Producer's Corner: Havoc
It is 10 years since Mobb Deep released their Murda Muzik project; it is a year and change since Havocs partner in crime was shipped off upstate to sit steady on gun charges, but life stands still for no man. So while his other half is out of the picture Havoc has been making moves on his lonesome.
Another turbulent release on Koch is literally nothing more than a notch on the bedpost for Queens-born and raised Kejuan Muchita. Using experience to fathom his next steps, Havoc talks candidly about his indie encounters to HipHopDX.
But rest assured, with possibly two tracks on 50 Cents Before I Self Destruct, Havoc is still brandishing that G-Unit flag. With his mind on music and money, Havoc explains why he'll never reveal the "Shook Ones Part II" sample, why he's an emcee before a producer, and why he'd still be inclined to produce for Jay-Z, despite his partner's feud.
HipHopDX: How did this solo effort differ from Kush?
Havoc: The difference is that this is all old songs that I had, which is why it was titled The Hidden Files [click to read]. You know I just wanted to get this out to my core audience, just stuff that I hadnt had the chance to put out before.
DX: You have voiced your disapproval of Nature Sounds and now with Koch on how your projects have been handled, why take the indie route?
Havoc: Because my contract with G-Unit is such that if we wanted to do solo projects, we can and do them independently.
DX: How do you feel the Indies differ to the majors?
Havoc: Well it is all the same thing to me. One company is the same as the next basically; you have to stay on top of them to make sure they do their thing. They are trying to make money and we are trying to make money; its all the same.
DX: Would you do it again?
Havoc: Of course, because any situation is better than the last. I just take from it.
DX: The album featured a joint with Cassidy, how did that collaboration come about?
Havoc: We have friends in common and someone threw the idea at me and I was with it. I mean I think Cassidy [click to read] is a dope artist and I was really with it when that was suggested to me.
DX: Being in the industry as long as you have, have you never thought about setting up your own label?
Havoc: Definitely, as right now I am looking for distribution for my own company - somewhere I can call home to bring my artists too. Right now I have a couple of people I am working with and an R&B female I am working with who I will be introducing to the world in the future.
DX: What does it take to impress you as an artist?
Havoc: They have to be a true artist and in it for the love of the music. They have to have some sort of originality. There are so many artists out there and so many ways of finding artists today. The Internet is crazy, as a lot of people reach out to you and connect with you on there or you might be out at a certain event and come across people.
DX: You have recently been working with Termanology, how was connecting with the underground again?
Havoc: I mean it feels real good, as that is where I started anyway. Thats my foundation; I never let go of my roots.
DX: Going back to earlier projects of yours, you had already established yourselves with the Infamous, did you feel that with Murda Muzik you still had something to prove?
Havoc: Not really. I was just into making more music and I always try to make my next beat better than my last and my new albums better than the last. I dont think I have ever felt I needed to prove anything when making an album. Its just determination, I always want to make a good album. Listening to Murda Muzik, man, always takes me back to the time when we were working on it and thats a really good feeling. Back then we were just trying to make the best music for Mobb Deep and trying to be better than everyone else out there and if not better, then at least be able to stand amongst the best.
DX: Amerikaz Nightmare was possibly the point when you came into yourself as a lyricist, would you agree with that?
Havoc: Somewhat. I do feel that I concentrated on my lyrics a little better. But for me it started from Infamous that people caught on I was pretty focused on my lyrics.
DX: When Infamy was released you were kind of ousted for watering down the content...
Havoc: We are always looking for a broader audience without trying to compromise our music, that goes for every album. Infamy [click to read] is probably one of my favorite albums out of all of them. Its special to me, more than what people give it credit for.
DX: Is that because it was your last release on the now defunct Loud label?
Havoc: Yeah, I do think that is part of the reason, as it was the last of an era you know.
DX: With Prodigy being more known for the lyrics and you more so for the production, how hard did you have to work at being recognized as a lyricist?
