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Behind The Beats: An Interview With NYC Producer Ras Beats

There’s one thing to love and admire the golden era and draw influence from it while incorporating it into contemporary…

There’s one thing to love and admire the golden era and draw influence from it while incorporating it into contemporary sounds, and then there’s having lived it—and building/adding to a sound that never truly died. Enter Ras Beats, a producer who’s making some of the hottest underground New York flavors out right now; he’s just getting started.

He has a track record of dropping some super flame singles on his imprint, but 2016’s Control Your Own is his first full-body of work, and it features an impressive cast of rappers, including Elzhi, Roc Marciano, Masta Ace, Sadat X, and more.

Ras had a Q&A with AAHH last year when the project dropped but linked up with is again recently to chat about his past, his motivation, and what’s next. Check out the interview below, and if you’ve been sleeping on Control Your Own—[*slap]—wake up!

Your music is very nineties hip hop. Have you been doing it since that era?

Yep, I have. I spit out the first record on my label in 2003, and I was at it before that. I was doing stuff in the nineties. It’s a tradition I follow, but I always tell people, I try to add on to it, make something new out of something that came before what I do, so that’s it. Yeah, I’ve been doing it for a minute.

What keeps you motivated? Because you’re completely not following the wave at all—what makes you go that route, and keep it so traditional?

Making music to me, it just comes organically. A lot of times, I’m listening to a record, and all of a sudden, I’m like, ‘yeah, I’m going to start messing with this right now.’ I kind of just go by stuff that I would like to hear. To me, there are trends that come and go, but I’ve figured out what I think I’m good at, so I try to keep working on that, keep getting better at what I do, and not worry about trends. Trends come and go, so I feel like there’s going to be a time the grittier production style might be a little more in fashion than it is right now. I’m just doing what I do, and sticking to what I think I’m good at, and really working on that part of the craft.

Do you see a shift in the industry more towards your style? Because I do, in a way. There’s a lot of younger artists coming in that are jumping on it.

Yeah, to me, it’s like with listening to music–from doing production to digging–I listen to all kinds of shit. I’m wide open. I listen to anything, and if I feel it, I feel it. But with hip hop, I like different styles, but I like it to have a little bit of grit and be authentic to whoever makes it. If you’re an MC or a producer, and you just follow what everybody else is doing, you might still make some good stuff, but a lot of times you don’t, because you’re just doing a carbon copy of what everybody else is doing. Sometimes it comes to a point that people are like, I want to hear some stuff that’s you. I think that’s what happened with Alicia Keys, just to switch to another style of music. Artists like that, people were starving for somebody who wrote her own songs, played the piano, sung her heart out, so it was lacking that authenticity. So, I think that style in most of my production has been around, but definitely getting more attention now than it has in the last couple years for sure. I definitely agree with you on that.

What have been some of your highlights so far?

Personally, the highlight for me was the album. It’s the biggest piece of work that I put together myself, and I took my time with it. Before that, there was a single I actually put on the album as well with Master Ace and Sadat X, that was a big highlight for me.. A couple of lesser known records that I put out on my label as well that just meant a lot to me personally, but definitely the album so far. Most definitely. Not even close, that’s the biggest piece of music for sure.

What are some of the other things that you’re putting out on your label? Do you have artists on your label?

Yeah. There’s a guy on Control Your Own named JBiz who was on two tracks; the first record I put out with him, was a song called “Ninety Five” that we put out in 2003, which did well. That was the strictly vinyl era, so we made some noise with it back then. That was a dope thing, and goes back quite a bit. That was the first thing we put out. I put out an EP also in 2006 that was vinyl, and we did some digital with it. That was five songs, and JBiz was actually on it too. I did a song too with Neek The Exotic who’s down with Large Professor and stuff a couple years ago, and that was pretty dope. That was on his previous album, too. And then I’ve done a lot of under the radar stuff, so I’m trying to be on the radar these days. That’s what I’m trying to do now [*laughs]. I’m trying to focus on that part.

So, what are some of the things you’re working on now? Because the last couple times we were trying to connect you were in the studio. What do you have in the pipeline?

I’m in the early phase of the next project–it’s going to be me and one MC. I’m almost ready to let it out of the bag, but I’m still keeping it under wraps because I don’t want to say anything until it’s official. Also, I’ve been doing a lot of stuff for different people—a joint here, a joint there—and some of that should start coming out in like March and April!

