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K-Def Interview Part II

by Travis on August 19, 2008

Finally, part two of the K-Def interview is dropping. If you missed part one with K-Def, you can catch it here:

As I’ve mentioned many times before, K-Def is easily one of my favorite producers from the 90′s. His sound is one that I think what “true” hip hop was supposed to sound like. If someone had never heard what classic hip hop from the 90′s sounded like, I would play them one of his beats for sure. So to be able to speak with him is easily up there among the top highlights of doing WYDU. One thing you have to realize is that K-Def is confident. There is a fine line between being confident and being cocky. The man oozes all kinds of confidence, but he is no way cocky or arrogant. His place in hip hop is one that should be seen in a better light. As I’ve mentioned, he should easily be mentioned up there with Pete, Primo, and any other top flight east coast producer, but for some reason, he isn’t always in that small list. Does the man have a chip on his shoulder? I think he does, and rightfully so. He feels like he has something to prove. Nothing wrong with that.

In part two, we discuss the free Article EP, done with a young MC in Dacapo, as The Program. We also discuss their upcoming album, The Program LP (which you can check out and buy tracks on their myspace page) as well as K-Def’s newest release, Beats From the 90′s. We talk about the Real Live reunion (yes, it’s going to happen) as well as the internet, samples and various other topics.

My apologies to the readers, to K-Def himself, and to Richard for taking so long on this. Long story short, anyone that has transcribed an interview knows that it takes some time to do. Plus, for whatever reason, the sound quality on this interview was horrible. There was a lot of rewinding to try to catch what was being said. And for good measure, I’ve been working a lot of long hours on the job that pays the most right now, which is my 9-5.

In case you’ve missed the free promo EP, here it is once again…..

the article
The Article EP

Also, just re released:


K-Def – Willie Boo Boo ‘The Fool’

WYDU: Let’s go back to the EP again. How about we go through each track and you give us a little background on how the track came about? How did the lea doff track, “The Article” come about?

K-Def: “The Article” was the first song we did when we thought of doing a project together. That was a sample that a lot of people may now. My version doesn’t have a lot of singing that some of the other versions do, but it was still a soulful experience in of itself. I got a lot of masters and I got a lot of acapellas. I’m trying to inch a lot of that stuff in little by little. Dacapo heard that beat and said “oh, I want to write to that”, and it was over!

W: My favorite song from the EP was “Gotta Get The Cash”, how did that song come about?

K-Def:Ah, Hamiliton Bohannon, that Bohannon is real sneaky too. Everybody got that sample, but you’ll recognize from the horns there is no bassline no drums. It’s the same part that was sampled on Ed OG ‘s track, but subtle elements are missing. I’ll kick it like this; I can take vocals and instruments out of two-track records. Anything from the late 60′s to the early 70′s, you can’t go past ’75. Whether it’s vinyl or it was recorded. I can go around with different record labels, records labels that used different places to master them. Some used quadiphonics and some were actually in mono. The ones in pure stereo, recorded and engineered right, even some of those, I can remove the vocals or I can take the bassline out. You know, I like that cause I can experiment a bit more. I had a different beat for that originally. But then I was like, let’s check this joint and once again, he was ready to use that when he heard it.

W: Yeah, that I was a nice song. What’s up with “Day Dreaming?”

K-Def: That one right there, that was a rare vibey and jazzy and he heard it and he was hearing things I wasn’t expecting a rapper to hear. He was like “man, gotta have that beat,” and I was like “ok”. The vibe of the whole track is kind of laid back and soulful. That was actually something I wasn’t expecting him to take. He did a good job with it.

W: Yeah, it was a different track from the rest of it. Another favorite of mine is track four, “Fallen”.

K-Def: That beat was a beat I used a long time and I chopped it up. Of course of he heard it and thought the mood fit the whole song. He had something to that already, he already wrote it.

W: Track five would be “Beggin’ Street”.

