Saturday, September 29, 2007

Big props to my boy CHOPS!

Avid readers of this blog know full well of my affinity for my boy CHOPS. Houston rappers know too cuz like four years ago I was telling them all about him like 'this dude is on some next shit you need to fuck with him.' I've always liked his work. From his early group The Mountain Brothers to his solo albums, he's just on another level. Dude plays a lot of instruments himself, does intricate arrangements and is just an all around musical guy when it comes to this. In the interview he mentions producers who brag about making a beat in ten minutes. I cringe when I hear those dudes say that. I cringe when rappers brag about writing verses in ten minutes too, cuz I mean shit, what kind of accomplishment is that. Whooooo you looped some drums and a bassline and jacked someone elses song almost in its entirity. Whoooo great job producer dude. Or whooooo you rhymed car with Barre AGAIN! What an amazing feat rapper dude. So glad your candy paint is still drippin.

Anyway, rap music is what it is in 2007, and it's good to see my man CHOPS finally reaping some benefits for being a real dude in this biz.

His track "We Breakin' Up" on the new Chamillionaire album is a banger, but it don't stop there. Read on to see what my boy from Philly is up to.

CHOPS with Michael Watts in New York

You were known years back for some of the work you did with underground artists, how does it feel to be working with the majors and what's different about it?

I like it, it feels like more gets done. I used to deal with cats that did music on the side, their main gig was something else. Nothing wrong with that, but I was doing music. And fools would come up short on loot for tracks or studio time, but they'd be dipped out, or have a new whip. If you don't invest time and money into yourself, nobody else will do it for you. That's why I still have this job today, and they still have their job doing
some other shit. The only ones who get to keep doing it, are the ones who keep working at it. That goes for underground or major.

Musically, it's equally tough making good "commercial" tracks as it is good "underground" tracks. I spent years at this, and I'm still learning and growing. You need to deliver what people are looking for, and be consistent. Some people get lucky once or twice, but without certain skills there's no repeat success. I'm after that repeat success.

Do you notice a different response from the listeners? Cuz even your early stuff was really musical, while a lot of the underground stuff at that time was really stiff.

Hell yeah! Way more people actually know who you are. You get a lot more love, and of course more hate too. You're guaranteed to get hate from somebody somewhere, no matter what you do. But I like reaching listeners, and finding people who dig my stuff. Ten years ago I had my first records out, and I felt proud because thousands of people heard the music. These days I work with artists who reach millions. A million is a big number man, it's a thousand thousand! So I feel like things are about a thousand times
better now, because more people know my music.

Not a lot of producers are able to work with both underground and major groups and have success. What do you feel is responsible for you being able to make that transition?

Mainly two things, one is my manager Mike Baxter who works hard as hell. Our situation is like Jerry McGuire, where the people we used to deal with, fell by the wayside. He believed in my music ability, and I believed in his talent for business. We joined up at a time when nobody else believed. There's people who supported or looked out here and there, and that's always appreciated. But I can honestly say the only person who really stuck their neck out for me like that, businesswise, was him.

The second thing is just getting the music right, which is a lot harder than it sounds. When I was doing just underground stuff - which I still do, and I actually got a licensing deal for up and coming artists on my myspace and I also got a deal for producers to buy my drum sounds for only $29, I was pretty well acclaimed for my tracks. So I thought, "I have the skills to go bigger than that." And that's actually true now, but it's taken tons of time and effort to get to this point. And it'll take a lot more to get where I'm going.

So yeah those are the two main things. Me and Mike are in this 100 percent, been at it for years. And things are starting to pan out the way we planned. Him as far as planting seeds and getting’ in people's ears, and me as far as getting the weight up musically.

You and Mike have been working on getting tracks done with all these Houston cats for some time now, and now you’ve finally got one with Chamillionaire. How does it feel? I mean real talk, a lot of people fronted, then kind of fell by the wayside a bit. You got with the biggest dude out here.

It's great man, I bought me a copy the day it came out. First CD I bought in a while. The joint I produced is "We Breakin Up." It sounds like a sad song about a girl, but if you know him and you know the concept behind the album, there's more to it than that. Explaining too much kind of spoils it so I'll just say it's a special joint. And Cham did the damn thing on the hook. Ever since I heard him go "Big Swangaaaas and Vogues" he's been one of my favorites as far as rappers who can sing, like really get down at both. He got to stretch out some on this one, which I was hoping he would do one day.

