Monster of a new posse cut depicts the 3rd eye awareness with verses from M-Dot, Jaysaun (Special Teamz), Nutso, Block McCloud (AOTP), Blacastan (DGZ), B.A.M, Chaundon (Justice League), Tribeca & Shabaam Sahdeeq
(Cuts by DJ Family Tyz) (Produced By DJ Low Cut)
Monster of a new posse cut depicts the 3rd eye awareness with verses from M-Dot, Jaysaun (Special Teamz), Nutso, Block McCloud (AOTP), Blacastan (DGZ), B.A.M, Chaundon (Justice League), Tribeca & Shabaam Sahdeeq
The Jammington came out a month ago. Are you happy with how the project is doing?
It’s doing well, man. It’s gotten a lot of positive feedback from people who bought it and bloggers. It’s well-received.
It has a very soulful, boom-bap vibe throughout. What made you want to go that direction?
To be honest with you, I didn’t have a direction when I sat down to do this album. I never recorded an album in New York, ever. That was the only direction, for me to come home and record the record with ATG and just make a dope record. We didn’t have a sound or niche we were going for. We just wanted to make something dope and just jam. That’s what we did. Every song was written in the studio. When I got off the plane, we went straight to the studio and the first song I wrote was “The Note.” That set the tone. We just went in and nine days later, 80% of the album was complete.
What was it like working with ATG for the entire project?
It was dope, man. He has a vision, just like me. We basically have the same taste. There wasn’t really any push and pull on getting this album done. It felt like we had been working with each other for years. Mind you, I met ATG just a year prior to that at CMJ. I had never even heard of him before and I can’t even remember how I met him. We were at the club and he was hanging and he told me he had beats and he sent them to me. I told him I wanted to do a whole album with him and he thought I was playing. The chemistry was perfect, man. Working with him, the chemistry was really easy.
You both have a wide range for styles you can go.
It helps that I know how to pick beats, man. That’s one thing that I can actually say about myself. I know what beat goes perfect with me and any artist. I’m really good at picking beats. Picking through the best of his best made The Jammington. I told him if I couldn’t bring my 50% to his 50% then the song wouldn’t be 100. I felt my voice, cadence, and words had to fit perfectly with the beat and if it did, we win.
How do you know when a song works?
How can I explain it? It’s kind of hard to explain. When you know, you know. I don’t have that sickness most New York rappers have where they think they can rap over anything and it’s going to be dope. Just because the beat is dope, doesn’t mean it’s going to fit you. It’s like a pair of Jordans. Just because they’re nice, if they’re too big, they won’t look right on you. It’s the same thing with beats. There’s nothing technical that I can actually explain to the letter. I’ll listen to the beat and freestyle eight to ten bars in my head and try to formulate a concept and then I’ll listen to my voice as the beat is playing and if it just doesn’t match then it just doesn’t match. It’s just a feeling.
Do producers always understand your vision?
During our process, luckily we didn’t run into any disagreements. He trusts my judgment. When I pick my beat, I deliver. We picked “The Note” for the first song and he picked that concept. He said to do something like a kidnapping. I did and I ran with it and it’s the way that I attacked that beat with the concept that just made it. When we did the second song, he just let me do me and as I was doing me, I was looking for his input. I wanted him to produce my record. I didn’t just want him to make the beats and I would rap. We basically just trust each other’s judgment and that’s why it was so easy for us to do this album.
The Jammington is barely 26 minutes long. Do you see shorter albums becoming a trend?
I didn’t set out to make a short record. I just used advice from Yazarah. I had a conversation with her a long time ago and she said, “Yo, when the pen stops, the song is done.” I basically did that for the album. I could have made fourteen songs, but for what? It’s overkill. And a month prior to me recording the album, I was doing an interview and we was talking about how less is more. I guess that stuck with me as well. When I got to the tenth song, I just knew to stop. Between those two conversations and just adding extra songs just to add them made no sense. An extra brush stroke can destroy the whole painting, so I was just done.
