Being an architect of one of the most revered eras in hip-hop comes with a price. Not only is every move scrutinized and every progressive step analyzed to ensure its hip-hopness, but one is expected to speak for an entire generation, and sometimes, the entire landscape of hip-hop. For Showbiz of the legendary Diggin’ in the Crates crew, that burden is never too much to bear. The producer behind classics like “Sound of da Police” and “Soul Clap” while proclaiming the greatness of “Panda” doesn’t feel any pressure, and that’s because he can stand behind what he’s done and knows where he’s going. Whether it’s helping put together his team’s BPM web series or executive-producing the new D.I.T.C. project Studios or O.C.’s upcoming album Same Moon, Same Sun, one can rest easy knowing Show is doing any and everything except mailing it in. In this exclusive interview, Showbiz talks about his role on the new Studios album, how he’s grown as a producer, his production techniques, and much more.
It’s been a long time coming, but the new Diggin’ in the Crates album, Studios, is here. What are your thoughts on how Studios came out?
I executive produced the album, so of course I’m very satisfied with the outcome. It took me a couple of months to put it together and I’m happy with the way it came out it did. I’m very excited about it and we’ve been getting very good reviews on it.
When you look at executive producing an album like this, do you feel any pressure, especially with how long fans have been asking for a new Diggin’ in the Crates project?
Oh nah, not really. I mean, the confidence of knowing that you know good music and you have the right resources that you can really make a good album, I really didn’t have any pressure as long as everybody participated. I had some good music and I knew that the MCs were going to pull off what they came to do. There really wasn’t any pressure on me. I just had to put it together because I was working with a bunch of talented people, I believe. So there wasn’t too much pressure on me.
Did you get the participation from everybody that you wanted?
Not really, and that wasn’t based on them not wanting to, it’s just that everybody’s pretty much busy. I felt like if we could have done it without any interruptions, but it’s cool. I accepted it and the way it came out. But everybody’s pretty busy going overseas, doing shows, DJing, all that stuff. So that’s the only downside to it, that everybody’s pretty much busy.
If schedules and touring weren’t a factor, how would it have changed Studios?
We would have just locked in and created all the ideas. I was sending beats to people while they were on the road and then they would put the verses on it and stuff like that. What I would have done differently is have everybody pretty much lock in for a couple of months. I would have done it that way. That would have been more creative in my eyes.
A lot of artists I’ve talked to over the years have talked about how much more convenient it is to record on their own and how much time they save. What gets lost in the actual studio sessions and actually working together?
Good ideas. Like all good music from the past 50 years, 100 years, however, all music is created by a lot of artists and musicians getting together and sharing ideas. That’s where good music comes from. You have R&B artists and pop artists and rock and roll artists, they all worked in the same room and they were creating together and it comes out more powerful. The chemistry is a lot better. There’s a lot more creative juices flowing when you have a lot of people in the same room working towards the same goal. That’s the big difference.
Can you tell the difference between songs that are created in a studio with chemistry versus songs made in isolation?
Right now, if you get a timeless song comparing it to the ‘90s era, there was a lot more timeless songs and that comes from the chemistry that people have in the studio. I was reading that on a blog site how they said that ODB came in and walked in the wrong studio and he got on the “Superstar” record, the Mariah Carey record. And things like that happen. And just like on Show and A.G. on “Got the Flava” on the the Goodfellas album, Method Man was in the next room and he walked in and heard the beat and wanted to kick a couple of bars to it. So that type of stuff happens.
You can’t really tell now because a lot of people do send their verses in. You really can’t tell now because the music ain’t the same as it was in the ‘90s. I believe you had a lot more authentic classics and timeless music in the ‘80s and the ‘90s and I think that music is a lot more timeless than the stuff that comes out now. You may like it for a couple of months because they play it all day long. If they don’t play it on the radio no more, you don’t remember the song. That’s the difference. This music is just forced on you.
What gives music the authenticity that you’re talking about?
As a producer, I’m only speaking for producers. You gotta have a knowledge of the hip-hop that was there before you. I believe those are the people that make the best hip-hop. The best hip-hop producers are students. Premier has been following hip-hop since it came out in the beginning and he can tell you records that he bought when he was in Texas. He had a lot of knowledge. His mother took him to a lot of concerts. He was well aware of how hip-hop was supposed to sound and people such as myself and Pete Rock and Diamond, everybody had kind of studied what hip-hop was to make the best hip-hop that they could make. I’m only speaking for the producers’ side though, definitely.
