Cratez-Where you from and grew up?
IMMB-I was actually born in Fontana, CA, but I was primarily raised in Memphis, TN.
Cratez-what's the meaning behind the name?
IMMB-I think it represents me in the most obvious way a name can. I really do make mad beats, but it’s also a reason to continue making mad beats. I can’t slow down when I look at my name and it’s telling the world I make mad beats.
Cratez-who were your influences musically coming up?
IMMB-Stevie Wonder, Pete Rock (he was the first hip-hop producer I recognized as a hip-hop producer), Jay Dee, Dj Premier, Rza.
Cratez-you do it all. Spin, beats, engineer. When did you start making beats and decided to make it a career?
IMMB-I started making beats when I was 14. My cousin and DMG artist Synopse lived in Orlando and had computer software that allowed him to manipulate audio and midi. My brother TzariZM started messing with it, then so did I. The rest is history.
When I moved to NY and saw how much opportunity was out there, I think my hustle exponentially multiplied. It was there that I think I truly became IMAKEMADBEATS. I was just NeMo at first. NY kinda transformed me.
Cratez- In your early career you got involved with Quad Studios. Is that what opened the doors for you?
IMMB-I started as an intern at Quad Studios with the sole purpose of getting beats to artists that recorded there. I’d been manipulating audio for almost 10 years by then, so the idea of engineering just came natural. I had my first professional sale with an artist (signed to a German label) that I met in Quad, and between engineering and making beats, I knew it was possible to make music a career.
Cratez- Your the ceo of Doxside? and doxside consists of mcs and producers?
IMMB-Yes I am the CEO of Doxside Music Group. Doxside consists of MCs, producers, videographers, graphic designers, artists, photographers, and more. DMG is a label, but before that, a group of artists with similar goals and purpose. Even if the final product doesn’t “come out” on our label, the group itself has done all in our power to produce, mix, master it, while providing almost every other facet including videos, comic books, art, photos, and even software/video games.
Cratez- How did that album "Transcontinental" you did with roc c come about?
IMMB-I was actually reaching out to Roc C (thanks to Mic Geronimo, who is also on the IMMB album) to get on my album IMAKEMADBEATS and after I sent him a couple of beats, he asked about us doing a whole album together. So I sent more beats, and in a week or so he started sending back songs, some featuring some notable artists. It all happened pretty fast. We got like the first 5 songs we did to Koch/E1 and they were ready to sign a deal off that. So The Transcon album took the focus and I put IMAKEMADBEATS on the backburner.
Cratez-Love your beats man. What is your process of making a beat?
IMMB-Thanks man. It differs at times, especially as I grow musically. But to put it simply, I really try not to control whatever it is I’m going to make. When I listen back to my stuff, my favorite creations were the one’s where I wasn’t sure where the inspiration came from. It just kinda happened, ya know? Sometimes I may sit down trying to make one thing, and what I’m making starts going down a different road. That used to bother the shit outta me, but now I just accept it, and let whatever is supposed to come out of me, come out.
About a year and a half ago I began really trying to learn music theory. With the help of a couple of great pianists/teacher, I learned a lot, and that has really transformed my productions. I liken it to finally being able to dribble and shoot with your left hand in basketball. Your options just instantly multiple. When a sampling producer mentions “music theory” most guys instantly start to cringe, thinking “oh no, he’s gonna lose that ‘sample’ sound”….but I’m also an engineer, so I’ve made it a very important thing to make sure everything I play still sounds like a sample. Most people can’t tell I played it, and I like that.
But no matter what, I always end up chopping. Even if I play the piano, somehow I end up chopping that up like I found it on a record. There’s just a thought process very HIP HOP that happens when its on pads. I can’t explain it.
Cratez- Your debut release from 2011 is heavy. Alot of collabos on that album. It must have took alot of networking to get these artists to collab. Tell me about that album?
IMMB-IMAKEMADBEATS took a lot of work, definitely. A lot of the artists I’d met just going to shows, most of them at some time passed through Quad Studios. Initially that album was supposed to be an EP, and its only purpose was to put something on a cd to be sold with a shirt my man Conshus was going to make. When I think back to that now, I can’t help but laugh at what happened. Again, it just kinda transformed without me really trying to transform it. People started hearing things, and wanted to be a part of it. We went on tour for the Transcon album, and meet even more people, more artists. I kept sending beats to people who liked stuff from the Transcon. Before I knew it, I had this album featuring a lot of people that hiphop loves. I’m blessed, because I know that wasn’t my plan at all.
Cratez- I lived in the Ozone for a few years. Is your whole crew from Orlando? Is that where you guys met?
IMMB-The whole crew isn’t from Orlando, and while I live in Memphis now, I still think of Orlando as the homebase for DMG. We call it Ozone. Ozone is pretty much where me really wanting to make music started. My comrades there, in and outside of DMG, are what made me better. By the time I moved there, I was like, the little brother of everyone we knew. Synopse, TzariZM, Tempermental, MidaZ, Aahmean and more were already there. All the producers and emcees, except for MidaZ, were years older than me, and they were all ridiculously talented. Realizing I sucked in comparison to these guys is what made me better. Especially TzariZM. He was probably the most sought after rapper/producer in the Ozone when I got there. I had to come up hard to get out of his shadow.
DMG includes artists in Toronto, California, Memphis, Michigan, and more. We’re all over the place.
