of ideas for the beats he wanted to use. We was also coming up with a name, I suggested Street Sweeper and we was rocking with it heavy so we ended up naming it that. Like 3-4 days after naming the project he got to working on the songs and he sent me back 3 songs he did for the EP: The Intro, Flip It, & The Outro. Each one was dope and Zay got really creative on this EP, I was truly amazed on the second track Flip It and how he spit a verse forward and backwards. I recommend everybody listen to 3Piece tape and the new project with him called Street Sweepa. Y’all wont be disappointed. We got more in stored just wait on it. Peace to the Psych Ward: Prozay, Dap, DøøF, Blckwlf, Chris Crnza and all. I got something in the works with one of those guys you will soon find out about.

RD: Is it safe to assume you prefer to produce the bulk of, if not all of a project rather than do a single placement? Or is that just how things developed?

BS: It’s really how things are developed but it depends on if I really fuck wit the artist. It’s at the point where basically I’m doing a tape with someone because I’m sending them a pack of beats and they pick which ones they fuck with. Its rare to see me on a single placement but I got my placements like the Trickpapi tape that dropped earlier this year. Also Dropped of Skool 2 Rap, and I’m about to have a placement on his next upcoming release. I mainly just try to work with the artist’s demands and let them decided whether its a couple of tracks on a tape with other producers or its only me on production.

RD: Do you have any set plans for the rest of the year? Word is you and Y.T. are cheffin up again.

BS: Deluxe Drugz Vol. 2 is on the way. This project is going to be the album for the summer, definitely a luxurious sound on steroids. That’s going to come drop sometime in the summer. All Hail YT – “MOTA “ft Jay Nice & Ladyy Prod. by Benji Socrate$ is out right now, make sure y’all cop that on Bandcamp.

Editors Note: Deluxe Drugz 2 is out now, go grab that!

RD: What kind of legacy would you like to leave behind?

BS: The legacy I want to leave behind is really the same legacy as the producers who inspired me like Madlib, Alchemist, DJ Premier, Knxwledge, & J Dilla. I don’t want their legacy,  want one of my own but something that is just as impactful. I want to be respected the same way those artists are. I have a long way to go but I’m definitely on the right track. My main message or moral of my story is to follow your passion the whole way through. I had many bumps in my road but I didn’t stray away from my path. I remained focused and passionate about my craft. I love creating and I appreciate art in every form. So if you’re an artist don’t let people dictate what your art should be, only you can do that. Only you sound like you, don’t pay attention to comparisons, just be yourself.

RD: First 5 calls to begin recording a Benji Socrates producer album?

BS: I’m working on an EP actually that’s going to drop soon. I have Stack Skrilla, Immobiliare, Akai Solo, Lungs & TrickPapi, and T- Bruin on it so keep lookout for that. Those were my first 5 calls as well, just artists I fuck with heavy and I know they would deliver. Stack is my brother so of course he’s going to be on this EP without a doubt. Immobiliare is one of my favorite duo’s since Mobb Deep and they are also my brothers. Akai solo is one of the dopest emcees in hip-hop right now, very charismatic and just raps really good with the best anime references in rap. I always enjoy creating with Lungs & Trickpapi , it’s therapeutic when I’m around those guys. T-Bruin, people sleeping on the gawd I’m getting him on a cut and I know he’s going to rip that in no time. Keep a look out for my EP Dusk Til Dawn Featuring Immobiliare, T-Bruin, Akai Solo, Stack Skrilla, Lungs & Trickpapi.

RD: Shouts?

BS: Aye I wanna shoutout Respect Due Podcast for letting me speak my piece much love and many blessings to y’all. I wanna shout out Stack Skrilla, Frozen, Princess, Jay NiCE, Left Lane Didon, Tha God Fahim, Mach-Hommy, All Hail YT, Chris Skillz, Lamb Rabbit, AJ Suede, DFNS, Saint Silence, BA PACE, Lungs, Trickpapi, Bruin, Akai, & Psych Ward. I got a project in the works with Lungs and I also got a project in the works with BA PACE. My homie Lungs dropping his project Self Sufficiency very soon keep an eye out on that, He is a really dope emcee. I got a project in the works with DFNS called What’s tha Fax B? keep an eye out for that. I’m on this new Chong Wizard Soul Stone project so make sure y’all check that out. I have a project in the works with Left Lane Didon as well and that shit is going to be beautiful. Deluxe Drugz Vol. 2 on the way, 1000 by Stack Skrilla X JLVSN on the way. Dusk Til Dawn is coming as well. Much love and blessings to y’all. I WANNA SHOUT OUT MY SUPPORTS AND EVERYONE WHO FUCKS WITH MY MUSIC & ANYONE WHO IS PURSUING THEIR PASSION. Much love & Thank You.

Editors Note 2: 1000 by Stack and Benji is out now for purchase

Follow Benji on Twitter @BenjiSocrate and IG @benji_socrates

Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/user-98053278

Cop the Deluxe Drugz projects here  https://allhailyt.bandcamp.com

Stack’s BC https://stackskrilla.bandcamp.com