Do you think current artists believe they’re making timeless music or do they know it’s disposable?
Of course they know! They admit it. They say it. They say they ain’t here for lyrics. They’re here to get money. They don’t care. They all say it. They say, “I don’t want to be Nas.” I saw a little young dude interviewed. He said, “I don’t want to be Nas. I want to be rich.” That was straight out of his mouth. This is they hustle. This is like legalized drug selling. They don’t give a shit about the culture. It’s like fuck hip-hop and this is the reason why Nas said hip-hop was dead just because of this.
Nobody gives a fuck about the hip-hop culture, all these young kids. Not all of them are like that. You got Joey Bada$$ and people like that, but they not the mainstream. The mainstream people that they’re pushing to us are guys that don’t give a fuck about the culture. It’s true. They don’t feel like they’re making timeless music. I don’t think so. Maybe J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar. They studied the culture and they’re students of the game. Yeah, I pretty much feel that they feel they’re making timeless music and they’re the only ones going platinum besides Drake.
But these guys know they ain’t making timeless music. Of course they know that. They know they’re making trash. They’re making catchy trash. It’s the truth. And I’m only speaking on the stuff that’s in the mainstream. I’m not talking about underground rappers. They got tons of talent with underground rappers and producers making timeless music, but we’re talking about what’s in the mainstream, so let me make that clear.
At what point did mainstream music became unlistenable to you?
There was a lot of steps in that happening. It’s bigger than just…See, a lot of people think it just happened that way. I don’t believe it happened that way. I just think that it was something that was planned and it took steps to get it away from New York-based music. See, because New York-based music, it had a lot…It made more sense to me. It wasn’t just, I’m going to stick a dollar in a girl’s ass and all that shit. It wasn’t bullshit. So I think it took a long time for them to take it out of New York’s hands. Truth be told, New York is a step ahead of the rest of the country and it started here. So the mindset is different and it took a while for them to get it out of New York’s hands, but I can’t put a finger on it to say it happened at this point.
It was other shit too. It just moved from hip-hop to popular rap and I can’t say it happened at this time or this time, but it happened and it wasn’t like this is what the people wanted, but they jammed that bullshit down our throats for so long, that now it’s popular and people accepted it. Anything that you put in the mainstream is going to be accepted. I don’t care what it is. So that’s what happened and I don’t think it was something that happened by accident.
I think if you get some young kids and they don’t care about nothing but some bullshit, but you put them in the forefront, nobody’s going to care about nothing but the bullshit. You got people who don’t give a shit and you put the people who don’t care about the culture, you attract a lot of other people who don’t care about the culture. It was done on purpose. But I can’t put my finger on it when it turned to trash.
When you look at what Diggin’ in the Crates symbolizes as a collective and as individual artists, how do you cultivate the right sound for Studios?
Well, we have BPM, which is Beats Per Minute. It’s an event that we hold at the studio and it brings a lot of producers. I was really, really shocked that they have producers that had a sound that was similar to ours but was just updated. And those are the type of producers that I wanted to help bring to the forefront by using D.I.T.C. as a platform because it is really important for us to keep this type of music alive and I wanted it to be kept alive for a new generation of people to do it just as good as us or better, with their own twist on it. Bt I would just want to have two generations of people who do the same type of music. I wanted the music to have feeling in it but I wanted to join two generations. Just because the guys are mainstream, we didn’t feel that music was for us.
I like a lot of shit. I love “Panda.” That’s not the type of shit I would make because that’s not our sound, but I love that. That’s a good record. But on another note, to go back to what you asked, it’s very important getting younger guys and very important that ourselves, as far as Buck, Finesse, everybody, can get the type of music that we know we enjoy making and sharing it with the world.
Premier talked about updating his formula on a Gang Starr skit. I can hear that on Studios, but how would you describe it?
