Producer Spotlight: JR Swiftz

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If this piece ran a year ago, it would need a longer introduction, but with placements on no less than five recent Griselda titles, JR Swiftz has made his name known in a major way. Make no mistake, this was no overnight come up. JR has been honing his craft for a long time, and he intends to make the most of his raised profile.

RD: At this point many fans know the name from various GxFR credits, but let’s go back to your roots. You have a beat tape Soul & Party that dates back to 2012. Was that what you would call your first official body of work? If not, what is?

JR: Yeah that was my first beat tape, I was super nervous about it. I remember reaching out to my bro Bvlvm about the art. I gave him this idea I had and the vibe I was going with, he executed the art perfectly to what the tape was sounding. Blessings to bro.

RD: What would 2019 JR Swiftz tell the 2012 version? What wisdom have you gained over your time in the game?

JR: I would tell 2012 Swiftz the same thing I tell 2019 Swiftz,  be patient! Please be patient and also learn the business. The music part is fun (sometimes lol) but the business side is everything you need and more.

RD: With a number of upcoming placements on various projects, you are well on your way to becoming even higher in demand. That is success in itself to many, how do you define it?

JR: Success to me is just enjoying what you do and still getting paid for it. The money will come but just have fun creating. For me, I just want to be comfortable, I don’t need millions. Just comfy and want to be known as a great one day. That’s success to me.

RD: When you set out to make music, did you have an end goal? Was this a hobby that turned serious, or was this always the plan?

JR: Music was always something I wanted to do full time. My pops did it, I seen him create heat and I knew that’s  what I wanted to do. I was an emcee at first but didn’t like my voice. I fell in love with producing because of it and I was heavily focused on beats.

RD: How much has your setup changed? Was there a piece of gear that helped take your production to the next level? Or would you chalk that up to just improving overall?

JR: I used software first, started on FL Studio then Reason then Ableton and the MPC software. In the midst of that, i think Ableton, the MPC and just overall willingness to learn helped me progress over the years.

RD: 2020 is going to be a continuation of the growth of your name, is there anything you can disclose at this time?

JR: Not as of now, but just know you’re going to see my name a whole lot more on various projects.

RD: Looking back, what placement are you most proud of?

JR: I really can’t single one out they all played a major part, to be honest.

RD: There is a ‘JR Swiftz Type Beat’ on YouTube, that has to be flattering.

JR: There is? I need links! Whatever a ‘JR Swiftz Type Beat’ is… isn’t that. I have so many styles, people just know me for Griselda but I’ve showcased that. Peep B Dot’s Coming Forth By Day EP for proof.

RD: Do you have any shout outs?

JR: Shoutout to everyone whose been rocking with me since day one! Blessings! Peace!

Cop JR’s Macstrumentals here https://jrswiftzva.bandcamp.com

Follow him on IG @thereal_jrswiftz and Twitter @therealjrswiftz

 

 

Producer Spotlight: Vago

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Vago first caught our attention by producing the bulk of Estee Nack’s amazing Joan Manuel Serrap project, producing 5 of the 7 tracks and putting his mark on the game. He soon followed that with more work with Estee, as well as placements for al.divino and Recognize Ali. This summer produced all of Nueva Ola, a joint project with Che Uno. Here he talks his roots, how he developed some key relationships and future plans.

RD: You’re one of the rising names in the production world, can you give the newer listeners some background info on yourself?

V: I’ve been listening to Hip Hop since the early 80’s. UTFO, Run DMC, Whodini, Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel etc. were all in rotation as a young kid, b-boying, following in the steps of my older brother. We used to get these mixtapes from our Filipino neighbors that had cousins in L.A, that always had the latest shit. That lasted about 2-3 years.  Soon after, my bigger bro started listening to rock and heavy metal, I followed suit, as most younger bros do.  In those years of being heavy into rock and metal, I learned how to play guitar, bass and drums, listening to my favorite bands and learning how to play songs by ear. Interestingly, hip hop still played a role in the background for about 3 years in the form of NWA, Ice T,  Beastie Boys, Too $hort, Kid Sensation, Sir Mix-alot and of course Run DMC.  Hip Hop came back around to the forefront of my life at around the age of 18 and has been number one since. I began as an emcee in the early 90’s, but was always semi-obsessed with digging through vinyl, looking for samples for our producer at the time. I first dabbled in beat making when I was 18 but never really started heavy til around 21.  We’re here now!

RD: Let’s talk gear, what kind of toys did you start out with, and how has your setup evolved?

V: The journey into making beats really started the day I discovered I could sample music on to a computer. I remember that day, it blew my mind!!  Before that, I was cross dubbing shit on cassette tapes. Also, I knew that most samplers at the time, had a maximum of approximately 8 – 13 seconds of sampling time and computer sampling time was pretty much unlimited.  I downloaded a free computer program called Multiquence and started messing with loops and making my first beats. Later, I moved on to a program called Acid Pro, which was a massive upgrade and then soon after, Propellerheads Reason came into the picture and I’ve remained on Reason until now. Reason has progressed in a major way and myself alongside with it. Big up, Propllerheads! As for external gear,  I don’t have racks of gear to brag about like many producers. I have a computer, a mic, an audio interface, some monitors and a few guitars, that’s about it.  Straight up, there’s no need for anything else.

RD: Looking over your credits, it’s clear you’ve made some strong connections with Rec Ali and Estee Nack. How did those relationships develop?

V: That started with a good homie of mine putting me on to the Triple Black Diamonds record by Estee and Al.  That album is fucking fire! I heard dude throwing some Spanish in the rhymes and thought, ‘yo, I’m gonna hit dude up and send some beats’. I linked with the homie Estee via Soundcloud and he got back with an email.  I sent him a couple of folders and I ended up landing 5 joints on JOANMANUELSERRAP.  That was the foot in the door which led to placements with Rec Ali and the gawd al.divino.  Big shout out to Estee!  Also, shout out to my bro Recognize Ali.

