Exclusive: Evil Dee and Mr. Walt discuss first impressions of Slim Shady, the triumphant track KRS-One swiped from them, and their absence from recent Duck Down projects.
They may be the most celebrated creators of grimey, gritty, dark and dingy boom-bap beats, but blood brothers Mr. Walt and DJ Evil Dee, better known as Da Beatminerz, actually scored arguably the biggest credit of their career for crafting the fairly lighthearted track that helped introduce a future superstar to the world.
“Well, the story was this,” began Mr. Walt this past Tuesday (April 26th) as he proceeded to recall the events that led to Eminem’s “Any Man,” “before we was on Rawkus I was a big fan of Rawkus Records, and I told Jarret [Myer], who was the owner of Rawkus, I said, ‘Listen man, I like the stuff that you’re puttin’ out, you guys are really doin’ it, whatever you need from me I got you.’ He was like, ‘Well Walt, I got this new kid, I want you to make a beat for him ….’”
“So, I walk into D&D [Studios],” he continued, “and Eminem is sittin’ in the lounge – doesn’t look like a rapper, regular guy. And I’m like, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ I met his manager, Paul Rosenberg – cool dude. So, I play beats for [Eminem], and he picks the beat for ‘Any Man.’ I never heard this guy rhyme [before]; I didn’t hear the stuff he did with Royce [Da 5’9”] … all the stuff [they] did on Game [Records as] Bad Meets Evil, never heard none of that stuff. So, he gets in the vocal booth and the first thing he says [in a high-pitched nasally tone] is ‘Hi!’ I look at my engineer like, ‘Oh my God, what did I just get myself into?’ [Laughs] And then the rest is history.”
Slim Shady proceeded to hit Walt “with some ill flows that don’t even make sense, like dykes using dildos” for the second installment in Rawkus Records’ groundbreaking compilation series, SoundBombing.
“I couldn’t laugh,” replied Walt when asked about his reaction to Em’s gut-busting rhymes. “I couldn’t really laugh because Paul and Jarret was in the room with me. But I looked at my engineer and I was like, ‘Yo, what just happened?’”
Six years before helping Slim Shady certify his Hip Hop credentials, the beat-mining brothers from Bushwick, Brooklyn helped save their native New York from being relegated to irrelevance as west coast artists came to dominate the Hip Hop landscape. Walt and Dee’s work crafting the hardcore Hip Hop classics “How Many MC’s,” “Who Got Da Props,” “Buck Em Down” and the remainder of the game-changing Enta Da Stage for Dee and his groupmates, Buckshot and 5 ft., in Black Moon set the stage, no pun intended, for the Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, The Notorious B.I.G. and others to return the rotten apple to prominence.
But even with all of their boom-bap bona fides, in recent years the “Bucktown” beatmakers have seen their musical “Toolz of the Trade” put to work sparingly within the Boot Camp Clik they originally supplied the signature sound for.
“With Buck[shot] and them, they wanted to try something new,” replied Evil Dee when asked about Da Beatminerz absence from recent releases on Buckshot’s Duck Down label. “And it’s like, you can’t get mad at somebody for trying something, trying something else.”
“We still come back together for a Black Moon record or a [Smif-N-Wessun] record,” added Walt. “So really the connection is still there.”
A new Black Moon album - the group’s first studio effort since 2003’s Total Eclipse - has long been bantered about, but apparently talk is finally turning into action.
“We supposed to have meetings this week [about it],” Walt revealed.
“I put some beats aside,” added Dee, “but we didn’t go full throttle yet.”
Contrary to Evil Dee’s claim, Da Beatminerz have been going full throttle for nearly 20 years. And so with a long list of classic credits, for Ras Kass (“Oral Sex”), O.C. (“It’s Only Right” and “Dangerous” featuring Big L), Black Star (“Astronomy”), and even D’Angelo (the Beatminerz remix to “Brown Sugar” featuring Kool G. Rap), it can be hard to pick a favorite Walt and Dee creation. Ironically, one clear standout came about completely by chance.
“It wasn’t even separated; it was just a two-track,” explained Walt of the thunderous backdrop to KRS-One’s “Ova Here.” “He took that straight off of our beat CD. How I found out about it was, one day I turned on Kid Capri and he played it. Then I got the phone call from – first I got the phone call from D&D, because they was the ones who gave him the beat. Then I got the phone call from Kris, and Kris was apologizing. I mean listen, without ‘Ova Here’ we wouldn’t be making records with Kris to this day. Like, Kris is one of the best people to work with.”
Da Beatminerz are also fans of working with the "King of Connecticut" (“Apathy’s a part of the team,” revealed Walt of the rapper/producer. “So that’s a given”), Torae, and Jean Grae. The latter two are being blessed with full projects produced by Walt and Dee. Also on deck for the trackmasters is a remix album for Rah Digga, overseeing new music from the Mood Doctors, and producing a project to showcase the deejays heard online at Beatminerz Radio.
While checking out their Internet radio broadcast at DaBeatminerz.com, any aspiring emcees can click on the “Beatz” link and obtain some of that special brand of Beatminerz boom-bap for themselves.
“We’re negotiable,” replied Walt when asked about their fees for mining those beats. “We work with everybody’s budget.”
“It’s surprising to me the cats that [hit us] up and want beats,” added Dee regarding the diverse backgrounds of their clientele. “I’m thinkin’ it’s like a strictly east coast thing, [but] it’s like … global.”