featured interview

K Def Gettin real live Ask any 90's hip-hop-fan 'Who's your favorite producer and he'll probably say DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Diamond D, Large Pro or Marley Marl. Chances will be slim that you hear the name K-Def. However he's the mind behind essential productions such as Lords Of The Underground's 'Chief Rocka', Da Youngstaz' 'Mad Props', Intelligent Hoodlum's 'Grand Groove' ànd he was one half of the group Real Live, who released their critically acclaimed album 'The Turnaround: A Long Awaited Drama' in 1996. In 2005, K-Def keeps doin his thing regardless; he produced a joint for ODB's tribute album ànd he's got a track on El Da Sensei's new album, but before we come back on that matter, we start this interview with takin a plunge in time and lookin back.

Your earlier productions...how do you recall workin with Monie Love and Positive K?

Working with Monie Love was okay, she is a cool person. She thought it was all about her, but I guess it was okay for her to have an attitude because she was one of the few females with a record deal. Positive K and I hooked up at Calliope Studios. I did the remix, and he accepted it the next day. I didn't get the chance to spend a lot of time with him. I was also asked to DJ for him, but I was still in high school at the time.

There was a lot of ghostwriting goin on Monie Love's album 'In A Word Or 2'. Mainly by Marley Marl, did you write any rhymes?

I did not write any rhymes, just production.

How did you hook up with Marley Marl?

By a friend of mine, World Renown member John Doe; he was Marley's cousin.

How close were you with the Juice Crew? Did you see a lot of the members?

The only Juice Crew members I knew were Tragedy, TJ Swan, Biz Markie, and Big Daddy Kane. I would see them when they came upstate to the studio.

You were a 'ghost producer' for Marley Marl. Which tracks are credited for Marley Marl but were actually made by you?

The Microphone Prince's 'Trunk Of Funk', Marley Marl Remix, for Next Plateau was done by yours truly. 'Funkaldelic Relic' of LL Cool J's '14 Shots To The Dome' should have been credited to me. I did two hot joints with LL, but they never came out.

What have you learned from Marley as for production/DJ'ing? From who else did you learn?

Marley and a cool dude named Frank Heller taught me a lot about the SSL board and engineering. I was already the master at the MPC 3000 and the MPC 60. For the 'Pirate Radio' show, Marley showed me how to splice tape.

If there was no Marley Marl would you have had/have the same opportunities?

Eventually yes, I knew a lot of other people. I DJ'ed for a lot of New York City parties. I ran into everybody, even Russell Simmons. The Awesome Two got me plenty of gigs, so staying in the mix at that time was not a problem. After Marley heard my demo tape, he heard something he wanted to be a part of. Maybe my career would have been larger in that era, if I had stayed independent as a producer. After I left Marley, I started to run into other MC's who were interested in working with me, but Marley was charging too much. My catalog could have been larger.

Is there a lot you still owe for production duties?

There's still a lot of money owed to me!

You went to California for Heavy D's 'Nuthin But Love' album (1994). How was it like, workin with Heavster?

I just met Heavy D, he had mad love for me and he respected my game.

So did you meet any of the other producers of that album like Pete Rock, Erick Sermon, Easy Mo Bee or Teddy Riley?

Nah, I didn't meet any of the other producers, but I already knew Pete Rock.

How did the Artifacts single, 'It's Gettin Hot RMX' come together? You connected through El da Sensei?

Yeah, we were label mates. I like working with El Da Sensei, he gets it. I have a new track on his upcoming album 'The Unusual'. We plan on working on a full length LP together.

Dope. By the way, the 'It's Getting Hot RMX' is a Japanese only release right?

Yeah, it's only on Japanese release, but you will be able to cop it soon at www.kdef.biz

Of all the remixes you've made, which one is your favourite?

The 'What I'm After' remix with Keith Murray.

Are you still down with Intelligent Hoodlum?

I have not seen him in a couple of years, but he's my peoples for life. I hope we can re-connect in the future.

Which one do you think is his best album? 'Intelligent Hoodlum' or 'Saga of A Hoodlum'?

'Intelligent Hoodlum' is the best of course.

He's now about to release 'Thug Matrix'. Do you check up on a lot of producers/artists you've worked for?