RD: Earlier this year you produced Nueva Ola EP with Che Uno, did you go into a different mindset producing a full project?

V: Not really, no. My dude Che Uno (@che_uno) and myself used to be in a group together called Los Poetas. I was doing all the production for the group. We released a full LP and an EP.  The Nueva Ola EP is a different vibe from Los Poetas , so the mindset may have been different in that sense but not in terms of full projects. I’ve been doing full projects with artists for a minute.

RD: Che mixes Spanish and English in his rhymes, we have seen this from Sick Jacken and more recently Crimeapple. Give us your thoughts on the emerging amounts of Latin talent in underground hip hop.

V: Shit is amazing!  It’s only right that Latinos have a heavy presence in the scene, now and always not just in the underground but in the mainstream as well!  Back in the day, Latino emcees were sparse and although Latinos have an equal hand in the creation and birth of Hip Hop, it wasn’t that easy to find too many Latino rappers.  I think I can speak for a lot of Latinos that have been into Hip Hop from early times, that anything Latino was a success for us.  Mellow Man Ace, Kid Frost, LSOB, Cypress Hill, Fat Joe, Messengarz of Funk, Hurricane G, Son Doobie, Kurious and the Beatnuts, were some of the artists at the forefront in the late 80’s and early 90s.  Shit, even Gerardo was big for some of us haha, we took what we could get in those days.

RD: Many of your works involved dramatic sounds, namely strings. Is that intentional, what are you listening for when digging for or developing sounds?

V: I dabble into all music when it comes to sampling shit, so nothing and nobody’s safe. I’m into pretty much any genre of music you could think of, so depending on the artist, one of these vibes will come through in the sample. Anything that catches my ear will get sampled, I’m not biased when it comes to sampling. Certain artists like different types of vibes, so it’s more like matching the beats with the artist.

RD: Is there any upcoming placements or projects you can announce to the good people?

V: I recently finished an album with my dude, Checkmate (@checkmatetherapper).  Instead of dropping the album as a whole, we decided to drop it as singles.  Also, my guy Asun Eastwood (@asuneastwood_toma) and myself are about to drop a full LP entitled Sewer Science, that should be out sooner than later. I’m also working on an EP with the homie Primo Profit (@primoprofit) and another EP is in the works with my guy SyckSyllables (@syllables_plaga) from La Plaga. More Rec Ali joints coming soon as well.

RD: Where would you like to be as an artist in 5 years?

V: For real, I just take the days as they come. In 5 years I’d like to be doing the same shit I’m doing now, but on a larger scale. Life usually pushes or pulls you into the direction you need to be in. For now, I’m blessed being able to make a living off of my passion, music!  If that can escalate and I can constantly keep creativity at a peak, all else will fall into place.

RD: Give us 5 vocal talents you’d call to begin work on a Vago production album.

VI’d definitely hit up all the artists I’ve already done previous work with, but I’d also reach out to a gang of emcees that I respect.  This idea for a compilation has been coming up frequently as of late. It’s gonna happen!

RD: Anyone you want to Shout out?

V: Shout out to Respect Due Podcast for the interview!  Shout out to my Higher Self and all my guides for this life and love of creativity.  Massive shout out to my parents for being my  #1 supporters!  Shout out everyone that’s been supportive of the music and the movement!  The list would be too long and I wouldn’t want to miss anyone, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Follow Vago on IG www.instagram.com/vago604

Producer Spotlight: Str8 Bangaz

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Production teams have made some of the finest hip hop over the years. The Bomb Squad, The Hitmen and many others combined talents for the greater good. One of those Hitmen, Richard ‘Younglord’ Frierson helped two young men from The Bronx get their start. 25 years later, they are producing full projects for some of the best talent the scene has to offer. Left Lane Didon, All Hail Y.T. and Snotty are among those who have blessed the mic while they’ve manned the boards. Here they detail their journey, their production album The Reagan Era, and what lies ahead.

RD: Is this a team or an individual? Can you give us some background on your past work?

SB: There are actually two of us, Rice and Rachi.  We’ve been doing this hip-hop shit for more than 20 years. Born and raised in the Bronx, we started producing in 1994. We got our first break ghost producing for top notch producers such as Younglord (Former Bad Boy Hitman) and Ty Fyffe back in the late 90’s. Shortly after that we branched off on our own and began producing records for artist such as N.O.R.E, Ali Vegas, Hell Rell, 40 Cal., Royal Flush, AG, Math Hoffa, Bathgate, Sha Stimuli, Littles, A- Mafia, Chubb Rock, and many more. Some of the records ended up on their individual projects and the ones that didn’t make the cut were used on our debut compilation album titled Str8 Bangaz Presents…Vintage which was released in 2010. So after the release of the Vintage project, we became very frustrated with the hip hop industry and the constant grind of trying to get production placements was taking its toll on us along with other outside issues, which forced us to fall back for about 5 years. However, we never stopped making beats but we did stop trying to shop and sell them. In late 2014 we slowly started to get that itch back and decided to work on an album with an artist by the name of Bunky S.A. (Former member of Lil Kim’s Tha Bee Hive Group and featured on her Labella Mafia album). We released his debut album entitled A Shot of My Life in 2015 which jump started our passion to re-enter the game. We followed that project up with another debut album later that year with Harlem’s own, Bathgate entitled Grand Opening.  These two albums which we fully produced led the way for our resurgence back onto the hip-hop scene.