Cratez- Another ill project is the "Daylight/Nightlight " ep with butta verses and midaz. From the artwork to the concept of the ep to the beats. How did that project come about?
IMMB-Daylight Nightlight is probably the one project I put out that I wish I could’ve done more for to really get it the light I think it deserved. I really wanted to artistically and conceptually demonstrate my producer capabilities…and to really challenge myself. Butta Verses and I really got into a zone putting together Daylight. I’d worked a lot with BV previously, and mixed his “Reality BV” album. So I already had some ideas going in on what I wanted to do with him. I wanted to make music that could change a life, and the way he delivers messages, I was always a fan of his. We really put ourselves in vulnerable positions and discussed some things he wasn’t really proud of. The making of Daylight was a very positive thing for me.
Nightlight was simply what MidaZ and I do the most. What we do best. What we’d been doing for years. Honestly, I can’t really say we tried to do anything outside of that. When I work with MidaZ, on anything, the chemistry there just allows for us to not really need to plot and scheme on it much. That’s not my blood brother, but he might as well be. Together as BlakOut, darker topics are like water to us.
The artwork was done by my homey Jon Ditty, and concept of it was heavily influenced by myself and my right hand man Sean Kantrowitz aka SeanDammit. Jon’s style was perfect for what we had in mind, and it couldn’t have come out any better.
Cratez- what is your studio set up like?
IMMB-Man. I’ll say this. When I left NY, I was spoiled by all the toys I used in Quad Studios, so I basically said to myself “I must re-create studio C”
My main piece is my MPC Renaissance. Two turntables, my Korg SV-1 (greatest performance piano ever), my Moog little Phatty, my bass guitar, a collection of percussion instrumentals, my iPad (underated instrument), and several analog devices used to eq/amp/compress/mix. Everything eventually ends up in Pro Tools on the iMac. Oh, and my decorative Christmas lights. Those are very important.
Cratez- you have worked with alot of artists. how did you link up with hezekiah?
IMMB-Hez is my man. I met Hez at Beat Society in NY, but then I was just a kid with an afro. He had his first album out, and I played the hell out of that project. The time I really met Hez was setting up the Transcon tour with Oh No, Chino XL, MidaZ, Butta Verses, and AmIAm in 2008. He did some of the shows with us, and we really got a chance to kick it and build. After that he got on the IMAKEMADBEATS album and killed it, and the rest is history.
Cratez- are you a vinyl digger?
Cratez- tell me about the mask? and what made you finally reveal the face behind the beats?
IMMB-One day in sociology class, I was bored as F**k. I had my headphones with me. My teacher was a blind man who talked in the most boring voice ever. He was talking about how people in society saw themselves. I drew a picture of how I saw myself….and that was the birth of the “mask”. I didn’t care much for my real face. I didn’t care much for a girl seeing or being attracted to my real face. All I cared about was beats, so all I wanted people to see was the passion I had for it. That was me. The mask wasn’t a mask. It WAS me.
I decided to show my face finally for a couple of reasons, the most important being simply that I thought it was time. Over the years I dealt with a lot of insecurity. At one point I ended up in a hospital room wondering who I was if I wasn’t making beats. What was my identity? Did I have one? I really started thinking about all of the people in my life, and how much they’ve let me stay in my own world. I felt kind of selfish, ya know. Like, I’m so busy with my world, what have I really done for my Pops in the last 10 years? For my family? My for girl? I realized there is more to me than just the music. I’m proud of who I am now. I think before, when I hid my face, part of me didn’t want to look at my face because I wasn’t proud of myself. I hadn’t reached the goals I had set.
But don’t get it twisted. The mask will never leave me. It’s a part of me. I’m still not used to showing my face.
Cratez- cant wait for that midaz album to drop next month. Alot of heavy hitters on there including you.
IMMB-Thanks man. It was a long time coming and I’m hype for MidaZ. He worked hard on this one and he deserves to get his shine. He’s my favorite rapper, period.
Cratez- tell me the connection with Doxside and comics? and the gift revolver release?
IMMB-Ah man. Almost all of us are big comic book heads. We often have comic book related arguments right on Facebook. We always looked at ourselves as characters of a comic because of this. I met Gift Revolver, the comic book artist, around ’09 on Twitter. He hit me up just to tell me he liked the Transcon album, and we kinda communicated solely through twitter. One day he hit me up saying he wanted to send me a shirt he’d designed. It was a drawing of B.I.G. on the front. I got it and was like “man this is dope…I didn’t know homey could draw like that.” Years later and after introducing him to the crew via various social media outlets, MidaZ asked him to be a part of putting together the cover for AU. After seeing what he was doing with that, and seeing his own goals and aspirations, I just thought, “man, this guy needs to be on the team.” He had his self-titled comic book out, and I ordered it. I loved it. Gift became part of DMG, and in DMG, we really try to support everyone’s goals. So I try to help him out anyway possible. He’s a really genuine guy too… the kinda people you really want in your camp.
Cratez- your probably working on a million things. whats next for imakemadbeats?
IMMB-Man I’m working on a lot, but what’s next up for me is hearing my productions on a variety of artist’s projects, one being a track I produced for Tanya Morgan for the Demos Documentary Film. I have a beat tape with my brother TzariZM dropping sooner than later. I produce or remix on virtually every project DMG pushes and/or releases, so be on the lookout for anything from us. But really, right now, it’s all about MidaZ and AU. That’s my number one focus. Making sure we do everything we need to do to get that album what it deserves.