V: My name is VOiD, and I’m from HipHopProduction.com… First of all, I know you are working on the Beat Kings DVD
V: tell me a bit about that
M: You want to know what it’s about, or …
V: Yeah, tell me what it’s all about.
M: Well what I did (is) I went around interviewing producers, so it’s a producer to producer type talk. That way, I mean it’s like you can have people that interview producers easy, but at the same time, coming from another producer it’s like certain questions, and certain things (they) are more equipped to ask than the average interviewer. It’s a lot of information for people that want to get into the business. It shows the business side as well as the creative side, you also got a few people giving you a few little tricks and things like that.
I went around interviewing people like RZA, Marly Marl, Premier, Havoc, Kanye West, Just Blaze, Swizz Beatz, Trackmasters, I went to all different types of music, you know what I mean? It’s bangin, and it should be out in the Fall.
V: It’s safe to say you were basically mentored by RZA right, around the same time he was still making the Prince Rakeem video. How did that start?
M: You talking about the “Ohh We Love You Rakeem” video?
M: Well back then, I was just DJing, I was DJing for GZA. I knew RZA already, (and) I didn’t even know him and GZA was cousins until he was filming that video. It was like hip-hop was in a different state at that day and time, and everyone was just trying to come through basically. Him and GZA being cousins and everything, and being tight, they were just trying to come through. RZA was on Tommy Boy, and GZA was on Cold Chillin’ at the time, and it was just a good experience to be apart of all that, and just watch the development. From there the whole Wu-tang thing actually formed and came together into what it is now.
V: Other producers in the Wu camp, do they influence your styles? I mean how have they influenced your style?
M: Ya, of course they influenced (my) style. I think everybody influenced my style, every producer that I listened to, because everything I listened to, I studied. I mean personally, like it or not… I may not even like something, but I might listen to it, and like the creative side of it. Or a producer did something, he might have used a hi-hat a certain way, and I’d be like “ohh, I like that..” so I might try to… I may think “Let me do it like this, though.” Every producer definitely influenced me to a degree.
V: Now are there any personal techniques you can bless us with?
M: A personal little technique?
M: Personal technique? I think my personal technique is not to have a personal technique. It’s to be as loose and free as possible, because if you restrict yourself to a certain way of making a beat, it’s like sometimes you might get stuck. To me, you gotta go with how the wind blow, however you (are) feeling. I think music is more emotional than anything, so if I’m feeling a certain way, then that’s how the beat is going to come out. I may start from the drums, and I may not. I may start from the sample, I may start chopping, or I may start playing… it depends on the day.
That’s me personally. I think everybody is different. There might be certain things that certain individual may always do in a beat, but not me. I do a little bit of everything, I switch it up, I try not to get too repetitive. I try to keep it new and fresh.
V: What’s in your setup? What kind of gear are you working with right now?
M: Well, I stick with my board, the ASR-10, that’s my baby from day one, cause I think I’ve mastered it, so I think that anything you master you should stay with. Anything else I get, I run through the ASR-10. Like a Triton, a Motif, a 505 and that’s really all my gear right now. Sometimes I might switch it up, and run something else through there.
V: So do you play your basslines on the ASR-10? I mean you do all your sequencing on the ASR-10?
M: Sometimes, it depends. Sometimes I might… sometimes I throw it into ProTools, see the ASR-10 keys are so comfortable that sometimes I make a beat, and if I think it’s bangin, I may track it to ProTools, and I listen to it and I’ll be like “Hold on, let me change the bass up, (and) let me do this…” I think ProTools gives me a little more freedom to start adding or taking away from. I tighten it all up in there, because then you got your effects, and like you said, I can play the basslines over what I did, or I can change anything up, and change things around.
V: Is ProTools the only software you are messing with?
M: Basically, I mean I have a lot of software like Reason and Cubase and all that, but it’s like the whole industry is ProTools friendly, so I stick with the ProTools because it’s like you come into the studio with a different program, then (some) don’t get it, or everybody (will) operate different things, so unless it changes, I’m gonna really stick with the ProTools, and I don’t really have time to learn anything else. I stay working, so… I mean if I had to, I would, that ain’t nothing, but at the same time, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
V: Now when you first started producing, the great 3-second rule was still in effect. Now with all of these new laws, does it affect you in any way? Is it affecting you right now?
M: You mean the 3-second law? I forgot what it’s called…. (interpolation?) You definitely have to know the laws.
M: Nah, not interpretation, it’s where you have the ability.. where you chop it up a certain amount, and you make your own arrangement, I mean there’s certain laws, you definitely have to know the laws, and you got to know how to use them for your benefit, but for me, nah they don’t affect me, because most of my stuff, I chop up anyways to where I would be fine, and certain things I don’t… you know?
V: Do you stay in contact with all the artists that you work with?
M: Ya, pretty much so. As far as the artists on my new album, or do you mean my Wu-tang brothers?
V: I mean anybody you produce for, do you stay in contact with them?
