When it comes to beat making wizardry, The Architect is no stranger to the game with production credits speaking in high volume. His production credits are shared with performing artists such as Homeliss Derilix, Coolio, Planet Asia, Rasco and Peanut Butter Wolf of Stone Throw records. Hailing from northern California The Architect continues to deliver heavy beats creating a path that parallel other great beat makers in the game, such as Pete Rock, DJ Premier and DJ Pooh. His mastery of samplers and drum machines cannot be matched and is continually adding to the lineage of great head nodding beat makers.
Along with production credits in the underground hip hop community, The Architect comes through with two new projects, “Butter Soul” and the remix album of M.F. Grimm’s “American Hunger.” Both are released under the record label Vendetta Vinyl, the label that recently released Drasar Monumental and M.F. Grimm’s Good Morning Vietnam album series. Butter Soul is currently available at www.vendettavinyl.com. American Hunger, which also features production by Drasar Monumental and DJ Fooders, will be released on at the end of 2016. We recently caught up with The Architect and here’s what went down.
When did you first get your first shot producing for artist in the music industry?
A: In the early 90’s…90′, 91′. I hooked up with Coolio and produced on his first album “It Takes a Theif.” I did the song called “I Remember.” I went down to L.A. and we had J-Ro from the Alkaholiks get on the song and Billy Boy from this group called “G.A.T.” that sang the hook. I’d have to say that was my first big release. They did the video for it. It was on Tommy Boy. And then after that I’d have to say Stones Throw as next. The “Cash Money” single with Homeliss Derilix and then “Defined by the Dollar” by Encore. So those were probably the three biggest records that I had come out.
H: How did you link up with Stones Throw?
A: Well me and Peanut Butter Wolf were friends. We lived in relatively the same neighborhood…Milpedas, San Jose area. We had a mutual friend, which was Karisma who lived in Milpidas. I knew him from high school and all that kind of stuff and we met him through Karisma. You know I would just go over there. Go to his house. We would be making beats. Peeping out records. He’d come by my house…do the same thing. At that time I was working with Grand from the Homliss Derilix. He knew aobut that so when he hooked up and started Stones Throw he knew about me and Grand. It was like “Yo, I want you to put some of the records out that I’ve been hearning from you guys” and that’s how it started. Grand, being from Homliss Derilix.
H: Around what time was this?
A: Must have been 92′, 93′. Maybe 93′, 94. Something like that.
H: When you produce for M.C.’s what usually comes first when you’re making beats? Can you describe the process?
A: Well at that particular time. The way we did it was we’d all be chillin’ together in the studio. I’d have a little studio. We’d all go down to Dan “the Automator’s” studio, also that we do a lot of recording at, but first we would put the demo together at my studio and then head over to Dan the Automator’s studio and do the main recording for the vinyl. So the process was basically chillin’. We chillin’. Blazin’ blunts. Listening to records. You know, I would just be goin’ over stuff on the fly. You know. Make a beat, and if they liked it… Next thing you know they would write a verse. We’d record it. Like I said, in those days we’d do a demo and after that we’d take it to Dan’s. Write the whole song down and boom. There it is. Today the process is a lot different. It’s more send guys beats. They’d pick what they liked…You know what I mean. So now it’s done that way.
H: Why and how has the process changed?
A: In my opinion it’s changed to the level of…I’m not sure of everybody’s process but a lot of times you are not physically there. Then at the same note you’re able to reach out to a guy who’s on the east coast, or in Texas, or in Milwaukee. Who knows? You know what I mean? You could get the beats to them easier. You don’t have to physically be there. That’s different. You get the option in a certain way to have new range of music in my opinion. But then there’s the process of guys knowing each other for years sitting in the studio together and there’s a spontaneous creative process, which I’m sure it still happens. My preferred process is that we all sit down; blaze a few blunts and come up with some stuff on the fly and knock it out.
H: Where would you say style of sound comes from and what changes have you made through the years if any?
A: My style is really derived from the records. I mean, it’s definitely something born from the 80’s. You know some of the greats like Pete Rock, and Large Professor. DJ Pooh…These guys for me were definitely and inspiration of influences. You know I got to say that golden era is definitely my influence, but I don’t try to copy what they did. I don’t try to use the records they did. I don’t try to re-emulate what they did. I just try to do my own thing. So at the end of the day the vinyl is going to inspire the initial loop or chop, or whatever we’re going to deal with. You know what I mean? I haven’t changed my process too much. I have a lot of different machines so my thing is I like to use whatever I’m feeling that day. It could be an sp 404. It could be the mpc 4000. It could be a Roland mv 8800. I could just hook up ProTools and play on the keys. You know? On the Rhodes. It depends where I’m at. I’m into some vinyl shit right now though. Just basically diggin’. Goin’ crazy.
H: Who are the most memorable artists you have worked with?
A: You know most of the people I work with are personal friends. That being said. Hey guys it is what it is, but probably Planet Asia. I love working with him. He could come up with some shit right then. He’d be like “Awe, that’s the one” and he’ll just bust a verse and the process is just magical. It just happens like the snap of a finger.
H: You toured with him recently, yeah?
