The Product is one of the hardest working active producers in the business. He’s making a name for himself with his eclectic style of production, combining both samples and live instrumentation. We got a chance to holla at The Product about life behind the boards, his groundbreaking sound and what he’s bringing to Hip-Hop.
Where are you from?
P: I’m originally from Jersey City, NJ. I moved to Philadelphia, PA around 2000.
How long have you been in the game?
P: Ive been producing since 2004, I’ve been making beats since ‘96. They sucked compared to what I do now, but I was a young bul…(laughs). It’s important that people know the difference between making beats and producing. There’s nothing wrong with making beats, as a matter of fact, the games is not much without them. But producers put the whole package together. They sit with the writers and rappers or whomever and make a complete song, not just send beat CDs to people.
You started off as a DJ flooding the block with mixtapes; displaying your talents as a turntablist. Then you made the transition from DJ to production, a shift that many DJs tend to make. What were some of the challenges that you faced during your evolution?
P: I think when you hear that constant “magic” [is what I call it], then you want to get involved. It’s kinda like growing up watching sports. You want to do that; you can see yourself doing that. Some folks want to dunk a ball, some score touchdowns, I want to win awards and plaques and be recognized in the music world globally.
Do you still get behind the wheels of steel or have you totally shied away from DJing?
P: I haven’t done it since I’ve moved to Philly. I wasn’t much of a scratcher so to speak (lol) I would make blend tapes which was real hot in Jersey. I got to Philly; folks looked at me like I was crazy. I had a 24 sec sampler, 2 turntables, and a mixer. I would take the acapellas off of vinyl and mix them with whatever beat I thought worked. I even took melodies and took different drums and would put them together and mess people heads up. That was fun for me. I perhaps would’ve been doing that in Philly, but when I moved here, I came with nothing but my wife and a couple of outfits.
What artists, producers or DJs have inspired you to pursue a career in music?
P: It’s a lot. Especially now that I know what a producer does. Growing up, all you really notice is the artist. You think they just woke up and made a hit, but it doesn’t work that way except for a small few who just happen to do both, like Prince, Kanye, Pharrell, etc. I grew up on Stevie Wonder. Moms would play him to death, so he is one that def inspired me to just be creative and don’t follow the pack. Jermaine DuPri… I’ve been following his career since he started. I just liked his music. Dj Jazzy Jeff, Kid Capri, Ron G, and Clue, are the only DJ’s that had like a massive following. Clue is the 1st 1 I heard do blend tapes, and when I heard that, it was on. I worked like crazy at McDonalds just to get them turntables and my sampler. I didn’t even quite understand what a sampler did when I got it, but I had an extra 80 bucks, so I got it ( glad I did ). And my overall inspiration in music was Teddy Riley….dudes a beast.
What artists have you worked with?
P: Big Faces out of Camden, Victor King, Aphil, Tone Casso, Nilla D, Jody S. They out of Philly. Renaissance from Brooklyn. Tunes from the UK, And Dimetrius Wise, he from another planet…lol Phene from York
Of those artists, who brings out the best in your production?
P: The best… That’s hard… I would say Wise because he’s a songwriter, and he’s real genius with it ya know. He got a unique style, so to make something might take a week, but when it’s done, it’s hot! But at the same time, a lot of them from Philly are like family to me, so it’s hard to get things the way you want it cause they all want to add there 3 cents so it makes it hard to produce them. I tell them, “I don’t just sit here pushing buttons” So it’s kind of a test of patience which I don’t always have when it’s time to work.
I understand how frustrating that can be, but patience is a virtue in which we all need to practice. With that said, how do you use those trying times to your advantage?
P: You’re correct, patience is a virtue, but patience and toleration is 2 different things. Having patience comes when things makes sense. To disagree just for the sake of disagreeing is a headache, and that’s what was happening. But with all that said, I’m glad I went through them situations, because every situation, good or bad, is a learning experience. You take that, and next time you see it coming and can stop it ASAP, instead of get side swiped by it.
