*** ill o.g. ***
Battle Points: 1
Back in 2006, IllMuzik had gained a lot of popularity amongst beat makers and Hip Hop producers. We had many new members popping up and joining our community (as we still do!), and it's also when Wizard signed up to be a part of IllMuzik.
Fast forward to 2017 and he's still banging out the beats, still winning competitions, and most recently, the Warzone Beat Battle.
We share a lot in common, such as our style of beats and love of REAL Hip Hop music, so I had to ask him a few questions to see what was what. Check it out:
Sup, Wizard, tell us a bit about yourself.
Sup, IllMuzik. Before I begin this interview I would like to thank IllMuzik for having me be a part of this interview and most importantly being a huge impact in my life and music.
So myself, lol. Well to keep things short I am a survivor, I currently operate a very successful eBay and Amazon home-based business. This is the vehicle that allowed me to pursue my music full time. Facing many obstacles and hurdles through life, like we all do.
Life was never simple nor easy, heck I'm just grateful to still be here. The story of me can go on and on but, to sum it all up, "I AM A SURVIVOR WHO NEVER GAVE UP".
You recently won the Warzone Beat Battle. How does it feel?
Winning the battle was a therapeutic victory and sign of my growth more than anything, of course we all get the bragging rights LOL.
It feels good to see an old school Boom Bap producer competing against these younger producers and new trends to music and still hold weight. This alone speaks volumes itself as most producers from my era are not universal when it comes to making beats.
That beat you had for the finals was super dope. How did you put that together?
Much appreciated, that beat was funny because that beat was the wrong one uploaded but, I guess it turned out to be the correct beat lol.
This track was funny because it started out with sample in E Major scales and chords that I have been learning. Still have so much more to learn but I was messing with the scales and chords of it and was like it's just missing something and remembered that it was going to have to have some type of form of transition or break down! I grabbed the vocals but the vocals had music and harmonic rhythm in them and was very hard to filter out specially if I wanted to keep the energy. So I stripped it down and recreated the entire beat around the vocals and than added some instruments to layer.
For me it was that short vocal snippet you threw in there. What do you typically look for when sampling?
Thank you. Samples these days are different, they lack lust and emotion and feelings, everyone is using the same sample packs and MIDI notes but no emotion. Not everyone has the same emotions and feelings, so when I dig for samples "I HAVE TO FEEL IT". I think it's crazy you have to allow the music to speak to you. Over the years of dealing with sample-based beats it's tricky because you are using someone else's creation and emotions they put into the music and flip it and create your own vibe and emotions from it but, yet keep in mind for the artist singer/rapper on it.
For me I have to capture a moment or feeling and emotions that can tell a small story or compliment the rapper or singer. The energy has to be there. Also, since technology plays a huge roll, I make sure the quality of the sample is good even if I go old school. I make sure to grab a quality copy of it this way I can tweak it to my desire. There is an old saying most producers know and not just beat makers, that your signal and sound quality is everything. You have a crappy sample/signal might be a good idea but the quality is horrible then you will have a great idea that sounds horrible, this also applies to your drums, etc. This takes time to learn for some but this is also what separates beatmakers from producers.
I know you're an old school head - what's your setup?
Yeah, old school head and an equipment junkie. LOL. These days the set up is extremely simplr.
I use a Thunderbolt interface Focusrite, Macbook Pro, Reason 10, an external Thunderbolt 4TB drive, MOD 226 which is back in the box and now I just use mainly the MPK249 keyboard. It's really all I need to control everything and create and a 32-inch flat screen and a couple of 2TB USB drives, and my Yamaha HS7 monitors, Fab Filter plugins, a few Waves plugins and that's it. Nothing heavy over here. Just keeping it simple.
I have to remind myself I am just making beats so I don't need rack mounts and boards or a full recording studio. Which is still hard for me, I still want to just buy equipment LOL. Some day I'll go back and grab them just to have but for now I keep it extremely simple for just making beats. These days you don't need much to get started making beats, unlike the old days you had the classic keyboards and drum machines and ADATs, big Mackie console board with everything tracked out and reel to reels, and a whole bunch of wires that I don't have now. Aaaaaah the good old days.
Since you're not a big fan of Trap-style beats, how do you manage to still bang out some dope beats that are not Trap?
Trap...... urrrrrr lol. You see today's Trap isn't really Trap like it use to be in the mid 80s and early 90s. Trap these days have no funk to it, it's just harmonic rhythm and very very commercial. For me with beats for today I still stick to my Boom Bap but add the funk of the Trap to it in some form of way, without still sounding like everyone else. This is the key for me.
I stick out because I don't sound like everyone else. My sound quality and choice of instruments all the way to the drums and plugins are not like everyone else or what is trending. I still stick to what I like and capture the emotion and feeling with music that most of today's producers lack of in today's music, they all want to make a this type beat instead of making music they feel. So for me I guess making sure I just capture the feelings and emotion through music and not switch up what I do but adapt and compliment the trends and styles of today by not mimicking them but taking a little here and there from it and applying it to my own production.
It makes music more appreciated when you are not trying to sound like everyone else and just do you. Trap has become so saturated over the years it's only time for history to repeat itself and go back to the real Hip Hop. Now at the same time there is some Trap out there I like and give my respect to because at the end of the day it's still music and a form of expression and capturing emotions and feelings. Just because I'm not a fan of it or dislike most of it doesn't mean I dont respect it.
If there was one thing you could change about today's Hip Hop scene, what would it be?
Woooo, LOL. One thing....... this one is tough get rid of the skinny jeans and bring back Hip Hop's real swag.
For years people would say that us older cats are just hating on today's Hip Hop, but I think nowadays those people are seeing where we're coming from. What do you hate the most about today's music industry?
