State of the Music Industry – Part II: Skibeatz

Welcome to Sui Generis!


Nikke Stiletto: We are here with my guest, the one and only, Skibeatz!  First of all I wanna thank you for being a part of my project.   And before we get started, tell the people a little bit about yourself and what you’re working on.

Skibeatz OK.  My name is Skibeatz and at the moment I am a hip-hop producer and, yeah, I produced a lot of records.  Mostly, known for records I did with Jay-Z, Camp-Lo, Curren$y, 24 Hour Karate School.  I produced a bunch of people.  I mean the list is crazy.  I can’t even list it all its crazy!

NS:  Ok, Right! [Laughter]

So, music is an ever-changing and dynamic environment and you were around before it became this “I just want to make a million dollars” type of industry, right?

SB: Right.

NS:  And if you had to describe music with a feeling or an emotion, how would you describe it?

SB: Well I would describe it as Life, you know.  Music is like art, like painting.  You have all these different colors and you apply them in the right way and you get the right mixture and shades and all that and you come up with some cool, nice music!  And it’s also a way for me to release whatever emotional content that I’m feeling at the moment.  If I’m feeling happy then, obviously, I’m gonna produce something that comes out sounding happy.  If I’m feeling somber, you’re gonna get something that sounds kinda melancholy or nostalgic.  I just make music off of the emotions I’m feeling at the moment.

NS:  And its clear in the music that I, as well as other Skibeatz fans, have heard from you that you have a love and respect for music of all kinds, so that gives you a wide range of creativity to pull from.  What would you say to the up-and-coming artists that seem to be mimicking the styles of other successful artists in order to “get on”?

SB: I would tell them that they don’t have to do that.  I mean, I understand the whole concept of the industry and how it goes.  Everybody’s trying to get on.  It seems like a lot of rappers want to get on because they’re looking for a payday.  You know what I mean?

NS:  Yeah…

SB:  You have like a Drake or a Kendrick or whatever making a certain style of music then [these new rappers] try to emulate that in thinking ‘it worked for them, maybe it will work for me’.  But what makes Drake and Lamar so dope is that they came out with their own thing.  Know what I’m saying?

They didn’t copy anybody; they have people trying to copy them! So I would strongly suggest that if you’re an up-and-coming producer or whatever, create your own sound, man, be original.  Change it up.  Because there’s enough room to do different styles and variations of hip-hop music instead of just doing the same thing that’s on the radio.  The radio plays the SAME. SOUND. ALL. DAY! [Laughter]

And it’s kind of brainwashing a lot of these up-and-coming artists making them believe that they have to sound a certain way.  And it’s…you know…I’m not mad at the music that’s on the radio, because a lot of it is pretty good, but people just need to be more creative, that’s all.  The need to tap into their own creativity, man!

NS: Definitely!  Definitely!  Creativity is kind of stifled these days.  A lot of people, like you were saying, just want to do what worked for somebody else, but they’re not really willing to use their own brain and say “Hey, what do I want to do?”

When it comes to the secret to your music making skills you were once quoted as saying “The secret really is me! It’s not what’s in my head it’s me as an individual, I’m the secret!  They can’t be me; they just have to be who they are.”  I think that is such a profound and great statement to make because a lot of artists kind of disregard that individuality piece of the music pie, so to speak.

SB: Right…

NS:  In a documentary titled Before the Music Dies, Erykah Badu said that she believes there are three types of artists in the music industry.  The first kind of artist is [one who] hurts to do what they do.  There’s a lot of pain, emotion and experience involved and they are most likely more popular than the amount of money they’re making.  They’re not getting rich.  The second kind of artist is [one who] imitates the ones in pain, and these are usually the rich ones.  Basically, what we were just talking about; artists who are just emulating another artist.  And the third kind is [one who] does whatever someone tells them to do.  And a lot of these types get dropped from their label because there are millions of them around.

How do you feel about Erykah Badu’s statement as far as what you’ve seen and what you’ve worked with in the industry?

SB:  Yeah I mean I definitely feel that statement that she made.  I mean it’s true you know?  I would break it down like, you have people who really love it that do it from the heart.  Then you have people who wanna do it for the money.  And then you have people who get [led and told] how to do it.  So, yeah that statement is real, B!

