music interview

Shady Blaze interview

main attrakionz

Shady Blaze spits syllables like a Gatling gun and his rapid fire flows have 90s rap fans reminiscing over smoking sessions to “Thuggish Ruggish Bone.” Despite his close friendship with fellow Oakland natives Main Attrakionz, Blaze doesn’t just make cloud-rap or whatever else avid Tumblr users want to call it. Instead the Green Ova soldier works with a variety of producers to keep his sound in constant evolution. 

His early work (and by early I mean like a year ago) stuck to traditional themes of narcotics, guns and women. But he’s recently touched on NWO conspiracies, family issues and even flirted with slow rapping like regular humans. Despite terrible phone reception and my recording software threatening to kill the interview, we talked about him wanting be a singer, his rap influences, learning the speed flow technique and meeting Main Attrakionz. He also complimented me on my questions which was the perfect confidence boost for a hung-over Sunday.

By Jimmy Ness
 
There isn’t a lot about you on the internet, tell us about yourself?

Man, I’m from East Oakland, California. I’m 24 year’s old and I’m part of Green Ova Chapter Five. I’ve been rapping since I was a little kid. Just got serious with it when I was about 19 because Main Attrakionz really pushed me to keep doing this and here I am.

Where does your rap name come from?

At first my name was Velocity, because of how fast I was. After that, Shady Blaze basically came from my friends and the streets. Shady came from the part of East Oakland I lived in. It was off of 89th Avenue and that was known as the Shady eighties. I moved from there and basically I was known as Little Shady. Blaze came from when I used to produce and make hot beats. So I just put Shady Blaze together when I first created my Twitter, but my rap name at the time was Velocity. Then everyone just started calling me Shady Blaze so I just went with that.

How did you start rapping?

I’m not going to lie to you, at first I wanted to be a singer. When I was a little kid I wanted to sing. At the age of 11, I realized I wasn’t good enough to be a singer. I couldn’t sing for shit. Then when I moved to 89th Avenue in Oakland, I met a lot of friends there who were really into hip-hop and they kind of introduced me to it. I started copying them and writing raps and rapping on the street. We were making little songs on little cassette tapes. We would play an instrumental on another radio and record to it. We just played it to everyone and from there I’ve just been rapping ever since.

Did you come from a musical family?

My dad is a singer. He’s got his own studio. I didn’t really know him when I was little. I didn’t know anything about him. My mom happened to run into him again and I met him when I was 14 and he had a studio up and he was making his own music, he was doing shows and all of that. [The father of Shady Blaze is a traditional R&B singer named Supa Jay]

Who influenced your rapid-fire style?

It’s got to be Bone Thugs N Harmony. But when I first got hooked on rap, I was listening to a lot of Ca$h Money. Juvenile, BG, Lil Wayne, Young Turk, Big Tymers. That’s all I listened to.

Then I found a CD in my stepdad’s car and it was Bizzy Bone’s Heaven’z Movie. I was just going through it and listening like hmm let me just see what’s on here. And I listened to “When Thug’s Cry” and I didn’t know the song, but I recognized it so I listened again. I was like 14 year’s old at the time. The fast rap just caught me. I was like man this is incredible so I started listening to his other stuff. I took it to school one day and I’m like “ya’ll know this guy right here?” and they were like “yeah it’s Bizzy Bone, he’s from Bone Thugs N Harmony.”

My friends were telling me Bone Thugs N Harmony just dropped a new album called BTNHResurrection. So I went to the store fast and picked that up and became a big BTNH fan. I started buying all their old stuff Art Of War, East 1999, all of it, Faces Of Death. I’ve got everything. I just started listening to them and it just spoke to me. But then their fast rap kind put me on to Tech N9ne and Twista and D-Loc and Dalima and all those fast rappers. It just started catching me and then I started doing it.

Did people think you were copying or biting their style when you started rhyming fast?

