Needlz: G-Unit Soldier
Not only is he responsible for Young Bucks break-out hit and an upcoming 50 heater, but this young Lansing, Michigan-native also crafted the themes for BETs new Rap City and MTVs Suckafree Sundays.
On deck: new joints for Scarface, Redman, Jermaine Dupri, David Banner and more up n comers like himself.
Would you divide your career into a pre-Let Me In and post-Let Me In?
I think there was another beat I had out there. It didnt really get a lot of play. I did Think Yall Know for Fabolous. I thought that caught a few ears because it was different. Thats my sound. But Let Me In has definitely been big for me. Its my first lead single for a big artist. I think when people hear 50s Piggy Bank, it doesnt sound the same, but theyll be able to put two and two together. Theyll hear some of the same characteristics even though the beats are different.
Are you more sough-after now though?
More so from press. Let Me In was a big record but you got to keep it going. I need another single out right now. The 50 single will help. Youre as hot as your last record. A lot of people have been checking for me. I think not only that record, but another record, Bang Bang that I did on Young Bucks album. They were playing that a lot too. Things have been looking good for me. People keep telling me I got in the game a little late. All the money was in the 90s. Now everyone is really tight with their money. I dont want to kill people. A lot of producers out-price themselves. Im eating pretty good right now off of what Im doing.
Did you get in the studio with 50 and Young Buck?
Nah. Thats why I like working with new artists because you get the chance to work with them. I consider myself an up n comer. I have to pay my dues just like everyone else. Its a different time now. People have Pro tools so people just loop the beat. I would love to be in the studio more with people. It hasnt happened as much as I want it to so far. I think in the future thats going to come and I think better music will come from that.
How did you hook up with G-Unit?
My manager, Folayan Knight knows everybody. Shes cool with Sha Money XL. I make beats and give them to her, like 5 a week. She puts them on CDs and sends them to her connects. I met Folayan at an NYU alumni meeting. She went to NYU and I have a graduate degree from NYU in Music Business. I started undergrad at Florida A&M and finished at Florida State.
Do you think your formal education has helped your career?
Going to NYU allowed me to be in NYC. I needed to be here because I met all kinds of people. When I was at NYU, I had to do an internship at Bad Boy. While I was there, I met people who started shopping my stuff around. And it gave me a broad knowledge of how things work.
Who are your influences?
Primo, Havoc and the Neptunes, Timbaland. Im a big fan of a lot of producers. It seems like producers are driving the industry right now. My sound changes. First it sounded like Primo, then Havoc, and then after studying those type of producers, I developed my own sound. Thats where I am now. My sound is dirty but clean. Something that sounds good sonically but still feels like hip-hop. It feels current but also ahead of its time. Its important to push the envelope. Im big on dirty, fat sounds. Each high hat, snare has a different personality. Growing up in Lansing, Michigan, I was exposed to a lot of music. In the mid-West we listen to everything. We appreciate everything. And then going to school in FL, that was a whole other type of music that I learned to appreciate. My sound is all of that. Im trying to get away from sampling. Its a money thing, but its like a challenge to see if I can be as creative as the people I would be sampling from. Piggy Bank, Let Me In and Ludacris Pass Out have no samples. Its something I want to keep doing. Maybe 10-15 years down the line someone will sample me.
Do you play any instruments?
When I was younger, my mother had us take piano lessons. I played saxophone. But nothing that really stuck with me. I think I have an ear from DJing. My father was an avid blues and jazz fan. I think my lack of knowledge makes me try things in an unorthodox way. I find myself getting better and better. Im going to take piano and guitar lessons with my daughter.
I like working with a lot of new artists. I have Lupe Fiasco. Hes from Chicago. I did two songs with him. Hes on Atlantic. He has his own label called 1st & 15th. Hes a dope lyricist. Then I have Rich Boy from Mobile, Alabama. Hes on Interscope. He has a dope voice. I have two maybe three on his album. After that, I have Jermaine Dupri featuring Anthony Hamilton. Thats on Jermaine Dupris album. David Banner, two for Scarface, Redman. People I want to work with When I started making beats in 99-00, I always wanted to work with Busta. I like how creative he is and how he changes his flow to fit the beat. Jay, if he comes back. Nas. Im really big on new artists. Im waiting for something fresh. I want to introduce my sound to the game with someones new sound. I want to create a whole album of fresh beats, fresh lyrics, fresh concepts. Im looking for artists for my company, Dry Rain Entertainment.
How do you feel about Hip-Hop today?
I grew up listening to the early 90s stuff and it hit you in the heart. I feel like its been watered down. I feel like a lot of rappers are talking about the same thing. I dont even mind people talking about the same things just find a different angle to flip it. Rappers talk about things most people cant relate to. There needs to be more regular MCs. Especially now, we have so many issues going on. At the end of the day, thats what people take home. They want to be able to feel the artist.