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Havoc Scratch Magazine Interview

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  • Havoc Scratch Magazine Interview

    old read, from the march 2005 scratch issue:

    If you were to ask the average hip-hop head who are the greatest producers in hip hop, less than a handful would recognize the producing half of Mobb Deep as worth. Yet in the 10+ years in the profession, Havoc has been consistent ( a word not synonymous with most producers in this book) with the rugged sounds that made most of their seven -album catalog classics among their loyal fan base.

    The gothic piano riff of Mobb’s seminal classic “Shook Ones Part 2” conjures visions of all that is dark and raw about hip-hop continuing to get much respect through the various musical phases of rap music. Havoc’s use of the bubbling bass line from Kurtis Blow’s “White Lines” made the rumble of “Quiet Storm” an aggressive masterpiece that ignited the male bravado, yet caught the delicate ears of the ladies as they danced in sync with the thugs in the clubs. And, in 2005, if you’ve slept on Amerikaz Nightmare, its time to wake up to the reality that Havoc is one of the greatest of all time.

    Scratch: Legend has it both you and Prodigy did early production work together. What made you pursue further than P?

    Havoc: When he had our record deal at 4th & Broadway, we was getting beats from people, our favourite producers. My favourite producer back then was Pete Rock. So I was like, “All right, lets get a beat from Pete Rock.” And he was charging us, like $50,000 back then. So im like “that’s like 90 percent of our budget.” That was his nice way saying no. We had to do something about this. Then we had another producer making beats for us we weren’t really feeling, but we had no choice but to rhyme to them. His grandma bought us some equipment and that’s how it started. He knew how to work it; I didn’t know how to work no piece of equipment. Ever since then I was like, “Let me do this.”

    Scratch: What was the beat that you heard that made you get into it.

    Havoc: Beats like “T.R.O.Y.” from Pete Rock. “I’m Gonna Do You” by the Jungle Brothers. sh*t like that really made me wanna make beats.

    Scratch: What Year?
    Havoc: Like 92 or 93

    Scratch: I’m gonna throw some names at you and you tell me the significance they had on your production. Large Professor.

    Havoc: Very big influence. Five mics when it comes to that. We met through Nas when he was producing the Nas demo. I used to see him working on the I300 like he was a magician. Doing things to that machine that you probably not supposed to do. And I watch him like, “He ill.”

    Scratch: Premier

    I’ma tell you something about premo. When we was doing Juvenile Hell, this ***** actually came out to our crib in Long Island by himself and was playing beats for us and chilled all night. *****s don’t do that no more. We wanted a beat from him and expected the corporate manager or something. He’s like, “Gimme the address,” and he came out there. I was only like, 16, and here he was over at the crib just chillin’, vibing, playing beats, and I’ll never forget him for that. I love him for that. That’s a real dude. He did “Cop Hell” for us. We couldn’t put it out, ‘cause Ice-T had just did that “Cop Killer” record. But he ended up doing “Peer Pressure,” which Large Pro remixed later.

    Scratch: Q-TIP

    Another very big influence. I used to A Tribe Called Quest, and if you were an aspiring producer at the time, you knew that ATCQ had the illest drums around. Their drums were so crispy and on point and hittin’ - not offbeats. I got my whole drum ideas from Q-Tip and the Ummah.

    Scratch: Alchemist.

    Alchemist is one of the best producers out there, and we was lucky to meet him. Everybody knows how we met him. His sound is similar to mine but on a different vibe. I do what I do and he does what he does, and it was the perfect marriage. I’m like, “We ain’t letting this ***** go.”

    Scratch: You first 2 albums featured outside producers like Q-Tip, Large Pro, and Premier. When did you decide to go solo on production for Mobb albums?

    After “Shook Ones Part 2.” I said, “I feel can do this.” And I didn’t really like it that much because, if you think about it, if im producing for Mobb Deep, I have to do most of the album. EP said one time, “*****s don’t understand how you are, ‘cause you make whole albums. I might make singles, you make albums.” I make whole albums, so its kind of strenuous. I’m not one of those producers that has a keyboard player, a gutair player, and all these people-ultimately somebody making the beat for you-I’ll do it myself. Not to knock anybody, ’cause producers are people who can put people together. But I don’t have those people, so it was always hard for me to produce for Mobb and other projects.

    Scratch: How was your collabo with Biggie Smalls?

    Puff called me up; he wanted a beat for Big.. So I did a beat, and at the time I wasn’t saving my beats to disk, and the beat got lost. Puff was heated so I had to go in there and make another beat. I Made the beat, but you know Puff was trying to put some sprinkle on it and that’s what he did. Stevie J. added strings.

