HipHopPow.com: What’s the craziest story you ever had on a studio, or at the industry?
Ski: Be at the D&D studios while we were recording Reasonable Doubt – Biggie was in the studio, be doing the second album, he was working with Primo. Just talking with Biggie, Biggie tell me how he wanted whichever beat, Jay wanted more than anybody that track.
Just crazy, man. Just being around that whole era. Black Moon, Smif-n-Wessun, M.O.P in the studio. Anybody that was HOT, was in that studio. People had like magic, it was magic in that studio.
(HipHopPow.com: Is it still magical?) Well, the studio is not there. Primo is in the studio now – called “HeadQCourterz”, but you know all the artists are they no long in there. Back in the day that was the spot, anything came out – Mobb Deep, came out from that spot.
HipHopPow.com: Now I heard you produced Pittsburgh Slim? Which is a white MC, with some electro style of beats?
Ski: What happened was, Cheeba from Camp Lo introduced me to Slim “I got this dude”. He’s from Iraq or something like that, Muslim dude. Anyway Cheeba told me “He can rap, he’s not really the best rapper, the flow is kinda corny, but he got energy – maybe you can do something with him”. So he came by and said he had an idea for song called “Girls Kiss Girls” and I liked the hook – so I said I should do a techno beat.
(HipHopPow.com: Is it was the first time you made a techno beat?) Yes sir, it’s the first time. So, I actually, no one heard the song – I kept the song for like 10 months, I don’t know why, But I liked the song.
Ski: So I let my partner hear it and he said “Yo dude I think this is a hit, I wanna shot a video for it”, so we shot the video in California and than put it up on Youtube and like the first day he got like 5,000 views – I thought something is wrong with my Youtube (Both laughing) – I Couldn’t Believe it, the next day it was like 50,000 and than radio stations and clubs started playing it, and in New York we had like 5-6 labels trying to sign it at the same time.
So I passed it to Jay (Jay-Z), I let Jay hear it, and Jay signed him. (HipHopPow.com: So Jay signed Slim to Def Jam?) Yeah, signed Slim to Def Jam.
HipHopPow.com: Slim with the girls, and “Ticket for 2″ by Camp Lo… what’s up with you and women? You got any groupies gold digger fans or what?
Ski: No, I’m married. I’m older I’m not into all that, I’m all about family.
HipHopPow.com: Now, these days a lot of rappers and beat makers getting their spots on reality shows, Like, Just Blaze been on “The White Rapper Show” in VH1. You think it’s cool? Would you mind getting a TV reality spot?
Ski: I would love it. That will be hot. I wanted to do like a “beat reality show” with a bunch of producers in the same house like the “real world” for producers. They will have like Just Blaze or Kanye or Pharrell to be a judge at the show. I would love to do it.
HipHopPow.com: Jay-Z used to have this fast style of flow, in the beginning of the 90′s – like “CAN I GET OPEN” even at the original “In My Lifetime” single.
Than like in Reasonable doubt he changed the whole style – like for a SLOW flow. How that happened? You had anything to do with it?
Ski: What it was, Jay was hustling on the streets, at the same time he was doing the fast rapping. And than Dame kinda took him to the side, tell him “Yo, You need to change, kinda slow it down. You need to rap about what you do. Let the people feel you”.
So, you know, Jay slow it down, Jay start rapping about his real life and it just came across crazy. He was like supervision with it.
HipHopPow.com: There are rumors about Biggie was the one told him to slow it down.
Ski: From my understanding it was Dame, but it could have been Biggie too because Biggie always… (Ski’s wife is interrupting and asking Ski to come chill with her).
Interview Continues: All this stories about Jigga selling dope in the streets, than using the money, for paying the studios and producers with a bunch of dollars – like bunch of one dollar bills. Is it was for real?
Ski: Ha ha (laughing and keep talking in an amused tone) Hi! I dunno how he’s getting his money, I dunno (both laughing) believe me. I use to get paid cash, give me a duffle bag, used to get on the train with a 10 grand in a backpack. It was their business out there. Roc-A-Fella, that how we do it!
HipHopPow.com: You already told me how you got your boy Slim a deal with Jay and Def Jam lately. But what’s up with you and Jay-Z? Like, you had little to no work since like Vol. 1 – Jay’s second album.
