The Making Of Mood Muzik 3: The Moodiest Blues
Now, this isnt done often so pay attention. HipHopDX is breaking down the creative process of MM3, getting the 411 straight from the masters and directly to your computer. We chopped it up with Joe Budden, DJ On Point, the power production team and the executive producer himself, Dru Cartier, in order to exhibit how a dexterous album (notice I didnt use the word mix-tape), is created.
HipHopDX: Was there a specific theme you were going after for this project?
Joe Budden: Not necessarily a theme; however, there was a feel musically and sonically that I was trying to capture; and I think I did that.
DX: Why was the decision made to drop the Mood Muzik 3 at the time in which it was released?
DJ On Point: We felt that it was the best time. The anticipation and the hype that we created was through the roof. We had everyone waiting long enough.
DX: Why did you decide to continue the release of the MM3 series without yet releasing an official studio album since Joe Budden (2003)?
Joe Budden: Well, first of all, the Mood Muzik series is a serious of albums. I dont mean to get that misconstrued. The distribution is a little different from how albums are typically released. So we released Mood Muzik because we were not releasing retail albums and we will continue to do so even when we start (releasing retail albums).
DX: Was releasing another addition to the MM series a marketing strategy to get the fans hungry for the album itself?
DJ On Point: Releasing another mixtape was a marketing strategy to get the fans hungry for Budden period - not just hungry for the album. You didnt really hear too much from Joe between the release of Mood Muzik 2 and 3. We had to let everyone know not to go anywhere and that the show has just begun! Right now the momentum is pretty good; we just need to keep it up.
DX: Can you explain the creation process that guided this project?
Joe Budden: Well, it was for myself and the fans first and foremost. Once we had got in the groove it took us about two and half months to complete it. The beats I was going after were raw, edgy, intense and yet still moody in soundno pun intended. I got together with a few up-and-coming producers who I had developed chemistry with and from there the rest is history. Vocally, there wasnt a certain feel I was going after. I pretty much knew it wouldnt come out sounding as angry as Mood Muzik 2 because I wasnt as angry as I was while making it. Shit, I was in a great state when Mood Muzik 3 was being recorded. I was unsigned for the most part and wouldnt have released anything if had I been.
DX: You said you wanted to raise the bar with MM3. How did you go about doing that?
DJ On Point: I felt it was already going to be a big project on its own without any extra effort or promo. However, I felt, why just stop there? We need to get as much out of this as possible. I wanted to make it a major event! People felt it was more like an album than a mixtape. So I felt why not try to promote it the same way an album would be promoted? Of course, we didnt have an actual album budget but we were able to do a lot with the resources that we had.
DX: There was much emotion and honesty poured into MM3. Was this project therapy for you?
Joe Budden: Definitely. All of my music is therapeutic for me.
DX: Why do you think the MM series has been received very well both by critics and the fans (which doesn't always happen)?
DJ On Point: Well, besides the fact that Joe is an incredible lyricist and we had some pretty good production, I think it was received very well by both because at the end of the day whether critic or fan, everybody is a human being and there are things for everyone to relate to in the music.
DX: How does MM3 differ from MM3: The Album - and when is that being released?
Joe Budden: With Mood Muzik 3: The Album, there are a few more bonus records on it. Number two, there are no deejay drops and number three, the sound quality is a bit better than the mix-tape was initially. Mood Muzik 3: The Album, will be available at retail February 26th and I will follow up with The Padded Room album in May 2008. Im very excited about it. Its more or less a branch off the Mood Muzik. The mood on The Padded Room album will be lighter. We gonna talk about some other things on there. Im half way done with it. The records sound amazing and Im extremely excited for everyone to hear it.
Mellow Madness: I used a simple drum kit with a faint delay so it wouldnt overpower the emcee throughout the track. I start the track by using a Full Arco string layered with bass stabs and a synth that is laced with a delay and flange. From there on in, it builds up the character of the track into a grimy electric guitar for the main verse. Throughout the track there is a bridge and a hook which is layered with an organ and thick electric guitar strings.
DX: Why do you think it was chosen as the first track to kick things off?
Mellow Madness: I honestly feel it was chosen for the intensity it gives off; that helps build the vibe throughout.
DX: Did you make the beat with Joe in mind?
Mellow Madness: This track was never meant or steered towards Joe Budden. I actually built this track around a remix that I used for Bone Thugs N Harmony featuring Akon, I Tried. The instrumental ended up leaking over the web - and I was blessed to have it fall into the right hands.