    Scratch: The Break for “Quiet Storm” was the least obvious part of the classic “White Lines” record. Is it custom for you to fu*k with the least obvious part of a possible sample?

    I think you’re not an ill producer if you go for the obvious sound in the record you search for. I just cant sample this loop and be like, “Okay, im going to add this beat.” you gotta search for something in the record that no one else would try to fu*k with, and that’s what I do. I feel bad doing otherwise.

    Scratch: Rumour has it that “Bump that” was a piece of the James Brown classic “A Man’s World,” a record everyone and their mother has tried to do justice to, but to no avail.

    That’s 200 percent, ‘cause I love that fu*king song. Its hard to make a beat out of it, ‘cause its some other sh*t- it’s a different beat pattern. I just took a little piece…

    Scratch: A.U.S. federal appeals court recently ruled that all samples must be cleared, even unrecognisable snippets once considered fair game. How will this affect your production?

    It wont affect me, based off the simple fact that you should pay for that ever sample. Those people that you’re sampling from worked hard to create that music. So why would you wanna get it for free? It don’t bother me either way, ‘cause 30 years from now, someone might wanna sample what I did. I know you’re acknowledging me by sampling, but give me some kind of pay. We’re all musicians and we should respect other musicians and pay for their hard work.

    Scratch: Hiphop has recently ushered in an era of sample free production. When did you start incorporating synthesizers into your production?

    In 1999-2000. You have to be good at that you do and you have to be able to listen and see whats changing around you, and I knew at the time that sampling wasn’t gonna be totally make it forever. I said, “Lets get a keyboard, play things over the sample.” Im not a keyboard player, but I got a good ear. I never tried to change the sound, but I was trying to upgrade it.

    Scratch: Tell me about Jadakiss’ “Why”?

    My man alchemist put me on to Jadakiss’ manager- they wanted a beat. So I spent a week in this same studio coming up with beats for Jada and the one beat that he finally ended up with is the one I didn’t think he’d take. Wifey had suggested that I put an intro on it. Grab the keyboard and did the [inmates intro], some simpel sh*t, and there it was.

    Scratch: if you could go back and fix one of your classic beats. Which would it be?

    “Quiet Storm.” I would make the highs a little higher. To me the record sounds dull, I would’ve made the hi-hat a little bit brighter.

    Scratch: What artist would you like to produce a whole album for?


    Scratch: Interesting, considering your sound doesn’t seem to fit his style.

    That’s why he’ll kill it. He’s one of my favourite artists. I’d love to do it just based off the simple fact that people thought we would never work together, but I would love to get him rhyming over one my sh*ts. In the position that hes in right now, he could make hard beats jump off and make it cool again. Someone like him rhyming over it will only boost that. Besides that, he’s one of the illest lyricists around.

    Scratch: Are you into giving people hooks?

    People around here say I should put hooks to it. But I leave it to the artist. If you need me to be there with you to guide, then cool, but I’m not gonna throw a hook on there and this is how you do it.

    Scratch: You said making beats is like colors. Is this still you’re pattern?

    I feel I could see the beat. Its hard to describe, but I see a kick, the snare, the hi-hat, the whole thing. I still go by that this to this day. Its like im in my own world just seeing mad different sh*t. Nobody will be able to understand it unless its another producer.

    Scratch: Take us through the process

    I’ll go to record stores, listen to [records], buy some records, go to the studio, play the records for a while, and try to find something.
    Funny thing is that I buy the record there at the school, but when I bring it back to the studio, the part that I wanted to fu*k with isn’t what I end up doing something with. I’ll fu*k around and do something else. I’ll hear something that I like and I wont sample it. Instead I’ll make the drum pattern according to what I heard. I’ll sample it, put it in there, and I’ll go crazy sh*t like stand under the table after making the beat to listen to it-being close to the floor you can hear the realness of the beat.

    Scratch: Most producers from your era haven’t managed to catch up. How have you?

    That’s how music is; the sh*t just keeps moving and it don’t wait for nobody. And if you don’t keep up with it, you just gonna find yourself in the back being bitter. Try to keep up with it. At least if you dont, then fu*k it, get out the game.
    Last edited by D12 World; 09-09-2005, 09:07 PM.
    Back like Cooked Crack

  • #2
    nice read


    • #3
      Good read,I hope the new Mobb Deep album will be good.
      Listen To Hip Hop Mixes mixed by yours truly the bad half,AKA DJ V Smoothhttp://soundcloud.com/dj-scout-v


      • #4


        • #5
          nice read
          Official member of babyblue street team



          • #6
            great article


            • #7
              thanks, good reading


              • #8


                • #9
                  yeah good read probs


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