schoolboy q

Salva Interview

salva music

Originally written for Passionweiss

Salva’s potent and pounding beats traverse several genres, everything from hip-hop, house, and Miami bass to dance and funk. The L.A. resident’s new album, The Peacemaker, was recorded at Red Bull Studios in Santa Monica and released gratis last week. The project includes some of this year’s best rap production coupled with verses from Kurupt, Schoolboy Q, E-40 and Young Thug. It also bangs so hard you’ll punch holes through every wall in sight and continue swinging.

During our conversation, the Chicago native’s enthusiasm and musical knowledge never wavered. He spoke passionately about staying cool when meeting legends like DJ Shadow and Kurupt, being inspired by a speech from RZA and his family’s history with the Philippines government. He was also genuinely one of the nicest interviewees I’ve encountered. I even shocked him with some common ties regarding his first production efforts. This one’s a goody.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but your recent single “Freaky Dancing” has quite a retro vibe.

Yeah, for sure. I guess that was from working with Ruckazoid and he’s definitely an unsung hero. He’s a musical genius front to back, from turntablism to singing to rapping. He really does it all and he doesn’t really put out a lot of stuff publicly. Really just the vibe is like a Stevie B, Latin freestyle, retro funk kind of thing updated with 8o8s and half-time. So yeah it just came out man. We made the track, he penned it and we finished the production together. That’s one not necessarily of indicative of what the record will sound like, but I wanted to drop it just because a lot of people ask why I don’t do that sound anymore. So that’s one out of two or three cuts on there that have that funk vibe to it.

You probably could have gone for a really easy single. The obvious one with the biggest features on it.

Yeah and “Old English” with Young Thug and stuff has been released and it’s been really successful with making radio and stuff. So the stuff like that on there, people already know I do that. It’s kind of showing my newer fans that I acquired from that, another sound. I think all the heads that get it, like it a lot and those that don’t I think it’s weird (laughs).

How do you decide who ends up on these collaborations? “Old English” for example or “Drop That Bitch” with Kurupt, Schoolboy Q, Bad Lucc and Problem?

So this whole record was A&Red in house, I collaborated personally with almost everyone on the record except E-40 and Young Thug, they sent their verses in. You know it took me a year to kind of rangle everybody up. As far as the collaborations it was like building blocks. Nick Hook got Young Thug on that track when he was in Atlanta. Freddie Gibbs was in the studio a couple weeks later and he was like “I gotta get on this.” Then Ferg wanted to get on it and that kind of happened. Same with “Drop That Bitch,” I got Kurupt, then I happened to be in the studio with Schoolboy Q because I did a small piece of writing on his album.

You wrote on Schoolboy’s album in terms of production or actual song writing?

No actually, a little bit of lyric writing on “The Purge” with Tyler The Creator and Kurupt. So when Kurupt and I worked together, who is a legend in his own right, we kind of penned stuff together because I kind of helped him with the cadence on these wacky new productions that he doesn’t fully understand.

Does Kurupt appreciate the new sound of production coming out in terms of bass, trap etc?

Yeah, he’s a music lover man. He fucks with all of it. He’s just a good-hearted dude. He’s a really good cat and he’s down for whatever. For me to roll with him is just respect, because all these younger guys just grew up on him. He’s definitely a safe dude to go into a rap session with because he gets all the respect in the world.

For “Drop That Bitch,” you went through a strange sample library, which included sounds from medieval weapons. Are you planning on featuring any of those other interesting samples on your future tracks?

Yeah, even the beginning of “Old English” is from like some weird ‘50s experimental record. There’s weird shit always peppered throughout just because I’ve got a record collection and a turntable. That’s the old hip-hop head in me who just likes the atmosphere of some old weird shit that someone recorded 50 years ago. You can’t make that inside of a laptop, so it’s always good to try to incorporate that stuff.

Is there an Xzibit vocal at the end of it or did I just imagine it?