See, with hip-hop, you can never really even describe it. Especially the stuff that we’ve done. You really can’t describe it. You just know the sound when you hear it. I can’t say, “Well, it’s more bass or it’s more this or the drums are bigger.” I can’t say that. It’s just the sound when you hear it that it’s improved and it’s big. It’s now. I didn’t want Studios to sound like we just made another album in ‘96 or ‘98. I didn’t want it to sound like that. I wanted it to have the same feeling but different ways of doing what we used to do. And the sound is bigger. It’s bigger. We’re in a digital world and we got more resources and more experience and more tools to work with. Back in the early ‘90s, we didn’t have much sampling time. We only had 12-bit machines. It wasn’t digital. But right now it’s a lot bigger and a lot clearer.
Is it easier to be a producer today than it was in the ‘90s?
Oh, oh my God. With the technology, yes, but you gotta ask yourself this: Just because you make a record, are you a producer or if someone takes a beat from you, is that producing? So it depends on what your version of producing is. Some dudes are beatmakers and some dudes are producers. Some dudes will come up with the hook with you and tell you you should do it this way. That’s a producer. Now if you’re talking about structuring a song, is it easier now? Hell yeah. To me it is.
But it was hard getting on back then. It’s easier now. It was super-hard to get on as a producer. You have to be super-nice. But the actual process of making a beat now is super-easy. You don’t have to do shit. Everything is there for you. You know how when you open up a cake mix and you just add milk and eggs and throw it in the oven? That’s how it is now. You really had to earn your stripes as a producer. Everybody can make a computer now on their computer. People who have never touched a beat machine in their life are making beats.
From my email being out there, I get producers trying to sell me beats on email blasts, and I don’t even rap.
Yeah. That’s why there’s no more fans, because everybody’s artists. Everybody’s producers and artists. You can’t be mad at them because it’s a creative lane. But anytime you have a creative lane, and this is hip-hop, anytime you have a creative lane that’s what’s what people want to do. We’re here on the planet to create and recreate and everybody on the planet wants to express themselves and they don’t really give you too many options to create in this world. Certain entertainment fields are flooded with Blacks. Sports, television. But this is a form that everybody who wants to be creative can do. Everybody wants to make beats. Everybody.
When I go on Facebook or Instagram, everybody is tagging me to listen to their beats. I grew up listening to you. Now listen to my beats! You can’t be mad at them. You listen to the dope ones and you support them. But it’s not for everybody. Everybody can’t play baseball. Everybody can’t play basketball. You just have to know when you’re dope and when you’re not. But hey, this is the lane we’re in right now. Technology made it easy for everybody to make it. And if you’re good at it, you should excel. And if you’re not, find another way to be creative.
Have the technology advances made you a better producer?
No, no, no. It can, but why I say no to myself is because the less you have to work with, the more creative you get with it. Like we only had eight seconds of sampling time back then, so it made you be more creative. It made you work with what you had so you couldn’t take a whole sample that you had and do a whole bunch of shit with it. That’s why those records sounded the way they did. The records in the ‘90s had everyone doing the most amazing chops, like Brand Nubian, and you probably wouldn’t have gotten that if they had the time to sample the whole damn record! (laughs)
But those records came about because you didn’t have much tools to work with and it made everybody creative to have a small amount of time and do what they did. It made you better in a way. I believe that. I was around for that era and I saw how people had to get very creative. Too much technology in front of you, you know, you’d get lost.
Large Pro told me how he couldn’t get a clean loop so he had to take different parts of the loop from different parts of the song and piece it together so it sounded like it was together. I feel like we won’t have stories like that forever.
Yeah. You listen to a record and you’re like, Wow, this happened because they didn’t have a lot to work with. That used to be one of the greatest things about hip-hop. That’s why we listened to the radio – to hear something that had never been done before. Now if you listen to the radio, 90% of the records are predictable. You’re going to know how the snaer is going to sound. You’re going to know the 808s that are in there and the hi-hats are going to go a certain way. They may change the melody a little bit, but overall, you’re getting the same record every fucking time you turn on the radio.
But back then it was so creative. We stood in front of the radio and we were like, Wow, I’ve never heard it done this way and guess what, it was done with little or nothing as far as sampling time, and we’re talking about the sampling area. And it was very active back then because you didn’t have much to work with and you had to get creative because you wanted it to work.
Do you think a lot of producers today, especially the ones who make ten beats a day, could survive in the ‘90s?