I don’t follow the trends of hip-hop. That was never my thing. If it happened to fit at the same time, then it was good timing. If I had done this with No Excuses, then No Excuses would have been ten songs. (laughs) I don’t know why some of these rappers do what they do. When I tracked out the album and saw the time, it didn’t matter because it was dope. Let’s run it. I’m going to roll the dice. If you like it, you like it. If you don’t, you don’t. I understand that this is a business but if I’m happy with the record, I can sell the record that I’m happy with and that’s why, across the board, I got high ratings for this album. I did something right.
It’s a smooth listen.
Exactly. I never wanted to have filler. When the pen stops, just stop. It’s over. If you think back to Nas’ Illmatic, there were nine songs plus the intro. If he had one more song, it could have been a regular album. I don’t want to compare myself to Nas. I’ll let the people do that. But as a fan of music, if the album just runs correctly, just like Illmatic and The Jammington, and it’s perfect, then nothing more needs to be said. Even though it’s 28 minutes, hey, that’s the greatest 28 minutes I’ve had in the last couple of years.
What was it like working with Craig G?
Come on, man! I look back on my 13 year-old self like, ‘We did it!’ For Craig G to reach out and extend his hand, say, “I like what you’re doing. Hit me up anytime you need a verse.” I’m not one for validation, but that right there, that’s validity. That’s Craig G! This is Juice Crew Craig G! I grew up patterning myself after Craig G, especially with the punchlines. Listening to him back in the day and now I have a career and now he’s reaching out to me, can’t nobody tell me nothing. I got respect from one of the most respected and we made a dope joint.
And the fact that he gets on Twitter and talks about the song, because he’s done features with a whole lot of rappers, but to see him go hard and say, “Yo, this song is dope, check it out, me and Chaundon,” that’s like, ‘Wow!’ It’s surreal to me. I’m watching it like I’m not even involved. I’m watching it and it’s like, ‘Wow, this is just dope.’ It was a dope song that went into a dope album. It fit. I made sure I got the right people for this album. I didn’t just reach out to certain people. I could have gotten other names that are heavy on the net but it wouldn’t have made sense. I went for what made sense.
Certain collaborations wouldn’t have made sense and the styles wouldn’t have made it to this record, like if I would have reached out to Big K.R.I.T., not saying I could have got him. I knew YC the Cynic for years. I’ve known Von Pea from Tanya Morgan for awhile. It’s one of those things where if you actually build with people before you do the music, the songs come out better. It could be dope but I would rather go for classic than just dope.
You did your “Golden Era Mondays” series. Did that help your buzz?
Yeah. It helped. It got a lot of people onto what I was doing at the moment and it brought more awareness to the album. I’m getting a whole bunch of new people to actually hear what I’m doing every week until the release of the album. It worked in my favor. That’s why I only did it for that time period. I wasn’t trying to do it every week for a whole year. That would just cheapen the music. I’m here to sell music and make money. I didn’t come here for the culture. I came here for the paper. I just happen to be nice. I came up in the Bronx with nice rappers who taught me to rap but look, I want to make money at this because I can do it on the corner for the culture all day and be nice.
With all your involvement in the JUSTUS League, do people forget your Bronx roots?
Yeah. It happens. But it is what it is. Sometimes I’m like, ‘Are you not listening to what I’m saying?’ I say “Bronx, New York” in damn-near every other rhyme. There is no Bronx in North Carolina, but I guess by association of the crew I was running with at the time and the way hip-hop goes, people just love to lump people into that one group. I don’t have no beef with North Carolina. I live in North Carolina. I went to school there and I started my rap career there, but I was born and raised and became an adult in New York City.
Are you still involved with the JUSTUS League?
None. Not at all. It’s Golden Era Music.