Here's something about the track itself though. When it was time to get all the pieces separated out for the engineer, I loaded up the session and looked at the date. I made that beat on New Years Day. That means when most everybody else was sleeping in, recovering from hangovers and whatnot, I was in the lab writing. Also it means you have to believe in your music, and have people with you that believe in it too, because the process of getting just one track on a CD can take months!

For people who don't know, let us know some of the people you've worked with so far.

So far my credits include anybody from Young Jeezy, Paul Wall, Bun B, Mike Jones, to The Game, Snoop, E-40, Ice Cube, to Kanye West, Talib Kweli, Fabolous, starting to put together a pretty good list, but I'm concentrating on the future. It feels like the doors are starting to open up a crack now.

What's your beatmaking process like?

A lot of times I wake up with an idea in my head, so I'll get up and jump right into it. Generally I'll lay down a basic drum pattern and a bass line near the beginning, but it could start with a horn line, a guitar riff or whatever. Finishing up the beat is just adding all the pieces around it, to make the puzzle. I play the music myself, it's like a mix of MIDI stuff and actual instruments. If you hear a guitar it's me on guitar, if you hear
singing vocals, it's me singing. Like on the Chamillionaire joint, that's me singing in the background.

One thing I will say, I'm not one of them dudes who brags about making a beat in 10 minutes. I can bang shit out real fast if I need to, but I like my tracks to sound full and finished. And correct. When you hear a classic record, one that lasts, usually some time was spent putting it together.
What's your typical day consist of?

Pretty much I make beats more than anything else. There's things like calls, emails, or listening through beats to pick out stuff for certain people. Sometimes take a trip to meet with people or go to a studio or whatever. In between there's some normal stuff like spending time with the woman, eating, taking a shit, going to the store and stuff like that.
Sometimes I'll take breaks to get other things done or to clear my head. Then it's back to the beats. Usually I get good ideas when I'm away for a minute.

But you can bet money on me making beats every single day. If I'm on travel I either have equipment with me or I'm working on music somehow, like writing hooks or something. Or I'll write down ideas for a beat on the pager that I can work on when I get back. If I'm doing something like watching TV or a movie, I'm probably not paying full attention because I have music in my head.

Being that you're out of Philly, how is it that you've worked with so many artists from the South?

My manager is good at getting up with people! And musicwise, I listen to a whole lot of different music and I've lived at and been to a lot of places. For instance when I first started learning music growing up, that was in Texas. I've been all over the country and then some. Sometimes people hate on music from different areas, but I think that's closed-minded.

What's next for you?

Coming up I got a joint with E-40 and Paul Wall for 40's album. Normally I don't talk about stuff ahead of time but that one's got paperwork done and all. Plus it's a killer! Workin on some stuff for Paul too. Been working with Lil Weavah out of Atlanta, he got a bunch of labels looking at him. And the more these good placements happen, the more receptive people are to hearing the music. So things are getting ready to branch out for your boy. But right now, today, I'm gonna get back to working on this new beat, man.

Recent accomplishments –
CHOPS produced track "WE BREAKIN UP" on Chamillionaire album "Ultimate
Victory" on Chamillitary/ Universal Records (make sure to buy a copy

E-40 "Rollin On Candy" featuring CHOPS and Paul Wall (produced by
CHOPS) on the forthcoming E-40 album "The Ball Street Journal" on
Warner Bros coming soon...

CHOPS tracks on over 50 TV shows including: Victoria Beckham (NBC,
Bravo, Overseas), Rob and Big (and over 20 other MTV shows), Unique
Whips (Speed Channel), and many more

CHOPS "National Anthem" aka "Sing Along" on the Platinum album by
Young Jeezy titled THE INSPIRATION on Def Jam/ CTE

CHOPS produced track on DJ Clue album feat Paul Wall, Mike Jones, and
Bun B titled "Grill and Woman" on Rocafella / Def Jam


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude your fuckin trill for writing up Chops

we breakin up the best song on King Koppa album

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