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Get as clouded as you need – roll the new release ‘Cloud Blitz’ above, glaze over in its’ hype-bliss …and focus on the following email dialogue with Squadda B – we get some insight and advice from the MP3 Martyr!
Hey Squadda – hope you’ve been well – glad to see you busy with all these projects! What’s good!!
What’s your first memory of enjoying music and realizing it’s something inside of you that resonates with that art form and expression? It’s hard to pinpoint my first memory. I heard there’s footage of me performing “slam” by Onyx as a kid with a mic downear word for word. I’ve always been around music bc my dad was a drummer and my mom sang and produced as well.. I remember buying marylyn manson and method man tical 2000 and not liking either, but the looks of the albums made me purchase. I loved Jay Z volume 2 and played No Way Out a bunch from Puff Daddy. I don’t think I bought music before then or asked to get it bought. I can remember clearly ‘97 and up in music, I was writing raps and downloading music soon through Napster!
You’ve been doing most of your own production aside from collaborative projects like “Green Ova South” for most of your career – how has your approach to picking beats of your own or other producers changed – do you get contacted by producers often? I pretty much want to give as much of me as possible and I feel like since I know how to make beats and I have a history in music it’s important that I use my own production. I happily feature on others beats and i’m down to work with other producers too, I am a rapper and there’s so many producers i’d love to work with and will learn about in the future. I’m open but today I’m way more focused on giving my producer side the focus and shine it deserves, I feel like I never exclusively worked on my own beats only because of how much work that takes! My approach in producing tracks is pretty much the same it’s always been, though I am very open to trying new routines and different concept albums. I do think about that daily!
How many tracks do you have in the vault with or without raps? My current vault.. Beats, at least 150 area and only because I lost a macbook in 2017. I had laptops crash ALL through my career, I rarely backed up my work. It’s incredible to think about all the material gone, even things people have heard. I am way more responsible today and with that being said.. I’ve got to have about 300 beats between all my computers, recorded material not too much!
With your writing do you start with beats or writing raps first and what’s your favorite part of bringing a finished song together? I always start with the beat since I started making beats. Sometimes I do write raps when i’m out without beats but honestly I feel more like a producer nowadays. It’s probably been since before the pandemic this year, the last time I wrote a rap without a beat, for the sake of writing one! I used to do it everyday. It’s good to be aware of these things! My favorite part would be the first listen. It’s like the reward after the long hard task of recording performances you’re happy about. For some of us, that comes after coming up with the lyrics, after coming up with the beat, in the same hour or so! It’s pretty cool.
What determines the length or finishing point of an album or project to you – is it planned or does it just hit an attention span limit or mental stopping point? For me, lately I give myself an achievable deadline and go for that. Previously, i’d pretty much notice how certain songs had a feeling and then bunch them together. From there add songs, take songs off, we’re always recording.
What about your production gear setup or workstation has changed over the last 10 years I don’t want to say the sound is drastically different – I know I saw a Roland (I think) hardware rack-mount sampler in a recent video – has it always been a mixture of hardware and computer-based workstation production or how has it changed? My workstation went from being the keys on a laptop to midi controllers to hardware, not in the past decade but last 4-5 years. I still make certain projects or beats using the click method of literally clicking out beats to catch that sound and feel. I like to stay balanced and I also like to build character. I had insecurity with my beats in 2011 because I noticed me getting recognition for one style and I felt like I couldn’t make anything better than the style that was being applauded. Not that it matters, but it lingered in my head and eventually made me seek other producers rather than work on my own stuff. It takes at least more than a little time and commitment to get a good sound going using different rhythms, melodies and patterns. Since 2016, i’m in a way better place production wise as far as knowing why something works for me and urging to make music that’s building on the legacy it previously left. Also, i’ve made so many beats since 2015 that I feel like my knowledge of myself in the field is something that will never fail me. My mental workstation changed more than my physical workstation.
Would you ever settle for being just a paid producer? Would you have a limit to who paid for your beats if the money was right? How picky would you be? I’m absolutely interested in being more of a producer than artist, though that would only happen if I got signed to something where I wasn’t allowed to release music? If so, i’d still record music, i’m stuck on this lifestyle! I’d be pretty picky if I had to handpick artists to work with, i’m not sure how being a producer exclusively would work for me. At the same time, I love music so i’m pretty easy to work with, in terms of pushing forward the music scene. It’s not a lot to think of, mostly living adjustments.