Riley here — father, artist, videographer, professional writer and SERIOUS hip-hop head. I'm a member of the Universal Zulu Nation, and I think everything is better on vinyl. Add me on Twitter! @specialdesigns
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Texas’ Lil X Is Ready To Takeover As The ‘New Kid on the Block’

The rapper Lil X, born in El Paso, Texas, is crafting an undeniable path to the top right now. Young,…

The rapper Lil X, born in El Paso, Texas, is crafting an undeniable path to the top right now. Young, rowdy, and popular, he is achieving viral attention with his new project, New Kid on the Block, and the project’s breakout hits, “Galaxy” and “Bands All Done”. On the verge of becoming a social firestorm, we sit down with the star on the rise to get familiar with who he is, where he’s from, what he’s about and what he has in store.

[AAHH]: What was it like growing up where you are from?

[Lil X]: It was fine, I got to do what I wanted. El Paso is right on the border of Mexico so there is lots of tradition and mixed culture.

Has your family been supportive of your career?

Yes my family has been supportive and I know they are trying to understand what I’m doing and one day fully learns what I’m creating and what I’m making.

If you had to choose one record for someone to listen to from you, what would it be?

Greatness, its uplifting and gives off a different feel. I personally say most people would enjoy this song.

Was “New Kid on the Block” your debut project or can new fans find more of your catalog elsewhere?

It was mostly my debut project but im going to be releasing more music soon.

Can you describe the creative process behind “New Kid on the Block”?

Well I sat down in my room and I played the beat and found were the words would fit and then created the correct melody and bam I took out each song one by one.

What are the singles from your latest project?

Galaxy, Pouri’n, and Bands All Done.

Any notable producers you are working with or want to work with?

I think Reazy Renegade is a great producer I work with. I would like to work with Molly Raw and Muder Beats in the future.

Any big-name features in the vault that we could expect anytime soon?

I have a couple of people that I’m talking with but I don’t want to give them up yet.

You’re only 16 so we wanted to ask you a random question. Can you name 5 Lil Wayne records? If so what are your favorite 5?

Yes I’m going to go with How to love, A Milli, Mona Lisa, 6 Foot 7 Foot, and Lollipop.

If you could choose 3 people to be on your next project who would it be?

I would probably go with Tavis Scott, Lil Skies, and Lil Uzi Vert.

Any label attention or calls right now?

I have a lot of different things happening and I’m looking for my best options before I sign to anything.

For more on Lil X, follow the rising star on Instagram.

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Akhil Sesh – “Amazing”

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Jazz Regal – “Lifetime”

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D-Brown & 30 Boy Will Ooze Chemistry On “Full Court Pressure”

D-Brown and 30 Boy Will — two artists on my radar — have absolutely found a way to make an…

D-Brown and 30 Boy Will — two artists on my radar — have absolutely found a way to make an overcrowded lane feel like an empty highway. Their latest collaborative effort Full Court Pressure landed across my desk this week, and I’ve been cranking it ever since.

The vibe is very familiar sonically. Hard beats that remain extremely cohesive, keeping the project fairly levelled — making for a skip-free top to bottom experience, without having to readjust yourself. The sub category the duo fall into often have a tendency to keep the thematic elements of their projects quite predictable. While these two do pick the low hanging fruit at a few points (for lack of a better analogy) there is this undeniable rawness in their bars … an almost explosion of authenticity that trumps much of the fabricated storytelling new jacks have made trendy.

It’s an aura reminiscent of Jeezy in his heyday.

At a solid seven songs (with very little fat to trim) the project is an easy listen — but offers a hearty meal for those craving some substance to go along with their playlist-ready bassy beats.

There are plenty of gems here. The aptly titled “Official” was one that I immediately found myself running back a few times — as I did with the look-at-me-now vibe of “Bag Today.” The obligatory but tastefully flipped song about the females, “Preferences,” sees the two professing their taste for women with money and things of their own (among other assets).

One of the shiniest moments on the project is the infectious “Memphis,” which sports a chorus from the LP’s sole feature — the older brother of Juicy J and the co-founder of Three 6 Mafia, Project Pat — helping segue the two incredible verses by D and 30.

The track has been my most played this week (it wasn’t even close).

Their chemistry is undeniable and their ear for the perfect production to complement their tales of perseverance, street life and subdued (but still prominent) themes of opulence are on full display. While the two can really rap, it doesn’t feel like past tense, but rather present tense play by plays.

“Money doesn’t make you real,” D laments in the intro of “Official.” It’s this mantra of keeping it 100 and letting it speak for itself that drives Full Court Pressure. Cue it up, press play and enjoy.

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