It depends. It just depends on a lot. That’s a question that it depends on a lot because, you know, there were producers like Marley that was making a lot of beats back then. Marley was making a lot of beats. But it depends on how good the producer is. Like, I know from producers that it takes a while to make a beat and I know some producers that can make a beat real fast and they’re still dope. I don’t know who would have survived in the ‘90s. It just comes down to talent. That’s it.
Are you faster at making beats today because of technology?
(pause) Here’s the basic idea. The structure, the skeleton of the beat, you can do that and it’s a little bit faster because of technology, yes. Yes. Matter of fact, it’s a lot faster. Yes.
Do you continue to improve as a producer over the years?
See, from the beginning I produced when I was free and I loved it and everything was all love. As I got older, you know, being a parent and other things and life, I have less time to do what I was doing. So I grow and I get a lot of knowledge from my peers and I grow, but I’ve become a much better producer, I mean overall, like I can do a lot more things now. I can do a lot more different styles now. Back then we were really just focusing on one type of music. I can do music that’s for het masses now if I want to. I can do that now. I wasn’t able to do that then. I can make an R&B song now. I know how to do that. I came in different stages and where I’m at right now, I think I’m a more well-rounded producer.
What do you credit that growth to?
Well, ‘cause of the people around me. When you have people like Finesse around you, you have to be great because that’s all he does. And then I had a studio with Premier for a couple of years and when you’re around creative people, that’s all you need to stay focused.
With Studios, the fans have been waiting for a long time. How do you manage their expectations and giving them the sound they might be expecting versus what comes out?
You know, I don’t think that we had a problem with that because everybody that’s on the album has a good ear for music. Diamond, Finesse, Show, Buckwild, O.C. and A.G. I don’t think we had to try to do that. I think people just wanted us to give them what we do. That’s how we looked at it. Just Give us what y’all do. We just gave them what we felt was hot and what we liked. And we gave it to them. I don’t think you should put too much thought into being yourself.
What was it like quarterbacking Studios and getting the verses you needed and figuring out who raps where?
That wasn’t the way it went. It didn’t go down like that. Everybody got all of the beats. I picked all of the bears from everybody. After I picked out all the beats, I serviced the MCs and they got to rhyme on whatever they liked. That’s how it went down.
So after they rhymed over a song, is that when it goes to everybody else?
No. They all get it at the same time and whoever lays they verses, lays they verses. If I get a version with A, I’ll send that to everybody else and then if somebody else gets on it, I’ll send that version to everybody else.
Is that so the song keeps its theme and stays consistent?
Definitely. Because once somebody hears a verse that they like, they’re going to get on it. It’s friendly competition. They want to be the best on the song. That’s what hip-hop is about.
And that mentality hasn’t changed within the crew, has it?
Nah. Everybody wants to be the best. That’s wall they want to do. Everybody wants to be the one with the dopest verse. That’s what they do. That’s what MCs does.
Do you ever sees anyone rewriting their verse because of what others do?
See, but you can’t see that if you’re just sending beats to then, If they had all bebe hear, I could have told you about that. That’s one of the great things about creating together because you can see somebody say, “Nah, I’m going to do this over.” But if you’re not in the studio, you don’t get to witness that. You just get to hear the final version that they send back.
You even lose a lot of stories that come with making the project.
Yeah. Yeah. That’s why this generation is crazy. But we’ll all talk about it but it wasn’t done the way… Like, we met up a couple of times, a few times, but we wasn’t doing an album together. They’re all over the world. Everybody’s all over the world. They just did it. We’d be on conference calls. We’d be on interviews. All of us rocked out but we just be in different parts of the world. Like if I could get everybody here, the album wouldn’t be out for two, three years. Everyday be going different places and there’s seven of us and you have to get them, who all have different careers, to be in one place.
Maybe the next album because they’ll be more in tune and there will be time to put it out, if we do another one. And hopefully we can say, “Listen, let’s just come in here and do this album.” That’s the way I would have loved to have done it. But I’m a studio junkie. I’m the only one. I just be in the studio all day. That’s me. I don’t like to do shows and DJ and lal of that shit. I just like to be in the studio.
Do you think you could get everybody to commit for a week to work together?
