Here is an eye opening interview w/DJ Khalil of Self Scientific fame. He speaks on everything from getting beats on Jay Z and The Game albums to working with Dre and his own group, Self Scientific.
(stolen from HHG):
I?m good. I?m good. I?m excited right now. This has been a big month for me. It?s like a dream come true. I?m really excited and really motivated.
How did ?I Made It? on Jay-Z?s Kingdom Come come about??
That was all through Dr. Dre. He hooked it up. He?s been working with Jay-Z a lot. He mixed his album and Jay-Z was doing some writing for him. He somehow heard the track and he really liked it. Jay was asking Dre what he was doing with that. Dre was gracious enough to let the track go and just give it to him. It happened that fast. I got a call from Aftermath that Jay-Z wanted the track. I called Dre and got the whole story and found out what the song was about. Jay had already touched it at that point because Dre knew what the song was about. Dre mixed it the following week. Within a week and a half it was done. That was crazy. It?s a dream come true. I didn?t even get a chance to hear it right away. I was just in shock when Angelo from Aftermath played it for me. I was in shock that he was rapping over my beat. It?s a dream come true.
Were you disappointed that you didn?t get any creative input in the track??
I always love to be in the studio, but that?s not always how it works out. It?s all good in this situation. I?m still a new, up-and-coming producer. I?m not really established so for that to happen, it?s not out of the ordinary. That?s just the nature of the game. Hopefully in the future, if I work with Jay-Z again, or whoever, I?ll be able to have more input creatively. I?m just happy that Dre endorsed the track and that he liked it. I?m also happy that Jay-Z liked it enough to squeeze it on his album. The record with Game also got squeezed in at the last minute. That?s amazing to me. It happened at the last minute but it worked out. It?s divine intervention.
more after the jump…
What?s crazy is that even Dre didn?t believe ?I Made It? was an original beat with no samples.?
Yeah. He thought it was a sample. When they were mixing it, he was like, Dude, we need to get the sample information. I said, ?There?s no sample in there.? He said, ?No, there?s got to be a sample. There?s drums in the back.? On that track, I collaborated with a musician I work with named Donte Winslow. Hes a horn player and he arranges horns. The way the track sounds, it sounds like a sample. Donte?s wife is singing on it. It was a whole piece of music. I just chopped it up and made something out of it. It just came out really dope.?
When Dre heard it, I can?t even say if he liked it. When I sent the beat over with a bunch of other beats, he knew he had to hold onto it. Dre still wasn?t convinced even after he mixed the song. I talked to him on the phone and he said, ?Are you sure it?s not a sample?? I promised him it was all original. It wasn?t a sample and it wasn?t a replay. He was really impressed with that. If there was a sample involved, it wouldn?t have made the album because they were ready to master and press the album. We had a week to turn that in. Everything just worked out. Dre was just really impressed that it wasn?t a sample.?
I feel like Dre is definitely noticing what I?m doing. He already noticed me before, but I feel like I?m going to another level a little bit now, just in the fact that I?m able to work with him and for him to be able to see my growth is great. I?m really proud of that more than anything. It?s a dream of mine for Dre to endorse the beat and for Jay to rhyme on it. That?s really been a dream of mine. That?s worth more than money to me. I?ve been dreaming of Jay rhyming on my beats forever. It?s great to be a part of history.?
Did you hear Jay-Z or someone of his caliber on the beat when you made it??
I don?t even know who I heard on the beat when I made it. I don?t know. As soon as my boy Donte played me the music and the idea, I immediately made the beat that night. It came together. I didn?t really have anybody in mind. I just made it. In hindsight, I could have heard Nas or Jay-Z on it. When I make beats, I think of 50, I think of Game, I think of Jay and I think of Nas. I think anybody who makes beats thinks of them on their tracks. Those are the top guys. Those are the top MC?s in the game and they?re legends. I?m pretty sure every producer, when they make a beat, wants them to rap on their tracks. My dream was to work with Jay, 50, Nas and Game. To me, that was a huge accomplishment because I want to be a part of their legacy. Being a part of Game?s legacy is huge too because he?s just getting started. I missed it on The Documentary and I?m just glad to have made The Doctor?s Advocate.?