NS [laughter] Yeah!

So someone like Stevie Wonder or Ray Charles, being that they were blind and never really needed much more than their talent to go on to be great and successful musicians, do you think we will find anyone like that in today’s industry?  Or, if we already have one, who would you say is like a Stevie Wonder or Ray Charles of the industry?

SB: Um…we definitely have these types of people in the music industry.  On the hip-hop side, to me, I think Timbaland is supa-dupa [talented].  He’s a genius, you know what I mean?

NS:  Definitely.

SB:  To me, even Kanye.  Kanye goes crazy sometimes with his music when he experiments.  But it kind of reminds me of how Miles Davis used to experiment back in the day and a lot of people didn’t understand.  They thought he was changing his style up.  But he ended up being this force because he wasn’t afraid to step out and do different things.  And that’s how I see Kanye.  Kanye’s like a modern-day Miles Davis in a way.

NS:  Right!  And I think a lot of people kind of hate on Kanye…

SB:  I don’t think they so much hated on him.  I think they hated on the fact that he…I mean, he was experimenting.  And that’s the thing about being a producer.  Sometimes you on and sometimes you off.  The album that he worked on, it wasn’t totally wack but you can tell it was a work in progress.  And I’m sure the next album that he drops he’ll probably be better at whatever he was trying to do. You know?

NS:  Of course.  And do you think it will take the fans a little while just to kind of catch up to where Kanye is on a musical level or do the naysayers just need time for his music to grown on them?

SB:  Well, no.  I think what happened was that Kanye had an idea of what he wanted to do, creatively, and he just couldn’t pull it off completely.  As a producer I can hear where he was going and I can hear that he was trying to get into this whole EDM thing and kind of break into that, but he didn’t pull it off all the way.  Like Timbaland is the MASTER of meshing hip-hop with electronic music.  He’s the man.  When it comes to that, nobody does it better than Timbaland.  And Kanye tried to do it in [his own] way, but it didn’t translate all the way.  It doesn’t mean he can’t pull it off; he just didn’t pull it off with this particular album.

NS:  Ok, so he’s getting there…

Alright, now, being a lover of music myself, I typically give a track about 30 seconds when I hear it for the first time to keep me interested and decide whether or not I like it.   How long do you give a song to impress you and what do you listen for when you review new music?

SB:  I don’t give a song any time.  It’s just when it comes on if I like it I’m like oh this is dope.

NS: [Laughter]

SB:  I don’t really give it a time frame to impress me, like “You have six seconds.  Impress me!” [Laughter]  I mean you know when you like something.  The beat drops and you’re like this is dope!  Then boom!  Now it’s on your playlist, you know?

NS:  Right!  But say you’re listening to something and the beginning is horrible!  You’ll keep listening?

SB: Umm… … … *sigh*…that’s kinda…no, I don’t think so.  If it comes on wack, then I’m like this is wack and I’ll probably choose not to listen.  If you’re song starts wack then … I can’t really foresee it getting better and I would wonder why a person would start their song off wack.  I mean a song starts horrible and then it gets better?  I can’t see that happening! [Laughter]

NS:  [Laughter]

SB: A dope song is a dope song.  It comes on and something about it; it just attracts you to it and that’s it! When I’m listening to something I have no expectations on what I’m listening to. Somebody says ‘Yo check out my song’ and I’m like aight.  I don’t say ‘Oh I hope this nigga’s dope’ or ‘I bet this is wack’.  I just play the song and if it resonates, it does.  And if it don’t the, you know, I’ll just have to tell them I wasn’t feeling it.

NS: Do you feel it’s difficult for artists to take constructive criticism?  You know, if you say, ‘I’m not feeling this’ or ‘this is kind of wack…’

SB: Well, some people, they take it kinda hard, but then some people they take notes.

NS:  Right… [Laughter]

SB:  Take it hard or take notes!! [Laughter] Do what you wanna do, you know?

NS:  Nice!!! [Laughter]

SB: And I know me, I don’t feel like my constructive criticism is like the end of all ends  because there’s been a lot of songs that I thought was just ‘ok’ that came out and blew up crazy!