A: Yeah, we just got off of tour. It was Planet Asia, Ras Kass and myself. It was a tour were I dj’ed for both of them and then I did my beat set. So yeah it was great. It was great. Went across the United States. L.A. to New Hampshire. It was beautiful.
H: Being traveled as a producer, what’s the reception like overseas to your performances as opposed to domestically in the United States?
A: Overseas is live. Really when you’re in that certain lane it’s real consistent. So you’ll have cats overseas and they get live. They do it in their own way. In their own language and stuff like that and they get live. They can feel it. Even when we’re over here in the states, it’s like when you’re at the event and the people who like your shit there. They get into it. I really can’t say one is better than the other, but definitely overseas cats get live.
H: You’ve been to a lot of different regions. Brazil, L.A., the bay area. Has being in different regions affected your creative process?
A: Going to all these different places and seein’ how much hip hop has influenced the world first and foremost… It’s always good to see. When you go to some of these other places there like a lot of purists around. So it’s always good to see that. And being surprised that people know my music in these areas. That in its self a trip. You know just getting in there, and vibing with the people, and seeing what they like is always a good thing because you can always implement it in your music. Brazil has a lot of soul out there. The vinyl they have out there is crazy. Going to Europe…same thing. Lot of crazy vinyl. So, you know? Being able to have access to the music and know a little bit about the area always helps.
H: Was there a theme when you were creating Butter Soul? Or was it composed of beats you have already made?
A: All the beats were made for Butter Soul. I didn’t take a bunch of old beats and just throw them together. I was like I made the beats specifically for that CD. For that mix, you know I just wanted to provide people with my latest stuff. I wanted people to hear my latest styles. Its kind of just that and Butter Soul is just soul. Some soulful expression that people ain’t heard necessary from me. That’s really what Butter Soul was.
H: How would you say this project is different from the other project you done in the past as far as it having it’s own persona and ideals?
A: This one, like I said, is more of an expression of right now. Not really a bunch of M.C.’s. No rappers in fact. I just wanted to put down some beats. So really it’s more of a full expression of how I felt at that second and ever beat I picked I made it for the CD. You know there was nothing over may head saying “That’s too slow. That’s too fast.” It’s just my own mind. By myself going in.
H: You’re on the MF Grimm’s American Hunger remix album. How does doing remixes differ than working with the artists.
A: Well the crazy thing about American Hunger was I did a lot of American Hunger itself in the original version. I think maybe three or four songs on there so I had the vibe that I was already familiar with Grimm. It wasn’t very hard to remix it. You know. I got to do the remix of the songs that didn’t do in the first place and I know Grimm personally so knew the vibe. I knew Grimm from years back from the early 2000’s working with him on music and he did the “Good Morning Vietnam” project with Drasar Monumental and he was like “Yo, you got to holler at my man.” So when I hollered at Drasar, It was just a no brainer. We were both on the same vibe, same ill style of beats, and same outlook on the game. So it was like a no brainer. We just got together and I had “[Hot] Butter Soul” I was working on. Butter Soul comes out of my beat set. It’s basically a version of my beat set live. I just basically did it live on the fly. I put beats on there that I come through on my beat sets. So it’s like all new beats that people have never heard. I just went in with the drum machine and the Kaos pad.
H: What drum machine did you use for that project?
A: The Machine. The actual Machine. The Native Instruments Machine. All the beats weren’t made on The Machine, but I used it to trigger. So the beats are pre-made, but all different styles of beats and I used it like a DJ would use turntables.
H: What’s the future looking like for you?
A: Man, right now I’m working on another something like Butter Soul. I have two other mixed CD’s ready to go.
H: Will these be released on Vendetta or are you shopping them out to different indie labels?
A: These will be put out by Vendetta. Yup, and then I’m doing something in the beginning of the next month with me rocking with the sp 404. That’s all beats too. Yeah, me and my man Killa Kali from Gold Chain music we got a record called … we’ll be dropping that. I’m in negotiations with a few labels right now. I don’t want to say any just yet, but it’ll be a big surprise. I’m talkin’ to some cats right now about putting something together. So you could expect something crazy coming soon. Me and A-plus we’re going out and doing a beat set live. A-plus from Souls of Mischief. So I Heiro day we kind of debut it where he goes for a beat. I go for a beat and we kind of rock together. My man Supernatural was there. He was lovin’ it, so he was like, the only thing we were missing was him. So we’ll see if that works out. You know what I mean? I got a lot of stuff on the plate. Right now it’s a lot of ideas.
H: Do you have anything you would like to mention, any last thoughts we should know about?
A: I have a clothing line called “Black Madonna.” Check that out if y’all get a chance. You know I’m a renaissance man, so I try do more than one thing. I’m designing the clothes. It’s a clothing company like I said. It’s some fresh shit for the hip-hop heads. My thing really is, like I said, I’m going to flood the world with beats. That’s my thing. You know what I mean. Expect something possibly monthly I might be coming with something, but definitely every three months. You’ll be seeing beat CD’s. Something because that’s what I’m leaving on the planet before I go and there’s a bunch of vinyl. Everything I’m doing now will be pressed on vinyl.
Interview by Riff Deckard
Photos by Riff Deckard
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