Being a pioneering, influential a producer/rapper that’s been inspiring to many – would you ever consider making videos or doing live streams of your production? Do you pay much attention to other producers or their streams or production techniques or styles? I watch a lot of youtube videos and I would like to leave documentation of myself working for sure. I know that it’s good business to put yourself out there in that way but i’m still a bit weary on showing people my process like that. As far as paying attention to other producers styles, hell yes I do when I can! What I liked when Lil Baby and Marlo dropped Two da hard way is some of the things I heard Quay Global doing, I wasn’t hearing in a lot of others beats. Producers for sure pop out when I listen to them. Rappers too, I began creating music by being a fan so I def keep my ears open, responsibly, to keep being inspired. I know the world isn’t over, some of the best music has yet to have been made and that’s a chilling thought. I’ve always liked the short and sweet method of 1-2.5 minute tracks on average never get tired of the songs that way – glad to see that has remained a trend in the releases over the years.
How often do you find yourself thinking about your art and music while you’re totally away from your studio / gear or usual tools for creation? All day everyday! It’s how I started making beats, I had too much time on my hands and no outlet for rapping since we didn’t have a home studio at the time. Making beats helps ease this disease.
When do you feel most creative or in your element and able to create and write most naturally? (What really sets the mood – or could you put in work anywhere the gear is there.) I think over the years I find myself effortlessly creative in the mornings. Other than that , the thrill of being in the motions keeps me creative for sure! I do light candles sometimes and I do keep myself mentally in a place I can dig from to make art.
Do you schedule a portion of your day for creating or is it more or less on and off all day – whenever you have the opportunity? I pretty much plan everyday and then freestyle once it’s on and rolling. Atleast half of the week I have planned beat times that actually happen and the other half is me being drained or not in the zone.. In those times I usually do something related like find new music or study old music.
How much of the entire writing and production process is “free-styled” and how much time goes into the final– writing/ recording / editing until the product is finished. The freestyle element of production, so far, has been the same anytime i’ve rapped, I don’t think too ahead with beats. I usually go for it and if I like it i’ll bring it to the studio. Now song writing, some projects like “Return Of Dog”, I intentionally wrote out a bunch of those songs knowing where they’d go. With “Cloud Blitz” those are songs that I made on the spot and a lot were freestyled. I write a lot of my stuff down lately or build it in my head. Sometimes I punch-in bar by bar but it all really depends. I mostly focus on being free to do whatever unless it’s an album where I made the decision to play it by the book. I’ve been recording myself since 2005 so I’m kind of mixing my music as I go. It doesn’t take me too long to edit out a final version of album i’m happy with. I also could pay for help if it took me too long. I know I didn’t release a rap album in 2017, it doesn’t haunt me, though I never want to go an entire year without a rap project coming out that i’m atleast heavily featured on. I don’t like taking too long with music, but if I decide to, I have something else going that I can be more free to release whenever.
How much time went into Cloud Blitz and what was your goal and vision for the final product? I worked on Cloud Blitz during Return Of Dog, both of which were in the Feb/March – August/September arena. Cloud Blitz absolutely fit the original vision, more-so than I expected since I got more producing equipment during “Return Of Dog” recording sessions and was able to do new things I didn’t imagine, that I wanted something similar to done in my vision.
What’s your top 3 favorite tracks or tracks you are most proud of from ‘Cloud Blitz’? “When You Cry” “MP3 Martyr” “Nutty Professor” / “My Factory”
What were the session days and hours like for Cloud Blitz – how much feels like work and how much is just pure joy of creating? Smoking a lot of weed.. Writing or not writing , vibing out to the beats. Being free to grab from wherever – “When You Cry” uses an instrumental from one of my previous albums. Cloud Blitz picks up where Cloud Ether left off in terms of the rush of being in front of the mic. Real lofi cloud feel. The only pressure I feel is the pressure to fit in when I listen to my mixes or the performance itself. I usually don’t let it change my decisions though. I’d say atleast 90% of Cloud Blitz was out of Bliss.
