"FIRST, BEFORE ANYTHING, IMMERSE YOURSELF IN A COMMUNITY. DON'T JUST COME IN ASKING TO PLAY."
HOW DID YOUR MUSICAL JOURNEY START OFF?
The journey started in high school. I was always a big Timberland fan and I just knew the first time I heard his music that that’s what I wanted to be like. I looked at what a music producer actually was and figured out that's what I wanted to do in high school, maybe sophomore year. My best friend Zhi Shan got FL Studio, which was pretty new back then. So every day after school, after basketball practice, we'd go to his house and just start making you know, at first we started off just making like spoof songs and just goofy beats to like some Weird Al Yankovic type shit. He was Muslim, so when he would go to pray, he would go into the other room and I would sit there and actually try and make like a serious beats. That's where it started. I just fell in love with it.
BIGGEST INFLUENCES STARTING OUT?
HOW IMPORTANT IS FOR PRODUCERS TO BRAND THEMSELVES?
CHALLENGES YOU'VE FACED SO FAR IN YOUR CAREER?
One of the biggest challenges is really just kind of balancing the music and the creative with the business and just knowing when to introduce each thing. Obviously, I really like to keep them separate. When I'm working on the music, I want to be fully immersed in working with other artists, you know, to be in that mindset. But at the same time, just over the years, so many people will try and take advantage of you or lowball you and stuff like that. You also have to be assertive and firm with what your rates are, and what you deserve.
WHAT ARE YOUR BIGGEST PLACEMENTS TO DATE?
I mean, that's tricky. I've produced through so many eras that each one felt big at the time. Like, early on in 2009, I was on this mixtape with a lot of local LA talent. This is like Casey Veggies when he was new and Overdose and Dom Kennedy. I had a song with Dom Kennedy and Blu and Jack Davey, Polyester and a couple other people on it, but that one felt like the biggest placement at that time then and that helped me get on to DuBois and stuff like that. Then there was working with Snoop in 2014, I want to say getting those records on his mixtapes and some of his artists mixtapes were huge for me. Then obviously, I'd say the most recent ones, just Benny the Butcher, “One Way Flight” and the Nas records have been honestly the biggest ones for me. I've just been blessed to always feel like, ‘Man! This is the biggest placement that I can get at this point,’ is amazing. And it keeps on growing.
ADVICE FOR ARTISTS WHO WANT TO START TO PLAY LIVE?
I would definitely say you know, first, before anything, immerse yourself into a community. Don’t just come in asking to play like go to the show, support other artists, make those relationships and then figure out, once you start doing that, how to get on the shows.
"SO BEFORE ANYTHING, YOU HAVE TO KNOW WHO YOU ARE, WHAT YOU'RE HERE FOR AND WHAT YOU PLAN TO DO WITH YOU TIME HERE."
DO YOU WANT TO BREAK DOWN YOUR MOTTO? ALL ATTRACTION, NO CHASING.
So ‘all attraction, no chasing’ is really my life mantra. I think some people might mistake it for sitting and waiting for an opportunity. It's not about that to me. It's about standing ready, standing prepared and doing the work, but not going outside of who you are chasing opportunities and chasing moments and stuff like that. Just doing things that feel super authentic to who you are and what makes sense, that is really the mission statement of my career.
WHAT'S YOUR ADVICE TO YOUNG EMERGING PRODUCERS?
I'd say the most important thing that young producers could do is just be careful with your approach. It is good to be ambitious. When I was younger, and trying to get started, if I saw somebody that I looked up to or somebody I wanted to work with, I would just go to them and I would introduce myself by my producer name. I would leave it at that, I wasn't pushing or hounding them. I had the confidence that I was going to put out my own beat tapes. I was going to do remixes and do whatever I gotta do to get people to know my name. And when they see it again, it's in a favorable light, because ‘Oh, I met you before’ and ‘Oh yeah, that's dope’ instead of the first impression being me asking them for something. So I think it's important just to have that confidence in yourself. And don't try to be too eager meeting and working with new people, but also be assertive and just like introducing yourself and just, you know, put your name on their radar and do as much as you can independently.
WHAT DOES KNOWLEDGE OF SELF MEAN TO YOU?
It's at the core of my ‘all attraction, no chasing.’ mantra. Like, you have to know exactly who you are, what you want and what you want to put out into the world to even be able to attract and to know what not to chase. So before anything, you have to know who you are, what you're here for and what you plan to do with your time here. Have that knowledge of yourself before you can have an idea of the things you want to attract. So it's at the very core of knowing who I am and how I approach things.