Ski: What happened was after the second album I started my own label and moved to New Jersey, I started my label “Roc-A-Bloc” – Had Sporty Thievz and Pace Won. While he was working on his thing, I was getting my thing up. But we (him and Jay) definitely still cool, and if I see him and if I got a track that he likes – he’ll definitely take it.
HipHopPow.com: Wassup with Sporty Thievz?
Ski: Man, I haven’t spoke with those kids for years. When Brando died I was like down south. So, after that I started the whole label in North Carolina.
HipHopPow.com: What’s the name SKI is all about? Is it a gesture for Kool Rock Ski from the Fatboys? Lovebug Starski ? “Ski Mask Way” ?
Ski: Ha ha, Yeah man, OLD SKOOL man. I used to break-dance back in the day, so instead of my last name is Willis – they used to called me Willski and than just Ski.
HipHopPow.com: Do you think any rappers out there speak proper English?
Ski: I mean, I like the kid Drake – he sings in an intelligent way on the mic. Hmmm, and, that about it (Both laughing).
But for intelligent, and common sense, but its crazy cause a lot of the best rappers are older: Eminem was older when he came to the game, Fifty was older, Jay was older, Biggie was older, know what I mean? Now these young rappers coming to the game and them younger, not as mature, they don’t have as much experience as the older guys. You got Soulja Boy, he’s young and talking about young things.
HipHopPow.com: Who are your TOP 5 greatest rappers of all time? Any why?
Ski: My greatest rappers of all time gotta be Jay, Kane, KRS-1 & Rakim. Why? Because they influenced me to wanna rap, that was something about they aura – they was cool. Rakim was cool, anybody wanted to be Rakim back in the day. Jay was cool. Oh and Eminem is dope.
HipHopPow.com: You reminded Eminem, Do you think it’s alright for a white man, which is not a racist, to say the N word?
Ski: I don’t think it OK for them to say that because all that stigma behind, especially if they not black. That’s a sensitive word, we let the Spanish kids get away with it, we let the Porto Rican in America let with it, but that’s it.
HipHopPow.com: There’s anyone you haven’t worked with but you really like to work with?
Hmmm, I would love to work with Biggie, that’s it.
HipHopPow.com: Who’s your favorite hip hop producer at the moment?
Ski: It is probably gonna be Kanye. I like his beats, I like his style. I also like No I.D. – he sounds good too.
HipHopPow.com: What you say about Jay-Z’s new track – Death of Autotune?
Ski: I love that, the way they did it – that’s real hip hop. It’s hot.
HipHopPow.com: You think peeps can still use the Autotune?
Ski: Only certain people could do it, T-Pain do it good and Akon does it good. (But) When I hear like Lil Wayne – I don’t like how he does it, it doesn’t sound musical. I’m glad Jay made that song.
HipHopPow.com: He also used that old Jazz sample in D.O.A, when I heard that it reminded me of the Reasonable Doubt jazzy tracks produced by you, like “Feelin’ It” – the Jazzy Jay-Z.
Ski: It’s like a rock groovy Jazzy break. Jay sounds the best with this kinda music. I hope he realized that, I hope his album kinda be – like that sort of sound based to what the album sound like, cause if it is – than he’s got a good album.
HipHopPow.com: Maybe you will get him some more jazzy beats to rhyme on for Blueprint 3?
Ski: As far as I know, the album is done.
HipHopPow.com: Any tips for any young beatmakers or young cats trying to do it big?
Ski: My only advice to all these young cats, just don’t give up because everybody get the chance, you just got to keep trying, when the things like – they ain’t happening? That’s when it happens, know what I mean?
HipHopPow.com: We talked about the girls, techno rap, white rappers – what about GAY RAP? If some gay MC would like a techno beat for his rap, would you mind producing a gay MC?
Ski: If that’s his preference – that what the guy want to do, but if he’s good, he an artist, he’s dope? I can’t knock that, I mean, I can’t – not produce him only because of his sexual preferences – that’s kinda corny. Know what I mean? If he’s gay, so what? I’m not gay, If I do a track, and the track is hot and he blow – hey, good!
HipHopPow.com: I hope he blow only on the rapping, you know? No Homo!
Ski: (Both laughing hysterically) Hahaha, yeah yeah!