Photography Credit: Sayed Alamy
There is a lot of irony in this installment of Beasts Behind the Beats. In this age of evolving Hip-Hop, Trap, and EDM music, my first interview of the new year is with a master of the classics and a beast behind the turntables. Listening to this producer’s work takes me back to the ’90’s.
<Cue Doctor Who Theme>
(Of course I have a Tardis! I’m cosmic, remember…)
I’m back in my Slick overalls and Lotto kicks and my Step-Fade has mysteriously re-appeared!
OK, I may have went over the top with that last part.
Time for a subject change…
So, um…yeah. Without further delay (or embarassment!), ladies’s and gentlemen, 1/2 of the duo who took you to Dinner and a Movie…
Hello, Bill! Let’s start from the beginning from your “Big Bang”. What made you start producing Hip-Hop?
BB: My older brother had a pair of turntables when I was 12 and at the time I was heavy into De La Soul, Tribe Called Quest and The Jungle Brothers and I knew they were using records to make beats but I had no idea how. I would go over to my brothers on the weekends and just sit for hours looping Dave Brubeck’s Take 5 Intro back and forth and playing around with Nautilus by Bob James and a ton of other records he had in his collection. It wasn’t until about a year later that I got my first pair of Numarks and started to record loops into a computer. At the time I was using WavLab 4 (that I got off of Napster) and you could only have one track playing at a time so I would record my loop in, duplicate it out and then pull up Fruity Loops, make a 4-bar drum loop, export as a .wav and then paste that drum beat on top of my sample loop. I would then have to continue this process until it was done. I really only made one full beat like that until I went out and bought an MBox with Pro Tools.
Wow…talk about a drive to make it happen! How do you explain your sound to people?
BB: My sound is very throwback. Early 90’s, East Coast Hip-Hop with that lo-fi crunchy drum work mixed with a late 90’s West Coast Funk Groove sample underlay. I always go for a “Beauty and the Beast” style where my samples are really pretty and the drums are are trying to wreck your ears.
Who is your favorite rapper that is creating right now?
BB: I have been really feeling the West Coast at the moment. Fashawn, Blu, Cheewee and U-N-I. I have also been listening to a lot of Run the Jewels and Prhyme.
How about of all time?
BB: I love everything that comes out of the Rhymesters camp and I have been listening to them for so long now and they never disappoint. Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Eyedea and even the newcomers like Prof and Dem. They have always been the level I want to achieve with my music. When it comes to the classics, what I tend to put on loop in the car: Gang Star, Group Home, Jeru, Pete Rock and CL Smooth, KRS-One, Black Moon, Pharcyde, De La Soul, and of course Tribe.
We all know that you are 1/2 of the Shubzilla & Bill Beatz duo. How much influence does Shubz have on your production and vice-versa? Do you guys feed off of each other?
BB: I feel like she really gives me a reason to stretch my creativity and really go for a sound I normally wouldn’t even try. One of the big goals with any project with her is to push her to her limit and make her deal with new styles. Whether it’s the beats and drum patterns, or even just pushing her to move away from her comfort levels and come up with new flows. We had a few times on Boomers where she would come back with something and I would have her spit it to me bar by bar and I would give her some direction on where to move in and out of the beat and that really pulled me into fitting the beat to her sound as well. When we get together to work on tracks, it normally comes real easy and she is always putting at least 150% on her side.
If you could pick any musical act to work with right now, who would it be?
BB: I would really like to do a project with Murs. He is a great rapper that really works with his producers and knows how to make great tracks. With every album he drops, I realize that he could be one of my favorites of all time. Outside of that, I would do a mixtape with Macklemore to steal some of his shine, and also to try and ground him back into Hip-Hop.
What projects do you have in store for us this year?
BB: I have a ton planned for this up coming year. I am going to continue to release beats on SoundCloud for people as the year moves forward, just to build my catalog and also keep my name on peoples playlists. Death*Star has a few projects projected for this year that will take up more of my time than I would like. I also have an instrumental album in the works with a good friend and much better producer than myself that should be coming out around summer, as well as a Bill Beats For President Vol. 2 if I can fit it in. On top of all that, you already know me and Shubz are going to drop another heater! This will be the year of content. I plan on making 2017 the year of touring.
Follow Bill Beats on SoundCloud @ soundcloud.com/billbeats