Ski Beatz talking about Jay-Z, new label with Dame Dash, Gay MCs, Biggie & Blueprint 3! (Part 2 at the bottom!)
"I was like one of the first guys to actually put the vocals in the samples, you know what I mean? You know how Kanye done the vocal samples going through the hooks and all that?"
Ski was patient and kind in a 50 minute phone interview. After talking about producers and life, he talked about Jay-Z and the streets ("What it was, Jay was hustling on the streets, at the same time he was doing the fast rapping. And than Dame kind of took him to the side...").
Saying he isn't got problems with no gay MCs ("If he's gay, so what? I'm not gay, If I do a track, and the track is hot and he blow..").
Ski keep talking about New label with Damon Dash, Stories about Biggie in the studio, and even Blueprint 3 ("the album is done!").
An Hour with Ski Beatz – we asked about everyone, everything, every deal. You know how we do? Politics as usual.
HipHopPow.com: I know you love Michael Jackson. What influence MJ had on your music?
Ski: Wow. Influence? Michael Jackson? He had a real big influence on my music man. I mean I actually sampled some of his music when I was producing Camp Lo – Human Nature, and another one of his songs.
We used 2 MJ songs, the song was hot. My mom used to play the Jackson 5. I used to listen their music everyday.
HipHopPow.com: Any Influence in the production style, like from Quincy Jones?
Ski: Yeah, (but) Even earlier than that, I mean, you know, 1970's Michael – The Funk Brothers most produced them, that's what really got me into MJ – The Jackson 5 got me to recognize Mike, and than of course Quincy start produce him – the "Off the Wall" and all that stuff , it was amazing too.
HipHopPow.com: What you did when you heard about it? (MJ's death)
Ski: Wow, of course I couldn't believe it. I think I was on twitter when - I see the message and it was like a lot of conflicted stories, but than one that he actually passed. I couldn't believe it. He did so much stuff, since he was a kid but couldn't really be a kid because always in a limelight – like a fish in a fishbowl.
HipHopPow.com: I heard you lately hooked up again with Dame Dash?
Yeah, Well, I moved back to New York like four months ago (from North Carolina), moved back hooked up with Dame, we started an independent rap label, some production for solo artists.
HipHopPow.com: What's the difference between that and the "Dame Dash Music Group"?
Ski: The whole thing is still formulated; It's gonna be a lot of stuff coming up. It is mainly gonna be an internet label. It's like Rock N Roll, merchandise, fans…
HipHopPow.com: We talked about Michael as a kid, What you done as a kid? Music? Watched TV? Cartoons? Kung fu flicks?
Ski: All of that, man! I had a great childhood. I was outside everyday: play football, play basketball, Used to watch the Kung Fu flicks every weekend downtown, (and) definitely listen to music – My mom played piano, my big brother played piano, my dad played piano, my sister played piano…
HipHopPow.com: Did you play Piano yourself?
Ski: I recently just started to play, you know, it seems like I'm picking it up pretty quick. But I always, instead of picking up piano, I picked up SP1200 and sampled.
HipHopPow.com: How did you learn to make beats and produce?
Ski: I used to rap first before producing; I was in a group based in North Carolina called "The Bizzie Boyz", and I was the rapper, we had DJ-producer named "Fanatic" he had the 1200, while he working on the machine – I guess I was learning it at the same time, he basically learn me how to rock on it.
HipHopPow.com: How you got to know Clark Kent?
Ski: While I was in the group "The Bizzie Boyz" – Clark used to DJ for Dana Dane, he used to come out South a lot, and we used to open up for them when they came to our town, we got real cool with him – Clark said "Hi, if you guys ever in New York – Check me up, look me up". So when I moved to NY, I guess I looked him up at the prefect time – because when I looked him up he was accidentally the A&R at Atlantic Records. So I made a demo for Original Flavor – I had my first partner Suave (Suave Lover) and I took it to Clark, and like two weeks later he gave me a call and said "I wanna sign you guys".
When he heard my beats he told me "You need to be selling beats, people will buy your beats" and Clark helped me sold my first beat.
HipHopPow.com: What producer influenced you back at the time?
Ski: At the time, I influenced heavily by producer named "Mark Sparks" – he was actually from North Carolina, he was actually part of my crew. He was the first one from NC to actually make it big – he produced couple of records for like Salt 'N' Pepa, Mary J. Blige – back in the 90's. He had real crazy funky style of production, and it kinda rolled up with me.
