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Terrace Martin: The West Coast’s Prodigy… From Snoop Dogg to Quincy Jones

Every musician starts somewhere.  In Hip-Hop , it’s not uncommon to start building your repertoire and skills working underneath the spotlight of another artist.  Dr. Dre’s beats gave life to Daz, Mel Man, and many others.  Through Timbaland’s production, Nate “Danja” Hills was able to obtain a step up in the game.Terrace Martin is no exception to this trend, however his story is quite unique.  The California native is the product of a mother who is a singer, and a father who is a Jazz drummer.  This experience led Terrace to become heavily involved in Jazz music playing alongside the likes of legendary drummer Billy Higgins,  while still bumping a healthy dose of N.W. A. songs in the CD player.These experiences are allowing Terrace to take Hip-Hop music to previously unchartered territories.  A co-sign from Quincy Jones,  traditional Jazz training, and an education from Hip-Hop icons like Snoop Dogg and Battlecat, have created possibly one of the most well rounded producers of our time.Terrace took time out with AllHipHop.com to everything from his up-coming projects with Quincy Jones,  to how his childhood influenced his music.AllHipHop.com:  How did you originally hook up with Snoop?Terrace Martin: I hooked up with Snoop through my brother Marlon Williams.  He was already playing with Snoop and I was like , ” Man if I ever get a chance, I would love to play with Snoop.  Can you get me on the road?”  For years it was nothing poppin’, but one day he said , “Yo, we’re doing Jay Leno’s show and Snoop wants a horn section.” I was playing alto saxophone then.  I started playing with Snoop, and one thing led to another.  I got my beats to Snoop through Supafly.  Then I started going to Snoop’s house by myself with beat CDs and he would critique them and rap on them.  Then, I was all over the place, but Snoop taught me how to write a song and format the beat. He taught me how to produce a record.  Beatmakers now, they do a beat and give it to somebody, and they think that’s producing. I don’t know how that got in the game where [ you get production credit from] making a beat and giving it to the MC to do all the work.  That’s a little strange to me, and I don’t roll with that.AllHipHop.com:  You’ve worked with Snoop in the past, but you were able to flex a little more on this album right?Terrace Martin:  This is the third album from Snoop’s solo [that I've worked on], but he’s put out about four or five compilations that I’ve done things on. This is the record that I got to show myself as a musical arranger.  I mixed a couple records with ( DJ)  Quik and Teddy Riley.  Imagine the whole record you are in the room with Snoop Dogg, DJ Quik, and Teddy Riley.  It’s just the four of us in the room, and I grew up doing the running man to Teddy Riley records.  AllHipHop.com:  Was that intimidating to you?Terrace Martin: The first day, I was a fan.  I just asked them all the questions I wanted to ask.  I wasn’t intimidated, I was just a fan, and I’m still a fan of these dudes.  They taught me so much and Snoop gave me the call and said, ” I want you to make these records songs.” He had already taught me, so it was nothing to do.  I went in there and took the songs that were at 60 percent, and made them 150 percent.  It doesn’t go down like that in Hip-Hop anymore where you have producer, mixer, and a music arranger.  We truly tried to take the essence back to real albums, even down to me listing the equipment I used on the album.  It was just a ball to do.AllHipHop.com:  How would you describe yourself musically?Terrace Martin:  I’m a Jazz Musician. I’m somebody who listened to John Coltrane for five hours a day and listened to Pete Rock, Premier, and Dr. Dre for the rest of the day.AllHipHop.com: That blends through in your music too doesn’t it?Terrace Martin:  Yeah, and I’m older now, so I really get it. Now I feel like both worlds are really coming together.  Up until like  a year or two ago, both worlds were so separate in my life.  But, now I’m figuring out how to make both worlds happy, and both worlds communicate.  It’s only a handful that I know about that can blend both worlds.  