RD: Delaware has one of the best movements going at the moment, and you’ve worked with many of the standouts including Jay NiCE / Left Lane Didon / All Hail Y.T. and Miskeen Haleen. Was it a domino effect after linking with one of them? How exactly did that go down?

SB: We’re always searching for new hip hop to inspire us, and in 2018 stumbled upon a dope EP by Left Lane Didon & Jay NiCE entitled Immobilaire.  After listening to the project we immediately knew we wanted to work with them so we reached out to Left Lane and sent him some records.  He instantly informed us he would be using multiple beats and wanted to release a project fully produced by Str8 Bangaz. That album was Autumn Leaves II and to this day is a classic. A timeless masterpiece. An EP with Jay Nice was in the works but never materialized although he recorded a few records. As for All Hail Y.T., a few months after reaching out to him he hit us up expressing that he also liked many of the tracks we sent him and the rest was history.  We vibed out with All Hail Y.T. and released a classic follow up to the Autumn Leaves II EP released prior with Left Lane entitled Live Well and Prosper. Miskeen Haleem was actually in the studio during a Left Lane Didon session while he was recording a track for the Autumn Leaves II EP (Mo’ Pete and Mateen).  We were already fans of his work, but that day he became a fan of ours and the friendship developed from there.  It was a domino effect, but not simply “Yo let’s do an album.” Nah, we still had to show and prove putting our A-game on display time after time.

RD: Your production album The Reagan Era features instrumentals as well as vocal tracks. How long did it take to create the project, and what went into deciding on the vocal guests?

SB: That album took about a month to finish, and while deciding on the list of MCs we wanted to feature we knew we were looking for some of the dopest up and coming underground rappers. Specifically those dope MCs who may not be common household names to people who don’t follow true hip hop. And thanks to all of the lyricist that showed us love on the album, it was a total success. A production album is something we’ve always wanted to do but just never got around to it. Our thought process has always been that instrumental albums are a way for the producer to showcase his/her talent by presenting a full catalog of tracks. We wanted to accomplish this and stay true to that Str8 Bangaz sound, which we successfully did. Instead of the artist choosing the track, it was now our choice on which beats we would put on the album. So if you’re a dope MC looking for some creative and artistic inspiration and you still haven’t copped that Reagan Era, I suggest you go out and get it. In addition to the crack instrumentals on there, we got amazing songs by some truly amazing MCs.

RD: Full projects have become standard, with you producing EP’s for All Hail Y.T. / Left Lane / Snotty and others. There has to be a level of trust there from the rapper, how much do personal relationships factor into determining who you work with on a project?

SB: Definitely a factor when we decide on who to work with but we’re also fans of these artists. We study their past material and try to get a feel for their musical habits through listening to their music catalogs. That’s how we are able to adapt and fit their style of music while also staying true to our sound and who we are (dirty loops, hard drums, booming bass). No matter which project we have fully produced for any artist, you can never say they sound the same. Most of the time many won’t believe we entirely produced many of the projects we have been fortunate enough to work on.

RD: The grind doesn’t seem to stop, are there some upcoming projects you can announce at this time?

SB: Right now, we are working on a project with a young talented female from Detroit by the name of Junii. She sings, rhymes, makes beats, engineers, etc.  She is the full package.  We produced the whole album. Also, we have another project we fully produced from a Delaware native by the name of Chris Skillz coming this year.  We’re also playing with the notion of doing another instrumental album, but this time it will only be instrumentals.

RD: What’s the end goal for Str8 Bangaz? Where would you like to be in a few years?

SB: Like any producer on the grind, the end goal for us would be to get consistent joints placed on projects for mainstream artists that we consider to be dope. This is in addition to obtaining placements on more of the well-known underground MCs. In a few years we’d like Str8 Bangaz to be a household staple when it comes to production on any level.  Hip hop and the beats you hear on the radio have changed a lot and we can’t say we are huge fans of all of it, however based on the responses we have been getting from our work we know there will always be a demand for MCs looking for that true hip hop sound and we are here to feed that hunger.

RD: Do you handle your own post-production?

SB: For the most part, yes.  If we do a project that will be released under the Bangtadis label, then all mixing and mastering is done by the legendary engineer Dan The Man.  Dan understands our production style and can bring exactly what we want out of every track without us even asking.  He knows how we want the mix to sound and expresses his creativity through the mixing process as well. Whether we want more bass on a particular kick or reverb to make a snare sharper, Dan knows how to replicate what we have already created in the crib and also enhances it once we are in the studio.

RD: What are some skills you’ve acquired that you may not have had when first starting out?

SB: I’d say live instrumentation. We play a little piano, bass, and guitar and this understanding of music is readily expressed in our tracks. Although we may not utilize live instruments in all our tracks, that foundation gives us the ability to push the ceiling on much of our sample-based tracks. A big thing with technology has been the introduction of plugins as well. You have to remember, we started in the 90s before all this plugin shit. All we had was an MPC 2000 and a sound module. But with today’s software and the ability to introduce different synthesizers into our production, it has definitely taken our sound to the next level.

RD: If you could pick any 5 rappers on Earth for Reagan Era 2, who would you call?

SB: Notorious BIG, Big Pun, Jay-Z, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Prodigy, Fabolous, Rick Ross, The Lox and Rapsody.

Thanks to Str8 Bangaz for their story, to purchase the instrumentals of the aforementioned projects as well as Reagan Era hit their Bandcamp up

https://str8bangaz.bandcamp.com

The vocal versions can be found on the respective artists BC

Follow on on Twitter and IG @Str8BangazLLC

 

Producer Spotlight: no.pulp

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We had a chance to tap in with no.pulp recently, a dual-threat producer/graphic artist from Upstate NY. His standout project Lobster Tales features an interesting mix of instrumentals and features from Chuck N Lock, Jah-Monte Ogbon and Sekwence. This is a man on the rise, his crispy drums and minced up chops make for an interesting listen no matter the format.

