DJ Mathematics Interview
Queens native, Mathematics first hit the scene as a DJ for block parties in the late 80s and years later earned a spot as a producer on the Wu-Tang Clan team. Since the clan’s inception, Mathematics has produced several tracks as well complete albums and his most recent work includes Beat Kings, a DVD defining the art behind beat making and Hip Hop according to Rap heavyweights and fellow producers.
Beat Kings as well as Wu-Tang Clan and Friends: Unreleased will drop early this year.
MVRemix: So can you tell me more about your DVD, Beat Kings?
DJ Mathematics: Yea um, Beat Kings is a documentary, me as a producer I went around interviewing other producers you know. A lot of the legends such as like Marley Marl, Pete Rock, Premier, RZA, Prince Paul… as well as these new cats that’s killin it like Just Blaze, Kanye West, Swiss Beats. There’s a lot of information on there for a lot of up and coming producers to learn something and anybody who thinks he’s good at Hip Hop could learn something from it.
MVRemix: What would you say is the science behind Rap music?
DJ Mathematics: That’s like saying what’s the science behind Hip Hop because its like its the producers behind Hip Hop that keep it going from day one. Like on the DVD, like I said a lot of the greats like Marley Marl he’s like on there telling how he started sampling. He’s the first cat to do it and he happens to stumbled on it. He was like “wow you can do that with this?” and that started it. There’s a lot of history and a lot of people love a lot of different songs and you gon get a lot of them songs that they love they gon see who actually made these songs and where they was at and little different things. Like Marley was showing me his first machine, the machine where he made the bridge from and things like that. But the producers on the DVD, the catalog is crazy that all these producers have. So whether its stuff with 2pac, stuff with biggie. Stuff for Wu-tang. Or just your favorite artist, Jay-Z.
MVRemix: What equipment do you use and how did you learn how to use it?
DJ Mathematics: I use the ASR10 that’s like my main weapon right there I use a lot of different equipment but I always run everything thru my asr10 cause that’s what I’m comfortable with that’s what I know. I learned how to use that basically on my own I got the pointers from RZA. He influenced me to be a producer. I started off DJing for Wu-tang and I happened to be there when he made the “Ice Cream” beat and that was the beat right that there that made me want to produce. He was workin on Cuban Linx album and we had a spot out in Staten Island at the time that was like the production house. He was working and was like ‘Yo I need to take a break lets go to the movies’ and I remember we went to the movies, and we came back from the movies; I remember I was drunk, blunted and all of that and I kinda laid out on the floor in the living room. But there was a door open I could see right inside the door and RZA went right in the room and started workin. So its like 3 in the morning so he hittin it up and I’m hearing it and I’m like ‘yea that’s cool.’ I’m nodding off but then I keep wakin up and every time I waking up and hearing it, its just getting chunkier and chunkier. And by like 7 o clock in the morning I’m just hearing that [sings beat]…you know “Ice cream” was just rocking. I had to get up and walk in there and be like ‘yo what’s this?’ and he was like ‘this the asr10.’ That’s what made me get it.
MVRemix: How did you develop your own style?
DJ Mathematics: Just like knowing that music emotional, it’s a feeling. I make beats basically on how I feel, or how I want other people to feel. You know the mood I’m trying to set. It’s gotta come from within you its not something that you gotta think about because you lookin to music to get away from thinking…RZA another one who told me don’t make what I make, do you and that’s exactly what I did.
MVRemix: Do you feel that as a producer you don’t get enough credit because some feel that the beats are what can solidify a hit single in the charts?
DJ Mathematics: Yea but. That was one of the reasons why I made Beat Kings too because a lot of producers don’t get the credit they deserve. You got the select few but then after you look through history you realize its always gon be like that. Like I said the DVD itself, doing it, help me grow and develop to where I realize it aint about me. Its about the music. Its about doing the best that I can do and hope it reach people that appreciate it and just being satisfied. You want to hit the charts, don’t get me wrong that’s why from that DVD I did the album, Mathematics presents Wu-Tang Clan and Friends: the Unreleased LP, because I was doing a follow up to my last LP, the problem for those who don’t know that’s in stores now. It features the whole entire Wu-tang clan including old dirty before he passed.
I want people to respect the music. I want them to hear the music and respect the music. An artist ain’t have to say my name or nothing but ten again that’s the value because people mention your name in a record then everyone want that producer on they project. I feel it should be more about the music.
MVRemix: Like rap artists with ghostwriters, producers seem to be running into a similar controversy with ghost producers, what are your thought on that?
DJ Mathematics: Some people do that to get on but that’s something that’s been happenin for years. Me, personally, I put too much into my music to give my credit to somebody else. I guess it’s the route a person wanna go. You can never sell your soul though, because some people might sell it and that could have been their big break and they might never get that chance again. It’s to each his own but me, personally, um no. You’re a producer then you’re a producer, do the damn thing, show me what you got.