Just over a week ago he released another full length project, Digital Master 2.1, that he produced and rapped on. Featuring many of the industry connections he’s made in the last few years, he personally describes it as “...me and my friends, like how when Dr. Dre did The Chronic...” as he takes some time to talk with DXnext.
What Came First?: “Really it was rappin’ that came first. I started rappin’ when I was like 12, and then I got a drum machine around 15 ‘cause I wanted to make my own beats instead of tryin’ to depend on other people. It was always a hassle tryin’ to get beats from people and people wanted to get paid. My brother told me, ‘If you learn how to do beats you’ll always have a job.’”
"Puff, Puff, Pass": “My homeboy Wolf had this label called Wolfpac Records with J-Ro [click to read] and J-Ro had already been on tour with Snoop [Dogg] [click to read] for the Puff, Puff, Pass Tour. Wolf, J-Ro, of course he wanted us there, so that’s basically how it happened. I was like 19 and that’s when I met Kurupt [click to read] when I walked on the bus; you know, ‘cause Tha Dogg Pound and Tha Alkaholiks [click to read] was always kinda close to each other and they shared a tour bus. When I was the bus, there was Tha Dogg Pound, and the connection [for the future] was made.”
Connections And Friendships: “From the tour I met so many different people that stem from me meeting other people, it’s kinda like one person knows the other. Definitely Tha Alkaholiks, E-Swift, Tash, they always looked out. There was a lot of business people behind the scenes that I met that really introduced me to a lot of people. That tour was very instrumental in my career.”
Beefin’ With Bishop Lamont: “Oh, I mean basically me and Bishop [Lamont] [click to read], we started as friends and the business can sometimes get between a friendship, I think it just kinda put a strain on both of us as individuals from what we expected out of each other. After a while I just decided to speak on it and it turned into a big media frenzy. It just kinda leaked out there and before I knew it, it was everywhere. Once it was out there, I ran with it ‘cause that’s what I did. At this point, I’m past that and I’m focusin’ in on bigger things and handlin’ business. I’m not one to hold a grudge about anything. I think it’d be better for us to make records than to be fightin’ against each other; it’d be better for us to come together and do a classic and that’s how I feel on it. At this point there’s been no tension between us that I can see.”
The Virus’ “Outbreak” Inoculated by Warner Brothers: “A good friend of mine, Demmette Guidry, was President of the Columbia Urban Department for years you know doin’ The Fugees [click to read] and Kriss Kross back then; he took over Warner Brothers as President of Urban Music and he signed the [Virus]. When Tom Whalley came in, there was just some differences between them two, so Demmette Warner Brothers, and when he left they kinda cleared out his whole roster. It was a political thing basically. Virus is on the album; they are the other two rappers Stylizyik Jones and Verse on the Estelle record, ‘You Don’t Love Me.’” ended up leaving
The Product of A Dynamic Duo: “‘Digital Smoke’ [click to read], it was fun! [Laughing] Kurupt is a great artist and he pretty much just supported me, I told him what I wanted to do. At the time I had just done my deal with Fontana for Bonzi Records and Kurupt and I had a bunch of records together; I had an idea for us to take the records and do a collaboration album and just completely supported me. When we came off tour, we had been workin’ so much we was doin’ like five, six, seven songs a day between him and I and with Y.A. and with Roscoe [click to read]. We had an archive of music so that was just something I kinda compiled, then we went in and touched it up and made it especially for that project and made it perfect. It was a learnin’ experience and I learned a lot on the business end. It was a great project.”
Compression Of The Past And Present Projects: “‘Digital Smoke’ was strictly focused on me and Kurupt doin’ a record together, the west coast, smokin’ weed and that was the whole basis of it; but this record (Digital Master Volume 2.1) is a little more diverse. I’ve got a wide spectrum of artists on there and it feels good to be able to allow people to see that I am versatile. This album is more of a concoction of different people that I’ve worked with and I’m rhymin’ on it as well. It’s an official album – just me and my friends like how when Dr. Dre did The Chronic it was different people on it but at the centre of it was Dre. I don’t wanna be labeled as just west coast; I got roots in Atlanta, I’ve produced for Goodie Mob [click to read], OutKast [click to read], and Sleepy Brown. I’ve been in Atlanta for like four years off and on, goin’ back and forth so I’m showin’ my Atlanta roots. I got the record on there with Da Brat, I got the Estelle record, the Snoop, Rah Digga and just showin’ how I’ve been movin’ around and how I can put my sound and my influence on different artists so that’s the difference in what the album represents."
Lyrically Laughing...Literally: “I’m a Likwit Crew member, I’m a party animal so I’m gonna rap about partyin’ and havin’ fun. I’m gunna spit a few lyrics but mainly make people have fun, go to the party and have a few drinks and that’s pretty much where I’m comin’ from with it.” [Laughing]
Bangin’ Production: “I’m the type of producer that could pretty much do any type of record. I’ve even done a lot of TV commercials, film stuff and sports. Like tracks for commercials where I’ve made the track completely off of natural sounds. I did this one track for Starbucks where the whole track was based off on bangin’ buckets. We took some buckets in the studio and just pounded on em’ and it was supposed to sound like in the subway when you go in New York and they bangin’ on buckets in the subway so I made a beat compiled around that. Basically my sound is versatile and I can branch out and pretty much do anything. I’m at the heart a musician a real producer that can put on different hats.”
Going platinum with Keyshia Cole: “Workin’ with Keyshia, Ron Fair, and Manny was a great experience. Just being able to have a platinum plaque on the wall definitely opens up doors ‘cause it shows experience that you’ve been on a big record. I’ve been workin’ with Bobby Valentino, I did a record with Estelle, I’ve been workin’ with Q Parker from 112 so I’ve definitely been doin’ R&B; I’ve always done it but I think that record kinda allowed people to see, ‘He can really do this, he can really do an R&B record.’”
A Piece Of The Past: “I started a group in high school called Rocswell. I came up sellin’ CDs outta the trunk of my car and that was my hustle ever since I can remember; I always had that independent mind frame. Once I started workin’ with The Alkaholiks, the group kinda dismantled and I took the name, Rocswell, and formed it into a company. Rocswell was my first production company that I would use when I would produce for different artists.”
Putting Out 40 Glocc Is A Part Of The Growth Process: “At this point, I’m growin’ with Fontana; I just released 40 Glocc’s [click to read] album through my situation. We lookin’ a doin’ a few other releases but right now I don’t wanna speak on anything unless it’s right there in your face ‘cause things change. I’m basically just growin’ the company like lookin’ at puttin’ out some R&B releases and different things that people wouldn’t necessarily expect from J Wells.”