The Klasix: When we did Ventilation, we were trying to make a very simple track that would allow Joe to speak his mind without a lot of the extra composition to the track but still be hot enough that the listener can enjoy. So we combined an old, dangerous sounding soul sample, added some live rim snares, and settled percussion and a heavy kick to compliment the gutta sound.
03 Talk To Em
Sultan: I basically made the joint from scratch specifically for Joe and the Mood Muzik 3 project; this was one of the joints I did closer towards the project coming out. The joints that I had on MM3 so far were more soulful, so I wanted to come with a dark vibe with this. I went in with the mindset of trying to make the perfect track for the project and something that would be set apart from everything else on MM3.
DX: Did you cater your beats toward Joe? How did they end up on MM3?
Sultan: Yeah, like the Talk To Em joint was made from scratch for the project and the others I submitted were based on the vibe of the project. I ended up getting on with Killah BH. I work with him with a lot of production ideas, song vibes, etc. Right now I am bringing a different style from the MM3 for the joints I am trying to get on the Padded Room album. It's all about delivery - the sound of perfect backdrop for the specific album or song.
04 Warfare featuring Joell Ortiz
The Klasix: It's funny how "Warfare" was created. We were on our way back from the studio and Joe was trying to throw the battery in our backs by saying how he had all this "dylon" (hot fire) from all these other producers. So when we left the studio to rush home and make some music, we began to listen to samples in the car. So we popped in the iPod and hit up that "To Do" play list and found this crazy Barry White sample - and went nuts. We decided to flip it because we wanted Barry White with a rock fusion. So we freaked the drums and added a guitar for a more powerful sound. It wasn't about just making another track for Mood Muzik; Joe had pissed us off and we wanted to make a track that smashed whatever he had in his email. So when you hear that record and you ball up your face, it's because we were angry when we created.
05 Invisible Man featuring Emanny
Chemo: My boy Grimlok put me on to this particular Van Halen joint years ago, and I just had to chop it. I wanted to build a real cinematic sound but still keep that 80s Richard Gere in a Cadillac feel. Ive got stacks of '80s joints. It all started when I got bored of digging for Soul and Jazz like most producers were doing in the 90s. To test myself, I started trying to make bangers out of digging for cheese-ball 80s Pop.
DX: And you got your beat to Joe how?
Chemo: My manager Myst's business partner Quest passed the beat on to Joe and he added it to MM3 at the last minute; he was really feeling it
06 Dear Diary
Sultan: I ended up making this joint before I started working on tracks for Mood Muzik 3. I talking with Killah BH and he was saying they needed some real soulful joints. I knew this joint would fit in perfectly; it's just one of those tracks where you can spit some deep emotional subject matter.
DX: Did you have an emotional Hip Hop ballad in mind when making this beat?
Sultan: "It's five oclock I'm just getting home roaming on my own what can I tell her? When I heard that on the sample I knew the song couldn't just be some punch-lines; it had to be something that touched the listener subject matter-wise on the song.
07 Get No Younger featuring Ezo
The Klasix: Get No Younger was an old track that we did in early 06. This is one of our favorite tracks on MM3 because of the great feeling it gives you. It really feels like a nice day, with the windows down, with the seat back [laughs]just cruising in ya car. When we did this track we wanted that feeling, something that felt like summer. So we found this Willie Hutch sample with this smooth '70s groove. We added our live drums, played over the strings and actually sung out the harmonies in the hook. Added Ezo to the track and sealed the deal. Classic.
08 Star Inside featuring Suzy Q produced by Dub B.
09 Killa BH Skit
Killah BH: Well, its a group effort when it comes down to making an album. At least thats what happens with Team Jump Off. We all move as one big unit. Ideas are thought about, concepts are created and at the end of the day, great body of work is submitted. Killa BH is just the tip of the iceberg.
DX: How did you end up on this project?
Killah BH: It really started out as a joke, sitting in the studio on Mood Muzik 2. During that time we were in the studio almost every day for about 10 hours making music. We had an engineer by the name of C4 who was also a producer (Akinyele). One night while Joe was writing a record I said, "Yo I can rap." C4 looked at me like I was crazy and then said, "Let me hear something." Joe came back in the room right when I was about to start. I spit the beginning of the first skit I ever did: "My name is Brandon and Im the best laying down crack muzik." Joe and C4 thought I was hilarious and then adding to the bars was a raspy voice. After that night Killah BH was created.