You know what? I can’t even speak on this situation fully. There is no beef. There is no, “if I see you on the street I’m punching you in the face.” There’s none of that. I guess you could just say that we just grew up and grew apart and that’s it. I really can’t give you a concrete answer to what happened because it really doesn’t make sense. It’s not over money and nobody’s lady got hollered at. And it doesn’t even matter. It’s all about Golden Era Music. I applaud everything that everybody else is doing and that’s it. But all I can focus on now is the Chaundon and Golden Era Music brand.
DJ Flash is on The Jammington. Do you still work with him?
He’s on there, but the people I’m running with heavy are Big Pooh, Joe Scudda, and Big Dho.
What other projects are you looking to do next?
Oh, man, my plate is incredibly full. I have plates! (laughs) I have plates with their own tables. I have The Freshington, and it’s being produced by Cutty Fresh. He’s affiliated with Tha Bizness. We’re actually almost done with that album. I just have to go back to Atlanta and record it. My whole process with recording albums now is that I have to record with the producer. Coming up with the JUSTUS League, I never had the producer in there with me. I engineered my own sessions and I didn’t have a producer telling me to try it a different way. I had to break out of that. I’ve known Cutty Fresh for awhile now and this is the first time I’m officially rapping on his beats. He’s been sending me beats for awhile and I had to find my side that fit his style. I didn’t want to waste his time if I wasn’t going to be dope on his incredible production. I had to get ready and have dress rehearsals, but now I’m ready to show out.
I’m three songs away from completing an album with Shuko from Germany. He’s good out there and his name is heavy out here. We’re almost done with that record. I’m also going to work with Family Biz Entertainment. That’s a group of producers. That crew, they’re super-incredible and when you hear the beats on that record, you’re going to think I signed to MMG. Them beats are crispy, radio crispy, like, ‘Wow, Ross might come to you after that.’ And then me and DJ Soulclap, we’re in talks of doing an EP. I’m going to fly out to Germany and do that record with him but more than likely that will turn into an album. I’m not going out there to record seven songs. We’ll probably do fourteen. DJ Concept has already sent me beats and I have to sit down and see what that album will sound like.
On top of that, I’m directing videos. I directed my video “Hindsight” and I’m going to go to New York and shoot more. I’ll also do videos for The Freshington and I’m producing a really dope EP for an artist who I can’t say yet. I’m busy out here, man. I’m busy.
And on top of this, I’m running a label. These are all things that I wanted to do but never had the opportunity. I guess the whole dissolution of the crew was a blessing because I was always a team player. If you look at the timeline for how people were putting music out, I was always putting songs out but not albums until the end. I was always the road manager and selling merch and I knew what needed to be done. I wasn’t forced into any of it, but when it was my turn, I was going to rock. But by the time it was my turn, it was falling apart at the seams and I was dolo, by myself. Everybody was on tour and I was in the studio recording it, A&Ring it, getting it mixed, it was all me. There was distribution but that was it. It was just an opportunity to put something out. And then when the opportunity for No Excuses came out with Traffic, they didn’t do shit. It was just another opportunity. When all that shit was said and done and I said, “Fuck it, I’m not doing that again,” Dho set up distribution with Empire Distribution. And you can see that it’s different now. There’s a video attached, there’s more awareness on the internet. I had to take a different approach from putting music out back then. It’s one of those blessings in disguises.
“”Success (Part 1)” is the first leak off The Audible Doctor’s upcoming Free EP “I Think That…” the track is produced by The Audible Doctor, features Audible Doctor & Chaundon on the verses & features DJ Brace on the cuts.”
The Audible Doctor “Success (Part 1)” Feat. Chaundon (Prod. By Audible Doctor, Cuts By DJ Brace)
You just released The Susan Sarandon Story mixtape, which features an array of quality guests and some of your best beats. You must be pretty proud of the project.
Yeah. I definitely am. A lot of it is songs that were already out or are coming out. I just had a lot of music sitting around and I felt like people didn’t really know my body of work or they weren’t really associating different joints I did for different artists, so I just really wanted to put one cohesive thing together.