I experienced a lot of it. At first it got to me. At first you want to click everybody that says something and start typing back to them fast and hit them back up. But at the same time, the deeper you get in the game the more people are gunna come at you. So you just have to start learning how to accept it, how to take it. I would just stick to myself.

People can stay he’s biting their style, he’s biting this style. But the game got to evolve man. They did their thing. They influenced me to do it, and want to be not like them, but to do music the way they did it. It’s cool to me. I love doing it. I love their style. I love the way they make their music. It makes me feel good when I’m making my own, you know what I mean?

How did you learn the fast rapping technique?

That’s crazy you asked that because I’m going to be real. When I first listened to Bone Thugs N Harmony, I was like they rap so fast! So I never understood what they were saying at first. But I just loved the way they did their thing and I started with Bizzy Bone. I had a cassette tape player, so I would record his CD to a tape. You could play it back and rewind it and slow it down, you could make it go slower. So I would write down each lyric he would say and as I would play it back at regular speed I would start rapping with him trying to see if I could keep up. At first it was hard, but as I started memorizing those words I started getting it down and I started writing my own fast raps after that.

You also slow down and rhyme normally on some of your tracks as well?

To be honest with you, it started in 2011 – when I actually started to rap fast. Before that I was rapping slow. That’s what is crazy. It all started because of my homie Squadda B from Main Attrakionz. He hit me up and was like “there’s a group out there called Children of the Corn and they remind me of your style.” I guess they were on some fast rap type of stuff. Then the next day he sent me a beat and I just started rapping fast. When we made the song it was called “Dirt On My Name.” After that, he just started sending me a bunch of beats and we made Shady Bambino.

It dropped February 2011 on greenovamusic.bandcamp.com and it was just fast raps on that. That’s what really put me out there. That’s what really got me noticed, Squadda B’s beats and the fast raps. So I stuck with it. I didn’t really go back to doing slow raps. But now and then, yeah I do slow raps. It depends on the beat and how I feel.

Do you make music full time or work on the side?

Nah, I do music full time. Actually I’m not even really making that much money to be honest. I’m not doing that many shows, but when you do a show you get paid this and that. Basically I’m living with my girl to be honest and she’s paying, she’s paying for the rent, she paying all that. I’m just going from studio to studio you know what I mean? I’m not working. I’m not doing anything. I’m just recording.

What do you think of the music scene in the Bay Area?

Right now, there are a lot of different styles in the Bay Area. It’s just our radio people are getting paid to play just one type of music. There are so many different styles and so many talented rappers that are not getting known and not getting looked at because they are coming up from nothing. Like Biggie and Pac and shit, we are coming from nothing right now but that’s not what the radio wants to see. They want to see people who have got the money already. People who have got the money to pay the radio stations to play their music over and over again. And people who are tying to come up don’t get noticed because of that. It kinda sucks out here, but that Hyphy shit was cool. That was a movement. The DJs were playing it all over.

How did you link up with Main Attrakionz?

I had just turned 15 year’s old. They were 12 when I met them. I met them through a friend. I produced at first, I didn’t rap. I had a keyboard and everything at my mom’s house in this little garage. One of my friends hit me up and was like “there are these two kids and they are dope at rapping, we are going to bring them over.” We went over there to pick them up and it was Squadda and Mondre. We came up with the name Main Attrakionz. We were all Main Attrakionz as a group. I didn’t see them again for about four years and when I met back up with them they were Main Attrakionz. They kept the name.

You guys mention Green Ova a lot and also release albums under the Green Ova name, what is it?

Green Ova is a family. You know what I mean? A bunch of guys, we grew up together and we trying to survive out here. No matter what we go through, we have to get money and make sure we are good. So that’s basically it. When you hear Green Ova that’s all you really need to know, get money and survive. Aint doing stupid stuff, getting locked up, getting into a beef situation or any of that. We are just doing us. The members of it are just Squadda B, Mondre, Dope G, LOLO and then me. That’s the Green Ova chapters, one to five.

As far as a record label, Main Attrakionz basically started this whole thing. If it wasn’t for them I basically wouldn’t be rapping right now, I’m going to be honest with you. I would not be rapping.

