Producer's Corner: Puffy's Hitmen
Now after their contribution to one of 2007s biggest selling Hip-Hop chronicles, Uptown's Sean C and LV are in the seat that all producers one day aspire to be in; people flocking to them for a sample of their product.
Conversing with them, you appreciate their established vibe is nothing short of a continuous appreciation for each others ideology, with a comedic twist. They have paid their dues, done their homework, so now the spot is on them, for a little while at least.
HipHopDX: Now growing up in Harlem did that school you in any way for the music business?
Sean C: Music is all around us in the hood, you either get into street shit, or you get into the music business and that is what it is.
LV: Or you got a wicked jump shot and we didnt have that; we had music.
DX: Starting out as deejays, what made you take it to the production side?
LV: I wouldnt say it was a mistake, but Sean was about to sell his old [Akai] MPC 2000 and I was like, "Let me borrow it until you sell it," and I just started doing beats, so I kept it.
DX: What does it take to make a production duo, like yourselves, work?
SC: I think the chemistry. Everyone works different together, but me and him, we kind of figured out that it is natural vibe. It is not something that is over thought. You know we will be in there with two MPC 4000 and I will load up something and then we will just collaborate with each other on the spot.
LV: Basically that is what it is. You know sometimes I might be in the room, and I might just start dancing and me dancing will give Sean a different idea. The only one thing we do all the time is make good music.
DX: Do you work alone or always together?
SC: We may start something separately and then come to the studio and have the other check it out and maybe LV will add something in there and it works both ways.
LV: Its like 50/50, we might start it at home, and then bring it to the studio.
DX: Do you ever see yourselves being able to make something without the other putting their input into it?
SC: That is not even like a thought. We work together and that is what it is.
DX: You have quite an extensive discography to your names, what song to this day still gives you the bumps when you hear it?
SC: I still feel crazy when I hear "Roc Boys," even though it is played a million times. It still gives me a certain feel.
LV: It doesnt get played as much, but a song called "Get Off Nigga" that we did for Puff. That makes me go crazy.
DX: When you were working on those joints that were picked up by Jay for American Gangster, did you have the feeling that they were going to be something big?
LV: When we started doing that project, we were on fire. Everything that was coming out of that MP was hotter than a motherfucker. This was us on a roll, and this is not me being cocky, but when you are on fire, you just cant miss. That was how I felt. I thought everything we was working on was crazy.
DX: Where was your mind at when you making those tracks?
LV: I was real happy and I felt really good, you know I had a couple of drinks and it was like every time we were in the studio it was party time. Thats how I felt.
SC: There is always a vibe in the studio with us. You know it is never like some stale shit, it is just party time and there is always a certain vibe going on. It was back-to-back joints. For some reason it just kept happening and we never thought it wasnt going to work. It was never a case of, "This one is hot, but the next two are wack," all those beats just kept coming right after each other. We were already in Jay-Z mode when we was doing those joints. He came in and heard a couple of records that we had, like "No Hook" and then once he was ready to go in, everything we were doing was for that project.
LV: Once you get an artist like Jay-Z and you are in there and working on a Jay Z album, it is pretty much a case of, "Fuck everyone else, we are focusing on this."
SC: We went crazy and went record shopping. You know we went out and bought stuff and then came back in.
DX: When you get to the level that you are at now, do you become selective about who jumps on your joints? Can you afford to be selective?
SC: We are ready to work with anyone, it aint even like that.
LV: It isnt about who is going to get this and who is going to get that, it is about making the best music. I dont give a shit if MC Bubbalicious hasnt got a check, as long as he can rhyme and sing, there you go.
DX: For some, when they get to this point though they only want to deal with the A-List celebrities.
SC: We definitely want to do that; work with the Beyonces and the Usher's, things of that nature. That is a goal of ours. Right now we are working on The Clipse album right now. They are underrated and we think they are talented, and we are all just trying to take it to another level.
DX: How did that come about, as they were schooled with Pharrell, they have had some serious production on their albums?
LV: We actually reached out to them as there are certain albums we want to be on.
DX: So what albums do you want to be on?
SC: Everybodys albums. Beyonce, she is crazy talented, she doesnt do conventional albums and records you know. Sometimes she goes to the left and that is something we do real easily. We want to show the versatility; Ghostface, Jay-Z, Beyonce.