Do you think people will realize all the songs you’ve done as a producer now?
Yeah, I hope that not only that, people know me for different works that I do. I want people in California who hear about me from working with Fashawn or A1 or Omar Aura to hear about the music I’m doing with Steven King or REKS or vice versa. I’ve got stuff in the works with people in Detroit that I essentially cold-called because they had never heard my music. I’m kind of all over the place.
A lot of your songs feature more than one artist. Is it ever a challenge making cohesive songs with so many people involved?
Yeah, it’s very difficult. I don’t like to do it online. I literally like to have everyone in the same place. I would say maybe only two or three of those records on the tape, I’m just trying to think off the top of my head, were done with people in different places, saying that I may have not been there for part of the recording process. Being there, you get to add your input and you’re taking yourself from being a beatmaker to a producer, if that makes any sense.
Is it ever hard giving constructive criticism to established artists, especially with you as a relatively new producer?
Yeah, especially if you’re in a session with someone you’ve never worked with before and you admire them as a musician and you think they could have done it better or done something different or you have a different idea. It takes a certain personality but I think that the music just comes out way better and I think most people will listen to criticism, if they’re smart, at least.
What are you most proud of on The Susan Sarandon Story?
One of my favorite songs on the mixtape is “The Masquerade” by Hadji Quest. I’m really proud of that because that’s a perfect example of what we were just talking about. Hadji Quest is the homie from Brooklyn and he’s got a project coming out and Statik Selektah did most of the production on it. That song was essentially just one verse and I had gotten really attached to the beat because I played this guitar riff at the end and I arranged it a certain way. I told him we couldn’t just have one verse on there. I told him to come over to my house and we would figure out what we should do for the hook and he should write a second verse and he should write a bridge. We crafted the song around a certain structure and Statik made the cuts and the song sounds fantastic. The other thing about it is that no one’s ever heard his music before. That’s the first song that he’s released, so to have that song be the first song released and have it be a song that I’m so proud of, I was really happy with that.
And you’re doing more work with him, right?
Yeah. We’ve done probably fifteen or twenty joints, but I’m not sure how many. I think there’s only ten or twelve joints on his project that he has.
Why did you name the mixtape after Susan Sarandon?
That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? I’ve been working on my full-length and I was going to use some of those records. But the musical direction went elsewhere, so I was thinking if I should scrap these songs or whatever and I decided to put them out and I didn’t know what to call it so I went to Twitter of all places. I asked my followers what I should call this project and YC the Cynic, who’s the homie, said I should call it The Susan Sarandon Story. So that’s how the title came about but what he didn’t know was that I was looking for something very weird and along those lines, but it also just kind of worked because I happened to go to school with Susan Sarandon’s daughter and as far as having any ties to the music or the content is zero. And it really is, you know, this is not an album. This is a collection of songs. When I put out a full-length and when I eventually get the project out, it will definitely be more of a complete project. But this is just something I wanted to get out to get people more familiar with me. I wanted to throw a weirdo name on it and let’s just run with it.
Could this parlay into a ping-pong match, with Susan Sarandon and her connection with the ping-pong club SPIN?
I would love so. I would love so. It’s funny. If you search her name, a review for my project actually comes up on the first page. Maybe she sees it. That’s some high end, snobbery side of ping-pong, right? Like people riding horses and drinking champagne in between ping-pong matches?
I don’t think it’s the kind you’d play in your basement.
I don’t know if that’s me.
You’re also working on a project with Chaundon. How’s that coming?
It’s done. It’s actually been done for four or five months. He flew out to New York for two weeks, knocked it out, went home, I got the mixes done and that’s it. It’s a good project. Ten songs.
You do a lot of work with Steven King as well. What can we expect from you guys?