K-Def: This track I had for Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Dacapo heard it and said he never heard anything like that before. As soon as he heard it, he kept saying he never heard anything like that. The way it was chopped up and the such. It was really a turning point, in the creation process though. He really started paying attention to what he was doing, on this song and the next song. He had something ready for it as well originally. But he went back and forth with that track and I think eventually he ended up writing for it on the spot.

W: “Life Goes On”….

K-Def: *sings* Life goes on, duh duh duh….I had to coach him a bit on that one. I had to tell him to have his voice sound like the record, like “Life-Goes-On”, like BAH BAHM BAH. And he handled it. Like from the first song, “The Article”, to that song, there was a lot of songs in between and lyrically you can hear the confidence level pick up some. If there was a club jam on there, that’s it.

W: Yeah, I can see that. And finally, “Free Speech”.

K-Def: At first he kinda had some jiggy-wiggy-wiggy thing to it, so I told him to go back to the board and write something pertaining to the hook. I think he did the vocals two or three times before he settled on that. There for awhile, we were doing a song a week, but he was learning a lot at the time. We worked a lot on the hook a lot, I’d teach him how to do the hook on that one. I want to change the game, and I want to use Dacapo to do that. All the dude does is get better as a rapper. The Program he is even better than on the Article EP. He’s really got some heat.

W: Are you putting The Program LP on your own label?

K-Def: We still deciding. I’m not really trying to wait on that album, I’m not going to wait for no phone calls back. Im’ma put out there and see who rocks with it. If nobody rocks with it, I got digital distribution. I got ways to put out some copies. I’m not really trying to wait, I’m going to put it out there one way or the other. It may come out independently, or it may not. I don’t need someone telling me what’s right and what’s wrong. If people are going to support good music, they are going to support it. They’ll get behind it or they won’t. I got enough songs that the mixtapes can get some, the radio can get some, but I don’t have no qualms about putting something out when I’m ready, regardless if a label is behind it. I got enough projects to keep me busy, but as far as this project with Dacapo, it’s something I’m proud of, it’s something that is good that people need to hear. The EP is something for the people to hear this new guy come in and a different style of beats. Some of the beats, as I’ve said are from the 90′s, some are that have never been heard before. I just to let people decide if they are going to like it or not. Not everyone is going to feel it. There is good tracks that will just get better. It’s something for the street, but it’s not violent, that’s not selling records anymore. There is a place in the market, both overseas and here. The game needs a balance, and that’s something the album is bringing.

W: You mentioned the digital releases and the such. I’ve noticed you’ve been using the internet a lot for stuff lately. The World Renown album was released over the internet, the EP was given away over the net and your selling tracks on your myspace. How do you feel about the role the internet plays in promotion, releases and just the music overall?

K-Def: I think the internet is promoting the right way. I kinda like it. On the internet, you know exactly what is going on, and that just goes with being independent in general, but the internet is a great tool for that. On a major label, you are always wondering if you are going to make any money, or you ever going to recoup. I don’t think I want to deal with that. There is a lot of greed, everyone wants to put their hand too far in the cookie jar then blame it on someone else. I’ve learned that you can’t mess with everybody. As far as me and my future, it’s like I just want to become consistent with putting records out and if dudes aren’t answering my calls are they aren’t answering emails, they’ll be forced to hear me anyways, because people will be saying dude is hot, what he is doing is hot. They’ll have to give me a shot, because I’m making good music. A lot of people aren’t doing what they are supposed to be doing and they are in very high positions. They can’t be counted on to do their jobs and I’m here to take a lot of people out of their jobs too (laughs). I’m just showing that you don’t need a million or two million dollar studio to make a good record. I believe I’m on a roll of making good records.

The digital struggle is the way I’d like to go for right now. To me, it’s just the wave of the future. Even vinyl is going to the aside. DJ’s, they are using Serato, and PDX’s and this and that, you can count the amount of people who still buy vinyl. And that’s more of the collectors than the DJ’s. You press vinyl now and you take a loss. I got vinyl still sitting at my crib, I couldn’t sell the vinyl. The CD’s were sellin’, but I couldn’t sell the vinyl. Most people want to download it then turn around and up on megaupload and that shit, whatever you call it. So it’s there. I figure digitally that’s where it’s at, where users can download it digitally, then burn it to CD, put on their iPod, or whatever it is that they do.

