Tone Beatz has been a favorite the past few years, producing two amazing projects with All Hail Y.T. and killing every placement he gets. His story working in music goes back a decade. He has worked with Working Class Music Group putting out instrumental projects, and shows no plans on slowing down.
RD: How long have you been involved in production?
TB: Since I was about 12. I stole my cousin’s keyboard (Casio Sk5) back then and started teaching myself how to chop samples.
RD: Some of your early work is Hustler’s Science an instrumental album with a theme. Would you consider that your first body of work?
TB: Yeah it was, big shout out to Illastrate for helping me put it altogether. Real talk I really want to do a sequel with All Hail Y.T. & Left Lane Didon.
RD: Looking back to 2014-15, what area would you say you evolved at the most in your music?
TB: Digging, and studying my art! Summer of 2016 I studied Quincy Jones film scores like The Anderson Tapes, and old southern Gospel albums like The Violinaires. Then I’d study some Dilla or Madlib and observe their freedom of creativity.
RD: A few years after the Working Class Music material, you linked up with one of our favorites; All Hail Y.T. You did Street Poisoned last January, and a year later struck again with The Spoils of Babylon. Talk to us about the working relationship with him, and how you guys initially linked.
TB: That’s the homie, we met through a mutual friend about 15 years ago and vibed ever since. This dude is meticulous, when he approached me about doing Street Poisoned we were just doing jawns. When the time came to do Spoils Of Babylon he had everything in place. His vision was clear, this dude is my favorite artist I ever worked with period.
RD: What kind of relationship has to be established in order to fully produce a project?
TB: The Vibe! I gotta feel your vibe and your vision gotta be clear. Last but most importantly you gotta be dope!
RD: In March you were able to lend some of your talents to Y.T. and GeneralBackPain’s collaborative effort Classic Villains. Heath Ledger As Joker will go down in infamy, monster cut. Take us into creating that record.
TB: Y.T. hit me up asking me for some grimy beat, just before he call I was digging thru horror movie soundtracks. Right after that call, I grab a record. and say ‘let me vibe to this’. No lie right when the needle hit the groove that horn stab came blaring through the speakers. I said ‘that’s it!’. After I finished the beat and sent it he hit me back five minutes later saying that’s the one.
RD: We feel Killy Shoot and GeneralBackPain are two of the finest up and comers in Underground Hip Hop. Killy Shoot is readying his next project These Violent Delights fully produced by you. How did that relationship develop?
TB: I agree! When I heard Arm & Hammer I became a fan. Killy Shoot’s flow and delivery are so unique. I sent him a DM and we started building.
RD: In a world full of gear and equipment, what are some pieces that you have had your eye on?
TB: Right now I’m eyeing the MPC One, and I’m very curious about the SP 2400. Grew up watching Pete Rock make beats on the SP 1200, that might be my next machine!
RD: If you could enlist any five talents for a Tone Beatz album, who are you calling?
TB: Besides the homies All Hail Y.T. , Left Lane,Jay Nice, & Chris Skillz. I would love to rock out with Rome Streetz, Ransom, Tha God Fahim, Planet Asia, Benny.
RD: For those unfamiliar, who comprises Widowmaker and how long have you been active under that moniker?
W: Widowmaker is composed of Grant Burgess and Guttah Grey. In 2014 we started collaborating as Widowmaker. We began working in our home studios, which were a block away from each other. The last record produced in these studios was Lamy.
RD: Is there a particular division of labor when creating?
W: As Widowmaker, we almost always work together at our studio. We dig from our collection of rare shit, and go digging often with a concept in mind. Our process is time consuming. Lots of setting up and tearing down analog gear, live instruments, and media sources. We run a lot of our samples and our recordings of instruments reel to reel. We dig the natural compression that tape offers, although we have and use some very nice analog compressors. We talk, think, build and just take our time no matter what. I think it’s why we’ve managed to make our own sound in a genre that has a lot of material that sounds the same. As far as division, (Guttah speaking now) Grant Burgess is a monster born among mere mortal men. We usually build from his station, but we have 2x stations on a massive “L” shaped desk, and utilize both often during Widowmaker productions. Grant’s one of those dudes that can do anything musically, it’s a true honor to work with him.
RD: In 2015 you guys teamed up with Ayatollah to form Colossus, releasing a full-length instrumental album with him. How did that come about?
W: Strangely enough, Ayatollah was living in our hometown. Guttah was referred to him by a friend to help him record some material. Tollah came to Guttah’s house and was surprised to see a full production studio. After hearing our early Widowmaker material, he said, “Oh shit. You make beats? Let’s make some beats.” Over the next six months, we worked together to create Colossus–Widowmaker’s first vinyl release.
RD: Fast forward to 2018 and we have the Lamy/Stay Awake drop under Trevor Lang’s imprint. You would go on to do your latest venture with him as well, tell us how that relationship formed.