Havoc: It wasnt that hard, not to brag or nothing, but I was always a lyricist, even though Prodigy [click to read] outshined me, as he is one of the best lyricists. That is possibly why I got overlooked. I started as a rapper first, didnt know anything about making beats, I just loved making music. Then once I grew into being a rapper, I wanted to be a producer, as I just wanted to do it all. Producing came second, and then it kind of came first, you know what I mean? I was able to be more relaxed as a lyricist, as I had Prodigy on my team. That allowed me to concentrate more on the beats, which is a huge part of our music. I mean it is what it was. It just wasnt hard.
DX: So how did the production happen?
Havoc: I just used to be in my house, I was like 13 years old. I had no equipment and no money to buy it, but I had a double cassette tape. I needed beats but I couldnt afford to buy beats and where would you get an instrumental? So what I used to do was dub record a certain section of the beat over and over and over again. That was my first taste of producing. Then from then I became fascinated with the creating of the music.
DX: As a producer what has been the best technical advancement in your estimation?
Havoc: The Internet, and of course Pro Tools, as it makes shit a lot easier and it is just so crazy as you can send music back and forth and you can get your music promoted more. Its just really different to the era we came up in.
DX: So if you were asked to make a choice between producing and emceeing, would it be an easy one?
Havoc: [Laughs] You gonna make me choose? I would go with production. I can express myself a bit better; you dont have to use any words at all. [Laughs]
DX: How important is developing your own sound for producers coming up?
Havoc: Some of today's producers, not a lot of them are just out to imitate and copy which is on them. Me personally, I am trying to go in my own direction.
DX: Are you working on 50 Cent's Before I Self Destruct?
Havoc: I got a track on there yeah, possibly two. So people can look out for those.
DX: Were you involved in Terminate on Sight?
Havoc: No I didnt get a chance to work on that.
DX: Why was that?
Havoc: I just went on to doing a lot of other things and it was more like a break. You know, let them do what they do and I am over here doing what I do. We are still family and for instance, I am on the new record.
DX: So when Prodigy is released can we expect a Mobb Deep album?
Havoc: I hope so; I would like to do that. I got tracks waiting.
DX: Now talking about tracks, this question comes from my editor and I am sure there are plenty people reading out there that are also curious. Do you think you would ever divulge the piano sample you used for "Shook Ones Part 2"?
Havoc: [Laughs] I dont know, I might, maybe, you just never know. I love that it is such a mystery. Some things are best left not known. Even when you get people who post on the websites what sample it is, they are always wrong, it just bugs me out.
DX: Last year you and your management parted ways. You had the same representation for a while. What came of all that as Norman "Purfek" Storm was with you for a while?
Havoc: Actually, it is an accusation that still hasnt been resolved and is still under investigation, so I can't even discuss that. We still do a little business together, but some things are on going which I cant speak on.
DX: Keeping with the relationships when you came into the game were they built around the music?
DX: What about now?
Havoc: I would still say music and basically what people are going to gain from each other. You know, "what do I get from you and you get from me?" Its always about the money.
DX: Was it about the money when you came up?
Havoc: Yeah, but it wasnt as noticeable back then, but people wanted to be prosperous. I mean to be honest, when I first started I didnt think I could make money off it like that. But when you get into the business, you quickly find out that there is money to be made and it is a business as well as an art form. Its all about figuring out how to balance the two.
DX: You mentioned earlier about Cassidy being a dope artist, is there anyone else out there right now you would like to work with?
Havoc: I mean I am a producer so I would work with them all from Beyonce, to Jay-Z [click to read], to Nas to 50 Cent [click to read].
DX: So you would work with Jay?
Havoc: I am a producer
DX: Yeah but you know how the Internet is, people are going to read this and be like huh?
Havoc: [Laughs] Yeah, I know but for the record, I dont get into beef; I just dont do that. The only time I have beef is when someone is trying to stop me from eating. You can talk about me, say what you want about me because I am still going to be me, but if you start playing with my money, then we got beef. Thats what beef is to me.
DX: So the immediate future, what is the deal?
Havoc: Just trying to figure out what the next move is going to be.
DX: More projects with Koch or Nature Sounds?
Havoc: No, those deals are over with. It is time to move on. All of that was a learning process and you never make the same mistake twice and you get to the point where you cant afford to make the same mistake twice.