Audible Doctor’s been making huge strides since we first heard him over here with his crew the Brown Bag All-Stars. Besides helping his team of underground all-stars craft their unique brand of boom-bap, he’s been busy working with a guy named Fredro Starr from some group known as Onyx. That’s not all, though. Unbeknownst to A.D., 50 Cent not only chose one of his tracks, but recorded to it and leaked it at the top of the year, exponentially increasing the double threat’s rise to elite.
HipHopGame sits down with Audible Doctor to discuss his breakout year in 2013, how the 50 Cent track happened, crafting an album with the legendary Fredro Starr, his Brown Bag crew, and much more in this exclusive interview.
I think it was probably solo-wise for me, was probably the biggest year that I’ve had so far. And even coming into the first two weeks of 2014, some of the biggest things that have happened in my career happened at the end of the year and into 2014.
I think the main thing for me, because everybody knows I produce, but they don’t necessarily know the MC side of me as much. So I think a big part of 2013 was me stepping out as a rapper, basically, and just letting people know about that. I put out more projects of me rhyming more and stepping out into the solo spotlight and letting people know what I sound like. I was also booked in festivals, solo-wise, without my group, I did the Wake-Up Show Unplugged event with Sway and Tech. Sway brought me out to Sway in the Morning. There were a lot of things that happened for me solo-wise in 2013.
That’s happening with other guys in Brown Bag as well. Was that always the plan or are you guys just taking things as it comes?
That wasn’t really the plan. I mean, it kind of was and it kind of wasn’t. We came together as different solo artists and we came together because we had similar ideals, sounds, and styles. And we just worked very well as a group. When we met, we had all been in previous groups, separately, but for one reason or another, we decided to leave the group that we were in and kind of all went solo. And that’s when we met each other, when we were all branching off and doing our solo thing. We formed another group together and that’s what Brown Bag was.
It wasn’t really a plan though, to do it as a group and then branch off solo. We just made music in the group environment, and it worked out well for us and it brought us to another level of skill and artistry and gaining fans. We’re still doing group stuff and we’re still finishing up the album, but we’ve also branched out lately with doing more projects on the side.
We are very much a group still. We have the debut album that’s going to be released later this year.
You also just produced “This is Music, Not Murder,” for 50 Cent. How did that happen?
I’d been sending 50 beats for years. I met one of his A&Rs and I’ve been sending him stuff for years. It just kind of came as a surprise because the A&R I sent the joints to was out of the country. He actually recorded to another one of my songs too. But when the song dropped, that’s why I was so confused because I was never told about it. I guess that was the first joint he liked and how it happened.
When did you first hear the song?
This is the full story. So I sent 50 a few beats, probably in November of 2013. That was the most recent batch of beats. I didn’t hear back about any of the joints so I kept it moving and I sent some beats to UK artist Genesis Elijah. We did a couple of tracks. He recorded one and shot a video for one and released it around Christmas Eve. So we put it out and were promoting it and then around January 4th, Genesis tweets to me the 50 Cent song and asks me if I heard it and then I realized that it was the same joint. That was the first time I had heard it. I was mad confused and I reached out to G-Unit and my guy said he’d get back to me when he was back from his trip. It just sucks for Genesis. I feel bad for him because he was either thinking I used the beat twice or sold it after he took it. It was a mess, but that’s what happened.
As an independent artist, every dollar is budgeted. How do you fix something like this, especially where it wasn’t like you did this intentionally?
I mean, you can’t really fix that situation and that was the problem. I had a discussion with G-Unit about that and was very clear about how they had kind of fucked me on this one. There’s no real way to fix it. It’s a shitty situation and it was all miscommunication. It wasn’t anybody’s fault and me and Genesis are still working. It’s just one of those things where he’s the homie and I got him for anything he needs. Everything happened within a week.
You just wrapped up a project with Fredro Starr, Made in the Streets. How did you guys link up?
I honestly don’t remember. I think I just hit him up on Twitter or something like that and just started sending him beats. He was working on a project at the time, I think he was doing either a mixtape or an EP. I gave him a couple of beats and he liked them and recorded to them. He already had other tracks for it too. And then he started leaking tracks and I guess the tracks that he was leaking started gaining a lot of traction than a lot of the other stuff he was doing and then it turned into me sending him more and then us doing an EP together. Then he said we have to do it right and do a full-length album together. That’s how it evolved.
What did it mean to you to work with a legend like Fredro?
It was crazy to me. It still kind of bugs me out that I did an album with Fredro Starr. He’s one of the dudes that I grew up listening to. It’s crazy to have someone that you grew up listening to validate your work. It’s been a couple of experiences like that, cats that I grew up listening to and that are legendary in my mind, validate my art. Every time it happens it’s crazy, but it lets me know that I’m on the right path and that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.
I think that’s at the root of everything. I still remember dudes like Dres from Black Sheep or N.O.R.E. telling me how much they love the interview we’d done. I think that’s always a big part of why we do what we do.
Yeah. No doubt.
Are you happy with the final product you and Fredro came up with?
Yeah. It wasn’t intentional or anything. It was a very natural and organic thing. We didn’t want to make an updated ‘90s style and “bring it back.” We didn’t try to do any of that shit. Beatwise, I just sent him what I did and he did what he does. It wasn’t thought out or any industry crap involved. We just naturally made what we make and I think it came together perfectly. I think his style and my style, to me at least, I think the album came out sounding like great golden-era hip-hop without sounding dated. It didn’t sound like we made it sound like the ‘90s. It was what we did naturally and it came together perfectly. It is solid boom-bap hip-hop. We weren’t trying for anything and I think it’s a great project. In these days and times, it just naturally came together great, as far as what I think hip-hop standards should stand by.
