When the first time you felt that Croatia is too small for you and you’d like to break through the worldwide scene?
Hmmmm… When i made my first couple beats. that was like, late 96.
I first heard of you on the Masta Ace album in 2001. Was that your first collabo with a foreign rapper? How did you hook up with him?
Pretty much. I mean that was pretty much my first US collabo. I’ve produced a couple tracks with european artists like KC Da Rookee (Nexcallibur, 2001, Showdown Records, Germany), and IPM, a group from Leon, France, but that stuff came out a couple years later. Oh, an I’ve made official remixes for Unspoken Heard. I’ve also made tracks with DAS EFX before that time, but that stuff never came out. At the same time when Ace’s Disposable Arts dropped, i had two tracks done with El Da Sensei but that came out a year later.Oh, and how did i get to him? Thats simple… through my manager – Phat Phillie (Blackout Croatia).
Then you worked with him again on the track “Beautiful”, which made you respected in the whole Europe and also in the States. How did you felt about the fact that it’s hard for the Europeans to gain attention from the US artists, but you made it?
I’ts because we dont live there, and we’re not in peoples faces like that. ive made a mistake of not movin out there 10 years ago, bkuz that was the golden era of hip hop. Nowadays its much harder to get records/beats placed out there since hip hop is not actually doin so good commercially anymore, and the corporate doors have pretty much closed on hip hop (note that i make a distinctive difference between hip hop and crossover rap). But if you want to go pop or crossover, thats even harder to score. you really have to have a strong business gameplan and a strong team behind you to get someting done worthwile. you have to know people, be their friends and stuff… They have to know that you got the heat that they need. and you have to be consistent, updated, and yo shit has to sound either recent or on some next shit. That’s the only way youre gonna get records placed.
Have you ever thought about moving to USA like Nicolay from the Netherlands, who has become a member of the Justus League after he moved to the States?
I already have…
You worked with some protéges of today’s biggest producers: Consequence (Kanye West) and Izza Kizza (Timbaland). Have you ever heard these producers’ opinion of your beats? Have you ever been in contact with them?
Oh yeah, Kanye is good friends with my US manager Dan Glo (Skyscraper Management). They’ve been close friends before anybody even knew bout Kanye. Nowadays its really hard to reach the dude, but I have gotten a lot of good feedback from him on my music. He actually put Quence on my shit. I havent actually met him yet. Tim… hmmm…. That’s a different story. He liked the beats and songs I produced for Kizz, but I don’t think he even knows that I did those. I don’t blame him though, since hes constantly on a move doin his thing. A lot of people think that Tim actually did those records when they hear em. But lets get one thing straight – Kizz is actually a part of my team. Hes signed to Skyscraper Management, and Souldiggas production company (which im also affiliated to). We managed to shop him to Mosley Music and get him a deal with Tim. Which wasn’t that hard at all, since my dude is HOTTTT!!!! Kizz – that’s my nigga!!! Watch out for him!!! Hes on some other shit!!!!!!!!
How big is the difference between working with independent artists like Tha Alkaholiks or Czarnok and with mainstream stars such as Omarion and Bow Wow?
Lets put it like this – the difference is that you actually get to meet the dudes like Tha Liks. Were almost family by now. On the other hand, im not really sure if Omarion and Bow Wow actually know who produced “Hey Baby”, which was one of the singles off their album. 🙂
Have you ever thought about doing a production album with US guests only?
Yes, but I would put it out in Europe and Japan. I don’t think that kind of an album would get much spotlight out here in the States. For example, you’ve mentioned Nicolay earlier. See, I never actually hear people talk about this dude out here in NYC. Which is sad kuz hes dope, but like I said, that kind of music doesn’t get much spotlight over here. I could be wrong, but I think he’s more famous in Europe than in the States. You really have to be a die-hard hip hop fan to know about dudes like that. And the competition is just toooooo big!!! Therefore, I’d rather do an album with artists worldwide for the European and Japanese market. Its kinda in the process actually… more on that issue a few questions later…
UK producer Mark Ronson once said that he would never collaborate with Pussycat Dolls because he doesn’t think they are genuine. Do you also have some boundaries that you would not cross?
Well, I don’t think that Pussycat Dolls would wanna have him produce one of their records either, since their styles of music don’t really have much in common. But since you asked, no I don’t have boundaries like that. I mean c’mon, scoring a record with them is like at least $30 000, and im not that rich to turn something like that down!!! 🙂
Is there any beat that you heard and said to yourself: “Damn, I wish I made that”?
There’s a beat like that like, every week or something! 🙂 Too many to mention…
What do you think about the situation when a producer samples a loop that has already been used in a well known hit, and re-use it in their own beat, like Trackmasters did in “Jenny from the Block”?
Well, she probably told them to do that. And Trackmasters are known to cater to artists. Its like a suit that you’re havin tailored from your favorite tailor. I’m not mad at it. These dudes are just trying to run a business.
But if you ask me about sampling, and especially looping… I don’t really do that no more. And I never actually liked looping. I’ve also had issues with sample clearances a couple times. For Example on that Ghostface record “Good”, off the album More Fish. The sample was Earth Wind And Fire and even DefJam couldnt get the clearance for it bkuz one of the authors wifes didn’t like what Ghost was saying on that record. So we had to replay the sample, and that never ends up sounding the same. I’ve even had records that have never made it to albums because labels couldn’t get the samples cleared. I’ve even had sample clearance issues in Croatia!! Can you imagine that?!!! Well, it was on two of Edo Maajka’s albums and Maajka’s really big out there in the Balkans, so its wasnt really surprising to me. Samples are expensive nowadays!! You have to have a good budget for that.
What can we look forward to from you in the near future?
Well, right now im working on Izza Kizza’s album that’s commin out on Mosley Music/Interscope this fall or the next spring. Trying to shop beats for some other artists like Paul Wall and T. I. Consequence is also makin a new album, and we still gotta have a meeting on that. I have another hot record with Masta Ace that we just did recently. Its called “Love Crazy” and it features Strick. I love it!!! It’s a classic sounding (hip hop classic sounding) record. Not sure yet if we’re gonna put it out as another 12’ single or if were gonna wait and put in on my album, which is kinda in the process. Im gonna have a lotta people on that one. Its kind of a compilation of all the unreleased records that ive done through the years and off course some new ones. Its gonna feature Masta Ace, EMC, J-Ro of Tha Liks, Naughty by Nature, Das EFX, Styles P, El Da Sensei, Izza Kizza… Just to name a few… Not sure when that’s gonna come out though.
This is an interview for a Czech magazine. Have you ever heard about Czech hip-hop? Do you know DJ Wich, who is currently putting out an album with many US guest rappers, or East Side Unia compilations, where Croats Bolesna Braca and Nerad also appeared?
No, sorry… never heard of them. Sorry people!! Guess I gotta look it up. I know there’s a scene out there, but then again, there’s a hip hop scene everywhere nowadays. Hope im gonna come out there and see it myself soon. The last time I’ve been to the Czech Republic was when I went to Praha back in 95. But good luck to yall dudes though! Just make them hot records!! Make that music!!! Make it happen!!
The European football championship is coming. What chances do you give your representation? They are in a tough group – home Austria, strong Germany and Poland with a heavy support from the fans. Can they repeat the success from the Boban Šuker era from 1998 World Championship?
I mean, being a Croat, you know I hope they do!!! J But I don’t like to make statements on things that haven’t happened yet. All im gonna say right now is – we’ll see… 😉
BIG UP TO CREAM!!! THANKS FOR HAVING ME!