RD: We understand this is your first interview, thanks for coming on. Can you give the listeners a bit of your background?

NP: I’m a producer/graphic artist from Upstate NY. Capital Region. I started making beats and doing graphics around the same time, about 7 years ago. Dropped a bunch of stuff on Soundcloud and Bandcamp pre 2015, took most of the tapes down and am currently getting back into sharing online more regularly.

RD: After a few instrumentals projects, you released a series of Koncept Jackson remixes. What is it about Koncept that inspired you to make that?

NP: I’ve been listening to Koncept’s music for awhile now. He was probably one of the first underground rappers I heard that is part of this lofi movement right now. I remember bumping his Operation Liv Lav tape frequently. I actually sent him some beats a few years ago but nothing really happened with it. The whole Richmond scene (Mutant Academy) is crazy they’re all killing it.

RD: Lobster Tales is the new album, featuring a few artists we know in Chuck N Lock and Sekwence, and a few new names. Can you break down the selection process for the guests, and how the vocal tracks came together?

NP: For the beats; me and Isaac LaRue went to high school together so I had to get a beat collab with him on there. I had never worked with oxela before but he sent me some fire loops and chops and it worked out. I got a few beats with KillerKane that were supposed to be on there too but they didn’t end up fitting with everything else (you might find them somewhere soon).

For the verses I had like 5 or so beats that I thought might work better with raps. I knew I was gonna have to get Sekwence on one but everything else kinda came up as I was working. I sent Jah Monte and Sekwence the same beats, they both picked different ones. Both tracks came out just how I wanted them too. Jah Monte was the first to send his back and it’s probably still my favorite. I sent Chuck N Lock a few but they ended up specifically asking for one beat I made in a beat battle. I think Vinyl Villain picked the sample. Shoutouts to him and Chuck N Lock they blessed that beat. Jay Plus came in at the end when I was finishing everything up. Jah Monte linked us and I sent him a few tracks off the album, he picked which one he wanted to go on and that’s that.

RD: How do you decide what stays instrumental, and what can get rapped on?

NP: I kind of let the rappers decide that in a way. Most of the tracks they put verses to were going to be on the album either way. It was just a matter of whether or not they wanted to rap on that specific beat.

RD: You designed the cover for Lobster Tales, what came first production or graphics design?

NP: When I first started really working on Lobster Tales I didn’t have a set release date or any time frame I was giving myself. I had about half of the tracks done then hit a rut where I wasn’t finding samples I liked and didn’t know what other beats I wanted for it. So I stopped making beats for it and focused just on the cover art. It’s a rendition of sorts on a Lobster Johnson comic book cover. Once I had the cover made it was a lot easier to finish off the rest of the album.

RD: Do you actively shop your beats?

NP: Kind of. I am 100% more keen to work with an artist who’s music I already know. I’d rather work like that then be sending beats to just anybody. That being said, hit me up on twitter or something if anyone wants to work, we’ll see what happens.

RD: Is your next move planned out as the latest project releases, or is it more of a case-by-case basis?

NP: I’m always making beats. Just about everyday. Same with graphics. Sometimes I make one and it inspires me to start a beat tape from it, sometimes I send them to some rappers, a lot of them I just sit on for awhile. My computers full right now, so I’ve been using strictly my SP and MPC then saving them on tapes to go back through at a later time and find the ones I think are worth exporting. HD Tapes is next up.

Editors Note: HD Tapes is out now on his bandcamp, link at the end of article.

RD: One emcee/one producer projects have become quite popular, is that something you could see yourself doing?

NP: Those are the best and most cohesive projects. Madvillainy, Return Of The Mac, Liquid Swords etc. Me and Paranom are working on one right now. I don’t want to give out to many details but let it be known we’ve been working on it for awhile now. Way before I even started Lobster Tales.

RD: If you could have any 5 talents on the next NP album, who would they be?

NP: Mach-Hommy, Mach-Hommy, Mach-Hommy, Mach-Hommy, Mach-Hommy.

Editors Note 2: Well played.

RD: Ultimate goal in both the visual and aural fields?

NP: Have both my beats and graphics get me to the point where I can support myself financially. Lately I’ve been really influenced by the work RUFF MERCY has done with animation loops and incorporating videos and animating into one. I bought Wacom tablet because of him. I’m trying to do more of that stuff as well as album covers, promotional graphics, etc.

Follow the man on twitter and IG @no.pulp

Bandcamp: https://nopulp.bandcamp.com/album/lobster-tales

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/pvlpfree

Artist Spotlight: King Magnetic

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Allentown, PA native King Magnetic has been around for some time. He hasn’t let his veteran status affect his output, as he preps to follow-up 2018’s Back In The Trap with the upcoming Third Times A Charm. He offers advice to upcoming MC’s, touches on his time with Army of the Pharaohs and links us to his latest single Gun Charge.

RD: You’re from Allentown, PA. Did you feel that held you back at all during your career?

KM: Early on it hurt not having the outlets like NYC, Philly and LA, but once I treated Philly as my local area, things began moving. Now with the internet at this level, it’s much easier for anyone, regardless of where they’re at.

RD: What is the biggest obstacle you faced in your time releasing solo projects on your own?

KM: Budget and timing. I’ve been solid with putting things together and linking with other artists, but I’m still looking to do more marketing for all my solo releases.

RD: Everything you’ve dropped has been on King Mag Music, did you ever consider signing with anyone?