How was it working with Game on ?Da Sh-t???
It?s great. I started working over at Aftermath when he got signed. We developed a relationship over time at Aftermath. Some of the first records he recorded while over at Aftermath were over my tracks. We have some history. We just developed a relationship over time. I literally called him on the phone and told him I had the record for him (?Da Sh-t?). I knew he was going to take it. The A&R, Angelo, heard the track beforehand and said I had to give the track to Game. He was pretty much done with his album when he got that joint. I walked into the studio when the Runners were there. They left and it was real late. I put in the CD. It was the first track on there. When it came on, Game came in the room and turned up the volume on the big speakers, said, ?That?s crazy,? and wrote it right there. He did it that night. I thought that was the perfect record for him because it was so West Coast. I had Dr. Dre in mind when I made it. It just fit everything he was trying to say. I knew I could get on the record with that song.?
Even when I see him now, he says, ?Dude, you made the album!? That?s a big deal for me because I think he?s a really talented MC. I think he?s really smart. He?s smarter than a lot of people give him credit for. There is a lot of controversy and some of the stuff he does makes you scratch your head sometimes, but he?s smart and he?s definitely a student of the music that he?s doing. He tells you that in his rhymes. I?m proud of that. The Jay-Z thing is my biggest dream come true.?
You have two completely different beats in ?I Made It? and ?Da Shit?. How would you describe your range as a producer and how important is that range??
It?s huge because it?s unpredictable, but there?s still a sound you can recognize. People can recognize my sound on an album before they read the credits. People call me telling me they know what I did before they read the credits. That?s really an accomplishment for me as a producer because I want to bring a lot of different sounds. I study a lot of records and I grew up listening to all these cats like Dre and Timbaland and how they make hits. My focus has been on making beats and being as creative as possible with them. Interacting with other people and getting other perspectives has really helped, as well as collaborating with musicians and songwriters. It took more than just me to get the whole thing done. I definitely want to be known as a producer who?s not just limited to one thing. I?m definitely trying to branch out and do all different types of records. I try to do that through Self-Scientific and all the other records we do. I try to incorporate different types of musicians and different types of sound structures. People appreciate when you?re trying to do something new.?
People still hit me up about that Game record because it?s something that?s unpredictable. Those are all live instruments. People are like, How the hell did you get it to sound like that? The trick is working with live musicians and getting it to sound like a sample.?
How important has Dr. Dre been to your progression as a producer?
He?s a big part of it. Dre just sets the bar so high. We have a good, creative relationship. I want to impress him every time I go out there with something he?s never heard before. He?s a big influence on what I do. I saw him awhile ago, right before Busta?s album dropped, and I heard the ?Get You Some? track with Marsha. I told him that record inspired me so much, just with the drums and the way the song is structured and how the song rides and how he brought the piano in. It was so unpredictable to me. He?s humble. He was like, You really like that? Thank you. He gave me an advance copy of Busta?s album and he told me to hit him up and tell him what I thought. We chopped it up about that album and Detox and what direction he wants to go in. He?s been a big influence because he doesn?t want to do the same thing over and over again. That?s where I?m at too. You have to be dope and if you have to do something really different. I think that?s where his head is at and that influences me. He?s willing to stretch, but he still sticks to his sound. He?s just a very creative person. I?ve really liked that and I really look up to him because of that. He?s always trying to be creative and he?s always trying to do something. That?s been a big influence on what I?m doing and where I want my sound to go. I want my sound to be bigger, but I still want my sound to be mine.
Do you see Detox happening??