I check for the real stuff, a lot of albums are trash, but there is promise out there. Shame to say, but most artists I have worked with have decided to become producers themselves and do it all, they forgot what got them their names, it's a simple thing called 'chemistry'.

You connected with Da Youngstaz as well, them being from Philly, how did you hook up?

I met the Da Youngstaz through Lawrence Goodman, he worked a deal out with Marley and they picked the tracks.

So how was it like to work with Lawrence Goodman?

I'm still waiting to receive publishing and royalties from that shit, till this day!

You were not on Da Youngstaz' 'The Aftermath', although Marley already produced some cuts on that album. How did you end up on 'No Mercy'?

Well actually, 'Mad Props' (from the 'No Mercy' album, red.) was a beat intended for the 'Illmatic' album, however the money could not be worked out. I never knew why it wasn't placed by Nas...

Tell us more about Word Renown... How long have you been down?

I knew Seven Shawn since the 80's, he is from my hometown Passaic. Myself and John Doe worked on a ten-song demo, Marley wasn't feeling the rhymes but clicked with the beats. So John hooked up with Seven Shawn and they formed World Renown.

World Renown had an LP coming, but it was never released. How come?

Marley did the first song 'Come Take A Ride' and the second song was 'How Nice I AM'. We were forced to make the album in two weeks, and when it was finally done, World Renown was dropped including the entire black music division from Warner. Shortly after that, John Doe was on the run from federal marshals and it was over for World Renown.

Are you workin with Seven Shawn at the moment?

I have always worked with Seven Shawn. A song we worked on became 'It's Over' on Ghostface's 'The Pretty Toney Album'. You can hear him singing the hook on that track, a small clip can be heard on the play list of my website. We are putting together his debut album, which will be available soon at www.kdef.biz.

Plenty of artists from the early 90s are findin their way back to the game, X-Clan is back, Special Ed, Donald D is on some new material, Percee P is about to release his debut album... what do you think is the reason for that? Real hip-hop is not dead yet?

Some dudes get caught up in what's going on today, and realize it's not them, and then go back to the basics, which are the building blocks of hip-hop. Real HIP-HOP never died, it's still in their hearts. I'm very happy for Percee P, he never had a release of his own but he stuck with it. He should have not had to leave New York to have something happen for him.

You had some hits on the underground ('Chief Rocka' eg.) but do you never want to make it big time on a mainstream level? Make a number one hit like 45 King had with 'Hard Knock Life' and 'Stan'?

I want to have 150 'Hard Knock Life' 's, with 150 different artists. I don't look at it as mainstream, I look at the work.

Speaking of 'Chief Rocka', how did you hook up with Lords Of The Underground? You produced on all their albums.

They heard the demo I gave to Marley. The 'Funky Child' beat was on there and 'Here Comes the Lords'.

The two first LOTUG albums are critically acclaimed, but their last album from 1999 wasn't that cheered about; how come?

I only produced one track. The reaction was 'nobody liked it'.

Do you still see them a lot? Are they gonna release a new album, and if yes, have you been contacted yet?

I did some tracks with DoItAll but he had other plans, I talk to Lord Jazz online sometimes, I'm not in contact with Funkee. I wish them the best.

Is it true that Lord Finesse dissed the crew sayin they jacked 'Lord' and 'Funkyman' from him or was that over exaggerated?

(laughs) Yeah, I heard about that a couple of times too.

You also produced Sah-B's 'Some Ol Sah-B Shit'..., she was also down with LOTUG...

Me and Sha B are cool, I don't see her anymore though.

She rhymed on De 1's 'True Homies' 12", that was produced by you right?

No, I did 'Rather Unique' on the B-side.

One of your biggest, long-lasting projects was the group Real Live. How long did you and Larry-O work together? It seemed like KRS-One was involved with the first break-up?

Real Live was rockin' from 1988 to 1996. We were down with BDP, did a couple of songs with KRS-One. Larry-O had more of the relationship with the 'Blast Master', but we are still cool though. Larry-O had his own agenda when we broke up the first time, and so did I.

You were about to get signed to Def Jam. What happened eventually?