He just dropped an EP called Distribution Habits. He’s of course on the Kool G Rap record with Rustee Juxx on my project. The EP was produced by myself, Harry Fraud and Statik. The album is pretty much done. We need to get a couple more songs mixed, but the LP is done. Ill Bill has a record on there. I have records. Fraud has records. There’s a Statik record that Term is on that is crazy. We actually just did a couple joints with REKS and Steven King that are out of control. That album is coming. That’s hardcore, gritty New York rap.
How’s your official compilation coming?
Good. I’m like, four or five songs deep. I’ll probably over-record, but it’s going well. You’ll see a lot of the same people on this project as The Susan Sarandon Story, but it’ll be missing a few and I’ll be adding a few people.
How do you balance which beats go for the various projects you’re working on as well as the ones you sell to artists for their projects?
Up until more recently, I have been more of going along with I’m just going to make a ton of beats and send them ten joints when someone asks for beats that I think they’ll sound good on. But lately I have been, sort of, as I’ve been crafting beats, who I would maybe try to craft this more specifically for, do that, and then send that to them. Sometimes I just know immediately, whether I hear a sample or once I start chopping it up. I’ll know, hey, this is for so-and-so.
As far as selling beats to random people, I’m really trying not to do that. I’m not trying to do the random I don’t know you-type of music anymore.
Can you take us through the making of an ATG beat?
For people who listen to The Susan Sarandon Story in their entirety, they’ll notice that the only track that has no samples is the last track with REKS and Lucky Dice. And that came about just from a guitar riff that I was playing. If you hear any guitar in my beats, it’s usually live guitar that I’m playing. So if I’m doing something that’s sample free, it’ll start with a guitar riff and then craft it around that. And those beats are always special to me so I always put a little bit more into them, I think, as far as time and self-criticism and perfection.
As far as a sample joint goes, it usually starts with the sample and I usually hear something right away that makes me want to chop it up. I’ll chop up the sample and arrange it in the way that I want or the way that I hear in my head and then start attacking the drums and just digging through drums and trying to find the right drums, which can take anywhere from a minute to 30 minutes sometimes, figuring out the right drums. And then once I have the basic structure, I might start thinking about song structure and how this would be presented as a song and how it can build and how it can move from start to finish and that process can take more time than it took to make the actual beat. A lot of times, once someone takes a song, I like to think they’re more like skeletons in the sense of once somebody decides to go in on something, if I hear changes to be made, I’ll go in after the fact and try to make it sound better. And now, of course, is the big component of bass. I like to play basslines on my bass guitar, if I can, but sometimes the samples have it.
What element does the live guitar bring to your production?
I think it adds a more universal sound. I think whether I’m playing with samples or playing guitar on the beat, I think the guitar is one of those instruments that’s sort of understood everywhere. Sometimes it sounds crappy but sometimes it can take emotional songs to either higher or darker places. The guitar is one of those instruments, it just breathes. It cries. What is it? “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”?
What other equipment do you use when making beats?
I use a midi keyboard and as far as production, I’ve been making all my beats in Pro Tools and Reason, so if I’m doing any synth work, I’ll use Reason as sort of refiltering before Pro Tools. I used to use solely the MPC and just pack everything in Pro Tools and do all the mixing in Pro Tools, but it just got to be too slow for my work ethic. It would just take too long to do everything. I’m actually looking forward to seeing this new MPC that they got, to see if it works anything like they say it does. I actually kind of jacked that move from Statik. I was making beats on the MPC and I started watching him and I saw I could get a lot more work done if I just used Pro Tools. You do lose the pads, the feeling of the pads. I do miss it, but I’m just way more productive.
What other projects can we expect from you?
Omar Aura has his mixtape coming. That’s coming soon. I didn’t do all the joints on there but me and him are doing an EP after that is released. There’s talks of other EPs with people but nothing has come to fruition. Hadji Quest’s project is coming out. Curtains has a new project coming out. I don’t know what the date is but I’m on that. I think I have five songs on that. Just a lot more of the same, just trying to get placements up and trying a lot more to do these producer-artist projects because I had a great time doing it with Chaundon.