How many producers in the game
right now can say that they have a hit record? Plenty. Of those same
producers, how many can say that have done scores for television shows
and movie soundtracks? The pool is getting smaller. Finally, of that
remaining bunch who can say that they have worked with Missy Elliott,
Diddy, and Madonna!
Left standing in a league of
their own are the two brothers from Newark, New Jersey that form Soul
Diggaz Production. Known as K-Mack and Bless, they have been in
the production game for over ten years. Having worked with pop icon
Madonna and Missy Elliott on creating The Gap
commercial the two divas starred in, the Soul Diggaz have had their work
on display for millions hear and see on national television. Continuing
their onscreen credits, The Soul Diggaz have produced hit records for
the soundtracks to major films such as the theme song to The Fighting
Temptations starring Cuba Gooding, Jr.
While they have tested their
waters with doing music for the big and silver screens, do not get things
misconstrued! This sibling duo is all about the music. Matter of fact,
they do what they do so well that in the past Puffy and Missy got into
a bidding war over them!
You would think that the tug
of war between Puffy and Missy would have The Soul Diggaz on a serious
ego trip. Not even the case. These brothers were definitely reared right,
coming from an extremely humble place with all they have accomplished.
Noting that never getting too comfortable is key, they shed some light
on what it takes to make it not only as producers but as creators of
AllHipHop.com: What can we
hear on the radio right now that Soul Diggaz has done?
K-Mack: We just signed a huge
deal with Mosley Music and Interscope, its a long time venture. We
co-produced Let It Go with Keyshia Cole featuring Lil Kim and
Missy Elliot; we did a song for B5 called Hydrolic featuring Bow
Wow; Cheri Dennis Portrait of Love featuring Yung Joc and we have
a song on Bow Wow and Omarions album Face Off called
AllHipHop.com: Impressive…we havent
seen a sibling production team in a while… what was the music like
Bless: We were both heavily
into music and there was music always around us. Our family always listened
K-Mack: Listening to oldies
but goodies. My moms back in the day would throw the 45s on 8 track
tape. Back in the day it wasnt too much entertainment but listen
to music and just party amongst family.
AllHipHop.com: What was the first major
production deal for Soul Diggaz?
Bless: The first big placement
we had was a record with Pras on the Ghetto Superstar album. That
was our first big check, we got blessed with that. (Laughs)
K-mack: That right there really
gravitated us towards [the concept of] Wow, you can really make a
lot of money in this game. Our first big production situation was
when were with Mary J. Blige. She was starting a label called MJB/Burroughs
Entertainment with Kirk Burroughs (former Bad Boy CEO). We were in-house
producers [for MJB Entertainment]. That was our first time getting involved
in a major production situation.
AllHipHop.com: Working as Mary J. Bliges
in-house producers seems like a terrific opportunity. Do you feel as
though you started at the top by working with her?
K-mack: Hmm…. I wouldnt
say that it was at the top. We had the opportunity to do some records
with her, but we didnt get any real placements over there.
AllHipHop.com: Did you both feel like
you had a lot to live up to by working with Mary?
Bless: I think back then Mary
was just starting to be looked at as a huge artist. This was around
the time when she had the comeback record I Can Love You Better
with Lil Kim. I think at that time we viewed working with Mary as
a great opportunity. She was great in the studio, we learned a lot about
K-Mack: She also gave us the
opportunity to work with Chaka Khan, they did a duet together that was
on both of their albums. We also did a record called “Chasing Lies” for
Mary. Overall, it was dope AllHipHop.com: What is the formula for
a Soul Diggaz hit record?
Bless: Put it this way, the
song should either make you wanna love, have fun or think. If you got
that from a song its a great record. The main thing is having a great
chorus that everybody can sing to. You need a chorus thats memorable
5 or 10 years down the line. You know, those records that make you be
like, Damn, I remember this was going on around the time
this record came out, now thats a hit record!
AllHipHop.com: There are so many producers
out. What can producers do to make their material stand out while still
being commercial, approachable, and marketable?
Bless: Nowadays, with so many
producers you have to stand out above any and everything thats out
there. You have to really take your time with tweaking the sounds, the
snares and things that make memorable breaks. Before the beat, the song
is supposed to talk to you. A lot of producers coming up need to really
dig deep and arrange their music the right way. With so much technology
theyre getting beats out of the box. [Producers are] quick
to throw a voice on it that everybody knows and expect it to be a hit.
K-mack: Its a lot of programs
out there now that are supposed to show you how to do beats but they
come with the beat. All [the producer is] doing is adding one or two
new sounds over top. We dont really call that producing. You gotta
start from scratch. You have to build, not just get beats from the store.
AllHipHop.com: Do you stress the
incorporation of live instrumentation as opposed to using an MPC
all the time?