KM: Not really, there have been some small offers over the years, but nothing worth signing over any rights. I look at the long term much more than a quick buck. I can get bill money from selling features and production.

RD: You’re a long-running member of Army of the Pharaohs, a group loaded with talent. Can you give us some background on your relationship with Vinnie Paz and Esoteric?

KM: Both vets that built up solid brands, Eso more recently with Czarface and of course Jedi Mind Tricks. I met Vinnie in 2006 and Eso in 2007. We did more work early on and I’m always ready to work on something that makes sense for everyone involved.

RD: Do you approach a group track differently than a solo when writing?

KM: Not much. Either situation I’m just trying to make the best, most relatable song. Bars are important, but I try to stay away from just rapping for the sake of rapping if that makes sense.

RD: Army has toured the world, what are some of your favorite memories from the road?

KM: Taking my first flight ever with Switzerland being my destination. Birthday in France. Sharing the stage with various legends and the grind of traveling the US.

RD: Your latest album Back In The Trap is different from your previous work. What was it about DocWillRob’s beats that took you down this road?

KM: It’s the first full length collab project I’ve released, not to be confused with my third solo album. We were working on a more boom bap sounding LP in 2013 and he ended up catching some years. When he came home in 2017, I told him let’s start it fresh and he sent me the beat for the title track. After that, I told him to send tracks with more of a trap base. Shout out to NYSOM Productions, he helped out on a lot of the production and is co-producing the next installment of Back In The Trap!

RD: Benny, Recognize Ali and Cassidy appear as guests. You and Rec Ali seem to work well together, would you say he’s a favorite among this newer group of boom bap emcees?

KM: Definitely. We have an album that’s being mixed for release and we try to feature on each other’s projects as often as possible!

RD: What piece of advice would you give to someone whose going all in on music, hoping to make a full time job out of it?

KM: Learn the business, always invest in yourself and think long term as often as possible. Consistency and humility go a long way as well.

RD: What’s the next step for you? Have you mapped out the next piece of work?

KM: I recently released my latest single, Gun Charge which is off my 3rd solo LP – Third Times A Charm. I’m finishing up the album and then looking at dates and promo. I feel this is my best work and I’m back on the beats again, hoping to produce a track or two on this one and much more on the 4th LP. Peep the single and b-side “More Belligerent” here: https://smarturl.it/kingmagnetic

RD: Who are some bucket list collabs you have not been able to make happen yet?

KM: Nas, 50 Cent, Raekwon, Diamond D, Pete Rock, Alchemist and Scott Stortch.

RD: Shouts?

KM: Check out GQ Nothin Pretty, DJ Express, Joey Mafia and Moe Hendrix!

Follow on Instagram  & Twitter @ King Magnetic

Bandcamp : https://kingmagnetic.bandcamp.com

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

Artist Spotlight: DNTE (of FalconCrest)

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Today we catch up with DNTE from FalconCrest, one of our favorite duos in hip hop. After combing with his partner FalconOutlaw for a number of releases, DNTE ventured out on his own for his solo debut Crystal Pianos. He managed to keep a distinct sound while using various producers on the project, and it comes with some stunning videos. Here he talks about High Heat Records, the album and what else he has coming in the future.

RD: You are one half of the group FalconCrest, and have since started High Heat Records. Can you break down the roster?

D: Falconcrest (which is myself and FalconOutlaw), Smokeshop, TheRealSkitso, DrkTheLegend & Wyze Wonda.

RD: FalconCrest has built a strong reputation with one producer projects such as Valhalla Inn with Camo Monk and Red Rose Motel with Giallo Point. What can listeners expect from the next offering?

D: My PNC FalconOutlaw is dropping his solo project at the end of the year with an incredible producer name Wolfgram. DrkTheLegend is a HighHeat producer that’s currently working on his album as well as our producer/emcee TheRealSkitso got something dropping this year. Early 2020 FalconCrest will be dropping a collab project with DirtyDiggs.

RD: Let’s get into the new solo, Crystal Pianos. This contains many producers, how did recording this differ from doing a FC project? Both from a writing and beat selection standpoint.

D: In the middle of the Valhalla Inn project with Camoflauge Monk I began working on Crystal Pianos. I recorded about 50 tracks for this album, just contacting producers and emcees that would fit this project. People send us beats everyday and I would actually write to most of them, so the writing process has never changed.

RD: The video for MK Ultra is special, using unique lighting techniques to create a one of a kind visual. Talk about the planning behind the shoot, and your thoughts on how it came it be.

D: I got hooked on this weed strain called MK Ultra, while I was working on some beats at 4am. I came across this trippy sound and kept vibing to it so I called it MK Ultra. The next day I recorded the track and sent it to my creative director TrayStarks. He came up with this psychedelic concept with trippy lights in a dark room and the visuals just came out perfect.

RD: What is your ultimate goal for High Heat?

D: I just want my team to be successful.

RD: Toronto has seen a big representation in this market, with a number of noteworthy artists repping the city. Do you feel like that is paying off, or is there more ground to gain?

D: There is more work to be done in this city. We need more outlets, we need more support, we need to stick together and stop hating each other.

RD: You seem to have made big in-roads with some upstate New York artists, how important has networking been at this stage in your career?

D: Everyone I hooked up with across the border is family to me. I can’t cross the border yet, still waiting on a few things but whenever my upstate family comes to Toronto to check me, I make sure I take care of them, whatever they need I got them.

RD: Currently there are videos for MK Ultra and Washing Machine, plans for any more?

D: We got a few more videos in the works, can’t really let the cat out of the bag yet, but expect a few more videos dropping from Crystal Pianos.

RD: What does the rest of the year hold for yourself as well as High Heat?

D: Just keep striving for greatness and making sure my team is strong.

