Joe Beats is de ene helft van het MC/producer duo Non-Prophets. Hope is hun eerste album en dat was meteen het debuut voor Joe als producer. Als we op de reacties mogen afgaan is het hopelijk niet zijn laatste want hij laat met dit album duidelijk blijken dat hij met een eigen stijl een album lang kan boeien. Ik sprak met hem over zijn werk, Hope; en nog veel meer.
Who is Joe Beats?? Please introduce your self to the people of Holland.
Joe: Most artists give a Hollywood Squares joke first, serious second answer. Haha. I’m terrible at all that. For that, I appologize. Regardless, I’m not a porn star; I’m a hip hop producer with the name of a gay porn star. The word producer in hip hop is just a substitute for arranger of samples. As in trip hop, they use the word programmer. I only sample original vinyl -breaks and loops. I make beats on a computer program called SAWPRO -no time stretching or pitch shifting. My productions are based on what I dig up in the record store as opposed to composing things myself -like on a synth, drum machine, etc. I’ve been producing about 5 and a half years.
What have you done in the past (as a producer), who have you worked with and what are your achievements??
Joe: I’m the lucky bastard who got to produce a whole album for Sage Francis. Together we make up a group called Non-Prophets. We are from the US; Rhode Island to be exact. In 1998, we dropped our first 12" over here called Drop Bass b/w Bounce. Some time after our second 12" came out titled All Word, No Play. Since then, I’ve made some appearances on Sage’s Sick of… series cds. This past February I dropped an instrumental lp called Reverse Discourse. It’s an interrupted mix of beats for MC’s I made but were for some reason shelved (not written, recorded to or released). I got pissed and decided to take matters into my own hands. Luckily for me, Sage put it out under the Strange Famous Records name. I thought it fit because I was sick of waiting for these fools to do something with this music I felt was good enough to be released. Last but not least, the Non-Prophets lp entitled Hope dropped a few weeks ago on Lex Records out of London. For those who don’t know, they are a subsidiary of Warp. I’m sure we’ll get into detail about Hope below. Right now though, everyone should put their magazine down, go to the store, cop it, listen to it 4 or 5 times, and then come back and read the rest! HAHA!
How can people recognize a Joey Beat?? Do you have your own sound, and if yes can you describe it??
Joe: Most of my production efforts concern ressurecting the lost jeep music sound of 1989 through 1995. To the average hip hop fan who’s familiar with that era, I really don’t know how well I achieve that goal. However, I still strive to reference that era in all of my work because it’s my favorite period in hip hop. I know 6 years really isn’t a lot of time. However, if anyone knows some of the hip hop music that came out within that time, they would totally understand where I’m coming from.
To me, dope break mixed with dope loop makes dope beat. The filtered bassline is HUGE with me; it will always be a big part of whatever I create. As far as my own sound, I think I’m getting there. I always do certain signature sequences to all along with everything else above cue people who’s behind the boards for that track. If not that, you can definitely tell when a beat isn’t mine. I’m not big on chopping small pieces of samples and triggering them ala Primo. I couldn’t do that for the main loop…I don’t know, I just couldn’t. I never incorperate note variated basslines; playing it out myself. I don’t quantize and overcompress the individual pieces of the drum track (hi hat, kick, snare). All of that, which can be done well, just sounds too mechanical to me. Let everything breathe is my philosophy.
Which producers do you believe represent that lost jeep music sound of 1989 through 1995?? And who had the biggest impact on you??
Joe: Pete Rock, Large Professor, Q-tip (yes, q-tip), DITC, KMD, The Beatminerz, The Beatnuts, etc, etc etc. The person with the biggest impact on me is probably Pete Rock. The more I’ve dug and produced the more I’ve come to realize he’s the best hip hop producer to ever walk the earth. I could go on and on about him. In fact, I shall. I feel lucky to be a sample based producer because I’m able to appreciate him on so many levels. Mecca and the Soul Brother stands out. His specialty was effortlessly blending levels and levels of samples. People think he’s lost it. No. The times are different and he decided to change with them. You won’t ever come across a producer who can adapt to whatever sound is signature at the moment, master it, and still keep a twist of himself in there like Pete.Jay D sound? Yup. Primo chops? No problem. The only style I haven’t heard him freak yet is Timberland. And I’m sure he has plenty of those but they just haven’t been released yet. On top of all of that, you think he doesn’t have a shit load of TROY calaber stuff? Wrong. Of course he does, it’s just these MC’s today are afraid to pick those when copping a track from him. They don‘t want to make classics. The next time I hear a new school MC (rapping how they are going to keep it old school) over an OK TODAY beat by one of the legends and everyone assumes it’s the producer who has fallen off, I don‘t know what the fuck I’m going to do…(shhhh, it’s the MC’s fault. don’t tell anyone, keep it secret. they want to be heard more than they want to make a classic..shhhhhh, don’t tell anyone shhhhhh) How the hell are you going pick one these cats mediocre tracks? Pretty soon rappers will only flow to hi hats.