Well, I wanted to show them that it could be done first and that we still have an audience that likes the type of music that we do, of course. And I just wanted to give them what they wanted. I said I would put it together this way and then the next time, they would understand that people are out there and they’re looking to have this project, so maybe after this…Well, they already see the energy that we get. I’m sure the next one will be more organized and we’ll put out a timeframe that we can get the project done in.
After talking to Lord Finesse, he said he really wants everyone to be all in for the Diggin’ reunion to really make it happen. Is that possible to get a D.I.T.C. show, if not a tour?
Of course. Of course. I think that’s very possible. Yeah. That’d be a good look. I think that’s gonna happen though.
Finesse finally dropped a new verse on “Rock Shyt.” What did it mean to have him back on the mic?
You know, Finesse is much more of a producer now than an MC, so of course hearing him and him being on it was a big deal to all of us because we’re fans also. But he hasn’t done it in a while and it was just a beautiful thing that we got every living member on here on the album. So it was big. I just would wish he would have been on a couple of more. But maybe on the next album.
Finesse said he only raps when he really feels it. Have you tried to get other verses from Finesse?
Nah. I just wanted him to be on the Diggin’ album so that we would have every member on it. I never asked him to do any other verses because I know that’s not what he wants to do. It’s weird to ask somebody to do something that they don’t really feel like doing.
And how did you get Fat Joe down for the album? Talking over the years to everybody, when I asked about a new project, it always hinged on Joe coming back and when I talked to Joe, he always said he was down.
I just had to do it. Since I had him around, I just sent everybody around. It wasn’t hard. I just sent everybody beats and everybody wanted to get on the album. Buck had a couple of beats that he gave me. Finesse gave me a couple of beats and so did Diamond. I just started sending them to everybody. I sent them to Joe and he didn’t lie, he got on every track that he liked. It wasn’t really on Joe. I never thought that way that it was on Joe. It was just making it happen, the same reason I always thought. I’ve been having this idea to do a Diggin’ album for years but everybody is very busy. Everybody is in different states. I get it. I get it. But it wasn’t hard. It wasn’t on Joe. But he’s busy. But once I started sending him beats, he got on those joints. He started blazing every one he got.
It was great to hear the chemistry today. How did you decide on the other beats that would make the album that weren’t from Diggin’ producers?
It was a combination of things. If Joe likes a beat, I know that Joe has a good ear for beats and if he goes with it, I know that I have to go with it because it’s his judgement. If Finesse likes something, I gotta go with that too because that’s his judgement. It was those decisions when we decide what to keep and it has to do with everybody involved. If Diamond says he’s not rhyming on something, then it’s not there. As long as at least three of them are in agreement and three of them want that beat, then I gotta keep that.
And Diggin’ has always been a production company from the beginning, so we were catering towards the producers. When Diana and I created it, we were a production company and it just so happens that people who produced got down with us. Once we produced them, they got down and they were family to us. I always want to put on new producers but this is the first time that we really heard producers that were in our reach that were that good, that could help us represent our brand.
Because Diggin’ is also a production company, will you be doing more with BPM and putting new producers on?
Of course. That’s what I want to do and that’s what I’m about. Because I got a shot, they gave me a shot. So I gotta give people shots and I love to hear good music. It’s so inspirational because if you don’t hear that type of music as much as you did…When we were growing up, it was everywhere. It was on the mixtapes and on the radio, in the nightclubs. It was everywhere.
And now most of the nightclubs are playing records that don’t sound like the type of music that we make, so when you do hear somebody that makes what you make and it sounds fresh, it’s just overwhelmingly, you have a good feeling like, Goddamn, this still exists! When I hear that type of music and we care about it and we want to make some hot music, I’m going to always help that, as long as they ain’t an asshole. Any new producers, I’m going to always help them. And they can’t be stealing music, as far as taking other people’s shit. A lot of younger guys do that.
Are you talking about hearing a beat and remaking the same beat with the same sample?
Yeah! That was ass-whooping shit back in the day.
Has the mentality changed today?
Oh, hell yeah! Biting is accepted. You would get your ass beat for that back then. It’s accepted now. People do that. People actually do that shit. And it’s not acceptable for us, but for other people, it is.
Have you ever regretted bringing somebody around because they don’t hold the same standards and values?