I do. A lot of people are like, Nah, it?s not going to happen. I see it happening. He just has to feel good about it. He?s just trying to figure it out. I don?t think it matters if it comes out this year or five years from now. I think people are still going to be waiting for it because he doesn?t let you down creatively. It seems like he?s still trying to figure it out and you can?t rush perfection. He?s a perfectionist and that?s what makes him Dr. Dre. Personally, I can see it happening. A lot of people don?t, but I do. I think it?s going to come out and I think it?s going to be crazy. I hope it does for the sake of hip-hop and music. Just look what happens when he puts those albums out and what it does as far as other artist?s careers. Music shifts when he makes his mark and I think that?s where his head is at. He wants to make another mark on music.?
What?s the main difference between working with Dre and working with DJ Muggs??
They?re both really creative and they?re both really driven. They both really have ideas all the time. They come up with crazy ideas all of the time and they?re always thinking of something and they?re always thinking big. Muggs thinks big and Dre obviously thinks big. When they come with it, they?re obviously not trying to lose and they refuse to lose. I really appreciate that. It?s contagious. You have to start thinking like that. If you?re working with them, you can?t think like, We might lose. You have to think like, We have to win. If you don?t, they?ll leave you behind. They?re moving forward and they?re still hungry and they?re still creative and they?re still trying to figure it out. They could easily stop doing music and relax, but they?re still really driven. They?re really driven to be creative and to try new things and come with a new artist and make their mark. They still want to do it. That?s what I picked up from both of them. They?re really similar in that way.?
You?re on two of the biggest albums of 2006. How are things changing for you since those two tracks came out??
I think it?s just going to help my name. When you have the Jay-Z credit and the Game credit, you get that stamp and I think doors will open. There are people who already knew about my music. I think it definitely helps. My phone has definitely been ringing. It?s definitely ringing. I?m just going to keep doing what I?m doing. My phone is going to ring and I know it?s going to keep ringing. Everybody?s excited for me. Everybody?s hit me up. I?ve had more family and friends call me and people I work with who are more excited than A&R people.?
In terms of artists, I?m starting to have relationships with a lot of artists and that?s just something that I?ve been working on. I?ve been able to get my name out there some more. These placements are definitely going to help open some doors. People are going to look for me to go in there and deliver records. People are going to look at me a little differently now. I?m not just an underground producer anymore. I?m not on the radio and I don?t have a hit single, but I think people are going to start noticing more. I?m happy for that and to have more opportunities. I think that?s what the records are bringing. People are going to have an open ear now more than ever. I?m happy for that.
Have you and Chace Infinite started the next Self-Scientific album??
Yep. It?s just been so slow with Chace working at Angeles and Soul Assassins 3 with DJ Muggs and the Black and Brown project with Sick Symphonies and Psycho Realm. We?re all spread so thin and with these last few placements, it?s going to be picking up. We?re just trying to find some time to get the next album done. It will be out in 2007. We?re probably three songs into it already and probably by the top of the year, we?ll probably have most of the album done. I?m just gearing up because I really want to take it there with our project. The last one really opened fans? ears and people who normally wouldn?t listen to us, they listen to us now. Just by being consistent and keeping the music out there will be dope. I?m excited the album because the approach is going to be a step further than our last one. It?s going to be all live instruments and no samples. We?re going to have fun with it.
Chace seemed a little frustrated with the distribution on your last album, Change. Do you consider Change a success?
I think it?s all in how you look at it. Maybe we didn?t sell as many as we thought we would and maybe we didn?t get the push. We can?t blame anybody. We have to establish ourselves again. There are other artists and other people that work in the music industry that look at us differently now. That was their favorite album last year. Our album came out the same time that Late Registration came out and people were saying that our album was better than Kanye?s album. People were really feeling that and you can?t overlook that. Every group has been through the ringer and you can?t be disappointed by sales. I try not to focus on that.?