RD: Shouts?

D: Wanna give a big s/o to my HighHeat Records team, Jerry Graham, Mo, Chris & Alex from Siempre Tequila and all the artists and producers that helped me made Crystal Pianos.

Check out MK Ultra’s outstanding visuals here

 

Cop Crystal Pianos here https://dntecouture.bandcamp.com/releases

Cop FalconCrest music here https://falconcrest.bandcamp.com

Check out the High Heat family of artists https://highheatrecords.bandcamp.com

 

Artist Spotlight: SCVTTERBRVIN

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We recently had a chance to catch up with SCVTTERBRAIN, owner of Red Lotus Klan which has pressed cassettes for Tha God Fahim, Falconcrest, Sleep Sinatra and many others. He produces as well as raps, the latter recently showcased in his latest release Purgatory Heaven, a standout piece of work that is fully produced by Revenxnt. Please follow the links below the article to check some of his along with the label’s material out.

RD: Your catalog goes back to 2009, what do feel the biggest difference is between your early works and Purgatory Heaven?

SB: Everything is higher quality. I’m creating with the same aesthetic but I’m sharper now. I’ve just been refining my recipe. I’m a student of the game so it’s an endless quest to keep learning and improving.

RD: What came first, producing or rapping?

SB: I was a producer first. I started making beats on my PlayStation in 2000. Around 2007 I quit producing and started writing raps after I drank some mescaline.

RD: Red Lotus Klan is one of the most reputed labels in the underground, can you walk us through the genesis of the company and what it represents?

SB: The Red Lotus represents growing out of the dirt and mud as something beautiful. Started as a west coast rap art experiment group and expanded into a brand doing clothing and helping release music for other artists I respect.

RD: Why cassettes?

SB: I’m from the tape era. I grew up buying cassettes and making little mixes for my Walkman. I was selling beat tapes in 2001.

RD: There has been some talk of a cassette bubble, with a few noted companies ceasing operations on that format. Do you agree? What do you think about the future holds for tapes?

SB: At one point there was a tape label popping up every weekend. I can’t speak for anybody else but I’m always going to be pushing tapes. I think the value on all physical forms of music is going to continue rising for independent artists as long as the quality is there.

RD: Does emotion get in the way during decisions on what gets pressed up? Is it difficult to pass on a title that you love, but may not be great for business?

SB: If I think it’s really dope I’ll press it up. I like working with new artists that may not have had any tapes before. I was the first one to press tapes for Tha God Fahim, Camoflauge Monk, Sadhugold and a few others. It’s more about getting good music in physical form to the audience than making money.

RD: Lets talk about the new EP Purgatory Heaven. You reached out to Jersey’s own Revenxnt to produce it. As a producer yourself, what qualities are you looking for in a collaborator?

SB: Hard drums, dusty samples and good sequencing. I heard Revenxnt’s beats and got inspired instantly. I recorded all the songs in a week and dropped it the next month. Shout out to Ral Duke for the art work too.

RD: If you could lock in with any producer for your next project, who would it be?

SB: Adrian Younge without a doubt. He’s the GOAT.

RD: We recently got to meet some San Diego artists who were touring with Eto for his recent tour. Do you feel there is a scene emerging there? Or has there always been?

SB: Hell yeah. There’s always been some dope shit going on out there. San Diego has a lot of talent and RLK is definitely trying to help get the city heard more. Our last tape release was a project called YAMMS by Dre Trav and Talldrk out of San Diego.

RD: What does the future hold for both yourself as an artist and RLK as a company?

SB: I’m going to continue dropping these albums like acid and I’m also trying to produce for a lot more artists too. The next RLK tape release is going to be from San Diego artist Aki Kharmicel with his new EP LuxuryBandAide that I fully produced. Stay tuned in with the Klan. The best is yet to come.

RD: Shouts?

SB: Shout out RLK, MDR, DTM, Masters of The Universe and Thank you to the Respect Due Podcast for giving a spotlight to upcoming artists and taking the time to talk with me. Peace!

Follow him on Twitter and IG @SCVTTERBRVIN

Red Lotus Klan website https://redlotusklan.com

RLK Bandcamp https://redlotusklan.bandcamp.com

 

Producer Spotlight: Ecto84

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Passion is a base requirement to get anything done on the independent music scene. You often do collabs for free, often have to wait for promised payments, and travel far for very little pay if your a performer. It just comes with the territory. Thankfully for today’s guest, he has passion in spades. Ecto is proud of each placement and look he gets while building his brand in his own way. In this piece he gives us a detailed background about his history, current situation and future plans.

RD: You hail from South Bend, Indiana. What can you say about growing up there and how it shaped you as both a listener and artist?

Ecto: South Bend is not too much different from any hood you grow up in. I did most the regular hood shit you hear about. I played the corner, been shot at, shot at people, lost enough of my friends to the streets. Without going into detail, it’s bullshit out here if you’re looking for it. It’s been crazy and it’s getting worst. I do my best to stay out the way, but you can’t be afraid to come outside.
I’m married with four kids, I work and do my best to make time for music. So I’m doing what I’m doing to get away from the hood and provide a better way for my family. Musically, the scene has never been my thing. I’ve always been into that Roc-A-Fella/ Dipset type of street music. Around here, most the music either sounds like some down south shit, or some Drill type Chicago shit. So I pretty much tuned out of my local scene. Everyone around here seems to be aiming in the same direction, sonically. I’ve been making the same kind of beats y’all have been hearing from me since I was 15. When I was active on my local music scene, I did my best to work with local talent. After all this time living here, I’ve barely heard most of my beats come back as a finished song or get released. I used to record and work with friends I grew up with. I tried to get people on it, just never got the result I wanted and for that reason, I stopped completely making music. Until I found this underground scene. Catching up to the whole GRISELDA movement and the new wave of talent that’s out here got me inspired to get back to it! The sound is so dope right now! I was mostly intrigued by the independent market and the way physicals are giving artists actually control of their music and audience. I also gotta give credit to my older brothers on having me in tune with the right music. I grew up that whole late mid 90s/early 2000s era. Music was exciting back then. From Death Row, Wu-Tang, No Limit, Def Jam, Loud Records, Swisha House. I can name them all, but for the sake of the write up, everything back then was golden! That’s what influenced me to be who I am.