I’m just now getting it, and I feel like I can do anything musically.AllHipHop.com:  How do your Jazz mentors feel that you’re making your name primarily off of Hip-Hop?Terrace Martin:  A few of the cats had a problem with me doing Hip-Hop. I used to play with cats like Billy Higgins, who is a world famous Jazz drummer.  A lot of Jazz cats are ignorant towards the Hip-Hop world, just like a lot of Hip-Hop cats are ignorant towards the Jazz world.  The Jazz guys say, ” You shouldn’t play another music , that’s not your music.”  A few cats were downing [my music] when I was doing Hip-Hop.  But like I explained to them, I was doing Hip-Hop way before I even thought about putting a horn in my mouth.  Hip-Hop is the music of my time so Jazz was already kind of 50 years not poppin’ when I got into it.  Because my parents play Jazz, I have a love for it , and I fell in love with it in ninth grade. But Snoop was on his second album [when I was younger], so that’s when all it was, was Bad Boy and Death Row.  It wasn’t John Coltrane playing on the radio.AllHipHop.com:  You have music in your blood through your parents.  How did your childhood influence what you’re doing now?Terrace Martin:  When I was younger, I didn’t think it influenced me at all because I was trying to be all over the place, like most kids are.  But my Father is a Jazz drummer and my Mother was more on the Funk and Soul, and Gospel/R&B side.  It was all those records playing in my household and we always had a piano set up.   My Father always had musicians over and they would come in from New York when they wanted to come to L.A. and get it poppin’, my house was the house [where] cats would stay at until they got on their feet.  As a matter of fact my house now is like that unfortunately. (Laughs)AllHipHop.com:  I bet after working with Snoop you’re getting a lot of calls now huh?Terrace Martin:  I’m getting a lot of calls, and I got a call from somebody very special and that’s Quincy Jones. I was right in the middle of doing a Jeezy record, and a Game record,  and then I got the Quincy call and everything kind of stopped.  It had to stop.  I did a song on Quincy’s record with Snoop Dogg coming out.  Then Quincy is executive producing a record that Snoop Dogg and Clark Terry are doing.  Clark Terry is a cat that influenced Dizzy Gilespe, Miles Davis, and he played with Count Basie, Thelonious Monk, and Duke Ellington.  After me and Snoop do the song for Quincy, we’re flying out to Arkansas to work with Clark Terry on a Jazz album with Snoop rapping and singing on it.  It’s historical, Quincy is overseeing the whole record and I produced most of the record.  This is the only record in history that is actually going to bridge the gap of Hip-Hop and Jazz.  AllHipHop.com:   You have a lot of similarities to Quincy Jones, being from that Jazz background.  Where do you see taking this with Quincy behind you?Terrace Martin: I see taking it where Quincy took it and one of my main mentors, Herbie Hancock.  Herbie was the first cat to have a Hip-Hop video on MTV.  He went through all phases of music from Jazz, to Funk, to Fusion, to Classical.  Whatever you want to do Herbie Hancock did.  He played with everybody and I strive to be like that.  I want to touch every genre of music that I possibly can.  I just want to  keep on doing good music and spread the word that you can be yourself and survive. AllHipHop.com:  Ok, so what else should people look for from you?Terrace Martin:  I doing a short film right now that will be out in the middle of June. It stars Terrace Martin, Problem, and features DJ Quik, Kurrupt, Teddy Riley, and Snoop Dogg.  It’s basically a story about two cats that come from different sides of the fence, but live the same lifestyle and are trying to get in this music game.  Hopefully throughout this movie somebody will look at it and say I’m not going to give up, I’m going to keep on going. It doesn’t matter if I’m broke or my mom is trippin’ on me, let me just keep on going.  The Devil always wants you to give up and get frustrated.   There is no secret to success. The only secret is to work hard. If you work hard, master your craft, be humble, honor God, and be receptive of criticism, I promise you will win. It’s my first time acting, but look at it for the message and the hot music because we’re doing videos off of the movie. 

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