When most people think about Seattle, gourmet coffee and the birth of Grunge Rock often come to mind. Producer Jake One plans to change that thought process. Still relatively unknown, he has supplied various artists including Rasco, G-Unit and Rah Digga with beats. His passion for his craft is evident. Jake still holds down a regular nine to five job as a criminal court clerk to get the bills paid. With a combination of persistence and hard work, he is finally seeing the fruits of his labor. Jake sat down with AllHipHop.com to discuss his past, present and future.
AllHipHop.com : How did you get into producing and how long have you been producing professionally?
Jake One: I got into producing from just watching dudes from around my way make beats and seeing them make songs [that] got me inspired to do it. And you know, obviously just being a fan. I have probably been producing professionally since ‘97 or ‘98 when I sold my first beat.
AllHipHop.com: Who did you sell your first beat to?
Jake One: I sold a beat to this acid jazz group called The Sharpshooters. I had the only Hip-Hop song on their album so that was kind of cool. It was weird to see them break out the wax of something I just did, which was just crazy to me.
AllHipHop.com: What was it like coming up in Seattle and the Hip-Hop scene there?
Jake One: We have a lot of people doing Hip-Hop, and we’re not close to any major cities, so we are kinda on our own thing out here. I think Seattle is most influenced by the Bay area more than anything. When I first started doing Hip-Hop, E-40 and all that kind of stuff were running the city. People were still into Pete Rock and CL Smooth, Brand Nubian and what not, but it wasn’t competing with the Bay Area stuff. I like both of it so I kinda come from both sounds.
AllHipHop.com: Go through the steps of how you go about making your beats. Do you lay your drums down first or do you lay down the music?
Jake One: It kind of depends, A lot of the times, I do a dummy drum track, just having a kick and a snare going and I’ll go through some records, chop that up, play something on top of that, and then add another record to it. Sometimes I’ll just have something in my head and I’ll just play that out on the keyboard first. It can happen a bunch of different ways with my stuff. I come from records, just digging through old records and listening to them.
AllHipHop.com: What’s your most prized record in your entire collection?
Jake One: Umm there’s so many of them, but if I were to pick one record I would have to say Roy Ayers’ “He’s Coming.” It’s not even that rare of a record, but when I first started, It was the dopest record to me. The cover looked so hot! I probably have records that would sell for a lot more than that, but to me it has a lot of personal value.
AllHipHop.com: What equipment did you start of with and what are you using now?
Jake One: I started with a sampler called the Emax. It is made by the same people that made the SP1200, but it didn’t have a sequencer. I started with that, but now I moved on to the ASR-10. I pretty much use the ASR-10 for everything, along with a Motif and a MS2000.
AllHipHop.com: So no MPC or specialty gear, like a Fender Rhodes?
Jake One: You know what I had an MPC and it just wasn’t for me. I never really started on a drum machine. So you have you drum machine guys and you have your keyboard guys like me. So you kind of think about making beats in a different way. I was thinking of copping the new MPC-1000 to see if I can get into it. But it’s all about what you are doing in your head.
AllHipHop.com: What producers inspired you to coming up?
Jake One: I would say back in the day Premier and Pete Rock are my two biggest influences. When I was first coming up, I was just really trying to be them. Another guy around my way Vitamin D., he’s been really dope. I got to see that first hand, so it was like he was more influential in terms that dude is making heat and he is right here in Seattle.
AllHipHop.com: Do you cater your beats specifically or do you let your beat tape do the work?
Jake One: I kind of get into my moods. After I did that G-Unit thing people were asking me for records with that kind of sound. So I get into my mode and make a record that isn’t the same thing, but has the same feel. Sometimes I’ll make something and it will make me say dam so and so would sound hot on this. But it’s hard to get in touch with those people sometimes. But thankfully I am kind of advancing in the game, and making connects has gotten a little bit easier.
AllHipHop.com: A lot of heads still don’t know your name in association to G-Unit. How did you doing the beat for “You Betta Ask Somebody” come about?
Jake One: Um basically Fusion who is Skillz DJ was out on the road with them and I know Fusion. He had a beat tape of mine and gave it to G-Unit. They contacted him and a couple of weeks later. He called me and was like yeah, G-Unit wants the track. I didn’t’ really think anything of it because you hear so many things like that, so you start not to take it to heart until you see something. A month before the album comes out, they needed the pro-tools sessions so I send those out to Fusion. But I still haven’t talked to Sha Money XL or any of those guys. Fusion was handling everything. I was going to give Fusion a look and give him co-producer credits on the beat since he hooked it up. So the G-Unit album comes out and I hear the beat and it’s my beat straight off the CD. I didn’t do anything to it. So it’s like a lot of drama going on with that. But I’m not tripping over that. I got my name on the record and it’s set me up to do bigger and better things. Everybody I have talked to has been through that kind of thing.
AllHipHop.com: What kind of drama? You are being vague?
Jake One: Basically Fusion got the credit for something he didn’t do. He didn’t even add a high hat of anything, absolutely nothing. I was more mad at thinking I know this dude and then he pulls some bulls**t like that. It served its purposed though, I met some great people through this whole ordeal.
AllHipHop.com: Who would you like work with Hip-Hop wise and outside Hip-Hop?
Jake One: As far as hip-hop, I would have to say the Rocafella camp, more so Freeway, and Beans rather than Jay. I love the way those guys construct the flows over the beat. It looks like that might happen too. Outside of hip-hop, I am definitely trying to more R&B stuff. That’s something I am starting to really persue. I like Bilal, he’s got intensity, when he sings it’s just unique. He might have a Prince thing cracking but he’s hip-hop with it.
AllHipHop.com: Describe your favorite studio moment?
Umm, it had to be when I was in New York and I was in the studio playing beats for Redman. Like that was just crazy. I was out there with Rockwilder and he introduced me to him. It was kind of funny because he thought I was an intern, so he wanted me to get him a sandwich at first. Rock introduced me to him and I started playing him some beats and he was feeling them. I grew up listening to Redman, now I am playing beats for him! I am working on some stuff with De La Soul. Like I’m working with them and then it hits you like, “Damn, this is De La!”
AllHipHop.com: Describe your sound?
Jake One: I try to have a sound that cats was doing in the early 90’s, but include more of the current features of what cracks now. I might sample a rock record or whatever like DITC. I’ll use some hard drums, but I’ll play bass with it and I’ll put some other stuff on it. It’s going to sound a lil’ thicker so it’s not going to sound old. I’m not too experimental but I definitely want to make something work with whatever the record is.
AllHipHop.com: Taking the remixing craze into consideration, what album accapellas would you like to get your hands on?
Jake One: That’s a tough one. I would go with the last Ghostface album (Bulletproof Wallets) or something. I know he didn’t get to use a lot of the beats because of the samples. I would take something like that because he was still spitting. Even this new Ghostface (The Pretty Toney Album) album, I would love to give that a shot, and I love how the album is already is.
AllHipHop.com: What are you working on currently?
Jake One: Ummm, its looking like I’ll have a couple of joints on this new De La Soul album. I just did a song with E-40 that looks like it will make his album. A lot of people have demo’ed songs to my beats. I got a couple of joints with G-Unit and Busta like that, but I’m not sure if they are going to get used. I just did a song for Casual. That dude is nasty. I just love his sound. Just a lot of stuff going on.