As far as being creative? Nah. Everybody in our circle is pretty much good with what they’re doing. They’re very talented. I don’t think about things like that. If it happens, I’ll deal with it accordingly. I don’t think like that because I don’t even like that energy.
How do you feel about sites online that give out samples producers use in songs?
Yeah, that’s crazy. It takes the fun out of it. That’s what you go searching for these records for, so you can have something that no one knows, and then when somebody can go on the website and just look something up, that’s crazy. That takes a lot out of what the culture is about.That’s what Diggin’ in the Crates is about. That’s how we built our name, off of samples that nobody can spot or name. We’re going though a lot of diggin’. We go through a lot to get these gems and you don’t’ want to go to a website ten minutes later and see what you dug for for the last ten months. That’s crazy! (laughs)
Now they have some old school musicians and artists that actually go on these websites and find out who sampled their shit and then they throw the lawyers on them.
Preem called that snitching back in the day.
Yeah. That shit is snitching. It’s snitching, man!
What do you think about the lyric sites that give some of the meaning behind lyrics to people who are outsiders of the culture?
I’ll just say these are changing times, man. I don’t look at it in any other which way. This is what’s coming to. If you’re accepting this other fuckery out there, you have to accept everything. Because this is what it is now. Because people are curious about hip-hop artists or artists in general. Anything that people create, they’re going to be curious about. It’s going to happen regardless so I don’t look at it like it’s fucked up. I just look at it like hip-hop is that big and dominating the world. Something from the Bronx is dominating the whole world and everybody wants to do it and be a part of it and that comes with it too. It’s in demand and it’s popular.
Why do O.C. and A.G. have such great chemistry together?
Because they both focus, man. They both focus on being the best possible lyricists that they can possibly be. They’re both very, very creative. The stuff that O say and the stuff that A say, I think they both amp each other up to do this. They’re both like, I gotta body this verse. They both have the same attitude about music and this very healthy attitude about being creative. I’ve watched them work together and they both have that same energy and that same attitude about making good music and rhymes.
With A.G. being in Japan, is it harder to do what you guys do?
Nah. It’s different time frames. He’s on the other side of the world. When he’s sleeping, we up. Whe nwe up, he’s sleeping. It’s a lot. The chemistry’s not the same as if he was in New York. It’s a lot different. Even though we still could work together, it ain’t nothing like doing a project together.
How do you stay in touch with A? Do you talk a lot?
Technology, man. You can get on the phone, you can get on the Skype. You can text, email too. Technology made the world smaller. That’s how we stay up with him. We make the world small. You can call anybody. You can send anybody a picture in seconds on the other side of the world, so it ain’t too hard. It’s just the time difference. He might be asleep when we up.
O.C. told me how you’re execute producing his new album too and that he turned the reins over to you and that he trusts you to pick the right music. What’s that experience been like?
Oh, I love it. I love it. And I’m going to make the best out of it. I want to execute produce every O.C. album! I love this job. And him giving me that just makes my spirits high, like I gotta do the best job for this guy because he’s serious and he’s very, very sharp. He’s a very intelligent brother. We good with that. I’m very happy that he gives me the lawn to do what I do and I’m out there showing him that I’m going to give it my hundred percent and that we’re going to make the best album possible. It ain’t really that hard. I just give him the beats that I love and he comes back with those beautiful songs. Wait ‘til you hear that album!
He’s someone who’s always been so consistently good and just keeps getting better.
Mm hmm. Mm hmm. The more knowledge he gets and the more life experiences he goes through, he knows how to put them in words in a very good way. He’s got a lot of knowledge of worldly events. He does a lot of…He pays attention to what goes on. He pays attention to people and everything that he sees, he puts it together well in the songs. You’ll see on his album. He’s got different topics and different views on how he sees the world. People are going to like what he brings to the table because he grew a lot as a person and he grew a lot as an artist. What we gotta do is sit O.C. in the room with a bunch of good music and you’re going to come out with some very beautiful songs.
What other projects have you been working on lately?
Since the O.C. album, we really focusing on that. We’re still doing a couple of remixes on the Diggin’ joint because we’re putting that in a different format. Well, that’s a different story. But after that, it’s just all O.C. We’re just going to rock out with this O.C. wave for a minute because we plan on doing a series, three parts to the album.