RD: Is there any local scene to speak of there?

Ecto: Yea, it’s people out here doing they thing. It’s definitely a scene. A few artists from here really got a good following in the city, which is important to any movement. Some cats made it out with music. I salute anybody that do make it out of here. It’s mostly
the typical sound I’m tired of. I’m still connected with certain guys I grew up with and trying to carve the lane for anyone I feel is DOPE enough to get heard. For now, I really don’t do local music. I’m in tune with what crafted me to get here. So I wish everyone in my city the best of luck to their grind, but I’m on my own grind! Self made from the bottom up! I built everything you see on my pages independently. All I’m focused
on is GHXSTRVPPERS. My city not really on it yet, and I’m not forcing my music on no one. I didn’t even promote it locally. I put my music where I knew my target audience was and built a organic following. That fake support is all you get out the city. I’d rather not have someone buy my CD for $5 just to never listen to it. So anybody that’s actually fucking with the music is strictly fucking with it because they like the music, not because they know me.

RD: Ghostbusters is a very common theme throughout your beat tape catalog and new project The Destructor, what is it about that film that inspired you so much?

Ecto: I’ve always been a fan of Ghostbusters! It’s something I grew up on as a kid that I never let go. Anybody that knows me for real will tell you off top, I’m a GHOSTBUSTERS FAN! The originality of the film itself has never been duplicated. Ghostbusters 1 & 2 are stand alone films. They remake movies 10 times over. Even though they finally did a remake, it still will never be better than the original films and cast. I’ve always seen dope art in the scenes of it. So to be able to use it and show people the art I see within it, it’s exciting for me to work on. I simply took something I loved and combined it with something I love doing. All of my personal releases, will always be Ghostbusters themed (for now). I have a lot more in store for the brand. But I will do other projects that aren’t Ghostbusters themed. That’s just for my personal catalog. I’ve been on this Ghostbusters shit with the clothes and all that. My intention isn’t to bite the movie, but it’s a HUGE influence to me in my life as a fan. So what better way to share it? Nobody else gonna do anything like this with it so I had to be the one!

RD: Many know of you through your affiliation with Team Fame Music Group, how did that affiliation happen?

Ecto: I started my page June of last year. Before then, I was a fan for a year and half or so. I was studying the underground scene and loving the sound! Really was more intrigued when I saw how people were independently pushing vinyls and cassettes. So I
would be at work checkin Calmlysmk2, Paka, Sun Tzu, UnknownFear, and all the underground YouTube channels looking for new music to bump. So I was a fan of K. Burns, Mak P, Lord Juco, Haze, Chuck n Lock, Talaj, Sleep Sinatra, Jay NiCE, Rome Streetz,
Tha God Fahim, a lot of the new talent I’m hearing. So when I started my pages on Instagram and Twitter, I just followed everyone I wanted to work with. Some of
them would follow me back. One day, I saw Mak P started following me. I didn’t know he had a Instagram because when I first heard his music, I couldn’t find anything but 3 songs off Calmlysmk2 page. So when he found me first, that shit blew my mind! So he would like the posts and kept up with the page. One day, he finally hit me up on Twitter and said he was doing a project and liked my sound and wanted to know if I would be
down to work so I sent what I had. From there, Burns hit me up and offered to opportunity to join THE GVNG and the rest is what’s gonna happen next… HISTORY! Our connection is organic and deeper than music.

Everyone in Team Fame Music Group is family now. We keep in touch often as possible since we’re all spread out. The way we’ve all linked up at a time like this was destined the stars aligning as they should. The funny thing is that my oldest brother was always telling me about his wife’s cousin doing music and how we should link up. I never pursued because I was falling back from music at the time. The same dude he was trying link me with then, was already a Team Fame GVNG member when it first got it started. It was just meant to be. We linked without even knowing that. Shots out to K. Burns, Mak P, Fetty, Eddie Word, 318 Cha$e, my cuzo Troy’ce & everyone that GENUINELY ROCKS WITH US!

RD: You recently produced Pieces of Eight for Chuck N Lock, talk about working with those guys and your thoughts on the final product.

Ecto: Aw man, those guys are so fucking dope! As I said, I was a fan of their music before I hit the scene. They hit me up one day and asked if I would be interested in working and without a doubt, we started building. Took a while to get the full production for it. I just sent anything new until they had what they wanted. It was most definitely a vibe they were going for with the sound of the tape. They brought a different vibe out of me for that tape. I love the concept they came up with, and the best part about working
with them is they were patient, professional, and consistent. It was truly an honor to have that project turn out the way it did. It was slated to drop April Fool’s Day, but we all know the tragic event the day before shifted the energy in the game. Losing Nipsey Hussle the day before it was released was heartbreaking on another level. Made it hard to push or even enjoy when we were all in mourning. I’m still happy with the overall results of the tape. Also extremely excited to see those guys getting more shine! Dudes are talented as fuck! I’m looking forward to working with them again and seeing where they will go next, those are my guys for life. I will always keep in contact and check up on them whether its music or not. Anyone I work with will tell you, it’s bigger than music with me.

