Actually really, really nice
“With The Blueprint, it was initially just a collection of beats that I had had laying around for a while, and that Kanye had had laying around for a while. Kanye sent the CD to Jay and he loved the sound, and I had a bunch of stuff that matched that sound as well. We basically did the majority of that album in three days, just from music that we had already kinda laying around; Jay had a couple of song ideas and it all fell together in one weekend. We knew it was good, and though we didn’t expect it to become the classic that it became, we just knew it was a really good album. It kind of changed the sound of music in that time period. And I was shocked, because all of a sudden every album that came out after that…well, it sounded like The Blueprint! So it’s humbling and it’s an honour to be part of something that changed the way music was being created at a certain time period.”
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I want to ask you about filesharing, because there was a bit of heat recently on Twitter, and I’m interesting to know your feelings. You obviously came to the industry just as Napster was beginning to take off, and while we don’t need to go through what’s happened over the last ten years or so, but where do you feel we go from here? Kids that are 12 or 13 and just getting into music, they don’t know anything but it. What are your thoughts about how it will map out in the future?
“Well, put it this way: I think ultimately what happened is the record industry’s fault, because they didn’t adapt with the times, and by the time they did there was a whole generation of people raised thinking that music just should be free. And by the time they decided to try and do something about it, they were being restrictive with it, like iTunes placing DRM protection on everything, and it was killing it. By the time they had finally caught up, the model had changed. Don’t get me wrong, the name of the game is still to sell records, but you also have to be smart and realise that you have to also use music as a commercial for other things. That’s the reason why we didn’t put out ‘Higher’ on iTunes right away, instead we put it out on Soundcloud as a commercial for the tour that we were doing, and it ended up taking off. The good thing that’s about to happen in regards to that record, and the opportunities that have arisen because of that record, I’m making more money off of that record now than I ever would have had I just taken it to a label and have them put it out as an artist.”
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You said back in 2011 that Hudson Mohawke was of your favourite producers at the time, right? It goes without saying that in the interim he stopped being everyone’s best-kept secret and has blown up in a serious way. It’s opened a lot of doors for UK producers like Rustie, for example, over on your side of the Atlantic in the process. Has it been satisfying for you personally to watch all this unfold? I can’t really think of a point where there has been such a high UK influence in US hip-hop and beat-making.
“Well, you have to go back and realise that the style, even though Hudson and whatnot are from the UK, is actually a spin on what we’ve been doing over here. Like, what they’re calling trap music now is basically just the sound of Southern hip-hop infused with electronic synths. All the drum programming, you can trace those roots back years and years ago to old T.I. albums, and what have you. T.I. actually created the term trap music. I definitely give them credit with putting their own spin on it because that’s how music should go; things evolve. I don’t really look at it as cultural appropriation, I look at it as: I do something cool, then it’s on somebody else to do something cool, then somebody else takes that sound and does something else with it, and that’s the way music evolves, you know? That being said, I’m very happy to see the success Hudson is having now. I have been a fan of his for a long time.”
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Sample excerpts above taken from an interview conducted 28/03/13 on behalf of the Pleasure Principle Weekender. Full transcription available on request for strictly non-commercial purposes.