Yeah, so the hydraulics sound is from Dr Dre’s Chronic 2001. So Xzibit is kind of talking in the background over that stuff. That’s actually one of the reasons why this record is going to be free because there’s an Eazy-E sample and some of this stuff is kinda…

Hard to clear.

Yeah, and I had interest from major labels and stuff but I kind of just wanted to get it out to the people man. Just because I’ve been working on it and my only goal is for people to hear it and like it. Not even like it, but just make their own opinion and that was kind of the premise to work with bigger rappers. I don’t want the exposure for the hype. I don’t want to try sell myself to have people think I’m cool because I’m fucking with these guys. I just aim to work with A-1 artists you know. It’s really just a matter of putting this out free and I hope people download it and enjoy it.

Why did you decide to call your album The Peacemaker?

Well, the idea was bringing together these rappers that shouldn’t be on the same track and bringing these worlds together. It’s that and from when I was trying to think of a new brand name. People used to call me “The Problem Solver,” but since I started working with Problem I dropped that moniker because I didn’t want it to be weird. So I was trying to think of what the new tagline would be. I thought back to my high school days and grade school days. We used to roll around with our combination locks, our padlocks from our lockers at school wrapped around a bandana and we’d ride our bikes and go smash the fuckin’ mailboxes and get in all kinds of trouble. We used to call those things “Peacemakers.” That was the nickname we had, different kids in different cities called them different things, but that’s kind of what that is. Peacemaker is also a Smith & Wesson, a B52 Bomber and there’s different kinds of explosives that are pseudonyms for that word. So yeah man, it’s just gully, it seemed fitting.

Where does the name Salva come from? I know it’s your actual last name, and there’s a few Spanish soccer players with the same name.

So it’s a Spanish name, but my grandfather is from the Philippines. Basically, they were Spaniards living in the Philippines.

Your family immigrated over there?

Yeah, actually my grandfather was from the bastard family, if you will, of the president’s advisor in the Philippines during WWII. He was from the advisor’s family with his mistress. [the advisor] had nine kids with the mistress and they all got shipped off the mountains during the war and I think three of four of the children died. The rest came to the States and my grandfather actually stayed over there. He was the only child from that family that would stay with my great-grandfather’s legitimate family and I think it was a little trying on him as a kid because he would see people put to death and see some shit growing up.

So as a teenager, he came to Chicago and that’s where he met my grandmother who is Italian. So the whole other side of the family is Italian. That’s the fuckin’ lineage [laughs].

I’ve heard you’re quite the turntablist? 

Used to be more than now but yeah, I definitely still incorporate it at least. Not a lot of hand-rocking or too much scratching and stuff, but when I play more hip-hop based shows I definitely like to be on turntables and feel that out. But yeah, I came into all of this from watching QBert and Mixmaster Mike, Shortcut, B.Styles, all those guys, Cut Chemist, DJ Shadow. That was definitely my first serious musical inspiration aside from being a fan of hearing music as kid.

Turntable TV?

Yeah exactly, I had all of the VHS tapes.

You were a radio DJ for a while at BBC Radio 1, how was that experience?

It was incredible man. It was a dream. I was coming over to London once a month to record. Radio 1, 9pm live, a good estimated 7-9 million people reach and you know I got the program the full hour, no commercials, anything I wanted to play and I played everything from rap to juke to house to UK bass stuff. It was a fucking great variety in the hour of music that I was into at the time and the BBC family is incredible. The whole thing was just great. It really got me into loving radio and loving that format. Since then I’ve kind of done Shade 45, Sirius XM, Power 106. I’ve kind of been dipping into radio when I can for sure.

I told a friend over here in the UK that I was interviewing you and he said he put out some of your records on a label years ago. He told me about your really early material, when you were with the Def Harmonic crew?

Oh who is it? Shit… it’s definitely been a minute! Uh was it Altered Vibes? [laughs]

That’s the one.

Yeah man, haha!

