Exclusive: The producer of hits for KRS-One, Biggie and Xzibit makes a series of Hip Hop-inspired Children's albums.
Bronx, New York-born Jesse West is known for producing hit records such as KRS-One's "Step Into A World," Xzibit's [click to read] "What You See Is What You Get" and GZA's first career single "Come Do Me." Speaking recently with HipHopDX, the 20-plus-year producer and emcee announced that he was taking his understanding of Hip Hop music to the Children's genre.
"Right now, the thing I'm spending the most energy on, is that I did a CD with some children. It's called The Multiplication Songs," said West this month. The first volume of the effort hit iTunes and other retailers nearly a year and a half ago, with more coming.
"I grew up on Schoolhouse Rock. What I did was a Hip Hop version of that - not those songs in particular though. Some of the ideas for songs, we used. The way that I approached it is not that I'm just putting out a children's record, I approached it like I'm putting together a legitimate Hip Hop record. I'm gonna seriously produce this record. We have hooks in the songs. Everything was done just like a [typical] album," said West, who was a recording artist for both Motown and Loud Records throughout his career.
Touching upon the difference from traditional work, West, who also worked closely with Notorious B.I.G. and Busta Rhymes, said, "The difference is that I went and got the children and had them perform on all of the records. All I'm doing is using a little Auto-Tune to raise the pitch in my voice, and I'm just the ringleader. The character I came up with is 'MC Schoolly Rap.' He guides these kids." Without the Auto-Tune, West can be heard on "How You Really Want It," an iTunes exclusive bonus track from Busta's Back On My B.S. [click to read] album.
The series is headed from Math to English next. "I'm almost done with the grammar side - we're making songs about nouns, verbs - the same pattern from Schoolhouse Rock," said Jesse. Schoolhouse Rock remains a leading inspiration, known most notably for its musical influence on Hip Hop, with both Prince Paul and DJ Shadow sampling the 1970s volumes previously. "You know how there was '3 Is The Magic Number'? When we do numbers, the idea of 'magic' is in there. It's no mistake." The songs also interpolate Hip Hop classics including Doug E. Fresh & Slick Rick's "The Show" and Tha Luniz' "I Got 5 On It," among others. This creates an appeal to Hip Hop Generation parents.
"Everybody that hears it, they're like 'Wow!'," Jesse admitted to DX. With a 1989 solo album No Prisoners and numerous credits, the veteran boldly stated, "You could look at my discography and said, "Man, he's worked with this person and that person, but this is my body of work that I'm the most proud of. Every thing that I've done in my 20 year career, every thing, leads up to this."
And it's not just anybody that the producer is working with. "I couldn't have done it without my daughter. She's 11 years old, and it's her and her classmates that we're recording," West said, also revealing that it took a year to record The Multiplication Songs. "It's Hip Hop music at its highest and noblest form, because if you can teach your kids how to walk it out, we can teach them to do algebra."
This quarter, Jesse West will be releasing a volume of Music From The Man with Freddie Foxxx a.k.a. Bumpy Knuckles [click to read], a fully-produced collaborative digital album the New York veterans. West is also reportedly in the studio with Positive K and Trendz Of Culture.
The Multiplication Songs can be heard [click here].