And you’re executive producing that?
Yeah. Same Moon, Same Sun.
Are you looking to put them out pretty close to each other?
Months apart. Months apart. You know, different quarters. We’re still trying to put that together though. We’re definitely trying to do a three part series for the album.
What were your favorite moments recording Studios?
Just getting the verses back! (laughs) Once your’e getting those back and you’re hearing what they’re saying on them and knowing that you have good records, that’s really the best to me. Having it all done and having it, I look and I got sixteen songs. I’m like, This is beautiful. When you look and you have something come to life, that’s one of the most beautiful feelings you can get. As we got to the end of the project it made me feel like everything was worth it. It wasn’t too much. People would come by some days and we we could have listening sessions with A.G. and we would be running it back. A could play one song twenty times in a row. He does that. Those types of moments I remember. Or Joe coming up here and he’s applying joints and picking beats out. There were moments here and there.
Did you get any verses that you had to send back?
Oh, nah, nah. These guys are professionals, man. They’be been in it for twenty years plus. They’re professionals. They know not to send it in if it’s not ready. They know not to send it. They wouldn’t do that to themselves.
How would Diggin’ be different with Big L and Party Arty today if they were still alive?
You know it would have just been a different ballgame with the two around. They were one of a kind when it came to doing what they did. They had very unique personalities. L has more fans than ever right now. It would have just been a different ballgame. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen, but the game would have been a lot…Yeah, we would have had a hold on it because those two were definitely stars in my eyes.
Party Arty is often not remembered for being as dope as he was, from the voice to the lyrics to his delivery. I love the work you’ve done with him. Do you feel like Party Arty gets his due respect?
Anybody who ever followed him loves him, so I think that’s good enough. Anybody who heard him and know of him respect his craft and how he gave it up, so I think that’s enough right there. If people didn’t hear him, they didn’t hear him so you really can’t judge them and whatever the case may be, but I think his respect level is high for anybody who heard him. He was one of the good ones.
O.C. mentioned feeling a sense of mortality with the passing of Pumpkinhead and Sean Price last summer and how he felt a greater sense of urgency in getting his music out. Do you feel that?
I don’t really think like that. I just wake up every day. I make small goals and I try to fulfill those goals in a certain amount of time. I don’t really think like, I gotta get this done because time is going or stuff like that. I just like to keep busy on the regular. That’s how I look at it. I don’t think about that type of thing.
Did you find that your mentality and schedule changed when you first became a parent?
Of course. Of course. Well, I was a parent earlier. I had children young. But as I got older, my views towards life changed based on having responsibility and knowing that someone’s watching you and trying to emulate you for the most part. So you have to be much more responsible, especially with other people watching you that you care for. It definitely changed a lot.
You mentioned being a studio junkie and setting small goals each day. What does a day in the studio with Showbiz look like?
People coming in. We take an hour to go to the gym and come back and we get back to work. We may cook together, listen to music together, and create. That’s what it’s like over here. People come through over here and say what’s up. We have family come through. It’s just being creative. We just like to be around creative people. Everybody comes in here to create. Singers are coming in here, rap artists, producers, musicians. People come in here to create.
Do you do a lot of recording and engineering for other projects too?
No. Everything is in-house with me. It was built for in-house. We did a little studio time but it’s all in-house at the moment. I think we want to put another chapter in the Diggin’ brand for the people who are going to carry it on in a way that we would be happy with.
Do any other producers you work with have rooms there?
It’s just a couple of rooms and whoever goes in, goes in.
You’ve done a lot of great remixes over the years. How do you approach a remix?
Thank you. Remixes are better than anything else. I don’t know. That’s where you get the challenge at for making something good and also with your spin on it. I don’t know. It’s something I can’t explain but I just love doing that.
How much digging for records do you do today? Do you still go for vinyl?
I actually don’t have to do either because certain people that know I’m into this might give me a hard drive with 20,000 songs on it and I have another friend and everybody’s sharing music that knows. Guys may not be producers. They may be record collectors and as a present, they give me a whole bunch of records that’s on a hard drive and I’m still digging through those. I’ll go digging if I leave the country, but honestly, after digging for twenty years in America, you know the majority of mainstream music that’s been released in the States for the last thirty, forty years. Going record shopping in America is not the same as going overseas so I don’t do a lot of digging in the States right now. I’ll go online and try to find some websites around the world that I can listen to music on. To answer your question, it’s mostly online or hard drives unless I’m going away.