NS:  Sure, of course…

SB:  Criticisms aren’t absolute.  It’s all relative.  I got my opinions about something, other people have their opinions, you know.  Just because I’m not feeling it, doesn’t mean a million other m*** f****s ain’t gonna feel it!

NS:  True…

SB:  Nobody knows what a “hit record” is.  Nobody knows what will happened because every things always changing.  The sound is always changing.  There’s always new things evolving so you can’t really put your finger on one thing.  And when you think you got it and you think you can go in and you think you have the formula when you can create, as soon as you do that, that’s when everything changes up anyway.

NS:  I think that’s very insightful for the fans, just to know what someone like Skibeatz feels about that topic and to be able to take what you said and run with it.  Basically taking this information and continue to grow and build.

SB:  Everyone’s trying to get from point A to point B with their music career or whatever they’re pursuing but it’s all about making the music.  The whole point of creating is the feeling of creating.  Everyone is a million steps ahead.  They’re not on A and staying on A, they’re all the way on Z like ‘I’m gonna make this song, it’s gonna blow up, it’s gonna be on the radio, I’m gonna have a video, Ima be on stage, Ima get paid’.  They’re missing the whole point.  And the whole point is the gift of just being able to create.  When you’re in the moment of creating, that’s why you do it.  That’s the love.  When you’re making a beat and you play it back, it’s like ‘Oh sh** I made that! That sh**’s crazy!!!’

NS:  [Laughter] Right!!!

SB:  And you in there and you just bobbin your head like damn let me make another one!  And then people hear [your work] and they’ll hear the true heart and love that you put into the track so it will translate with everybody.  Cause if you’re in the zone and you making a dope track and it’s coming from you and it’s all love and all fluid and just flowing out?  When people hear it, they’re gonna feel what you were feeling at that moment.  And that’s the extra perk in the game when other m**** f**kas f*** with it.  Then people wanna buy it and a rapper gets on it and its blowing up.  That’s just a perk.  But the most important part is to be in the moment and loving it when you doing it because that’s really why, well if you’re a real producer, that should be the only reason why you’re making music because you love-making music.  It shouldn’t be because you trying to get your song on the radio or because you’re trying to ‘get in the game’  because that’s not gonna do nothing but make you emulate what the game is putting out anyway.

NS:  Right, you’re gonna be like that number three type of artist.

SB: Yeah

NS:  Right, so do it for the love and not for the money.

SB:  The love is gonna bring the money. You see what I’m saying? If you love it you’re gonna be dope!  If you doing it from 100% love it’s gonna be dope.  You’re gonna be a genius…

I’m sure there are things that you love to do and when you do it, it’s like you be in the zone, right?

NS:  Of course!  Definitely.

SB:  Exactly! If cats just stick to the love thing and just focus on that then everything else in your dream will come true.

NS:  100%

SB:  They’ll be amazed at how things just start to unfold right in front of them.  And, me, I wasn’t even TRYING to be a producer.  I was a rapper.  I wanted to be a star.  I just happened to know how to make music for myself.  Then somebody pulled my coat back in the day and said ‘you know you’re producing and I can help you sell some beats’.  And I didn’t even know what that meant at the time, man, I’m like what?  What’s a producer? That’s how NOT…I wasn’t even in it.  I wasn’t even trying to be nothing like that!  It just happened!

NS:  And that’s great! That’s one of the best ways to get into whatever you’re trying to do, kind of on accident.  That’s the best feeling in the world.

SB:  And that’s the best way to live your life, too!

NS:  Well thank you so very much for coming on the show, Ski!  I definitely appreciate all of the insight and input you provided us this afternoon.  Are there any last little tidbits of information you’d like to share with us?

SB:  Listen out for 24 Hour Karate School Part III coming soon.  Balcony Music coming soon.  Everybody just keep creating keeping banging out….and follow me on Twitter:  @Skibeatz.

NS:  And you know I’ll be adding those two to the collection!  Hope to have you on the show again in the future when the albums drop!

SB:  You know I got you.  Thank you.

This interview is brought to you courtesy of Nikke Stiletto, LLC and is for entertainment purposes only.


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