RD: The Destructor just touched down in March, walk the listeners through the selection process for the guests and your vision for the project.

Ecto: That project meant so much to my introduction to the game. So as you know, I released 4 beat tapes leading up to THE DESTRUCTOR. It was all part of my original plan. From the day I started GHXSTRVPPERS, my mission statement was “No Rappers, Artists Only.”  That was my only goal to put out a project with as many of my favorite emcees as possible. But I did everything in sequence of the movie. “DVNV”, “Zuul”, ‘Terrxr’ Dxgz” & “GOZER” were the stages of the movie plot thickening. The final scene ends with the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man who is “THE DESTRUCTOR” they summoned in the movie as the final boss. So the plan was always set from Day one, I just didn’t know how long it would take to put together. Can’t lie though, shit came together faster than I thought it would. My opening statement was “I don’t need NO RAPPERS ON MY SHIT! That RAP SHIT DEAD ANYWAY! I’m finna make this shit LEGENDARY!” And I did exactly what I said I would do. Not for name chasing, just to work with serious talent that actually put in the work! I was a fan of all those guys listening to their music inspired and motivated me to do this shit! I was a regular fan at work bumping their music not knowing we would actually link through the music one day. Everyone on that tape were people I consider true artists. I get it, a rapper is a rapper however you call it, but I just decode shit differently. I’m just getting started so there’s so much more to this when it’s all said and done. Much love to EVERYONE INVOLVED WITH THE TAPE! Lord Juco, Haze, Killa Kali, Chuck n Lock, Bub Rock, K.Burns, Mak P and Don Carrera! More surprises coming up for the tape. My physicals are gonna fuck da game up! I’m sure the fans are going love what we’re about to do next!

RD: Are there any upcoming placements you can speak on?

Ecto: Of course! My most recent placement was on K. Burns’ Burnieville album. My track on there is Dishes.  I have an upcoming placement on Bub Rock’s album that he’s working on. I’m very selective about who I work with. I probably won’t ever have songs coming out with random rappers. I’m only working with who I feel can fuck with my beats. If you whack, I’m good. I’m building a brand of integrity. When I’m done with this my work is gonna stand for what I believed in and NO FREE SHIT! We all here
to work so be fair about the business. I’m very fair and willing to work with a budget but on that note, I might not ever have a huge amount of beats out here at once. That’s fine with me I just hope the fans enjoy the work I do put out because it will be very limited because of my process. I’m in no rush, things will come as they should.

RD: What is your ultimate goal as a producer?

Ecto: My ultimate purpose as a producer is to help elevate this level of Hip-Hop. I’m here to “Ghost Rappers”! That rap shit is dead to me! The game is so over-saturated with the same sounding shit. It’s gotten way too predictable and boring. I’m not the only one who can see through all that fake shit. Not too many real artists left. Anybody can rap, but not everyone can create ART with the music. I wanna put that whack shit away for good! Kind of the same concept as Ghostbusters. They were the clean up crew for
problems no one else could handle. It’s getting out of hand out here! Someone’s gotta do something for the sake of Hip-hop and what it originally stood for. So that’s what I’m on, and when I’m finished, my master plan is to partner up with Ghostbusters and help
build the brand to a new audience. Since they’ve brought the franchise back, I would love to executive produce one of the soundtracks. In the meantime, I’m on my grind until I get where I’m going. I’m also working on exclusive collectible merchandise for the fans. It’s coming in due time. For now, I’m gonna build off this music. Big plans ahead.

RD: Whats next for you, as far as album placements and fully produced projects?

Ecto: I have a few other fully produced projects in the works. Me and Chuck Chan of #Hometeam Empire are working on a project at the moment. That’s almost finished so be on the lookout for Pure Gold!  I’m also working with Lord Juco, Talaj (KvngKvmi), Haze, and of course the whole GVNG! All release dates are to be announced, but until everything is officially in order, I’m gonna keep building what we’re building till it’s ready. One thing I’ve learned as a producer is to never rush the work. My patience got me here, and with the EP’s I have already in the chamber I’m very confident in the foundation of what I’m building from. The concepts alone are ingenious! I’ll let the work speak for itself. Everything should be coming this summer.

RD: Is there a dream piece of gear you’d like to add to your setup?

Ecto: I would LOVE to get a Roland Sp404, and a MPC2000XL. I want it all eventually! I started with the bare minimum. All I had was a MPK25 and fruity loops. Now I’m working with MPC Studio. I wanna experiment with way more equipment and programs. I started all this from the bottom with a beat pad in FL Studios. It don’t take much, just gotta know how to work with what you got. So for now, I’m making magic with the tools I already have. I can’t wait to advance my sound and equipment. I’m looking forward to it!

RD: If you could select any 5 artists to begin work on a full length Ecto project, who are you calling?

Ecto:  Before it’s all said and done, I plan to have full-length projects with: Curren$y, Willie The Kid, Chris Crack, Mach Hommy, & Roc Marciano /or/ WestsideGunn. There’s way more, but those are some guys I know I have to put work in to get with. That’s all the motivation I need to get to them. I’m going to work my way up until I accomplish those goals. I know I’m going to get there too, its just going take the time to put into it. So I’m on this shit I’ve got a lot of work to put in!  I appreciate the time Nick, and to any of the fans, I appreciate the GENUINE LOVE AND SUPPORT! KEEP IT LOCKED! You won’t wanna miss what’s up next! #GHXSTRVPPERS #TFMG #TF2THEDEATH

Follow Ecto on his socials @Ecto84

Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/ecto84ghxstrvppers

Cop that Destructor EP on Bandcamp  https://ghxstrvppers.bandcamp.com/album/thedestructor-ep