Ski Beatz, the man to thank for classic records from Jay-Z (“Feelin’ It,” “Dead Presidents”) and Camp Lo (“Luchini (This Is It)”), is still one of the best producer’s in the game and continues to prove so with each new release. The former Original Flavor member invited a select few journalists into his home for an exclusive listen to his latest album, 24 Hour Karate School: Twilight. The 11-track project will be available on February 14th, with features from Mac Miller, Curren$y, Stalley, Smoke DZA, and many more.
After the listening session we got a chance to chop it up about a few things, including Reasonable Doubt, Jay-Z, Maybach Music, and much more. Ski discussed why he chooses to work with predominantly younger artists, versus the more seasoned upper echelon of MC. He also shared which artists he’d like to work with in the future, talked about the current state of Hip-Hop and discussed what’s missing in today’s sound. The North Carolina product also has a top secret project that is on the way, along with a plan for 2012 to launch the next great Hip-Hop talent. But the most surprising thing may have been who he thinks has the ability to recreate Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt.
HipHopWired.com: Being that this was the third installment of the 24 Hour Karate School, what was the inspiration for this album, and why the name Twilight?
Ski Beatz: The inspiration was to smooth it out, and mellow down. I called it Twilight because it has that jazzy…on the balcony at night in the city kind of feel. This has been my favorite one so far of the three. The first 24 was dope, but Twilight is me…the smooth, jazzy sound is what I love to do.
HipHopWired.com: Would you say that your inspiration for working with the younger artists stems from your early work with Jay-Z, seeing where he is now?
Ski Beatz: Working with Jay, I wasn’t necessarily looking for anything “in him.” I knew he was incredible, but didn’t know he’d blow up to where he is now. With Curren$y, Mac Miller, C-Plus, Stalley and these other cats, I believe they’re incredible also. I just love the energy of the younger artists coming up. They’ve got love for the music, they’re hungry, and I feel them because I was there [before]. To be a part of that new movement underground is dope.
HipHopWired.com: Talk about some of the work you’ve done with some of these young MC’s.
Ski Beatz: I love the C-Plus and Mac Miller records off of Twilight, and of course Pilot Talk 1 & 2 with Curren$y. I’m also working on a new project with Freddie Gibbs called The World Is My Ashtray. We’ve got a few tracks done and it’s sounding dope. I have some things coming up with Stalley; we’re definitely going to hook up and create some magic. Me and Wale are also going to do a couple things together. He actually wants to bring it back to soul sampling, similar to Reasonable Doubt.
HipHopWired.com: Is there anyone that you think could recreate something like Reasonable Doubt, and who is out there that you’d like to work with, but haven’t yet?
Ski Beatz: Similar to Reasonable Doubt…I’d have to say Pusha T. Pusha could do it, and I like where he’s going lyrically. I’d like to do something with [Rick] Ross, he’s dope. I also really like the kid Don Trip. I think his song “Letter To My Son,” is crazy. I also love Phil Ade‘s beat selection…he’d be great to work with. Kendrick Lamar is another one…that ni**a is nice! If that could happen, I’d be wit’ it. I wanna work with Danny Brown also…that kid sounds ill to me. The same goes with Peedi Crakk, who I’ve always thought was ill, but never got a chance to work with. Everyone knows J.Cole is an artist that I’d love to work with, but we know that can’t happen right now.
HipHopWired.com: Why won’t the J.Cole thing happen?
Ski Beatz: Politics you know…Jay-Z, Roc Nation. He’s signed to a major and you gotta work the red tape. It’s easier to catch the up and coming cats, because they’re hungry and ready to go. Jay’s my man though, so it’d be dope if we could link up again down the line.
HipHopWired.com: Seeing as how you focus on working with younger talent, how do these collaborations come about?
Ski Beatz: It’s hard to explain. I could say that they could hit me on Twitter, but I promise you I don’t even listen to half the stuff people send me, because it’s so overwhelming. Someone just seems to just walk into my life, and then boom! I actually like it that way because there’s no pressure, we just get in the lab and start recording. But a classic story for you would be with an artist named Locksmith. I ran across one of his videos on YouTube, and I thought he was dope. Somehow I connected with him, and I told him that I wanted to produce some music for him. He told me he was down, but my slow a** didn’t get right back at him, and a year later my homeboy sends me a link to some of his new music. One of the lines in his rap was, “Ski Beatz said he has somethin’ special for me/A year later/I guess he wasn’t checkin’ for me.” He put that in his video, and as soon as I heard that, I hit him on Wwitter and said, Let’s go!
HipHopWired.com: With the rise of the Southern sound (Trap Music), have you ever thought about branching your sound out in that direction, and which producers do you like?
Ski Beatz: Nah I’m just gonna stay in Hip-Hop, jazzy in the underground. I like Kanye [West], Just Blaze, [DJ] Khaled, and Drake‘s producer 40. Their sound is fresh and new, but a hint of the throwback in Hip-Hop. I’m a fan of music…instruments, chord progressions, keys and all of that. I don’t like stuff that sounds like what everyone else is doing. I feel like a lot of the musicianship is missing in the game as far as the radio is concerned, but underground it’s all over the place. You can find good music everywhere. The radio is almost like that cookie cutter syndrome.
HipHopWired.com: Aside from the projects you’ve mentioned, what’s next for Ski Beatz?
Ski Beatz: In addition to those projects, I have a secret project that I’m working on, but I can’t disclose too much about it until it’s solidified. I would love to work with an artist where I just live with them for a while, and get inside their head. I think I’m going to do that with C-Plus, I like where he’s coming from. He’s bringing something fresh, and he’s from the West Coast (Sacramento) but he doesn’t sound like it. I also wanna catch that one dude with only 200 views on his YouTube, and put him out before anyone else. I don’t like to put the label grindin’ on it, because then it sounds like work. I wanna tell that kid, let’s go make some music and create some tracks. That sounds a whole lot better than grindin’ to me!