Producer Ryan Hemsworth said in an interview that you and Main Attrakionz were fastest working artists he knew. You went through a period of constantly dropping new albums but you’ve slowed down recently, why is that?

[Laughs] Oh man, you ask some good questions. The time when I was recording and dropping back to back mixtapes, I didn’t care about the mixing process. I didn’t care about any of that. I just wanted to get the songs out, you know what I mean? All of that backfired on me you know cause Shady Bambino was cool, it sounded good but Shady Business that was just awful. That was a half-ass album.

And then from all the blogs and the critics and everything, I learned that it was quality over quantity. You got to make sure your songs sound good before you put them out. I used to just put my songs out just because I did it, instead of putting time into it. That’s why we have to slow the writing process and make sure everything actually sounds good before we put it out for the public.

You touch on some political themes and personal stuff in your music?

It’s just me being real man. A lot of the times when I’m in the studio, I’m in there alone. It’s just me. I just sit in there listening to the beat for so long and I just start thinking there’s so much going on in the world today that shouldn’t be happening. Everything feels funny to me. Everything in the world when it comes to the radio, the videos, everything just looks so funny to me. If it’s funny, I just have to express myself and how I feel about it.

And my family, they go through problems as well. I don’t want to say that when you go through so many problems you write better music but it happens ya know?

You work with a lot of different producers?

I work with so many producers because I put my email on Twitter and everybody hits me up with beats. And there are so many feels and styles and so many different types of rap I can do. They are not out yet but they will be out. I don’t like sounding the same on a track, if you get a rapper that sounds the same on every track you get bored after a while. I love coming different and I love trying different things because if it’s boring for the public, it’s boring for me. So the only answer is to try something new.

You’re making a new mixtape with Deniro Farrar?

Yeah at first it was an EP, but with all the songs we got now it will be like a project.

Deniro said you haven’t actually met in person?

Yeah, we never met. Basically I was on the internet and his manager contacted me. He said he had a song with Deniro Farrar on it and it was the “NWO” track with [producer] Nem270. I listened to the verse and I was like this is deep, I should get with it. So I wrote my verse for it and after listening to the whole song I realized me and him had the same look on what was happening in the world, government and all of that. So we did a second song and I was like damn this chemistry is like really building up. So it’s crazy because he sees the same shit I see and he’s not even around me, he’s from the East Coast and I’m from over here, the West Coast. To see other people feel the same way I do, that’s deep. I feel like I’m not the only one. I don’t feel like I’m insane, like damn this shit is real. So we both make music and we might as well start this revolution. Get people to rock with us. Let’s do it.

What are the world views that you and Deniro share?

Fucked up government man. Shit isn’t fair for people. Some people starve, some people are hungry and poor as hell and then you got the rich people who don’t even pay for shit. Everything’s backwards in the world today man. I’m not saying I’m going to be on the one to put shit back together, but I’m not going to stand here and just watch it happen. I’m going speak my mind about it. I’m not trying to be a superhero or nothing, save the world and shit, I know I can’t do that. But at the same time, shit going on in the world is looking stupid man.

What do you want to achieve with your career?

I want to do this long term because I love doing it. I love being able to express myself in music and get paid for it, you feel me? At the end of the day it’s all fun, you can have the shows, you can have the videos. I’m going to be doing this for a long time for sure. I definitely don’t want to go to working in a warehouse or no McDonald’s making hotdogs or hamburgers and shit. This is definitely the real deal. Anyone that says they rap and they don’t want to make money off it, they lying. I for sure want to make this a career, this is cool.




DJ Carnage Interview


Originally published at Passionweiss
DJ Carnage is a young producer who doesn’t care about old school rap values. He’ll make authentic gutter music for grill wearers and annoy them next week with poppy dubstep. Sneaking on the internet radar after producing Kreyashawn’s collaboration with Theophilus London “Shrimp Pt.2”, his uniquely rhythmic bass obviously stood out and he’s continued to carve a creative sound, whether working with the A$AP crew or remixing Beyonce.The DC native is also a charismatic rapper who smiles in all of his music videos and swears too much during interviews. We talked on a fuzzy phone line about working with the A$AP Rocky, smelling manure in Maryland and his varied production style.