There’s a lot of pining for the ‘90s sound today. There’s also a fine line between doing it right and just remaking what’s already been done. How do you go about making the boom-bap sound in 2014 without replicating what masters like Diamond D have already done?
I don’t’ think there’s any specific way to do it. It’s either natural or it’s not. If you’re trying to recreate something, it’s not going to sound right. If that’s what you enjoy doing and it happens to have that specific style to it and it works, then it’s all good. You can probably pick apart beats and try to mimic things, but at the end of the day, if it’s not a genuine sound that you enjoy making, then it’s not going to sound great. This Fredro Starr album didn’t sound like anything different from what I’ve been doing for the last five or six years. This is what I like to make.
And I think that’s why it sounded so good.
Exactly. Exactly. I think that’s the main thing. If you naturally make that sound, then it’s going to work. If you’re trying to force it, then it’s not. Just don’t step outside of your lane, basically.
How’s the Brown Bag album coming?
It’s been a little delayed because we have gotten distracted with some of our solo stuff. We do have all of the production picked out for it. Basically everything is laid out but we have to lay down a few of the tracks and mix. Our schedules have been crazy between doing solo shows and solo projects. It’s hard to get everybody’s schedule on the same page, but we should be able to wrap it up sometime in the next couple of months, which would give us a release date for later this year. But everything production-wise and theme-wise is done. We just have to finish up the last few tracks.
How would you compare the new material to what we’ve already heard on The Brown Tape and other BBAS projects?
Some of these beats and some of these ideas and songs have been in the works for years. I think everything that we’ve done up to this point has been great. We haven’t half-assed anything. We’d never do that. But the album is just more complete than anything that we’ve ever done before. There’s more thought put into it and it’s going to be more complex, production-wise. And this is part of the reason that it’s taking so long. But everything that we’re putting into the album is much more complex and takes much more effort than anything we’ve ever done.
Do you guys all record everything together? I’d imagine that’s a challenge with everyone’s schedules.
That’s the funny thing. When we recorded The Brown Tape and everything else, I don’t think we had all been in the studio together. We just had a natural chemistry. Even if we all write and record separately and send in the verses, for some reason they all flow properly. We all have the same kind of mentality and ear and it works. We don’t have to all be in the same room together. We’ve been recording the album together and that’s a pain in the ass, which is a part of the reason why the album is taking so long to do because we’re all on the same page. But most of the tracks we’ve done were recorded separately and sent in. We just have a weird chemistry that works.
Yeah, most people think that. But we never were in the studio together.
How do you continue improving and staying fresh as a producer?
I mean, really, it’s about continuing to work and trying new things. I think the amount of beats I’ve made in the past couple of years has doubled or tripled. It’s with anything. The more you do it, the better you get. I think it’s more of where I went full-force and worked as hard as possible. I think that with that, I’ve gotten better. Every little thing is progression. Every little thing is exposure and it catches somebody’s attention. It’s not like there’s one thing that’s going to blow you up. It’s always a series of small things that leads to a progression.
I was telling somebody else something like that the other day. People that you look at and that you want to get to, don’t look at what they’ve done. You have to look at how much work they’ve done and how many tracks they’ve done that have never seen the light of day. Think about how many tracks they’ve done and how many sleepless nights they’ve had because from everything you see from someone on a top level, there’s tons and tons of stuff that will never see the light of day. There’s so much more work that you have to put into this than what you see on the surface.
Who are your favorite producers today?
My all-time favorite producer is DJ Premier. He’s been my favorite producer forever. It’s funny because I don’t sound anything like him but he’s my favorite. J-Dilla and Just Blaze. Current producers that I really like are Marco Polo. S-1 is doing some really dope stuff. Illmind is really dope. There’s a lot of dope producers out now.
What’s the most valuable advice you’ve gotten from other producers?
I always pick everybody’s brain about industry things and I get pieces of advice from here and there. But I think one of the things that gave me the most confidence, and it’s going to sound stupid, but years ago I was talking to Large Professor and he was talking about Brownies, it was an instrumental project I did with all James Brown samples and Large Pro really liked that project. He said, “Yo, man, that boom-bap soul shit, man, you should just do that shit forever!” It was a simple line, but for me, it really validated what I was doing. That really just kind of gave me the confidence to do my style and do what I do naturally. It was a stupid, simple thing but it meant a lot to me.
You’ve done a lot of remixes too. How do you approach a remix and when do you know it’s right?
It’s a weird process for me. A lot of people build the beat around the acapella, and that’s the normal way to do it. I do it opposite. I will find the bpm of the acapella and put it on top of my beats and change the bpm of the beat until one sounds right, and then from that point I’ll rebuild the beat around the acapella. A lot of the beats are ones that I’ve already made, but then I have to remake it to have it sound right.
What’s your focus going to be now that the Fredro project is out?
From the 50 Cent placement and the Fredro Starr project, a lot of people have reached out for production. I’m just making a bunch of beats and just shopping some stuff to the people who are reaching out. But my main focus, project-wise, this year is the Brown Bag album. I have two EPs that will come out, The Spring Tape and The Fall Tape, which are the second two in the Season Series that I’m doing. And then I have another project with an artist from Detroit. The album is pretty much done and it should be dropping on Mello Music Group. We’re waiting to announce everything. I have various other projects in the works and I don’t know what’s coming this year and what’s not, but those are the main project that are coming this year.