10 Send Him Our Love
The Klasix: This was a track we did along with DJ Archi back in 2004. It was around the time when we were doing a lot of rock samples but what stood out most about this track was the message, "Send her my love." When Joe chose this track and decided to dedicate it to Stack, we thought it was a match. Our idea for the track was for a rapper to talk about a passing or jail or going away and starting a new life. On top of the song being incredible, Joe made everybody who hasn't had the chance to know Stack feel like they knew him. Another crazy song.
DX: The Klasix is the main production team on MM3. What is it about your beats that adapts so well with Joes flow, delivery and content?
The Klasix: We think our music goes so well with Joe because it's emotional; it's pure mood and personal. Us being able to actually work with Joe and see his process of writing, recording, living, and just hanging out with him helped us make music that cater to his style. Even though 90% of the beats we did for Mood Muzik 3 and MM3.5, were made prior to meeting Joe, he knows how to take a good record and make it great. We work extremely hard for ourselves, but even harder for Joe because he does the same for us and he's one of the most talented emcees out there. The fact that he took a chance on three knuckle-heads from Jersey and allowed us to not only be a part of the project but to associate produce the project while inviting us to his home and into his family...it says a lot. So when you hear a song from Joe Budden and The Klasix, and you feel the song... not just the beat... not just the lyrics... it's because it's a match of dedication to making a great record we all can enjoy.
11 Family Reunion featuring Fabolous, Ransom and Hitchcock
Shatek: I was in the studio messing around wit this orchestra sample I got. And I just started tapping it in a sequence. Then I added some drums to itsomething real rough. The mood was an argument I had with my daughters mom. [Laughs] I played all the horns behind the beat and the bass; so its just a lil bit of sampling. It took all about six minutes. I have witnesses
DX: How did your beat end up on MM3?
Shatek: On Point heard the beat shortly after I produced it cause I actually made it for another up-and-coming artist by the name YounG. I was working on a CD for him at the time - shout out to YounG.
12 5th Gear
Sultan: This joint was actually produced by someone else; the credits got messed up. I think it will be fixed for the MM3: The Album.
13 Roll Call
Sultan: This is the beat with the infamous Zelda sample. I wanted to bring high energy with this track. Joe took this one and set it on fire.
DX: How do you feel about this beat being used as a strike at Def Jam?
Sultan: Music is a form of expression.
14 Secrets featuring Emanny
The Klasix: We made Secrets with the intent that Joe would spazz out. This was around the time when Joe put out the vide blog about why MM3 was pushed back again. This is when the internet soldiers started to go crazy. We felt the fans were thirsty so we made "How Long Must We Starve (Secret)." If you listen to about 30 something seconds into the song, the guy says "How much longer would we suffer from hunger? How much longer would we suffer from thirst?" Sounded like a good idea, but when we brought it to Joe he had this crazy soap opera story that was ill so we went with it. Joe added Emanny who helps paint this sick picture. The song came out incredible (live drums, strings, guitar, bass).
15 All Of Me featuring Emanny
The Klasix: All Of Me was one of the last tracks that Joe had recorded for Mood Muzik. It was done around the time when we thought MM3 was over and there would be no more beat submissions. We slipped up and let Joe hear the record and straight from the gate he had ideas to the ceiling. We all agreed that this should be another Emanny collabo, but this time we added a female vocalist by the name of Kitami, who helped make the track more moody. Joe then went in the booth and just let go of everything that was on his chest.
DX: When it comes to sampling, how important is it to tap into other genres of music?
The Klasix: We find it very important being that we aim for innovation. We sample just about everything from Soul, cultural music, Folk, Funk, Classical, Rock - just about every style of music. We feel every genre of music offers something new and sampling, or just experiencing a new culture or sound, will bring a new era to music. Sampling new genres is brilliant; that's why you have your Timbaland who was heavy into percussion and Euro Pop or your Neptunes who were more into the '80s synth and '80s Pop, or even Just Blaze who was more into Funk and live drums; and us who are a blend of all of that. It also opens up the close-minded listeners to new music. We do it all the time, you'll see real soon.
16 Foldgers Brother
DX: What made you think that Kanyes parody would work on MM3?
Killah BH: Its funny because a lot of my music comes from me having an idea and then fucking around with it. A lot of artists start out with an idea and then it changes into something much bigger at times. Whenever Im around my crew I always say bars that are funny and then theyll say, "Yo you should do this record," or "What do you think about doing this record over?" Kanye is an amazing artist who has a hit after a hit. I was in the process of listening to his album when I created my song.