By Jimmy Ness

What have you been doing at Coachella?
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Man, I’ve been out here on the Borgore tour. You know, I’ve been on the bus with Document One and Borgore and we have been doing shows and shows and shows. One of the stops on Borgore’s tour is Coachella. We’ve been watching other shows too, it’s pretty cool. I watched Rehab yesterday. I also watched Feed me, Madeon, Afrojack and we watched Swedish House, oh and The Black Keys.
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I read on Twitter, you said Kendrick Lamar sounded a bit like DMX?
Kendrick ….uh yeah when he was rapping he was very grungy, I don’t know. I can’t do real hiphop music, like I can’t listen to it. It has to be fast or obnoxiously stupid or something. I don’t know, I just can’t sit there and listen to someone try to be lyrical. You know, I just can’t do it.

Tell us a little about yourself?

I’m from Maryland, DC. Umm I’m 21 and ah you know, fuckin’ living in LA now because there’s more shit to do than in Maryland. I was out in the country. There were too many fuckin’ cows, waking up every day with the smell of manure and shit. So that’s just how it is, I’m living in LA now. Fucking young ass just turned 21 in January.
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How did you start making music?
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My mom and my step-dad bought me a Studio Bible and it was when I was living in the country. I had nothing to do so I just fucked around on my computer and tried to do something with my life. I just started making beats and long after that I got good, and I moved to LA. Your production style is very diverse.
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How would you describe your sound?
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Honestly, I don’t know. My influences are weird. One day I want to make some trap ass gutter shit and listen to Gucci. Then the next day I want to make some Progressive House like Swedish House Mafia, or some random day I just want to make some motherfucking grungy ass dubstep or
something. My managers hate it too because I have to make some hiphop shit and I’m just not in the mood , I just wanna make some dance shit. Or one day I have to make some dance shit and I just want to make some weird-ass bass shit. I don’t know. It’s whatever the fuck I feel like, I need to change my work ethic but that’s how it is.

What is Trap-Step?
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Trap-step is a mixture of trap music, you know the snares and 808s. You know the entrance of a trap song then right before the verse is about to come on you drop some nasty sick ass tune. It’s like the best of both worlds. You get to hear some grungy ass shit that makes you want to grit your face and as soon as the drop comes on, you want to slap the shit out of the person next to you.
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A few years ago you flew to Hawaii and watched Kanye make a beat for My Dark Twisted Fantasy?
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Yeah it was my boy Lino who told me to go out there. I went out with him and he was like ‘yo lets chill with them.’ We went out there kicking it in Hawaii. Lino, this guy I’ve been working with for hella long, he’s a great rapper. We went there and watched them make beats for like an hour. It was weird, quick and fast but they made a lot. [Kanye] He was really nice. He was really passionate about everything.
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How do you and Kreyashawn know each other?
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I’ve known her because she used to fuck with the crew. Everybody from the Bay I used to fuck with. So we were just friends and shit cause we would Tweet, and Skype each other and talk on UStream. She fucked with Lil B and I fucked with Lil B. One day we were like yo let’s make a freestyle and shit, and from there we did “Shrimp”.
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What do you think about the hate she receives?

She’s a really cool and talented girl. I think people say the hype is leaving because she hasn’t dropped new music. But I’m quite excited to hear her album though.
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You also linked up with Theophilus London through Twitter and made the beat for “Big Spender” with A$AP Rocky?
Yeah we did, because of Kreyashawn.

I sent Theo the “Big Spender” beat around August or something, a long time ago. He went crazy over it. We finished it in Australia and I was like “when are we going to release it?” Then around January, this year, A$AP Rocky jumped on it. They didn’t finish it though so that’s why it took so long. Then we had to wait a couple of months to get the sample cleared, so that’s how it happened.