W: Let’s talk about the new project out there, Beats From the 90′s…..

K-Def: Right. Beats from the 90′s was some instrumentals from the 90′s that I had laying around on DAT. It’s just a collection of stuff that I had. It’s that sound that I had in the 90′s. Some where from tracks that never had instrumentals when they came out. Positive K has an instrumental on there from a track that never had one before, the instrumental from “It’s Getting Hot” from the Artifacts is on there. That was never released. I did “Been There, Done That” version, something that I was inspired by, a track that I did similar to that. One from the movie “Psycho” that got me going. There are a lot of joints that I don’t have the disc for or DATs, for, but people miss that sound, so I thought it’d be a good project to put out.

W: How much unreleased music do you have? Do have like a secret vault filled with classic ish?

K-Def: Let’s see, I got…..probably in my possession……probably anywhere from 25 to 30 DATs.

W: Right on, damn, should be nice..

K-Def: I got accapellas, instrumentals, a lot of stuff that I did with Marley, some dudes from Queens, the Bronx, a lot of stuff from the 90′s. I got a couple volumes of Beats From The 90′s in there at least. There is a lot of stuff, not saying I don’t care about it, I do care about it, but it’s a done deal, it was the 90′s, and it’s 2008….

W: Yeah, but you got the old heads like us that want to hear that kind of stuff….

K-Def: Yeah, yeah, yeah! I’m definitely got the “golden era” stuff still on those DATs. I got another Beats from the 90′s that Imma release that are from the late 90′s as well. But at the same time, I’m concentrating on the “now” stuff. Decapo is just going to keep getting better and I got stuff I want to do. I want to be swamped, I want somebody to swamp me. I’m going to keep dropping albums, I gotta lot stuff ready to go. I don’t want to be long gone and done and have all this shit come out….(laughs)

W: I read something on your myspace about Real Live possibly coming back?

K-Def: Yeah, we’re working on that now. Let me tell you about that, so Real Live, yo man, we like going to bring the roughest of the roughest. Once you hear it, your mouth is going to drop! I still feel comfortable with him, so we are going to make some nice shit. You ain’t going to want to hear music after hearing this! (laughs). We are taking are time on that though, I’m trying leak some of it, but I want to save some of it in case a major picks it up, but I figure it’s going to be one of those records that can shut New York down! You gonna be drivin’ in your car and spill your coffee, especially if your over thirty. I can say to myself, that no one has used the shit I’m using on this. If you think you have it, you don’t have it. I know of only two people that got this record and they are older than me. It took me 25 years to find that record. I heard it when I was eight or nine and nooooobody would tell me what that record was. I’m trying to find records like that, stuff that the veterans know and no one else. Cats like Biz, they have crazy records. They just got breaks, but they ain’t really producing. I’m producing still. If it cracks in NY then you know it’s really crackin’.

Then we are getting old enough, there are breaks that came out in the 80′s that people like you and me were around when the records came out. That kind of thing people haven’t utilized yet. I ain’t talking the pop shit or nothing, but stuff that came out under the radar that people may or may not have remembered. And cats in our age brackets are definitely going to appreciate that type of thing. I have one of those beats that I gave to Larry-O. The album is going to be something big, that’s all I can say about that one! This is what I do, I’m nasty as hell. This is what I live for, so you know my beats are going to bang! (laughs)

W: Damn! Anything you want to say before we wrap this up?

K-Def: Check out my music with Dacapo, we got some really good music. He has a different identity from a lot of the stuff out there in hip hop now. He has a different shade. No killin, no drinking, just funky beats and dope rhymes. We want to show people that it can be done with out a whole lot, on the computer. There is a lot albums I have that are going to drop this year. Stuff from old, to new, to even weird, that are going to drop. Be looking out for anything from me.

W: That’s what it is?

K-Def: That’s what it is.

W: Looking forward to it then, thanks!

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