W: We had been following Trevor Lang’s work since 2016. His immaculate releases and visionary art and design appealed to us. We reached out to Trevor to talk about releasing the Colossus record on cassette under the Trevor Lang imprint. Although the cassette never came to fruition, we stayed in touch and conceptualized future collaborative projects with him. We had been looking for the right way to release a track that we had produced that featured Westside Gunn and Conway the Machine, and Trevor imagined a more ambitious release. Trevor recommended adding Sauce Heist and Al Divino to the track, and we agreed. As fans of both rappers, we thought it would work great. We worked with him over the next few months finalizing the audio while Trevor designed the artwork. We then got permission from our family Hell Razah to release Stay Awake on the same 7”. We produced a full length for Razah that will see the light of day sometime soon we hope. Peace and love to our brother Hell Razah.
After LAMY, we started talks with Trevor about starting a label, although the label wasn’t created until OTEC was finished. Golden Analogue was born. Right now Golden Analogue operates out of Oregon (Widowmaker) and New Jersey (Trevor). Widowmaker handles the fulfillment from our studio, and it functions like a Swiss watch. OTEC orders shipped out with a quickness; we have 36 records left right now. Shout out Trevor Lang as always. We saw something special in him from the get go, and it’s a true honor to be partners in Golden Analogue with him. We’ve set a new standard in physical media creation, and we’re very proud of that. 180g gatefold wax, in hand and ready to ship, is the standard. It is very expensive to manufacture, which lessens our profit margins, but what’s really important here is giving the buyer an experience. That being said, we still buy a lot of $40-$60 dollar records from the genre because we view it as supporting artists we care about. Almost all of these genre records are standard wax, standard jacket. Please keep buying these records and supporting all the renaissance cats, just include Golden Analogue on your shopping list and you’ll be happy ya did so.
RD: The brand new work is An Open Tomb… An Empty Casket. A unique offering where you guys produce Side B of another full-length instrumental album while Big Ghost LTD handles Side A. What was the process like developing this?
W: We had been speaking with Big Ghost LTD shortly after dropping LAMY. After corresponding for months and getting acquainted, we knew we had to just ask the big homie. Big Ghost maneuvers with integrity and honor 100% of the time. We then reached out to our relatively new friend and hit him with the idea of releasing a split instrumental LP on 180g vinyl. He said that he was down and recommended we house the record in a gatefold jacket. Both camps then started building. This record took about a year from first sample to a purchasable product. We dug our entire side along the way, taking our time and layering strange instruments we have at our studio. The process was the same way we approach most Widowmaker production: meet up at the studio, dig together or review samples we found individually, sit at our stations, and just take our time with it. We’re never in a hurry to finish a product, that’s why we don’t set release dates until we have a product worth selling in our hands. Big Ghost is plainly and simply a fucking monstrous genius. He hit us with his amazing arrangement at the perfect time along the project. We have a lot of respect for him as an artist and a friend. Shout out Coke Ceps!
RD: Is there a certain freedom in the instrumental realm?
W: Most definitely. We have the freedom to explore whatever sound we want. We both bring very different things to the table when we’re working on Widowmaker material. It just sounds different than our solo material, but also different from a lot of production that we listen to. We just love to experiment musically and our studio is like a 2nd home to us. Making purely instrumental records forces us to do what we really love: paying close attention to every measure, every note, every sound. Our records aren’t simply accompaniments to rappers, although they are that as well. They’re pieces that stand alone. We design our records with the listener in mind and work to make each production engaging and intricate.
RD: Will you guys ever fully produce a vocal album?
W: Absolutely! We just wanted to sharpen our swords, build our name, and put out some crazy music to show we can handle a full length rap record. We will wait until we’re blue in the face to find the right cat to do this with. We simply will not work with some shitty rapper. This is why we don’t sell beats, we trade beats. Now and then we make 2x beats and send them to a rapper. These are dudes we hand pick and who agree to work with us. They pick one beat to keep and send us back the other with rhymes for our stash. Expect to see some of these released as singles, possibly on wax. You’ll also see “Prod by Widowmaker” popping up on some releases soon There’s some epic material in there, we’re simply never in a hurry. When the time is right, it will be right.
RD: What is the next move?
W: Man, so many. Build Golden Analogue, Grant has next level solo material coming, keep teaching music production, there’s always a Widowmaker solo record being slowly built along the way at any given point, to keep conceptualizing and implementing our strategies to move forward.
RD: If you could pick any five vocal talents to hop on a WM album, who are you calling?
W: No real order to this, but DOOM, Con & West would be dope to do a LAMY part 2. Daniel Son, Rigz, and Mooch are very dope. We’re very content doing instrumental albums right now, we’d love to do some more concept split LPs with some producers that we feel would fit well. I don’t want to say their names, as we will be reaching out to them.