I met A$AP at South by Southwest but I think I’m going to meet A$AP today again at his show, him
and A$AP Ant.
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One of my favorite tracks you’ve produced is “Tell ya” with A$AP Ant and Bodega Bams. How did that come about?
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It’s really grimy. I usually don’t make music like that and it was one of those things where I randomly felt like making music like that. It was weird. I just felt like making some grimy ass shit. My boy Bodega I’ve known him for years and years, he’s my big brother, and he’s an incredible rapper. Whenever I make some grungy hiphop shit I always sent it to him cause you know, he does that New York type shit. He did it and then gave it to A$AP Ant. I didn’t know that then. He hopped on it and I heard it and it was sick as shit. Then they shot the video, everyone from A$AP heard it and they fucking pushed that shit. So that’s how Told Ya came about. I love the tune.
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Are you doing anything with the A$AP crew in the near future?

Yams hit me up and said that they wanted some tracks for the A$AP Mobb album so we talked about it and shit. You’re going to hear some new Carnage and A$AP soon. Some massive tunes.
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You also rap, is that something you do just for fun?

When I rap, yeah it’s for the fun. It’s really like I have nothing to do that day and I’m not inspired to make any beats. So I rap on some shit and people like it, so why not make more you know. A lot of people tell me they like the videos and all that because it’s really fun, like a really fun energy. And that’s how I want it to be, I want it to be like, it’s like whatever you know. But not in the whatever sense that people don’t take me seriously. I’ll tell you a secret. It’s kind of cool that I don’t take my rapping seriously because at the end of it, I know that my beats and my production is something serious. I like to fuck with people’s heads. So they hear my rapping and THEN hear my beats….. and they are like “fuck is he actually a genius?”
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What do you want to achieve from your career?
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I want to be known as a legend. I want people to see me and be like “this guy is like remarkable.” I want to be on the Daft Punk, Timberland or Dr Dre level. I want to be known, you know. That’s my goal in life, to be one of those people that when I walk in front of other people there is a whole mob everywhere, like wow! Like they are in awe. That’s what drives me. Every single time I go to a show I’m pissed off because I haven’t reached that level yet, so it makes me work harder.



Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, Black Sabbath) interview


Before auto-tune, MTV and million dollar deals for mentioning your favorite skin care product on Twitter, bands were just a group of guys with long hair, guitars and lots of drugs. Musician Glenn Hughes spoke to Groove Guide magazine about being in Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, and living to tell the tale.

By Jimmy Ness

Despite dodging a drug-fuelled death, bass player and vocalist Glenn Hughes is completely honest about his time with two of most infamous rock bands.

“Along came the birds, and then came the dealers, then the dealer comes along with something called Cocaine, which nobody knew about, and it was kinda like a party favorite on a Friday night. Have a couple of lines,” Hughes recalls in his strong British accent.

“Some of us didn’t make it. Some of us got addicted. Some of us ended up dead. And you’re talking to one guy that survived. That’s really my story in a nutshell."


Deep Purple recruited Hughes in 1973 and he brought a unique funk sound to their next four albums. Legendary 'Smoke On The Water' guitarist Ritchie Blackmore was reportedly unhappy with the new direction and quit two years later.

Hughes says he was unaware of any issues with his Motown-influenced style.

"It was bizzare because you know we never really discussed the funky stuff until he left the band. They knew what they were getting into when they asked me to join. I'm a very groove orientated bass player."

Ex-vocalist David Coverdale and the other band members remain friends with Hughes, but he isn't exactly on sociable terms with Blackmore.
"The bizzare thing is, I haven't spoken to him since 1977. And people scratch their heads at that.

"He's unapproachable and unreachable. I can't control the way he thinks or whatever he does, but he's just not a happy go-lucky kind of guy."
The band split in 1976 due to the overdose of guitarist Tommy Bolin and fighting between band members.

