Behind The Beats: J. Cardim "Your Favorite Rapper's Favorite Producer"
To the casual listener of Hip-Hop there are two components…the artist and the DJ. As time has progressed, production has continued to evolve and names such as Swizz Beatz Timbaland and Dr. Dre have revolutionized what goes on behind the boards in terms of beats.
Hailing from Massachusetts, a new face and name to some, but a producer that has been around for some time, is J. Cardim. Working with big names such as Red Cafe, L.O.X. and most recently Joe Budden, the Beatsmith is etching his name in history as one of the elite producers of this era.
HipHopWired: Everybody usually knows about the artists but not a lot of people know about the producer or the dj, so you could just give us an introduction to exactly who J. Cardim is. You’ve been in the game for awhile, but a lot of people might not know who you are exactly.
Cardim: I started out working with Jean Grae about 5 years ago, that was my first placement on her album, I did her Intro and Outro. With Jean Grae I worked with Kweli and a whole bunch of other artists. For the first 2-3 years I was really underground with Jean Grae, Talib Kweli, Saigon, AZ and it was probably ’07 or ’08 when I tried to adjust more to the mainstream. I’ve been in the studio with Juelz lately, Red Café- I got some joints with him, L.O.X. and Cassidy. Even as far as southern artists, we got the “Holla at a Playa” remix with Lil Wayne and Jae Millz. I had this record on my album last year called “Born and Raised” with Paul Wall and Shawty Lo and this cat from Miami called Ghostwridah. I’m trying to do my thing in the south as well.
French Montana feat. Cassidy – “Straight Cash”
Red Cafe – “What It B Like”
HipHopWired: Can you just tell a little more about your beginnings? How did you start producing, what made you want to become a producer?
Cardim: I’m sure like a lot of producers probably feel this way, like Kanye West and a lot of producers who actually rap, I used to be a rapper. So, if you’re from Boston, you probably know that. I even dropped a couple records out there that I produced. My main thing as a rapper, when I was a rapper, was I didn’t want to use industry beats. Everybody else, especially when I was in high school and mixtapes were huge and rapping over other people’s beats was the main thing that everybody was doing, so my thing was to do something different and make my own beats and original music, my Isht was all original. People around my neighborhood in Cambridge, Mass started listening to my Isht and was like “Yo your beats are hot, where do you get your beats?” I told them I made them, they’re like “That’s good, let me get some”. I didn’t even think of charging them, I just gave it to them and they would give me something like a $50 bag of weed or a couple hundred dollars for a beat CD with like 20 beats on it, you know it would just be whatever but this is what they gave me, I didn’t even ask for nothing. I started realizing that the money was in the beats and not in the rapping, because I had been rapping before that for about 5 years and I didn’t make a cent off one verse and all the sudden people are throwing me money for my beats and that’s when I became a producer full time.
HipHopWired: You were talking about working with Red Café and many others and there was a time a few months ago where you and Joe Budden were going heavy, are you guys trying to work on a project together or did you just keep linking up over and over again?
Cardim: Joe Budden, basically my manager met him before I did in the summer of 2009, they were in the studio together and he played him a couple of my beats and he ended up using them for the Escape Route mixtape, it was 2 joints- “Clothes on a Mannequin” and “No Comment”. My manager, who’s a very persistent guy, he kept in touch with Joe Budden after that and was like “Yo I got more joints, I got more joints” , my manager went to a session with him and they knocked out like 4 or 5 of my joints and I wasn’t even there. So I started coming through and we started building a vibe, building a sound together and that’s basically what happened, we kind of clicked off and started knocking off tracks like it was nothing. At first I was just going to do a couple joints for his album, but now we’re talking probably going to a majority if not the whole album The Great Escape.
Joe Budden – “Something To Ride 2”
Joe Budden – “Downfall”
HipHopWired: Any other rappers that you’ve been working closely with?
Cardim: Red Café was one that I always worked closely with as well. When he dropped The Co-Op I did 3 joints on there with him and DJ Envy. He’s another artist that we work closely with, anything I need he always hooks me up with, like he’s always on my projects and he’s got a crazy solo record on my album coming out next month. Styles P and Sheek too, shout out to them, they hold me down all the time.
HipHopWired: Since you transitioned to it, can you speak on your next album that you’re going to be working on?
Cardim: My next project, the one I dropped last year Your Favorite Rapper’s Favorite Producer, basically I’m doing another one. It’s J. Cardim Presents: Dice Music The IN Crowd. We got a couple of the artists from Dice Music and we want to focus on them this time. My last joint was just really focusing on me as a producer and putting all the big names that I worked with from ’08 to ’09. So this album is really just to present my artists. We got a lot of big names on it as well. We got Juelz, Gunplay, Brisco, Paul Wall, Red Café again, the whole L.O.X.- Jada, Styles, Sheek, Bun B, French Montana, we still getting more records done. Pretty much that’s what we’re doing, trying to break my artists and show what we got, you know build a wave and then start throwing tracks from my artists after that.
Joe Budden, Emilio Rojas, Chief C – “Unstoppable”
Termanology, Sha Stimuli, G-Eyez – “G Like Me”
Ludacris – “OG’s Theme”
HipHopWIred: Going back to the production side, as a northern producer, how do you stay afloat in a time where southern beats are basically what everybody is looking for?
Cardim: You got to move with the times first off, I think as a producer or rapper or artist you got to move with the times. Some rappers up north embrace the south and got unity with them. Some people just stay with the true New York sound, there’s nothing wrong with that. I think as a producer, this isn’t just a hobby or a job, you’re trying to stay relevant. You just got to go where it’s at, I’m basically where the money’s at. If the money’s at the South, then I’m going to be making some southern beats if that’s what they want, but it’s always got the J. Cardim touch to it, but it depends on who I’m working with. If I’m working with Joe Budden I’m not going to bring down some hard 808 and southern beats because I know that’s not his lane, but if I’m in Miami and I’m in a studio session with who knows Down South, it’s all 808s and whatever. I throw in a couple organic and non-sensian boom bap beats in there just to show them, because sometimes you never know, but it just depends where you’re at. I got all types of sounds.
HipHopWired: Is there any way people can get in touch with you?
Cardim: Yeah, just get at me through Twitter, @jcardim.