I don't want to rap. I don't want to be a DJ. I just want to make some dope fucking beats."
So says local hip-hop musician Sephiroth. And he's not alone. Particularly since the death of legendary producer J Dilla, in 2006, interest in producing has grown, and the art form continues to evolve. This is true both at the national level and the local, and if you're looking for proof of the latter, you'd do well to stop by RecordBar Thursday, May 2, for the Sucka Free Producer's Showcase.
Hosted by Sephiroth, it's an attempt to instill solidarity among active local producers and expose casual listeners to how beats get made. The Pitch recently sat down with a very enthusiastic Sephiroth to talk about the event.
The Pitch: Why should somebody come out to Sucka Free?
Sephiroth: Because they like music. That's it. It's music. For people who don't fully get the composition and the beauty of hip-hop, this is the backdrop before you hear vocals. This is for people who want to listen to something actually thought out. This isn't a band onstage repeating the same things. These are producers who are trying to push their next limit. These dudes aren't "beat makers." They're producers. They're producing the track. They're making this into the most orchestrated monstrosity that they can. So if you like music, you like to move, this is the thing for you. Across the country, people are digging this shit. There's a scene for this. There's people who want to hear this.
And this new beat scene is not just to be heard. It's to be seen. The same feeling you get when someone is shredding on the guitar is the same feeling you should get when this dude is taking 16 pads and going crazy. It's three hours of beats.
Tell us about the performers participating in the Sucka Free Producer's Showcase Thursday.
Leonard Dstroy, known for producing for Stik Figa. He had four beats on the last CES Cru record [Constant Energy Struggles]. And he produced the whole CES Cru record before that [The Playground, 2009]. Dan Matic, who's on some crazy future funk. Wandering Mayor, a very tribal-like producer, vibey. And Topp Boom [who also plays in local psych-funk outfit Your Reflection], he just takes it to the roots with good sample picks. He shows you what those old-school producers were trying to do, and he does it correctly. I'm hosting.
What kind of impact do you think J Dilla's legacy has had on this current climate of beats?
The resurgence of this whole beat movement is [due to] Dilla. Sorry the man died, but in his death, all these producers started showing up. The first two or three years after his death, there were so many Dilla clones. You could hear Dilla drums in people's beats. That's what pushed it forward, people realizing, "This dude made all this shit. This one man made all this music I like, and I never knew his name until he died." That's what hit a lot of people. So in this new beat scene, there's people stepping up like, "I made this music. Pay attention."
You're planning on releasing a mixed-beat tape in June featuring past Sucka Free performers.
And I'm looking for more producers for Sucka Free. I know they exist. It could be some dude in an apartment right over there, banging out beats and just not know [about this scene] because to him, the scene's on the coast, and it's not at home. But it is.
Chris Milbourn also writes about local music online at demencha.com.