Are there any records that you passed on over the years that you’re kicking yourself for today?
No. Oh no. I got everything. Bet. I kind of had an advantage back in the day because I had a lot of resources to get more records than most of the other producers that were around. I had a lot of…I was able to just buy out stores! (laughs) Premier and I, we were doing it that way. We were just moving that way, buying out stores. So there was no records. We wasn’t turning down no records. We were taking them all.
Do you think vinyl will be collected in the future or do you think it’s already reached its peak popularity?
Vinyl is going up in sales. Every year it’s going up more and more because people are collecting vinyl but the masses were forced to collect vinyl back in the ‘90s because there weren’t too many formats. Now there’s more formats that you can get music on so I don’t think vinyl will ever be to the level that it was because back then the masses had to rock with vinyl but now it’s collectors and people just respect vinyl and love the sound of vinyl that collect it so of course it’s going to be a smaller number. I don’t think it will ever get back to the number that it was when it was just vinyl and cassettes.
Are a lot of producers selling their vinyl collections?
No. Everybody keeps their records. I don’t know any producers that sold their vinyl. I know DJs that sold their vinyl. Mostly DJs are selling their vinyl.
Who has the most impressive collection that you’ve seen over the years?
I mean, a lot of people have a lot of records. I couldn’t pick one to say but there’s a few that have an impressive collection. And of course they in my crew. I don’t know of other producers that I respect that have the collection. I just keep it a hundred with the people that are around me. I haven’t been to Pete Rock’s house to see his collection or Large Professor’s house to see his collection even though I’m cool with them. I can’t tell you about anybody’s collections except for the people that I came up with, and most of their collections are pretty much impressive.
How do your organize your collection?
Alphabetical order and the kind of music it is, by genre. It goes basically like that. And then you separate the drums. You put all the jazz in the jazz section, all the soul in the soul section. All the drums in the drum section. All the rock in the rock section. Like that.
How does a Showbiz beat in 2016 come together?
Different ways and definitely not one way that it’s going to get done. It’s the mood. You may start with drums on one and you may start with a sample on another beat. There’s just different ways.
What equipment are you using the most today?
Still use the 1000 and started using the Renaissance and the Studio. Really the Studio is more a compact version. And that’s it.
Do you ever go back to Runaway Slave or any of your other music with A.G. or Diggin’’?
Of course. Yeah. It just shows that we were so young and we didn’t even know what we were laying down. We were just young and excited to do it and we really loved the culture. So I will just be laughing at the shit we were doing at a young age. We was young. Premier and I talk about this. We were in our early 20s and we were just doing things that we didn’t even think we would be doing at 21 and 22.
Did the fame come too fast?
Yeah, I would say that. It came too fast. Because we wasn’t prepared. We didn’t know the areas in our life that were going to change. It changed a lot of different areas. We wasn’t aware that it was going to do that.
What would you do differently if you knew what you know now?
I would have just been more focused on more of the music than dealing with the everyday life and the changes that came with it. See, I dealt with a lot of changes but that’s what I would have done different. But I love it.
That makes sense. You’ve had an incredible career. What are you most proud of?
Being down with Diggin’. Creating Diggin’. Being down with Finesse. Being down with A.G. Being down with Joe. Diamond was my first partner out of the whole crew. And just creating a brand to this day that a lot of people can identify with and being a part of creating a culture that appreciates older music and people taking their time out to look for records that have rare samples on them. Just being a part of that culture that created that people still do to this day and there’s a phrase now, if you’re going to pick up anything old, the first shit comes out of your mouth is, “Oh, I’m diggin’ in the crates for that one.” Just creating that was one of the biggest accomplishments in my life. I brought something. You got a phrase that came out of my mind and it’s used by people that follows this culture and this culture here is digging for rare samples. Spending your money and spending your time and it’s something that we helped start.
And you came up with that?
Yeah. Diamond and I. ‘Cause that’s what we were doing. It was something that we talked over. It was something that we discussed a number of times. So it wasn’t like one time it happened.