Many Men: A Q&A With Producers Of G-Unit's "The Beauty Of Independence"
Exclusive: Havoc, Viruss Beats, LordQuest, 45 Music, D.K.A.D. & Ryu of SQUADRON and G-Unit A&R Tony G weigh in on the process of creating G-Units The Beauty Of Independence EP.
With the August, 24 release of their The Beauty Of Independence EP, G-Unit has released their first proper, retail album since 2008’s T.O.S. (Terminate On Sight). The producers are different this time around, and The Unit has added New Orleans artist Kidd Kidd, and the biggest factor is that the project was released independently, compared to the Interscope release back in 2008. Aside from 50 Cent’s continuous presence, one consistent theme has been a heavy direct input from G-Unit’s founder and de facto leader.
“[50 Cent] is very hands on with every department of the label,” noted G-Unit A&R Tony G. “A&R, marketing, promo, etc. He knows exactly what he wants and when he wants it. You never have a set work schedule or days off in a traditional sense. The entire staff also wears multiple hats and we all help each other. We really are more of a family than co-workers.”
That family has seen its ups and downs since the 2003 release of Beg For Mercy. Game is no longer part of the group, and at one point, Nashville, Tennessee native Young Buck was also on the outs. With Kidd Kidd now in town, The Beauty Of Independence serves as a family reunion of sorts with the collective avoiding big name producers in favor of a stable of young, hungry collaborators. Aside from showing how powerful fan demand can be, the latest G-Unit EP is evidence that you can take five emerging producers and turn out a quality project in a short time frame. With the spotlight firmly back on the music and not major label politics, we reached out to the EP’s producers to get their thoughts on contributing and adding to G-Unit’s catalogue.
G-Unit A&R Tony G On Finding Tracks For “The Beauty Of Independence”
HipHopDX: How did you go about finding production for the The Beauty Of Independence EP?
Tony G: Various ways. You have your A-listers that send you beats or either you reach out to those that have a proven track record. I personally have more fun discovering new producers. I remember back in the day, I would look for producers on Myspace. Later on, I started doing a live stream online where anyone could send me beats. I would review the beats live while we had up to 35,000 people an hour watch online. Now I post my email from time to time on Twitter and Instagram. In fact, five out of the seven producers who contributed on the EP are people who reached out to me on Twitter.
DX: Were you looking for a specific sound for this project? Did the guys give you details on what they wanted?
Tony G: In the beginning, there wasn’t a specific sound, It was more important for the guys to get back in the rhythm of recording all together. You can hear on the EP that they have amazing chemistry. They also tend to each pick different beats, and have their certain preferences production-wise.
DX: Did you plan to release an EP with six songs, or did you record a lot of songs and then narrow it down?
Tony G: The guys recorded about 50 to 60 songs in about a six weeks. Everyone was eager to put some music out, so 50 decided to give the fans an EP first.
DX: Who do you think shines the most on The Beauty Of Independence?
Tony G: I really think all of the artists add an important element. Young Buck sounds amazing, and you can really hear his hunger. I think Kidd Kidd has the most eyes on him since he is the new member of the group. Needless to say, he can really hold his own and is an amazing lyricist, which everyone got to experience on the EP.
DX: What artist improved the most in your opinion?
Tony G: I’m not sure if any one “improved” per se. These guys are veterans who sold millions of records. But I do have to say Yayo’s verse on “Dead A Pussy N***a” is one of my favorites on the EP.
DX: What producer were you most impressed with?
Tony G: If I had to pick one producer, I would have to say Viruss who produced “The Plug.” I met him on Twitter about two years ago, and back then I could hear his potential, but he just wasn’t ready. Funny story: about 18 months ago, I had a 6:00 am flight to Los Angeles, and I tweeted as a joke, “If anyone wants to give me a ride to the airport.” Viruss actually offered to come pick me up at 4:00 am and drive me. In exchange, I would listen to his beats in the car ride to the airport, and I would also play him beats I liked, so he could hear what he is missing. Since I travel a lot, this kind of became a routine for six months. We would have listening sessions each time I needed to fly out of town. Fast forward, and he improved like crazy, and now has an amazing record on the EP.
The Plug: How Tony G Assembled A Cast Of Producers
DX: How and why did you get involved in The Beauty of Independence?
LordQuest [Produced “I Don’t F**k Wit You”]: I was out in New York doing some work with a bunch of artists, and my manager Matt had me go up to G-Unit offices to meet with Tony G. The beat as you hear it was a replay. I don’t recall the name of the band or the record at the moment, but it was a Spanish instrumentalist Jazz band with really amazing musicianship. I had the horns replayed by my good homies Octavio Santos and Corey Wong. Those guys are phenomenal session musicians. I literally found out [the beat made the EP] when Tony G tweeted me, and that’s when I knew it was out.
45 Music [Produced “Digital Scale”]: I came across G-Unit A&R Tony G’s email through Twitter around 2009 or 2010. I sent him a folder of beats. He hit me back, and ever since then we’ve been working. I grew up on that G-Unit sound.