They reunited with their original line-up in 1984, but Hughes had moved on to other projects.
Shady music manager Don Arden aka "The Al Capone of Pop" recruited him into Black Sabbath for their 1986 album 'Seventh Star'.

"He came to me in this big Rolls Royce and told me he was going to make me a star," Hughes jokes in his best gangster-sounding Arden impersonation.

"He wanted me to be in Electric Light Orchestra but I actually got out of it because he tried to force me in, I was frightened of him."

Seventh Star was intended to be the first solo album by guitarist Tommy Iommi, but Arden pressured them into calling it a Black Sabbath record with Hughes substituting Ozzy Osbourne as lead singer.

Replacing a legendary front man is anything but easy, Glenn says.

"Of course it's difficult stepping into Ozzy's shoes because I don't sound like him.

"He sounds very monotonous and very one tone, while my voice is sort of multi-coloured."

Only a few shows later, Hughes was fired because he lost his voice from throat injuries he sustained while fighting their tour manager.

After decades of being sober, he says he's a different person compared to his younger self.

"I lived below a dark cloud... I don't remember the eighties. Let's just say I've become involved in my own life."

Glenn crashed into the music scene at full pace, but he's not a burnt-out former addict.

His revitalized career has produced 18 solo albums amongst other projects including Tommy Iommi's 2005 Fused, this time without the forced Black Sabbath moniker.

As our interview shifts to other subjects including modern music and Glenn's fascination with Twitter, it becomes more obvious this old rock-star still has plenty of energy.

And despite any mistakes, Hughes is adament he wouldn't change a thing.

"I think I've sort of come out of the trenches pretty well. I've never been someone who has regrets."

Nez and Rio Interview

This is my first feature at Fake Shore Drive. Makin moves!

Producers Nez and Rio recently worked with Schoolboy Q on his acclaimed Habits and Contradictions project. They showed their talent when the collaboration resulted in fan favorites Druggy’s With Hoes Again and NiggaH’s Already Know. The young duo has also made beats for Chicago’s new school of hip-hop alumni including King Louie, YP, and Chance The Rapper. We chatted about their recent Treated Crew affiliation, their musical inspirations, the lack of Chicago artists on the XXL freshman cover and Rio buying an early Kanye West tape for $5 bucks.

By Jimmy Ness

How did you two start working together?

Nez: One day we were at Rio’s crib and we were like let’s make a beat. It just happened randomly and from there it was kind of organic. It was never like oh “we about to be a group” off top. We were chillin’ on some cool shit, then we would be making beats and it just kinda grew from there.

Rio: We were both producers separately first and we were fans of each other’s work, and then one day when he came over it just happened organically. We started to work.

Nez: It had to be like 2005 so that’s a long time. It’s been a minute.

What music did both you grow up listening to?

Rio: Man everything. I came up in a house where there was never really a moment when my family wasn’t playing music. I really got into old soul, funk and jazz from my dad and I was really pulled into r&b and hip-hop by my older brother. I was lucky enough to have an older brother who was able to get the more graphic versions of the music that kids my age weren’t quite able to listen to. There was never really a dull moment when it came to music being played because we all were into it a lot.

Nez: For me, it was my father who was into hip-hop. He was playing hip-hop, jazz, funk, same type of shit and African music too. I’m from Kenya so he brought a lot of that influence and then my mother would always play heavy r&b and gospel. So between those two they really put me up on a lot of music early and got me hip.

How did you guys get into beat making?

Rio: When I got a little bit older and went to high school, I took a music class which was concert choir and they had this computer lab. In that computer lab some friends of ours used to have this program called Fruity Loops. It was music production, but it was Fruity Loops 1. It was like the first test demo version of the program, so it was free and in order to make music we would actually install Fruity Loops at the beginning of our class period. It was a computer class so they would allow us to work with headphones and we’d make beats during class and then delete the program and save all of our beats to floppy discs and shit. This was at Kenwood High. I guess it kind of just grew from there. Then we started to become more musical and put more into it. That and being heavy hip-hop kids too, I don’t really know too many hip-hop kids that were like breakdancing and doing graffiti and shit like that at our age. We were doing all that shit in like Elementary School so it was like a big progression for me.