What’s Non-Prophets all about??
Joe: Non-Prophets are all about having a good time. They will make fun of themselves first then make fun of someone else second. Vice versa. Point being everyone including ourselves is fair game. Wrapped in between all of the making and having fun is a degree of truth and consistency to our message. Hip hop these days is way to conscious of itself on a very serious level. How many reviewers are just outright salty? How many aging peeps are mad hip hop isn’t what it once was? What’s that mean? Case and point, everyone just always seems pissed at the genre despite being a part of it EVERYDAY. Hip hop would be better if this or that happened… I think it’s better to laugh and be deceptively conscious of the struggle to save what?? This is one thing Sage’s lyrics show so well on the LP. Go to the room of the house you like. Chill there. Have a good time. Don’t go around, complaining about the other repairs to be made in the other rooms. Life is short. People are dying in Iraq while you argue about what the defintion of hip hop is of all things. It’s simple: if it teaches and delights, it’s art. No matter what it is. End the saga. Get on with life.
What where your personal goals while working on Hope??
Joe: To show something could be dope and significant without saying hey look how different what we’re doing is. To do that is just as silly as complaining about why or how hip hop is dead. There isn’t one thing on Hope, with the exception of the Sage’s word play, that hasn’t been done before. Whether people like it or not, Sage and I both HAD to do this album. It was our ode to the era of hip hop we grew up in. It’s a tip of the hat to the period which spring forth from. With Personal Journals, Sage had the opportunity to show where he went. Eventually, you will see the same from me. I’m more concerned with a presentation of a linear progression. Sage doesn’t care about that; he just wants to make music and have it be available to the listening public. It just brought me back to the days when it felt great to play chess with someone, all of a sudden they throw on verbal intercourse and we lip nas’ verse word for word. It’s the same thing, this time we’re just making music together. And yes, playing chess with your girlfriend. Just chess.
What are your expectations of Hope?? What do you hope the record does for you and what do you think the record will do for you??
Joe: Personally I thought kids would be a little upset with it. I say so because people are more familiar with Sage than they are me. On that level, with Sage’s second effort they are expecting an artistic jump from Personal Journals. Needless to say, anyone who subscribes to that heirarchy, didn‘t get it. They got Sage doing an older form of the genre. Regardless of all of that, I believe in the product so much that I really don’t care whether it does well or not; it’s me. Sorry you don’t feel me but what the hell else am I going to do? Compromise? For what purpose? A few dollars more? Some chicks? No. There just comes a point in your life where you are sick of getting someone else’s and you want to go out and get your own. If it doesn’t work, oh well…try again. I love this era of hip hop. Let’s face it, the kids these days don’t want to hear all that. Meaning, it’s not the easiest task right now. However, I think Sage does a great job bridging the gap. For that same reason kids will acquire a taste for it, start to appreciate it, and eventually love it -months later. It will take a while but I think it will stick.
How did you and Sage (Francis) put the album together?? Did he pick out all the beats?? Who came up with all the topics?? Please tell us something about the whole proces of the album coming together and how you guys interacted.
Joe: I’m the producer, Sage is the lyricist. I make and sequence out all of the beats then he writes to what I give him. We’ve just found it’s easiest like that. I’m not very good at a rapper coming to me and saying hey I need a beat to fit this concept. Again, what I make is based on what I dig up. To make such promises would be a big mistake on my part because I don’t know what I’m going to find and when it will come. I do my part then he does his -the topics are him. As far as him picking out beats, that’s not the case. He gets whatever he wants from me. He is my favorite MC, one of my best friends, and person who will take whatever I give him the furthest. That said, on many different levels is it just best for me to give him my best work (personal enjoyment, personal bias, and business interests).
As far as creating Hope, we blurred our roles a little bit. He took the Disasters beat and rapped to it and played the toy ray gun on it, even though it was supposed to be an interlude. I had the idea on Tolerance Level where I’m talking about not being an emo rapper -hey, I get my jabs where I can, haha. Most times, when he had to track vocals, I wouldn’t even be in the studio. Vice Versa; when I was tracking and mixing down beats with Chris Warren (the engineer) he wouldn’t be there. During the final mixdown we were both present; those sessions can get ugly. But the blueprint is: I do my part, then he does his. It’s best that way because I’m best at setting up a good base and he’s great capitalizing, finishing, and refining. I know enough to leave him alone so I think we work well together —hahah.