Bruh.... I agree. What bothers me the most of today's music is they lack respect to the old ways and what has paid their way to be where they're at now. Let's face it - if there was no Marley Marl, Grand Master Flash and Kool Herc and many more - Hip Hop wouldn't have its place of today. We passed a legacy down over the decades. Without Soul, Gospel, Rock, and many other forms of classic music there probably wouldn't be Hip Hop and without these variables that transpired before our time, and passed on, these young music heads wouldn't know what Trap music is. It all started from somewhere and respect should be more than what it is now. You see, back than Hip Hop was a culture, a form of life and living. These days it's just money to the consumer and whatever compliments the trends, this is why we have so many new artists who just don't have the love and respect for music aka HIP HOP.
I checked some of your other beats and they bang hard too. On "Where Did You Go" you have a lazy drum pattern but still keep the track hype. What's your secret?
Much appreciated, Fade! That track is for an artist I've been working on the low with, and they like their tracks very basic and not too much going on. They actually provided the sample and I made several versions of it until the final one - they love it.
As for my secret, I have to give a shout out to Onyx Soundlab "Savino Melluzzo Jr" aka (Hana Sushi) and "Michael Bence" aka (Professa Kaos). They have been my motivation and inspiration and a huge impact on understanding music. With just a short time with Onyx Soundlab "Savino Melluzzo Jr" aka (Hana Sushi) I have developed to, "FIND MY WAY". With such an amazing mentor for my music and in life it's been a pleasure of having them in my life and helping me progress and learn the understandings of music, but most importantly understanding life and our purpose, we have to find our own way.
Feels good to be in the studio with him as he doesn't just teach for the money. "Savino Melluzzo Jr" aka (Hana Sushi) has passion for what he does, he shows from experience unlike most schools and mentors they want to sell sell sell you before you can even learn, LOL. I am grateful every day for our sessions and also being able to see the growth, I know there is so much more to learn but that's the beauty of it all.
"Michael Bence" aka (Professa Kaos) has been my secret go-to weapon for over 2 decades. "Michael Bence" is what kept me alive and kicking when time was rough, he was there when I didn't even have knowledge of music. You know I'm just being honest. You have to just have that one person that always believes in you and uplifts you when you can't no matter what. He has been a huge role model for me to keep pushing and growing and most importantly learning. Learning my software and the processing and levels and mixing, etc.
Most importantly IllMuzik, yes.... Folks, IllMuzik and Fade have been a part of my life and music life for several years, I know Fade for a while. He wont know this until he reads and edit this interview but Fade bruh we had our share of growth since you put this site together from the day I joined. Fade you have shared so much value over these years for me, I know you don't know it but I learned a bunch from you and so many others from this site. I remember just spending days and nights going through articles and testing and tweaking, with so much value and content. Here, anyone can boost their production just by coming onto IllMuzik.
I say this to you now because I had never had the time to before and maybe I can catch you off guard on this interview lol.
Fade, thank you for all the years at IllMuzik. Bruh you and the IllMuzik family have been apart of my production secrets for years. I am grateful for you to have this site still up after all these years. I appreciate you, Fade and the IllMuzik fam.
I know to most would be like what the heck, my secret weapons aren't a special plugin or a special layering trick, it's just networking with amazing people with the same desire or passion if not more than yourself. You surround yourself with these type of people and you will grow. Now I can go on with a list of artists that I have worked with and a list of supporters, etc!!
As for production-wise every track is different to me but I always keep one thing in mind is to just be me and go with the music and flow. I don't quantize nothing, I use velocity, and a small amount of transient on the drums if needed. The rest: very very small EQng and compression, as my mentor/teach would say at,"Onyx Soundlab "Savino Melluzzo Jr" aka (Hana Sushi), "we chose that sound or instrument for a reason, so after putting on like 4-8-10 plugins on it, it's not the same sound you chose when you started. We chose that sound for a reason - there's really no need to change it, because then it's not the same sound we chose in the first place. Keep it simple. If you have to EQ and compress the heck out of your drums and instruments than you need to upgrade to better quality instruments! KEEP IT SIMPLE AND DON'T OVER-THINK IT.
Is there anything we expect from Wizard in the near future?
Yesssssss ooooh yes. Working on some projects and artists as well. I still have so much to learn/do, feels like I'm playing catch up. But I know it's all a part of the process. This year itself has been a learning experience and investing on my knowledge, as I polish things up and get ready to go into 2018 and years to come full throttle AAAAAAaaaaaah.
Thanks for doing the interview. Do you have any advice for other beatmakers and producers?
No, thank you for having me here, it's been an honor. My advice is, always stay humble and be open minded. Don't be scared to be yourself or do something different from others.
When it comes to beats make sure you have quality sounds. It might cost more but spending money on plugins an VSTs that everyone else uses and can afford won't get you far. Take time, save up for the proper plugins, sounds, and instruments. Most importantly, I see so many producers buying plugins they don't know what they are for lol. So just like you would spend money on your monitor set up or your MIDI controller or your favorite plugin and DAWs, you need to spend some money in "KNOWLEDGE".
This is either upgrading your account on IllMuzik and getting some secrets, or investing on online training that might show you how to operate your equipment or even school. Now even with school and online training and courses you still will need to find your way.
- Don't waste money buying any VST. Get the correct ones.
- Learn everything about your DAW, plugins, VSTs.
- Invest in KNOWLEDGE.
- Keep it simple.
- Most important - don't forget or be afraid to just be yourself, be different don't do what everyone else does, or how everyone else sounds.
- Time, yes time. Respect it and manage it wisely to learn your craft, have a direction and purpose not just a reason
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