So what I did I kinda took his style, kinda matched it with mine – and that's how I came over like all the "Dead Presidents" – the whole 'Reasonable Doubt' was almost like an emulation of what he was doin', with my twist on it.
HipHopPow.com: Everybody is always asking you about "Dead Presidents", BUT for me, "Politics As Usual" is much more glossy and brilliant, you made this complex - futuristic style of production. With all the small pieces and pitched up samples, this reminds me what Just Blaze did in "Kingdom Come" with the "Super Freak" sample.
Ski: You know, a lot of people don't see that, I was like one of the first guys to actually put the vocals in the samples, you know what I mean? You know how Kanye (Kanye West) done the vocal samples going through the hooks and all that, I was like one of the first guys to do it.
HipHopPow.com: I heard this new joint "Swag" seems like you produced the song, but you also rapping.
Ski: Yeah, it's funny. That song was like, what happened was my friend Trew came by the house and he was like "I wanna do a song", and I'm 'Aaight, Cool' and he was "Make me a beat" so we did the beat together and he was like "Yo, Ski I want you to rap on it" and I don't really rap no more, but you know, I rap on it – he's my homeboy. He gave the song to DJs in VA and they started playing the song. He actually drove me to VA - we made a video like 2 weeks ago, should be out soon.
HipHopPow.com: Would you like now to make a comeback as a rapper?
Ski: I dunno, what you think? How it sound? It sounds like I got the rap?
HipHopPow.com: Even back in the day you had some good raps, maybe you should make some raps.
Ski: You know what? If the people like it and the people feel like I should be rapping - I can do it. I can write, I was rapper before anything.
HipHopPow.com: What you think about money with rapping and producing hip hop at the same time? Like everybody wanna be like Soulja Boy – so lots of peeps all of a sudden started to do it. Some think it cool from one side, and in the other Ice-T is like mad about the whole thing.
Ski: Well, I mean, I can't be mad at them because a lot of cats got love for it and really wanna do it. And a lot of this young cats look at it like they wanna make some money, wanna make a quick buck – I can't be mad at that. I can't tell what's really good, what really not, anything will eventually 360 back around.
Right now in New York there's a movement – to bring back the real hip hop. Like tonight I'm going to "The Spot" in Brooklyn with DJ Evil Dee, you know a lot of the pioneers of the 90's there and a lot new young kids – people really trying to be Hip Hop.
You know all the funny hip hop playing on the radio, and that's what the media is trying to put in your face, but there's a sub culture. I try not to put too much attention to what's going on the radios and media.
HipHopPow.com: You talked about New York, now I read online, that hip hop heads today, still talking about the east-west differences – like, with the style of productions and samples. You really think there's a difference?
Ski: The West Coast is really melody driven, is like music – people can ride to this at the car. When you hear Snoop song, you know it. Especially a traditional west coast Snoop-Dr. Dre song. New York got 2 different variations for me – like Party New York, (but) you also got the grimy hip hop in New York. It is a beautiful thing, I love it. See, hip hop started from New York sound, but evolved for so many different sounds – that's how music supposed to be, think about Blues transform to Rock and Jazz.
That's what hip hop is doing now, you got Southern hip hop, New York hip hop, West Coast, you even got Miami hip hop – that's a natural evolution. A lot of people I guess small minded people thinks hip hop should sound 1 way – and if it doesn't sound like this "that's not hip hop".
But you can learn a lot from listen to the other side. Look at your boy Jay-Z – he based his whole career on listening to other people musical style, and basically emulates any of this – not only New York, but different styles of areas. Like listen to "Can I get a…" nobody in New York was doing a Bounce Beat. The South made him doing it and Jay-Z made it cool to be from New York and do that and the South embraced Jay-Z for doing it, the "Big Pimpin'" had the Underground Kingz on it, which got him even more craze especially on Texas area. Jay was smart, he saw how hip hop is evolving – at the time I was the up-and-coming producer he got with me, than he moved on with The Neptunes, he got with Just Blaze, with Kanye, he keep it rolling – that's how a good artist supposed to do.
HipHopPow.com: I read in your Myspace "NO free beats", people asking you for free beats?
Ski: (Laughing) Ain't no free beats, no right now. (Laughing) If I hear artist I like, that I think they have potential to do something, I will definitely work with them and give them free tracks, to help them get a deal with potential to make some money. You know what I mean? But anybody asking for free music, I can't do that, I don't have enough beats to even do that. (Both Laughing)
In part 2 Ski is talking about Jay, Blueprint 3, Autotune & Girls:
Ski Beatz Speaks: The Exclusive Interview Part 2