J.R. is on his J.O. (Part 2)
SWING: Ok, I’ma jump back into the production side for minute. What equipment are you working with right now? What “tools” are you using?
J.R. : My Tools are the MPC2000XL. I’m also using the Roland XB3080 Expanded. As well as the Roland Fantom sound module. Software, I got Logic Pro. So lately I’ve been using Logic for a lot of stuff but I’m gonna have to go back on the grind, man with the hip hop stuff by going back to the MPC for a couple months.
SWING: Have you or would you ever experiment with any other programs outside of Logic?
J.R.: No, but my homeboy, Nab, he uses Reason. To tell you the truth Logic was a big learning curve for me. Logic and an MPC is all I need for editing, recording. Having a whole bunch of options will actually handicap me. I know the way I work. See, I’ll work in one particular area for a year and put it down then work in another area for a year. So if I have a whole bunch of options I’ll probably never get a chance to learn how to work the others.
SWING: Being with CMR for a while I’m assuming that you worked close with Mac “The Doulos “. During your time together, were you able to pick up a lot from him? Was it a give and take type thing?
J.R.: It was definitely a give and take type thing. I’m in St. Louis and they’re in Philadelphia, so my production company was always its own entity. It was never tied to Crossmovement, so I’d be a work for hire for those guys (production wise). When I worked in Philadelphia Mac showed me a lot on his production. Like how to chop up samples and how to blend certain chords together to really bring out that Philly…East Coast…Philly Soul sound. I think he was able to learn from me on the uptempo, club joints. I learned from Mac the last two years when I was out there, but the bulk of my sampling tutoring came from DJ Official (Check out DJ Official’s new release “Entermission” now available on iTunes).
SWING: There will be a lot of new and established producers who will read this and this interview. Any word of advice for anybody that’s just getting started or someone who’s been doing it for awhile who may feel discouraged because they’re not getting the results they’d expect within the Christian industry?
J.R.: I’d say explore the world of arranging and producing and songwriting as much as possible. What’s done in the dark is what’s gonna be seen in the light. I’d say for all producers just learn your craft. Study the Timbaland’s, the J.R.’s, the DJ Official’s , the Tony Stone’s, the Neptunes. Study these and see how they do it then go back and practice it. I always tell people, don’t be afraid to copy. When you’re first starting off for the first couple of months if you find a beat you like try to duplicate it. Even if you’re working with a crappy keyboard you can do a lot with 5 sounds. So, study good songwriting. It doesn’t hurt to learn a new instrument too, whether it be a piano or an organ or drum whatever it is. It all helps you to become a better composer.
Keep yourself open to everything. All genres of music has a level of expertise that can teach about your own genre. Other than that I’d see be faithful over what you have. Be a good steward. If you’re good at it and you see yourself getting good at it…work hard. Be in the studio when you’re supposed to be, record when you’re supposed to. Laziness is a killer. It’s an Achilles heel for music makers. If you know you’re supposed to working on a project or someone is looking for like 3 or 4 beats and you turn the game on and sit back watching T.V. you’re finished. You have to be a good steward, because as an artist you have a small window to catch what’s there and you’ll have to wait until the next opportunity an idea.
Pray for opportunities too. A lot of producers will be waiting for the right Christian artists. I say, go into the jingle world where you’re just making beats for commercials. I did jingles for about a year for a company. Commercials, plays, radio stations who need music. Any opportunity to make music where people can hear your stuff is a big jump in your career. Once people hear your music and hear your sound they’ll be like, “Wow, who did that beat” and it’ll spread like wildfire.
Work with artists that may not be tight. They might be wack, but they’ll be helping you to becoming a better producer at the time and it isn’t costing you any money it’ll help. See and I guarantee you that once you start making dope music the bigger artists will come. Work unto the Lord with all the stuff like He’s right next to you. You can try to sell your stuff, but if God isn’t smiling on it then it isn’t going to go anywhere. So be faithful, grind, study your craft and then put in the Lord’s hands and…that’s a wonderful recipe right there.
SWING: My last question for you. Are there any dream collabs that you’d love to get in.
J.R.: Man, I don’t really have a dream collab. There are certain people I’d love to work with. Lupe Fiasco is one. I love Lupe. I’d love to do a joint with Radiohead, whether they co-produce with me or I co-produce with them. My homeboy Cam! I’d love to work with Cam since me and him have similar styles. Most of the people in the Christian industry I’ve pretty much worked with. Oh and Sade!! I’d love to do a song with Sade!
Be sure to catch J.R. on his upcoming album “Liberation” coming soon
Or his previous releases, on Crossmovement Records, “Metamorphosis” and “Life In Stereo” on iTunes NOW!!!