Chace deals with the distributor more than I do. I know it?s disappointing to see the numbers, but I still think we have a voice and we can definitely compete with anybody. I really feel that way. We can compete with anybody up to Jay-Z. I think Chace is that dope as an MC and we can make great music. I think people are really going to see our range on the next album. I?m not going to focus on sales and promotion, but we really have to get out there. We make dope music and we?re definitely way above average as a hip-hop group and it?s up to us to prove that to people. Getting on the Jay-Z album helps. We can blame what happened on anybody, but we just have to keep making the best music that we can and everything else will take care of itself.?
How is Soul Assassins 3 coming??
It?s coming along dope. Muggs is spearheading it and I?m just getting beats together for it right now. Alchemist got some beats together for it too. It?s dope. Muggs is on another level. His beats are just killing it right now. Every time I go out there, he?s playing me some stuff that?s just ridiculous. I think it?s going to be a crazy album. It?s going to be a real dope album. We?re just working on getting some features and getting some people involved in the project. It?s a work in progress, but everything I?ve heard so far has been crazy. We have to finish it up in the next few months. We?re really working on it. I?m actually kind of behind in terms of having beats set aside for it, but it?s going to get done and the stuff that he has already is crazy. I had to go back to the lab when I heard Muggs? beats. It?s going to be a dope project.
What else are you working on??
Beats. I?m just going to be working on beats. I?m just trying to hook up with Dre some more and give him my ideas and stuff like that. I?m just trying to get these projects done. I?m trying to build my own production company. I?ve been trying to find new producers, which I?ve been doing. I give a lot of producers advice. I like doing it. A lot of young kids ask me for advice and come through. I used to teach classes down at Washington Prep and I?ve kept in touch with a lot of those kids and mentor them. They?re dope. I?m just trying to find more talent. There is always a lot of work. I?ve just been focusing on that too. I?m trying to develop other producers and find an artist.?
That?s my other focus. I?m trying to find an artist to develop outside of hip-hop. I have other interests outside of hip-hop. I?m just trying to branch out somewhat. I?m definitely also just trying to work and collaborate with other creative people. I?m trying to for partnerships and I?m just trying to make the best music possible. That?s really my focus. I think everything else will work itself out.?
What do you want to say to everybody??
Look out for Soul Assassins 3 and Prepare for War. That?s Self-Scientific?s next album. I don?t even know when that?s coming, but that?ll probably be next year sometime. Please go buy Kingdom Come. I think I have track 8. And go buy the Game?s album. Hopefully I?ll place this record with 50 and I might be on his album. They took a joint from me and they said they?ve already started moving on it. I haven?t heard the song yet, but I?ve just been blessed. In a month?s time, I talked to 50, I talked to Dre, I talked to Game and I talked to Busta. Busta loved the Game song and he was calling me, telling me he needed one of those. Just the fact that I?ve been able to deal with these guys based off of my music is just crazy. It?s just a dream come true.?
And to be able to work with Muggs and to work with Dre, it doesn?t get any better than that. It just doesn?t. I?m just trying to do whatever I can and not disappoint them. This last month and a half has just been crazy. I?ve been able to talk to a lot of the top cats in the game and have conversations with them and they want my music. Everybody always says it?s not crazy and I?m dope and I?ve been doing it for awhile, but it still shocks me because I grew up listening to all these people and I bought their music. I listened to N.W.A. and everything that Dre did, as well as Cypress Hill and everything that Muggs has done. These people have spawned movements. To be able to work with them is just amazing. I?m very excited.?
I just want to thank everybody who supports Self-Scientific, Angeles Records, Soul Assassins and Strong Arm Steady. I really appreciate everybody hitting me up to congratulate me on getting placements. They know how hard I worked and all the blood, sweat and tears that go into making it in the music business. Even before the Jay-Z thing, I felt like I knew who I was as a producer and what I was capable of. I?m just starting to understand that because I really believe that I can do it. I?m just thankful that I?m able to have the opportunity and that opportunities keep coming my way.