Nez: For me it was like a similar act, I had been shown fruity loops when I was around 15. My homie Aaron had it at his crib and I was blown away I was like “Oh shit, you can make beats!?” I had always wanted to make beats when I was young, but when you’re in 8th Grade your mother wasn’t getting you no MPC or nothing like that.

Rio: It was too expensive.

Nez: Yeah, it was too expensive for her and you know it’s like a toy. She’s not spending a thousand dollars, it was like two grand back then. But once I got shown that program I was hooked, from there it kept going and I kept building on it.

Rio: It’s kind of funny. Looking back on it, I was always the kid that when my rap friends had a cipher, I would be the kid that was beat boxing. And I look back years later and I’m still that kid, it just kind of progressed.

Who were you inspired by in the Chicago scene?

Rio: I guess in terms of Chicago musicians, I would say the big Chicago producers like R-Kelly, Traxster, No I.D and then in terms of musicians Quincy Jones. In terms of hip-hop musicians it was like Common, Do or Die and Crucial Conflict. Listening to Kanye, I was I guess fortunate enough to have an older cousin who was kind of close to that camp, actually a part of that camp. I kind of watched that as it was happening, Kanye was like blowing up in front of my face.

I had to be one of his first hardcore fans. I remember my cousin Jua’s friend Don [Don C] tried to sell me his mixtape and at first I didn’t buy it. He was like “yo, it’s like five bucks,” and I was like “na I don’t want it.” You know cause I passed it off as just some random guy, and he said “trust me man it’s good, take it and if you like it then you know give me the five later.” And of course the next time I saw him I gave him five bucks to hold onto my part of the bargain. Jua, just his network of friends is just ridiculous. He’s friends with everybody it seems. Shout out to Jua.

You are part of the Treated Crew, tell us about the group and how you got involved with them?

Nez: The Treated Crew is basically a group of cats that were already cool. We were already friends, we already worked together and did music together. But basically everybody decided to unify, to come together, to come in this game stronger. Million $ Mano came to us both and was like “yo listen this is the movement.” He had just come back from the first leg of the Watch The Throne tour and was like “this is the movement G, let’s do it,” and everybody was just like down with it, you know what I mean. It was just a dope idea for all of us young dudes from Chicago to come together and show people that we all rock together and do some positive shit.

Rio: It was also at a perfect time because we were already talking about doing something else that was unified, kind of like a collective. Those are really just our homies growing up. For instance when we were young we were all breakdancing and rapping together, and those were all the same dudes in the cipher. This is really just kind of like a label. You know at the end of the day, we were really already on that same shit. We were already rocking together, it’s just a label that visibly works. It makes our individual work a lot stronger as eclectic music.

Obviously there’s a lot of young talent coming out of Chicago. What did you think of the lack of Chicago artists on the 2012 XXL Freshman cover?

Nez: You know with those things it just seems to be the outside looking in. A lot of times it seems like those things seem to be label pushed or whatever. I don’t think that’s the end or be all. Because the XXL cover came out and no one from Chicago is on it, that really doesn’t mean anything at the end of the day, it’s just publicity.

Rio: The XXL cover to me is like a weather forecast. How often is your weather forecast right? You know what I mean? So really at the end of the day like sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s not. And if you feel like it’s not, that should serve as your personal motivation to turn up your situation. If you’re not making enough noise personally then you need to turn it up, make people realize what’s going on.

You’ve worked with YP, King Louie, Chance the Rapper, Freddie Gibbs etc. Do you have any favorite collaborations?

Rio: I would say actually (Treated Crew’s) Mr Take Your Bitch is one of my favorites because it gives us the chance to work with all of our homies on one record. That has a lot people from our crew on there.