What were you doing at the time, were you spending a lot of time in London or was that just a label that found you?

During that time I was living in Miami. I’m from Chicago and when I came back, one of my best friends who I still work with now but more on the business tip, he was the DJ for Def Harmonic and I got introduced to them and that was probably some of the first hip-hop stuff I put out production wise.

I probably only had a couple of records on Altered Vibes from those cats I produced, but I was definitely in the crew with them and working with them. That’s when I first started doing vocals and I was actually rapping and trying to sing. I was really trying to find my voice and what it was, it was actually an Antipop Consortium style group where we would rap and shit on stage and that was kind of in that era where that was happening. That was kind of stage two or stage three of my journey.

What were your raps like and how do you feel looking back on them?

Definitely bizarre and I definitely have a disposition towards white rappers a little bit just because of it. I love Action Bronson and Eminem’s early stuff was fucking epic, but I guess I can’t really stomach white rappers trying to be hood and trying to be gangsta. It’s not really believable, and because I love really hood rap. The ebonics, you know it’s like if you don’t really speak like that, you really shouldn’t rap like that. There’s plenty of white rappers that I admire though man, like Slug from Atmosphere. Danny Seth from London is pretty sick, I do fuck with him. I don’t feel the same way about British rappers. White British rappers get the pass because those guys are gully.

You’re going to Hawaii tomorrow with Dam Funk and Just Blaze. Have you met them before?

Yeah it’s going to be awesome. I met Just through Red Bull Music Academy a few years ago. We’ve kicked it a couple of times. I’ve been to his studio in New York. He’s a really nice dude man. He’s super cool. Obviously a legend and I’m a huge fan, so it’s going to be fun. Dam and I have bumped into each other a couple of times and I’m definitely a fan of his too so it’s a fun line-up.

Are you someone who tries to record on the plane or at the airport while you’re on tour? Do you try and work with artists you’re doing shows with?

Yes and no. It depends how long the travel dates are, sometimes the travel is so brutal that it’s like all I can do is veg out. But there’s other times on flights when sometimes the plane lands and I don’t even want the flight to be over because I’m locked in my headphones. So it’s different. But yeah, especially when I tour Europe, when I’d come up there and I’d like work with Boys Noize, and just try to work with cats in the cities that would host me and have me. Back in the day in London I would stay with Om Unit. Definitely if there’s time I like to get it in, but on this Hawaii trip I probably won’t be doing much. I’ll be doing more relaxing than anything else.

You’re a huge lover of music and someone who legitimately seems to enjoy a real variety of genres. Is that from working in record stores when you were younger?

Yeah, for sure. That’s definitely what I would attribute it most to. When I was in Miami, I was working at a record store that’s not really around anymore.

At that time in the year 2000, drum and bass was at its height worldwide and the DJ Shadows, and the acid jazz, all that stuff was happening. Breakbeat was big, new school breaks, proper electro, techno. All these things were kind of at a bubbling point, rap of course too. I just really got lucky enough to get schooled by the other buyers at the store who were just super on top of what it was. So not only did I get to explore these styles but I got put on by the local heads, I definitely got blessed in that respect. When I was back in Milwaukee, I was working at an indie rock store so I was the only electronic and hip-hop buyer there so then it was like oh shit I missed out on this whole world of Indie rock as well so I was digging into that kind of stuff. Animal collective, the whole range, all the different hybrids of electronic and rock and that kind of stuff so yeah, it’s just what I love man.

You chatted with Mannie Fresh at Red Bull Music academy about DJs who don’t have the essential skills of the craft. The DJ who didn’t learn the basics because it’s so easy to play something off a laptop. Because of the type of music you make, some people might put you on a bill with these artists. Do you sometimes encounter performers who you don’t entirely respect or enjoy on a musical level?