M: Ya, I stay in contact… like I speak with my Wu-Tang brothers on a regular basis, like Killa, and GZA, and I’m always on the road with Meth, and things like that. Some of the new artists on my album I keep in contact with, but I may not speak to them everyday, or maybe even every week because I’m constantly busy. Everybody has their own lives, I have a family, so you take out your family time, I have a lot of different projects I’m working on like Beat Kings, promoting this new album, “the Problem,” to working on different individual albums, and making beats, and touring… so it’s kind of hectic, time is of the essence for me, but when I can reach out, I reach out, and when they reach out, they reach out and catch me, you know?
V: The beats on the new album, are they new, or have you been sitting on them for a while?
M: Nah, I’d say about 80 to 90 percent of it is new.
V: Talk to me about the album.
M: The Problem to me is a banger. I worked hard on it, I got everybody from the Wu on it, and I introduced a lot of new cats on it. Some of it is that gritty Wu-Tang sound, some if it is experimenting with certain new sounds, but still keeping my signature in it, because I always leave a piece of me with every track that I make.
On this album, I got more focused on actually making songs more than just making beats. I kind of elevated to producer, you know?
V: Now what’s your favorite Wu-Tang album?
M: My favorite Wu-Tang album? I have a couple of those… Supreme Clientele, Liquid Swords, Cuban Linx, Enter the 36, Wu Forever, ya I got a couple of them. It’s hard to say which one of them is my favorite, it depends on the day of the week.
V: Can you let us know if there is any tour coming up with the Wu members?
M: Well I’ve been out on the road… not on a tour like that, but there’s a few in the works. I know I’m going out with Meth real soon, and I’ll be going out with Ghost… I know he’s wrapping up his project real soon too. I can’t really say 100 percent exactly… because sometimes things tend to change, you know? Things get pushed back sometimes and… you know.
V: We know there’s 2 new producers on the Wu-Tang camp. There’s Bronze Nazareth, and Cilvaringz. How did they get into the chambers?
M: Well they came in through RZA. It’s like anyone that basically comes in, has to come in through the Abbot, so… you gotta go see the Abbot.
V: Now you also got into licensing some music, and you have credit to I believe the new Wanda Sykes theme song? How did you approach that market, and how does it compare to making albums?
M: It’s different. It’s mad different… you have to address it different. It’s like the stuff I did for Wanda and for TV and stuff, it’s like those are comedy shows, so it’s like I said, music is emotional, so you gotta get that feeling. The music had to be funnier than dramatic. Like my album is more dramatic.. like hardcore and gritty, and that’s my normal state, so it’s easy for me to do that. Now when I step to the TV, it’s like even if I was feeling bad, and going through one of them days, it’s like I would have to get happy real quick, because it reflects in your music. It’s different… there really is a difference and I learned a lot from doing it too. I got into it because I was good friends with Wanda Sykes and Lance Crouther, the world knows him as Pootie Tang. That’s my man right there.
V: How has the industry changed for you in the past 10 years?
M: How has it changed? It became more diverse as far as hip-hop music goes. Before you had gritty hip-hop and you had mainstream, and you had people trying to go pop and do all that. Now you still have your mainstream pop type thing, and your gritty, and gritty these days can go mainstream, so I’m not mad at mainstream. Now you got crunk, down south, like the dirty-south, you always had your west coast too, I can’t forget that… it’s like there’s more sounds (that have) evolved in the game. It’s a wider and broader spectrum for people. It’s like now the game changed cause everybody wants to be an emcee, or a producer, and everybody’s trying to get into the game. You have to show and prove (yourself), even with the labels. That’s why I’d rather do things independently, because for one, you control what you’re doing, and you are going to see more of your profits that way. Nowadays it’s like you go to these majors, and they want to control your album, they want to control what you do, and they take all your money, and then they don’t want to give you nothing either for your work. It’s like “Bring it to me like this, or don’t bring it to me at all. And once you bring it to them like that, then they want to give you what they want to give you.
I grew up on hip-hop in a time when we weren’t making money off of it. The most I would make off of it was doing a party or something like that. I was happy to make $250 DJing. Now it’s got to the point where we grew up, and I’ve been living off of this for the last 10 years, and now I have children and a family so now we do it for money, so now it’s definitely a show and prove thing. You gotta keep the fun there, I always try to keep the fun there.
V: So what’s next on your plate? What are you looking forward to?
M: Well, the Beat Kings, I’m working on the part 2 to this album, “The Problem.” Right now I’m wrapping up an instrumental album, and I’m trying to do it… you know how you go back and look at some of the jazz greats, you know how they did their albums… stuff like that, where it’s not just beat after beat, but it’s put together well and the music is kind of threaded together… like a Quincy Jones album… you’re going to have beautiful music, and then you might have the Brothers Johnson sing a song on it, and I have an album I’m working on right now kind of like that… I’m wrapping it up.
V: One last quick question: are you doing production for any artists outside of the Wu family?
M: I’m about to step into that. I’ve just been so busy with all the projects I’ve been working on that I haven’t really had the time. I think what I’m going to do after I wrap up this project, is I think I’m going to take like 2 weeks off, just to get my thoughts together, relax with the fam and all that, then I think I’m going to hit the boards real hard, and poli (network)…. I like reaching out to other individuals, and just see what happens.
V: Great, well on behalf of HipHopProduction.com, it was a real pleasure.
M: I appreciate it man. Peace.