I know they’re all your baby’s but we all know some kids are smarter/nicer then others, in other words: which song is your personal favorite?? And Why??
Joe: Spaceman and Tolerance Level. I’m really proud of the former because it changed the way I produced. I feel it brought me up a level. Before that, I might’ve had a lot of levels of samples in a song (as in ;the cure) but it was all truly just trial and error; luck and serendipity. However, with that beat I actually knew what I was doing musically. In order to make things work, I started doing things so much differently. How Sage approached the song was so unexpected as well; I really liked how he went about it. I say Tolerance Level because that beat best exemplifies what I’m trying to do production wise on the album as a whole: dope loop over dope break with a stab every so often. Everything is nice and simple; to the point. It goes along with the thesis statement of the album.
Spaceman isn’t like that. Even though it came together relatively easily, I put A LOT into it. Spaceman and The Cure production wise stick out like a sore thumb to me. Tolerance Level is the best example for everything else.
After Xaul Zan’s heart there’s a hilarious voicemail. Why didn’t you go to his party?? And please explain the whole voicemail!!
Joe: That’s my half brother Micheal. I feel bad for my real brother, Jason, because we hang out a lot and whenever I introduce him to people they’re like is that the one from the voicemail? Hahaha. Even though it should be damn OBVIOUS it’s not him, they still ask and I have to tell them the whole story. Here goes: my half brother Micheal had a going away party because he was moving to Florida. I was on my way to it but I was running late. En route, with gifts -mind you, I got a voicemail message from one of his friends I vaguely knew. It was this woman getting all righteous on me, saying I was a selfish jerk for not showing up and she hopes I get repaid for it, etc etc. You bettAHHH get YAAHH ass over HEEEEAAAR, right now and say goodbye to YA BRUTHA! Haha. This is his crew; these are the people he chills with. I immediately called up my real brother and told him I wasn’t going. He told me they were already starting to pile on me hours ago. I won’t go the eminem route but think about that one for a second and you’ll get what I’m getting at. I turned around in a parking lot only five minutes away from the spot. The next morning mr. flamboyant calls me up, trying to be all calm -haha. Gradually he started whilin -as I knew he would. I hung up on him, he called back and left that message. I played it for Sage and he had to listen to it twice. We knew exactly what to do with it. The best part about is he actually gives me permission to use it in the message. HAHAH!
Since the record is allready out a couple of weeks, did you already get some feedback?? And do you think people got it??
Joe: The feedback has been very good for the most part. That’s really all that matters to me. If you like it, GREAT! That’s enough for me. I don’t care if people catch the references or not (Sage might feel differently about that). If they do, cool, that’s icing on the cake. However, to me, those are the details. The big picture is everything else and I’m grateful if they’re feeling that. If they understand we had to do this album for ourselves and can appreciate it on that, that’s even better. In the end, I am HIGHLY appreciative all those that have reflected the light shined from our direction -just like my man Yeshua said. If you’re feeling me, I’m feeling you. Thanks a bundle. Cop it. If you don’t like it, pass it off to someone who might. That’s all.
What kind of music do you enjoy listening to nowadays??
Joe: Bossa Nova. I feel like such a dipshit because I say the same thing every interview but, shit, the music has me. I can’t get away. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t think I’ve loved a genre of music so much. In fact, the only other time I felt this strongly about something was when I got into hip hop. I want to do something that will incorperate what I love about both of them. However, that’s a lot easier said than done. I’ve been racking my brain for months, with ideas and half finished beats. Nothing is really working out, I’ll keep you posted though…
I know you made a little diss-song (which was pretty good!!) but if you would be a full-time MC, what would you talk/rhyme about??
Joe: I’d be method or theme writer. I could only get loose to a couple of topics. I’d be salty. You have to be part exhibtionist to MC. I can’t even think about this because it would be so ugly. Me as an MC? YUCK! See my Pete Rock ramble above.
Is there any mc/artist you would love to do a whole album with??
Joe: An MC? Breezly Brewin. However that will never happen and I refuse to go into why. Anyone else? Sade. I would kill for that.
What are your future plans and when will you be satisfied??
Joe: My future plans to keep working my ass off and be involved in as many projects as I can; extend as many opportunities as I can for myself. I won’t be satisfied until I go as deep (sample wise) as Mecca and the Soul Brother (the song) on a regular and consistent basis. That said, I won’t be satisfied anytime soon.
Meer info: http://www.sagefrancis.net