Yeah dude, even very close friends. That was a difficult hurdle to overcome creatively over the past few years because my friends in the UK that are house and techno heads, they’re very elitist and they’re very picky. They don’t like EDM. They don’t like American dance music and all those things. To a degree from a tastemaker’s perspective, I agree with that too but I guess I have found an appreciation for people appealing to the masses a little bit more. I think there’s a happy medium. So my head is a little more open to pop and stuff like that than the average underground DJ. But on the flip side you have the kind of corny pop American DJs that play lifeless music. There’s a whole range so I try to stick somewhere in the middle. Coming from turntablism and hip-hop is where I get that at the end of the day it’s a party rocking aesthetic. I call my stuff intelligent party rock. I’m going to play stuff that gets the crowd stoked. I’m going to play stuff they know, but try to do it in a new way.

Try to challenge them as well.

Yeah, try to sneak in some stuff they don’t know. With the gigs over here it’s getting increasingly difficult to do that unfortunately.


Things have gotten really over-saturated in any city throughout North America and Canada. Anywhere I tour, every bar in the city has a DJ.

It’s so accessible to become a DJ, you just need a laptop.

Yeah, it’s not special anymore to go see a DJ for regular people and those who don’t come from the culture – old school rave culture, or hip-hop or house or whatever. The younger heads. It’s not a negative thing, they just don’t come from those cultures so they don’t know about respecting the DJ as a tastemaker. Somebody like Jackmaster for instance, I would go see one of his sets and be really keen on hearing what records he’s going to break and what he’s going to play. Or back to the drum and bass shit, you hear Dillinja or Ray Keith or somebody else and it’s like they’re playing all dubs you’ve never heard. That’s kind of been lost as electronic music has gone pop at this stage. Times have changed and you have to adapt because you know this is my profession as well, it’s not just my passion.

During your time at the Red Bull Music Academy, you described RZA’s lecture as an emotional moment to the point of being “almost spiritual.”

First of all, I had just finished reading his book. I thought it was a great read and one of the most emotional parts is him losing ODB and just that human story of losing one of your best friends.

And for it to happen in the public eye as well.

Yeah and Wu Tang is a pillar of my hip-hop roots as it was for most of us who were around during that time. 36 Chambers I think I got that in like seventh grade and I didn’t even fully understand what I was listening to. By the time Wu Tang Forever came out, I mean I must have listened to that double disc a 100,000 times [laughs]. Just based on that fact and RZA being one of my catalysts in being a producer. I think some of the first things I was messing with in production, like a small 8 seconds of production time on a Yamaha sampler and I was just learning how to loop rhythms, so he’s definitely a hero and I’m just such a big fan of his. He’s well spoken and he has a crazy story to tell. He talked for a good two or three hours. He wasn’t just trying to do his thing and leave. He really put some knowledge on us and I so respect how he went into movies and worked with Quentin Tarantino. Just the whole journey is something that I dream of doing one day and just transcending being a musical artist. His whole leadership thing too. Whether or not I play the leader role, running labels or helping manage artists myself, it’s just inspiring.

I read that the A&Ring or providing leadership to other musicians is something you’re aiming towards in the future.

Definitely. I don’t even plan on retiring. I don’t see a day in my future when I’m not involved in music. Some of the session players from Michael Jackson’s and Quincy Jones’ era are still working and still doing stuff for awards shows, movies and artists. To me, I’m put here to be involved with music so all those things provide longevity as well. Now days where the DJ is a frontman and a celebrity in their own right, I don’t know how long that will last. But even for a vocal artist, not many get to perform and tour forever. That’s a big reason I moved to LA too. For as much as people say the music industry is the devil and is failing and all these negative things, at the end of the day it’s not an omnipotent presence that has any control. It’s an industry that’s commoditising art and that’s not an easy thing and I think there’s a lot of players in the game who do help push things forward and do help create art. There are good A&Rs and there are good label heads and there are good managers. So I appreciate the backend too you know.

As your career becomes more successful and you meet more of these legends who had a massive impact on you personally, do you find over time you’re less shocked by it and it becomes the norm?