DX: Do you really brush your teeth with Colgate? Have you tried Aquafresh Whitening?
Killah BH: Funny story - the whole Colgate shit really happened. Whenever Team Jump Off gets together, its always a fun and interesting environment. You never know what youre gonna hear or come across. I really use Colgate but I switched to Aquafresh. The funny part about that whole switch is, in the process of me switching Joe forgot his toothpaste at home while we were on the road, and he saw that I had Aquafresh. He said he needed to use my shit and after he used it he said, "This shit aint bad." A few days later I see Aquafresh in his bathroom.
17 Long Way To Go featuring Mr. Probz
Soulsearchin: Everything on that particular track is played even though we tend to use samples as well. Soulsearchin has four members. One person kicks off and then each member in the team can easily pick up on the concept. This beat started off as a completely different beat than what it eventually turned out to be. Different drums, other instruments, a whole other feel to it. But listening to the chords played we knew we had to turn it to another direction. That's where we started to add and change stuff until it turned out the way it did. We work a lot with Mr. Probz, he's a genius. We call him "Captain Hook" because he pulls hooks out of his sleeves like it's nothing. So we called him up, played him the beat and he just started mumbling the hook right away. In less than half an hour he wrote and recorded the hook. Eventually Neenah, another great artist we work, mixed Probz's vocals and did some background harmonies to finish it up.
When the hook was done, the first person Probz thought of was Joe Budden. Joey is one of the illest lyricists out there and he can really get into a track that's deeper than your average, so we thought the track would be a perfect fit. Probz and DJ On Point know each other from when On Point was here in Amsterdam, so the connection was there. Probz sent the track over, Joey heard it, loved it and wanted to use it for Mood Muzik 3.
18 Thou Shall Not Fall
The Klasix: When we did this track, we kept in mind that we wanted to give Joe a stadium record. So while creating it, we made the drums heavy and actually added a stomp behind the kick to give that stomp-clap feeling. So when he performs this track, the crowd will interact with Joe and create this "We Will Rock You"/"Champion", feel. That's going to be incredible.
19 Still My Hood produced by Wyks
DX: As the executive producer, what was your vision for this project?
Dru Cartier: I knew Joe for years; I knew Joe when he got signed. I also know On Point, he made the best mixtape ever. I manage my own producers. With that said, I was like, "Okay, look Joe, take a listen to some records." He liked the records that were coming to him so he picked them out. And I just said, "You know what, you gotta let everybody know that you can still rap; and what is on your mind, what have you been doing," Mood Muzik is actually an answer to everything, to every question to what he has been doing since MM2. We just tried to put that in 80 minutes, let everybody know whats on his mind, whats been going on in his life and all that stuff is very true. MM is really not a fabrication, everything is his true feeling, every record from top to bottom. From the first record - some people say the first record is really an intro. The voice mails are for a reason. I hear a lot of people like the song All of Me true story. The girl with the brain tumor - true story. Everything is a true story so thats all we tried to do; bring in emotions to the audience.
DX: Because there was so much emotion reflected through the lyrics, were you also going for beats that would best exhibit that emotion?
Dru Cartier: There were so many beats that just hit that early on. [Joe Budden] didnt start going into real work until August or September after he got hurt. He was doing some joints but he got sick. And a lot of this stuff was already in his brain before he got the beatHe brought it up to me at a party, we were outside, and said, "I got an idea for this record. I met this chick and she has a brain tumor. But Im just waiting for a beat." So sometimes he has these ideas already prepped in his mind and he just gets the record and thats what brings out that exact thought. "This is the record Im gonna get mad on; this is the record Im gonna get personal with; this is the record Im gonna go and just rap to."
DX: What are the necessary ingredients for a guaranteed blockbuster in the competitive mixtape world?
DJ On Point: Basically you need to be able to offer something so the rest of the mixtape world can be able to separate your tape from the thousands of other tapes coming out. Other than that is consistency and quality!
The Mood Muzik series didnt blow up overnight. The first one moved pretty slow, got a little recognition and then started to pick up a little. Then when [Volume 2] came out I think we went above and beyond what the public expected. I know Joe surprised me when he played me the material he had for that. So now with two successful releases everyone was anxious to see what [Volume 3] was going to be like. So as you can see, this is something that was built from the ground up with consistency and quality!