DX: Talking about taking music to the left, do you feel music fails to tell a story when it comes to production today.
SC: Well everyone has their own style. I dont really shit on nobody, as everyone does what they do.
DX: But you are a fan of music first and foremost, and as fans of music do you feel that music nowadays fails to tell the story?
SC: I think it does depend on the producer; you know with Kanye, his records progress, meaning they tell a certain story. That is a person that I can look at right now and Nottz, he's the same, the way he chops up is crazy. So there are people out there that are making good records, where there music is crazy from the jump.
LV: The Neptunes always bring something different, you know what type of record it is the minute you hear it. I feel their music tells stories from when you first hear it. You know what it is, ass shaking or R&B, you know what it is.
DX: Do you think with the advances in technology, there are so many wanna be producers, producers and beat makers out there, has this hindered the industry?
SC: I think technology in general is changing the whole things and everybody has to get a grip and figure out how everything is going to move forward. Producers can just go on Fruity Loops and think you are a producer.
LV: Yeah put the "think" in capitals.
SC: Then you do get the people who really freak it and put the time into it. Things are easier to get to it now whereas before you had to spend more money, you had to be dedicated and save up. If you were interested in being a producer it wasnt so easy. Now, so many people are getting into it, but that doesnt make them great producers. You have to put that time in, doesnt matter if you can afford to buy these programs, you still have to put that time in and make sure it is right.
LV: That is how the deejays got messed up. With the mixtapes and all of that, it was so easy for them to think they could mix shit with CDs that they all ended up trying to produce and the same thing is happening with rappers.
SC: Deejays normally are the best producers as they are the back bone of making the music.
LV: You know let everyone do what they do and you just keep to your shit. You can tell when someone knows what they are doing though.
DX: Talking about putting the time in, do you think that is why we lack cohesive albums nowadays?
SC: That is what I think is going to save music. The younger artists are going to come up and understand they have to make records to make a whole album as opposed to a ringtone. I mean that is good for what it is but if you want to sell an album you have to give people a piece of yourself and that is what is missing in albums.
DX: Do you feel people expect too much too soon?
SC: I think this whole generation, everything is like micro waved; you know they need it now. You know you can go on your computer, download a program and make a beat and that takes away from you understanding what it really is to become a producer or a musician because you dont really study it. You have quicker access to everything and that is not just about the music, this is in general. You can only fault people so much as they have to make the mistake to go back and have them recognize what they dont know what to do, like making their tracks bigger and doubling up the snare and things like that.
DX: So is the reason that the big name producers on the scene today are people who have been involved in the game for years because the instant gratification generation coming up dont always put the hours in?
SC: That is exactly what it is. You cant just wake up in the morning and go outside and fix a car if you have never studied an engine before.
DX: In terms of Grind Music, what have you guys got going on?
LV: We are still working on our artist who is signed to Bad Boy and his album is telling a story, it is a real album.
SC: Yeah his album is going to be an album and not a collection. We are going to make good music and he is dope. We are about to go back in and go crazy.
DX: Is it nice to work on an entire album?
SC: Definitely as you get that sound.
LV: It is better that way than having a whole bunches of sounds going crazy, going to the left and to the right. Here you get that one sound that makes it you and it nice to be working as a team.
SC: Just like you said, back in the day, Marley Marl was doing a whole album. When you think of all the classic artists in general, there was only one or two producers on their albums and that is why they kind of kept that sound. That is what we want to do with most of the stuff we are doing, we want to stay to a certain sound.
DX: What has been the hardest lesson you have learned?
LV: You have to save your money.
SC: I am not sure if this is answering the question, but timing is everything. You know dont force things as it will happen when it is supposed to happen. That is what I say to producers, rappers and people in general. If it is going to happen it will happen. Stay the same and stay the way you are.
LV: Say the line, say the line Sean. [Laughs]
SC: As long as you stay the same, it will come back around.
LV: That is Seans favorite line, but it is very true. Dont play around with me Sean, just say the line. [Laughing]
SC: Well it worked on his first album and it worked on this album, and they are both classics.
DX: Did you learn the hard way with the money LV?
LV: I wouldnt say it was the hard way as I still had fun but what I will say is you should save your money. You just never know with music as what you might be doing might not be in, you might go cold outside so you need to have a little coat on or something.
SC: Yeah, make sure you got a coat in your closet.