Nez: The Louie shit is hard too I like that. Louie has this joint we did with him called Band Nation. It’s going to be one of the next singles coming out real soon. That was dope too. But yeah everybody man. It’s cool working with everybody, I really like what’s going on in Chicago right now. It’s good energy. Everyone seems to be working and just on it, trying to get better.So that’s really dope.

You recently produced two tracks on Schoolboy Q’s album, how did that come about?

Rio: We gave the beats to him in person. Him and Kendrick Lamar came to Chicago. We tried to find out a way to actually get to their camp. We knew that they were coming in town and sought out their contacts and tried to find out who’s bringing them in and all that kind of stuff. 

A good friend of ours is Hustle Simmons, he actually linked us with J Script and he told he was going to have a listening session for Kendrick to come here and listen for beats, I think for Section 80. I guess this was his last chance to listen to beats for Section 80 from Chicago artists or whatever. The whole TDE clique came through and Q was actually there. I was familiar with Schoolboy Q through Setbacks and Michael Jordan. I was already a fan of his too, so when we were in the session exchanging contacts and music after we were chosen as a beat to listen to, I reached out to Q as well.

I was like “Yo Q, you know what’s good with you?” Cause you know, he was right there. And he was so dope to me even then that I wanted to work with him. We exchanged contacts with him, so he was like yeah “I’m going to choose some beats out of that group” and Druggies With Hoes Again was actually one of the beats that got played that night, that they chose. He ended up taking that and then we kept in contact and that’s how NiggaHs Already Know came to be too.

Do you ever feel disappointed with the way an artist has used your beat?

Nez: There has been sometimes when you’ve felt like maybe it could have been executed better, but I think recently the artists we have been working with have been knocking the beats out of the park.

Rio: I guess the more you do, the more artists tend to trust you and trust your opinion and your artistic direction for what the song should sound like. The more communication and trust that’s thrown around, usually the better the record. Sometimes you have the opportunity to work with a phenomenal artist like Schoolboy Q, where you can send a beat in an email and you know that it’s going to come back dope. But every artist isn’t quite like that, some people need you to give them the flow or give them a hook.

Who are you working with in the future?

Rio: Ourselves. We’re actually working on our second mixtape. As of right now, it doesn’t hold a title. We’re not positive that it’s going to be a Let’s Get Ill 2. I’m not quite sure if we want to do a sequel or something different, but the music that comes out is going to determine what kind of project it’s going to be. Look for more collaborations with Treated Crew and Schoolboy Q.

You both rapped on your mixtape Let’s Get Ill instead of using guest features, which is quite a surprising choice for producers. Why did you decide to rap personally on the album?

Nez: We always had the idea of being artists, because we’re the kind of producers that when we make the beat we are thinking about the entire song as it’s going along with the hook, the flow, what it should sound like. We already have that idea in our head and then a lot of times where it just got to a point where we felt like we had something we wanted to express in another outlet. It was just a time where we felt like we wanted to get an idea off and that was what came out.

Rio: Yeah, we’ve been rapping, writing and singing for a while. It just wasn’t public. That’s kind of like the thing with us, we like to work on something behind the scenes until we feel like it’s ready to be exposed. I think that’s one of the good things about us, until we feel like something is good enough to put out there we’ll just let it cook.

You guys are also making a documentary. Can you tell us what that’s about?

Nez: That’s basically going to give you a little insight into how we live, our personalities, get a chance to see who we are as people, as artists as producers. Just like more of a day to day insight to what we are about, you get to learn more about Nez and Rio.

Rio: Yeah, more about our creative process. Some stuff has to stay classified like as a result of us being evil wizards that just come up different techniques or whatever. Some stuff you just want to keep to yourself. But other things you know, there are definitely going to be windows into our world when it comes to our lifestyle.

Sounds like you are very busy at the moment. Are you both producing full time or working on the side as well?

Nez: Right now we are still working regular jobs to make ends meet. The artists that we have been producing, you know most of the stuff is digital. Digitally released. So we are still up and coming, very much so. But that’s temporary, we are working pretty hard to make this happen. I always say we are producing full time, that’s what we’re doing. Everything else is just part time