There was a lot of 'hate' in the game. So we signed with Big Beat. We had two singles with three videos, which was amazing for artists back then, until Larry-O decided to go to the Big Beat offices and performed a violent act...

So is there any chance on a Real Live release in the future?

Maybe.

How did you end up doin a song for West Coast rapper Jayo Felony? It was kinda controversial right? Jay-Z tried to keep the single from being put out. What was the deal exactly?

I was working out of Sugar Hill Studios in Englewood at the time. They had a relationship with Motown and I was working with a lot of their artists at that time. 'Bullet Proof Love' (compilation on which Jayo Felony featured, red.) was a project on the plate. That nigga came to my studio at like 3 AM in the morning from California, I didn't know who he was really. He gets in the booth and he's rhyming like he has a problem with somebody. Well, he eventually laid it out on me, he was dissing Jay-Z. We blazed up, I laid the track and it was done by 5 AM, so he could fly back to California. A lot of people don't understand him. I also didn't hear any 'answer back'-records to that track.

Would you work with Jay-Z if you had the chance?

I would love to work with him!

What's the biggest difference between producing now and fifteen years ago?

It's a lot more of strategic music listening involved, listening for hours, just putting on a jazz record to listen to it right through. Also the computer of course.

Is this sample clearing issue a bad thing for hip-hop?

I can't understand how the publishers of records that didn't sell shit when it was out, can come in and take 50 - 100% of your publishing. You only took a couple seconds of their song. The artists and producers are paying for the promotion and advertising of the new work, which will put a spotlight on their past works and generate new monies. Hip-hop has been sampling, looping, scratching and recording samples since day one. They should have a share but are too fucking greedy when it's the producers that create something new and creative, with their bullshit 3 seconds.

Do you still sample a lot?

Yes I do.

Let's talk about your production material. What do you use?

Currently I'm using a G5, Cubase, SX3, Logic Audio Pro, CDX, Reason 3.

What did you use when you started in hip-hop?

At the beginning I was using the MPC 60, S-3000, then a MPC 3000.

What music did you grow up on?

'Say it Loud. I'm Black And I'm Proud' (James Brown, red.), JB's, Rolling Stones, Steel Pulse, Bob Marley, Isaac Hayes, Jazz Crusaders and Isley Brothers. I met Isaac Hayes at Marley's studio, he wanted to meet the people responsible for 'Grand Groove'.

Since when did you start lookin for breaks?

1978.

How many records do you have now?

70,000 records. I lost 45,000 records in a flood but thank God the others were recorded already.

What were the first hip-hop records you bought?

'Good Times' by Chic, 'Rapper's Delight' and Kurtis Blow's 'The Breaks'.

What other producers do you like very much? From the past?

Marley Marl, 45 King, Premo, Pete Rock, Extra P, Q-Tip, DITC, RZA, Dr. Dre and Hitmen.

Today, which producer(s) do you like?

Just Blaze, Kanye West, they keep the art of sampling alive.

if you had the chance to work with any MC, who would you chose?

Jay-Z. I could make a smash for him.

Which of the following productions do you like the most? 'Chief Rocka', 'Funky Child' or 'Real Live Shit'?

'Real Live Shit'.

Here's some names, tell us more.

Special K and Teddy Ted

Old School veterans that should be handling big business in this hip-hop arena. They're hip-hop pioneers.

Redman

12 years already, and I still can't get a joint with that nigga, that’s my man. Can somebody hook that up.

Nonchalant

I met her once, she loved the remix. And those were the days when I wasn't supposed to be hot, and I still came through.

Return Of The Boom Bap

I made a track for that KRS-ONE classic, Marley mixed that one.

Yo MTV Raps

I loved it, I don't know why they didn't keep Fab Five Freddy. That was a great vehicle for hip-hop.

Any shout outs?

Ghettoman Beats, 45 King, richdirection, Seven Shawn, John Doe 'Free John Doe', El da Sensei, Lambda, Bse, Onfire Entertainment, Beatdawg, DJ Power, Riggs at Shady, D Prosper at G-Unit, Clark Kent at DDMG, Geno at Bad Boy, DJ Riz and DJ Eclipse.

Thanks a lot for the interview!

 

POSTED 10|04|2005
conducted by Cpf

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