Bless: We use a little bit
of everything. We use live instruments, we use live people. Well
have people come in the studio just to sing something to sample. We
do whatever it takes to make sure that our records are over the top.
K-Mack: That makes a good producer
when you can experiment. We definitely use live instrumentation, weve
been using live instruments since we started. We are just firm believers
that with all this sampling going on its good to add on instrumentation,
it makes the sample sound thicker. Not that we dont sample because
we do we just like to incorporate instruments to drown the sample out.
AllHipHop.com: I know that yall work
closely with Puffy. Do you think that your working relationship would
be as strong if you would have originally signed with him instead of
K-Mack We still have a great
relationship with Puff. We was just in the studio with him a few weeks
ago. We have a few things were working on with him now. He specifically
called us up because he likes our sound and our formula. Were actually
going to Miami for seven days to work on Danity Kanes new project
and with the guy group from Making The Band. We are also working with
a solo artists he signed named Donnie (from Making the Band) he signed.
Its a respect factor, even though we didnt choose to work with
him at that given time he respected our decision. He was going through
K-Mack: We didnt do business
with him at the time because he had the J-Lo thing going on, the Shyne
thing going on with the shooting. It was too much of that stuff going
on. We didnt wanna get caught up in it and hes not focused on
producing and building a company like we were.
Bless: Our thing was How
would all this affected our career if he wouldve gotten caught up?
AllHipHop.com: Did his alleged track record with
snubbing folks out of publishing and royalties play into your decision
Bless: Back then when we didnt
sign with him we didnt look at along the lines of royalties and publishing.
Our thing is you are your own man, you dont have to do nothing you
dont wanna do. If you decide to sign a piece of paper that gives
up all your rights and publishing, you didn’t know the business.
When we sat down with Puff,
he might have saw something different in us that made him come at us
differently than other producers. One of the things he said was that,
you guys are the first producers besides me and Mario to really find
that connection with Hip-Hop, yall got the certain way yall do
things. Im not trying to take anything from yall, but I need your
sound as apart of my situation.
AllHipHop.com: What made you wanna go
K-Mack: Look at it like this.
Missy Elliott is a songwriter/producer. She is the female version of
Puff Daddy and she didnt have all of that going on. It felt like
a better energy with her and she was still on her grind to the top.
It was a privilege to have a chick like Missy who has been getting hot
tracks from Timbaland. Shes a hot writer, anything she wrote on became
a hit record. AllHipHop.com: Signing with Missy brought
along that Gap commercial with Madonna right?
AllHipHop.com: How was it working with
Madonna? Were you star struck like Oh My Gosh its Madonna!
Bless: (Laughs) Honestly, she
didnt really make us feel like that. She was like a normal chick
she was cool.
K-Mack: After a while when
you meet these superstars for the first 15 minutes you like Damn
Im in the studio with so and so but then its like Ok,
wassup Missy, Hi Madonna, How you doing Beyonce you get star struck
and then its over and you get to work.
AllHipHop.com: Im with you on that
one. Seriously though, yall are at the top your game. From what I
hear Soul Diggaz are getting movie soundtracks and what not. I know that
its long money but are there any cons to that?
Bless: More or less advantages.
There are a lot producers that have done a lot of production but probably
not as many soundtracks as we have done. The soundtracks are connected
to the actual movie thats syndicated, so there is more revenue to
K-Mack: I think its more of
an advantage than disadvantage. Movie and television money goes much
longer than a record on the radio for 3 months.
AllHipHop.com: As far as Beyonce… what
other projects did you work on with her?
K-Mack: We did the theme song
to movie The Fighting Temptations. We also did another song on
that soundtrack called I know. For Dangerously In Love
we did a song called Whats It Gonna Be Boy
AllHipHop.com: Can working with superstars
like Missy Elliott, and Diddy ever become difficult?
Bless: Its not difficult, they
just dont like to go to sleep. Missy doesnt go to sleep and she
doesnt want you to sleep. Puff doesnt sleep either. Its never
nothing difficult because we love getting in the studio. As far as working
with them in the studio its great. They dont come in with a mentality
like Im Puffy, Im Missy They work with you as if youre
a huge success just like they are. They put that pride to the side.
Its just great energy!
AllHipHop.com: There are a lot of legalities
when it comes to music. Have you all ever had to purse legal action
for whatever reason?
Bless: Yeah. [We] definitely
went through that with The Fighting Temptations. A sample didnt
get cleared and it costs us $80,000 of our own money. We got sued for
something that was a stupid mistake. We knew that it wasnt our fault,
but Im not going to point any fingers. We took the bullet from it,
it was a learning experience and its opened doors for us to be blessed
in the future