What criteria must an artist meet in order for you to collaborate with them?
P: Be serious! I can’t make it any simpler than that. Don’t do this part time, and want my full time energy, because when I go in, I go in. We here to create music, have fun… I’m not fun-free, but this is a dream that many seek after. If you’re doing it because you won a talent show in ’93 and your moms still got the pictures then don’t call me. I don’t care if it’s Pop, Club, House, and of course Hip-Hop, if you’re serious, then we can do it. But you have to put the work in. Don’t record a song just to play for your girl. Exposure goes both ways. Me promoting a collaborative effort goes both ways.
What was your most memorable studio moment?
P: My most memorable session came recently. My moms brought my lil sister to my studio and made her sing, and she actually can sing. I never knew that! And I’ve known her since she came into the world. That was like an awesome moment for me.
So is it safe to say that musical talents run in the family?
P: I wish it would run a little deeper. It’s hard finding people you can stay on top of to get work done… But my sister Bryannah sings. My nephew Najm is 14, and I gave him a DJ set, because that’s what he says he wanted. He now wants to make beats. I actually used one of his drum patterns in a track. It came out hot too. And it’s cool cause I’ve been down that road…like that exact, so I get to give him pointers and help him out. When I was doing it, it was just moms. I didn’t have anyone to guide me. I was just winging it. But I got to this point so it’s not all bad. I got a cousin who writes great songs and poems, I mean like wow! And my cousin Looga is one of the best MC’s I’ve ever heard. Yeah, the same Looga if anyone was wondering…MO5, Jersey City…they doing their thing.
If you could produce for any artist who would it be? Why?
P: It would have to be Lauren Hill. She is a remarkable person. The Miseducation of Lauren Hill is still my second fav album after Reasonable Doubt. I would love to see Ms. Hill back out doing her thing, and I would love to be a part of that.
The days of reel to reel tapes and $100,000 studios have become as antiquated as 8-tracks and cassette tapes. Today’s technology has made creating music easier and more cost effective. Artists are able to make top-notch productions for less with less. What equipment do you use to create your compositions?
P: I’m using Logic 8 right now, as a matter of fact as we do this interview my Logic 9 is on its way… (laughs) I know they say the industry standard is Protools, but I think the standard is whatever works for you. As long as you really study what you’re using and how to use it, you should be fine.
Many talented musicians claim the title of “producer” but only perform the creation of the instrumentals for artists, thus making them beat makers instead of producers. With that said, do you consider yourself a beat maker or a producer? Why?
P: I’m a producer in training, and I will be for the rest of my career. Every artist that you work with, no matter how many times, it’s going to be a different experience. You can’t use the same style on artist A as you do artist B. You have to know when and how to manage the situation. You have to know what’s wrong and how to fix it. Whether it be the delivery or the wrong snare in the song ya know. So yes I make fire beats, but I know how to make a hot song out of it. In some cases if you mail a CD to an artist, you don’t have the control you need to produce that track, unless one of the parties can fly out to the other.
Every artist has that special something that they prefer to have that sets the ambiance for their creativity to flourish. What is your “must have” when you are creating music?
P: If I’m alone, I go grab one of 2 drinks. You can make these at home, it’s not too hard…either two shots of Patron and Simply Raspberry Lemonade (Simply Lemonade is fine too) or two shots of Hennessy and A&W Cream soda. Both drinks over ice and you’ll be good. I go in, turn the lights off, just the light from the monitors and equipment will be on, Turn on my disco ball (yes I have one hanging from the ceiling) and them I’m ready.
Tell us about your production company “The Product Entertainment”.
P: Many folks know me as EMPTY from Academy U. Productions. That’s another story, but sometimes when you can’t get on the same page, it’s time to close the book. They still my family but I had to move on. I got the name Product, because I figured whether you’re corporate or not so corporate, whatever you’re selling, you need Product. And that’s what I try to bring to each artist. Something they need.