Viruss Beats [Produced “The Plug”]: Well it all started with my manager Will [@willdaboss1] who is also a well known jeweler for a majority of the celebrities in the industry including 50 Cent. Good old social media is where I met Tony G back in 2012, and the rest is history. 50 Cent is a legend, and his hooks are amazing, but when I hear Lloyd Banks it feels like I am on a New York street corner or something.
Ryan “Ryu” Alexy [Produced “Changes”]: Me and my manager Sarah J sent beats to Tony G. I also produced “Drop A Diamond” for Lloyd Banks and Raekwon on Banks’ last mixtape [Failure’s No Option], and I always sent him beats as well. I grew up listening to [Lloyd Banks] as a kid, and I was always amazed by his lyricism and composure on tracks.
Havoc [Produced “Watch Me”]: I seen him at [Power 105’s] The Breakfast Club. I hadn’t seen him in a long time, and he told me he was working on a new project, so I started submitting tracks.
D.K.A.D. [Co-Produced “Dead A Pussy N***a”]: Honestly, the Unit raised me. I still remember being in high school when Get Rich or Die Tryin’ came out, followed by G-Unit's first LP and that soundtrack. I personally know that from the music I’m making and what I already have, Lloyd Banks and I could really do some damage from here on out.
No Days Off: How Quickly The New G-Unit EP Came Together
DX: How long did it take to find out your track was selected for the EP?
LordQuest: I’d say everything happened within the span of a year to my understanding. I’m not exactly sure when the record was actually recorded, but I believe it was in the last five or six months.
45 Music: Everything happened pretty fast. I sent a batch over to Tony G around the end of May , and about two weeks later, I got the call that they were using a track.
Viruss Beats: I did the track back in June, and it was originally for Drake, but once I heard the Unit was putting together a project, I thought it would be perfect for them. Once it was recorded, Tony Yayo hit me on Instagram and told me we had a hit. I didn’t know which track he was referring to, but I think him and my manager knew the whole time [laughs]. I didn’t get to witness the recording process, but my manager Will (Media Management) did bring me to 50 Cent’s estate in Connecticut where not only did I hear “The Plug,” but I heard a lot of other future G-Unit hits. Coming from being a fan to getting an early listen to G-Unit exclusives and recording a track with them is like a dream come true.
Ryu: It took about two weeks or so for Tony G to get back to me about the “Changes” beat, and then the week after that he wanted the “Dead A Pussy N***a” beat. I want to say it took about two weeks, maybe less for them to record, mix and master it. I was not in the studio when they recorded the tracks.
D.K.A.D.: Honestly, the turnaround was fast. I believe it was a total of two weeks from getting the beat in, to it being mixed, mastered and released on iTunes. So, [it hall happened] pretty fast. It all happened so fast, but these dudes are legends. I wish I could’ve been in the session, because I am pretty hands on with anything I produce. I’m just thankful to even be on the EP.
Havoc: The whole process took about two or three weeks. I was on tour overseas [when they recorded over the track].
Party Ain’t Over: Tentative Plans For More Work With G-Unit
DX: Do you have any other records planned with G-Unit?
LordQuest: There’s a lot of music that I passed along to Tony, so we’ll see what happens next. 50 Cent is the most well-rounded…an artist and a businessman and has really made a statement in the industry as a black man coming from the life he did to where he is now. The rest of the team is dope, but with out 50’s leadership, the unit wouldn’t be what it is. I think it's awesome to see them back as a team, and this EP really displays the cohesiveness of their sound together. It also brings back that New York, in your face street music to the forefront again.
45 Music: I have a few records with 50 Cent for his project, but nothing is certain as of yet. I’m just trying to get as much work as I can right now. There will definitely be more records coming. I think The Beauty Of Independence is solid as whole. It feels authentic, with that 2003 G-Unit feel. I think its dope that they were able to come back together for the project, and I’m glad I got to be a part of it.
Viruss Beats: I actually have a couple with Kidd Kidd, Tony Yayo and Young Buck. I have one with 50 Cent and hopefully Lloyd Banks. Hopefully you will be hearing a lot from me in the near future. I think the title really speaks for itself. Being independent and being able to have total control of your creation and how you present it to the world is very powerful and refreshing. There is no better feeling, besides obviously the company of a sexy young lady [laughs].
Ryu: I’m working on finding that out as we speak, although I think I might have some on Lloyd Banks’ next mixtape. I feel The Beauty Of Independence is a great project…like a classic. It has that original G-Unit feel, and every track sounds so in sync and musically well put together. It’s almost like they never had issues or anything and it takes you back to when they ran Hip Hop.
D.K.A.D.: We’ll see, man. I’m definitely happy everyone out there is loving this record, so whatever happens happens. I’m just happy everyone is messing with it, and I am thankful that I’m a part of something special. This EP flows, man. It is awesome; Tony G and everyone involved sequenced it perfectly, and it just was all done very well. I definitely believe the best is yet to come.
Havoc: I’m still cooking up tracks and sending it to them. The energy on this EP is great! I’m glad to see these guys back together and working. It’s a good look for Hip Hop and music in general.