How long have you been in the game?
I’ve been a Producer for almost 10 years, I picked the mic back up in 1996. That’s when I started OPE ENTERTAINMENT. I’ve been into Hip Hop culture, everything except DJing since I was 12 or 13.
In your total Hip Hop experience, what have you seen that you’ve appreciated? How have you seen Hip Hop evolve?
I’ve seen it go from one aspect of Hip Hop being recognized (Music), back to all the elements being recognized. The exploitation by advertisers with the goal of reaching new cash has caused them to include all the other elements when they talk about Hip Hop again.
I’ve also watched Hip Hop from a musical stand point turn into one of the most uncreative and lucritive ventures in America. Simply because of the audiences need for sex and violence to be nearby in almost everything that equates to fun. The originality doesn’t get enough credit any more.
Do you feel that Brooklyn is still the home of Hip Hop? Why?
I never felt Brooklyn was the home of Hip Hop. Only the Bronx can make, and take that claim. I believe there are two places a lot of people hold in high regard as far as Hip Hop goes: That is South Central L.A. and Brooklyn. In my experience these are the two places I’ve also seen so many punks front and act like they are from. It’s funny when I catch someone out there. Happens about once a year.
You receive a lot of credit for your beats, and I admit it’s well deserved, but how do you feel about your beats? Where do you feel your production stands in underground Hip Hop today?
I still feel slept on. The good reviews and the work from out side sources hasn’t come piling in by the truckload yet, but, on a skill for skill basis, I feel I’m better than over 70% of the underground producers. I think when heads hear my CD, GET SHORTy! it will change the amount of recognition I get, and prove my statement to be true.
Now, for the aspiring producer, what equipment do you use to produce your beats?
I keep it basic and cost efficient. I have my own 24 track studio so without having to worry about where to go to lay things down, my mind can stay focused on the beats and rhymes. I currently use an ENSONIQ EPS 16+ (THE WORKHORSE), ENSONIQ ASR 10 (ASSISTANT WORKHORSE), DR 550 MK2 DRUM MACHINE, ALESIS RY3O DRUM MACHINE, VARIOUS INTERNATIONAL PERCUSSION and STRING INSTRUMENTS (STUFF I BUY WHEN I GO ABROAD ON VACATION), and UNLIMITED ACCESS TO SOUNDS AND EFx. I’ve also stopped looping (using loops to make beats) in my production since ’96. People are fooled all the time until I invite them in for a listening session.
The punches leave my mouth wide open, and coming from someone I only know as a producer, I was shocked. By the lyricism, I’m assuming you were an emcee before you were a producer, am I right? I so, how did you get into producing, any mentors?
Well, in terms of you being correct, yes and no. See, I learned how to emcee very young–about 8–but it was just fun to do it because of this West Indian cat on my block who had an echo-chamber–for those of us reading who are that old. The emcee skill never left me. Once I decided to officially get into to the musical side of Hip Hop, I entered it as a producer who knew how to rhyme. I just couldn’t leave Hip Hop alone after break-dancing got too silly for me, for a moment in time, and I got tired of being out in the dead of night bombing as a graf artist. People started killin’ you for that shit.
What are your influences in rhyming and production? Your favorites? Least favorites?
My Production mentors are: The Bomb Squad (Public Enemy), Dr. Dre (Straight Outta Compton, DOC – Funky Enough), and Eric Sermon (EPMD, Redman). My Lyrical mentors are Kool G Rap, Redman, Chuck D, and Xzibit–who is killin’ ’em right now!
My least favorite is anyone claiming to do this shit–and love it–but complains about other heads that’s eatin’ right now. If you hold it down, your time will come.
Whose affiliated with the OPE ENTERTAINMENT camp? And what are the upcoming projects for these members?
Right now we are pushing my CD, GET SHORTy! which features Benjamin Hooks, the first emcee I started out with, Big Men-S, another producer, and Pack FM, now known worldwide. Artists in development are my lil’ homies Winz and Ten (Gino), MicOn, which you know pretty well and The Troublesome Yankee (T.Y.). The next project after that will be a joint effort between myself, Ben Hooks, and the Little Egypt family (Visual Poetics crew, also from Brooklyn). That EP will be called the West Bank.
As you know, Hip Hop hits a new height every year on the Internet. Kids drop albums who haven’t been in the studio once in their lives, but at the same time, heads use the ‘Net to their advantage for promotion and feedback. How do you feel the internet has affected Hip Hop, and does the ‘Net look promising for Hip Hop’s future?
As cliched as it sounds the Net has “leveled the playing field”, but it still takes hard work to make even an Internet strategy work. I’m excited about the fact people can make an album at home,–I’ve never been a fan of big commercial studios–but if the feedback says your product wasn’t tight, go back to the lab and tighten those laces. You have a whole bunch of pussies who can’t take criticism fuckin’ up every music site and dicussion board in the world because some said “You should’ve made that snare drum louder”. Once you weed out those punks, and once the majors realize the ‘Net has been their friend all this time, it should be a much better place in the not too distant future. I’m excited about the possibility of both of those events happening.
Where do you stand on the Napster issue? Is it a positive thing, or is it stealing from artists?
I don’t care how much of someone’s music you get online, to me it’s not really the best quality, nor the quality that it was intended to be heard in. There’s nothing like owning the CD or tape to me. I’ve received a small amount of praise for my work just based on the few songs I have online. It has translated to product sales and production work for me, and I aint cheap, so personally, I can’t say it’s hurting.
In your opinion, what were last years highlights? Who would you like to see more of in 2001?
2000 was no big deal besides the return of Dr. Dre and the well-deserved props for Pharoah Monche. His album was blazing. Everything else was business as usual to me. For 2001, I hope my man Xzibit goes Platinum, since he’s pretty close already–all hail the underground! And more of me and my crew would be nice, don’t you think?
If you had the opportunity to produce for and/or rhyme with any emcee(s) on a track, who would it be, and why?
Redman ’cause he’s crazy. Rakim–It would be an honor. Kool G Rap ’cause his technique with words is still the illest. Chuck D so we could produce the Official Revolution anthem, no sing-songy bullshit. A song that might kill us both. Xzibit ’cause he’s the underground flagship. No matter what song he’s on he stays true to the underground. Pharoah Monche, I wouldn’t rhyme on that one, I’ll just watch. Phife Dawg, I’m glad he’s solo now!
And last, is there anything you’d like to say?
Thank you, RhymeLife.com for you support. I fully endorse the realness of your site. Keep it up. Best wishes for 2001. To all those who will read this go to [OPE @ MP3.com] and see for yourself what good Hip Hop from the underground sounds like. Look out for the GET SHORTy CD available online first starting February 2001. In stores in March 2001.
interviewed by Jeff
How long have you been in the game?