I think a part of being a professional is being able to work through your fan boy moments, you know? I toured with DJ Shadow and we became personal friends. He came to my studio and he’s definitely in my top five inspirations with Entroducing coming out in ’96 and obviously how it changed sampling. Now we’re homies and I guess it’s for real. I think some of my old friends from grade and high school that I don’t keep in touch with anymore will think it’s the most bizarre thing in the world working with these people.

At the end of the day they’re only human, which is probably something you learn more and more. Maybe extremely talented humans, but no one is as sacred and divine as the media portrays.

Totally. I still keep the respect and admiration. That never leaves. I stop myself from getting geeked out enough to not be able to work with them on that level, but deep down I know who the real innovators are.

You closed down the Frite Nite label you ran?

Yeah, it’s been shut down for about a year or so now. I still work with like Teeko and B. Bravo, they opened up my boiler room the other night. We’re still all good friends, I still look out for everybody in that crew and we still all work together, but I had to kind of put it to bed because I was touring and promoting shows myself. Managing these guys, it hit a point where I couldn’t perform as an artist if I was doing it at that rate. So getting another label imprint is definitely in the future and something I want to do again with the right resources.

You’ve collaborated with Problem and Bad Lucc pretty frequently.

So I have a friend Yesi Ortiz at Power 106 and she’s a radio celebrity out here in LA. She’s kind of been on the radio for a long time and is really well known. Power 106 really champions Problem and they have for the past couple of years. The “Mercy” (remix) was on Power 106 and that was on the radio every single day, five times a day, for a good year straight and they basically were like “yo, we need another remix of something that’s been in rotation.” So I remixed Problem’s song “Like Whaat.” Simply from that he was appreciative and after a couple reach-outs we got in the studio. I think we cut like five records during our first day together in like four hours. He like a lot of these cats, because I’m white and come from this alternative thing, kind of think I’m just a dance producer. So I come to the studio with a shit-load of rap beats and they’re like “oh shit.”

When you’re in the studio with these guys who are known for being gangsta rappers, have you felt intimidated at any point?

Not really man, these guys are all professional. I think one common thread between everybody, is everybody likes to make money, be successful and get paid. Especially in LA, what’s great is everyone’s just grinding. The people that I would consider real professionals, whether it be rappers or anybody, they’re working every single day man. They’re working every single hour they can squeeze into the day whether they’re recording, writing, doing press or whatever it is. So to these guys it’s just another day at work. I guess Schoolboy Q was a little intimidating, but he was definitely respectful and all that. He’s just a reserved dude and he’s fucking dope.

I thought Freddie Gibbs would be pretty intimidating as well.

You know what, he’s a really nice dude man. He’s a hard ass motherfucker, he’s a gangsta motherfucker but he’s respectful too and professional [laughs].

Cheers dude.

Thank you so much man, I really appreciate your time.

Ab Soul - Empathy ft JaVonte and Alori Joh

Ab Soul takes a break from rapping about pills and dirty Sprite to channel the spirit of OG Nate Dogg. The Black Hippy grooves while ringing a booty call, tries his best to look like Wish Bone and wears sunglasses in the dark. With help from TDE affiliate JaVonte, Soulo sings a mellow tune and proves he’s more than a drug rap visionary.
He briefly adds a few double-time bars to “Empathy” but mostly sticks to surprising you with smooth vocals. This isn’t an R&B croon-fest though. Brief psychedelic visuals and hypnotic repetition of the track title makes the song a little more unsettling than Chris Brown without handcuffs. This slow jam also comes with an important message: let Ab Soul hit it and he might spend that $700 a show money on you.
Empathy also features Ab-Soul’s close friend Alori Joh, who passed away a few months ago. She was 25, attractive and appeared on several TDE releases. RIP Alori. If you’re chilling with Nate Dogg, can you tell him to swap places with French Montana?

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