Do you ever make music while trying to fight negative feelings either as a necessity (work) or form of therapy to get out of that mode? I make music a lot, preferably everyday. As I get older I learn not to bring too much of my personal drama into the music, I may be wrong in my personal decisions. I don’t want to publicly express things before knowing how I really feel, that’s what I used to do in my music!
I’m glad we’re finally getting to drop “Return Of Dog” into the tape decks soon – and proud to say it’ll be one of several releases we’ve had you featured or centered on over the years with Candy Drips catalog. – What’s your favorite tape you’ve released with us and what’s your favorite physical format in terms of listening back to music you like. (CD,Tape, Vinyl -etc.) My favorite tape I’ve done w Candy Drips has to be Green Ova Greatest Hits with all due respect to the Green Ova South legacy! The B side of greatest hits has beats from a computer that disappeared in 2017. If that Greenova tape never released, those beats would have no trace of existence! My favorite way of listening to music is deff YouTube! If we had to talk any other way I’d say records. I love CDs and have a huge collection still but listening to records is an experience I enjoy.
Do you collect records (cds,tapes,or vinyl?) What is your current record collection like? Where do you search for new music (physical or digital)? I collect CDs, records I’m real disrespectful with how I trash the ones I don’t like. Most of the records I get to sample are usually not more than $10 though so it’s why they end up getting trashed because I can’t re sell.. My personal collection has some Whodini, MicMac records singles, I def got some WuTang as well as Gucci Mane. Mostly music for my own personal listening, I bought a raveonettes vinyl and accidentally got a record by this band Japan that was inside of a different sleeve. It turned me into a fan of them. I mostly search for new music (old or new) through YouTube. If it wasn’t covid I’d be at the flea markets and used CD/record stores finding things for sure. Book stores, wherever they sell music.
How do you think that having a physical release of a project changes the public perception of a release? I think the traditionalism, nostalgia of how music was once done has an affect. Also, money is a huge impressive factor, so whenever someone does something that seems more expensive I’m sure it does something also!
What’s your real idea of success in 2020 and do you feel more comfortable in a solo element or in a group or collaboration? My idea of success in music as an artist is freedom, control, ownership, support, security, sale based strategies, it’s a lot of layers to my idea of being a successful Squadda B. Overall, ability to release music to an audience and having improved sounds is what’s success to me. I feel like i’m on to something and have the best work to come. I’ve learned valuable things in business and I feel like being alive in 2020 and having the capacity to even think about music in a healthy way is being a successful Squadda B. I’ve never been a group person in school, but with music the benefits are pretty cool. You do less work! It’s been a learning curve going to holding down more than one verse a song. It’s absolutely fun and natural, though I do see the benefits of a group. I’m fortunate to have a history of great artists i’ve collabed with and I use diff methods from everyone when i’m alone!
I see you recently released that sample pack that was laced with some key sounds for any producer to get started and then some. What were some of your resources back in the day – and do you have any advice or secrets you’re willing to share on where you’re sourcing samples or sounds these days or advice on developing an original sound when using the same sounds that everyone has access to? Splice is super dope for the price for getting soundkits.. I used to google “free sound kit” And go from there. There’s tons of apps and resources today to legally get sounds and stuff, do your research! As far as developing an original sound, I got mines from my limitations. Me learning with what I had ended up blessing me with a production style that people like. I’d say go for what sounds good to you and do it the best you can in a way that sounds good to you. You’re adding yourself into history, it’s best to be intentional about the Soundwaves you’re sending out.
Your lyrics convey a lot of the topics covered in this interview and cover a lot of ground in terms of your intentions, processes and experiences with your life and art – is there anything you’d like to get out to the fans and or aspiring artists or producers that hasn’t been covered?
We are magicians – use responsibility !
You’ve always been an inspiration to us as producers and collaborators – we appreciate you working with us again and taking the time to say some words about your art, your process and experiences!
I love Candy Drips – real independent label
Check out some more recent video posts from Squadda below and follow him on IG @squaddab , Twitter @Squaddab and YouTube to keep up with his latest!
Return Of Dog Tapes are dropping Friday 12. p.m. central via Candydrips.bigcartel.com (limited to less than 50 copies via our site)
***additional 50 copies will be with artist and released ASAP – will update as details are available.