What has been your greatest success since The Product Entertainment has been established?
P: Success to me is measured by completing goals that you set for yourself. I was already on mixtapes, and had songs playing overseas, and on internet radio, before TPE was established. So my next step is national radio airwaves. That’s when I can answer that question with my chest sticking out a little… (laughs) But my greatest success to date is gonna be when Ren and JS drop their albums. Cause I’ve never produced someone’s whole album before. It’s going to be cool.
What projects are you currently working on?
P: I am working on Jody S. album, which is really gonna shock people because the kid is nice. It’s going to be one of those “What made them talk about that” kind of albums. It’s The Product Presents…. The Name is Jody S. I’ll let yall know when it’s finished, matter of fact, I’ll send you a copy… And we are working on Renaissance’s second album. She is fire, and after the first album she has grown so much that it’s going to be another dope album.
What’s your take on the state of Hip-Hop?
P: I think that Hip-Hop has been taking over by the industry too much. I think people who don’t even know what Hip-Hop is have their hands in it a lil too much. I think more of the veteran rappers and producers should have their own record companies, not just labels but “companies” to put real music out. It’s so bad [that even] the DJ’s are scared to break new albums, and it’s really their jobs to do so.
Who do you think are the top five Hip-Hop producers? Why?
P: Currently, The Runners. They are bringing some freshness to the game. Like when the Neptunes first came out…we were like “Whoa, WTF was that ” Justice League…If I sampled a lot, I would want to do what they are doing, they are hot. Kanye West…he just keeps evolving. None of his beats sound like a ” Kanye beat ” they just sound hot ya know. Timbaland…he’s timeless and the Neptunes….they were ahead of their time anyway, they waiting for us to catch up.
There is no doubt that you’re production style is nothing less than stellar, but how do you measure up to today’s producers?
P: Depends on who you ask. If you ask me, I’m on a top twenty list. Top 5 would be unrealistic. Even for the most egotistical….(laughs) But for what I charge, I might be someone’s #1 Producer! I like what I do, because none of my beats sound alike. Some folks want signature sounds, I just like to evolve. I want you to say “Why did he do that? How did he do that?” I mean it’s cool to be able to say “That’s a Prod beat!” But it’s not going to be like that because you’ve heard something similar before, it’s going to be because it’s hot!
Hip-Hop has always been deeply rooted in sampling. The finesse and creativity of sampling has always been the backbone of Hip-Hop. What is your stance on sampling?
P: I still sample from time to time. I started off sampling. Sampling is hard work! People think you can just go grab a sample and throw drums on it. That’s when it goes wrong. Just Blaze, Pete Rock, 9th Wonder, Soundtrakk, etc… They do it right! Sampling actually helps a producer. After hearing tracks all day and night and filtering them, you start actually getting a sense of where things should be if you make our own tracks. But I have no problem with sampling, especially if your originals are totally wack (laughs). When I sample, I layer so much on it, people don’t know it’s a sample until I tell them. And I tell everyone so that the original can get its respect too.
What’s next for The Product and The Product Entertainment?
P: We grinding. I say we as in me and my production partner Kaibe (laughs) (pronounced K.B. he just want it to look fly on paper). We trying to get on everything moving. Philly is ready to blow I think. The sound is unique; it’s a whole hell of a lot of talent here, so we working on just putting the City on, at the same time we got tracks on the West Coast, the South and overseas. Sometimes you have to leave the City to put it on.
How can other artists and your fans get at you?
P: Well the site is getting rebuilt. It was looking too regular so we sprucing it up, but in the mean time you can email us at “TeamProductEnt@gmail.com” And we all over the net…Google us,The Product Ent.
What advice do you have for your fellow underground artists who are trying to break into the music business?
P: Stay you. People only want the original, copies are just the free bread, [and] you want to be the main meal. When you’re hot, they will come to you, just make sure everyone sees you. The web is so powerful, and everyone is watching.
If you could describe your music in one word, what would that word be?