K-Salaam & Beatnick: Hello New World

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A revolution is brewing in Hip-Hop and it’s the liberating sounds from Minnesotan producers K-Salaam and Beatnick that fight to resurrect the vacant soul of a dying culture. On their debut, conveniently entitled Whose World Is This? [VP], the duo set out on a mission to find the “answer” to this invigorating question. The result: an uplifting, 18-track, compilation that creates a unified musical discussion between some of the industry’s most talented Hip-Hop (dead prez, Talib Kweli), Reggae (Sizzla, Buju Banton) and spoken word (Black Ice) artists. On the unconventional but thumping, Sting sampling lead single “Street Life,” featuring Buju Banton and Trey Songz, the former wails, “…Oh lawd…what is the meaning of life/If I ain’t got a voice and I ain’t got a choice…” Read on as K-Salaam and Beatnick passionately explain why their messages needs to be heard around the world.AllHipHop.com: Whose World is This?, could your timing be any better with an album title so relevant to all the confusion going on in the world right now? Nas asked the question more than 20 years ago on Illmatic, why did you feel like it was time to readdress such a prominent issue? K-Salaam: We wanted people to finally start to think for themselves but we definitely borrowed the idea from Nas…Beatnick: The album points to the answer but each listener is supposed to take what they need and come up with their own answer.  All the artists [on the album] come from completely different walks of life and are giving their individual opinions. AllHipHop.com: Artists’ are debating whether or not Hip-Hop is dead and then you bang them with an even deeper, more thought provoking question, was the timing and relevancy [for this project] a coincidence?K-Salaam: It’s not a coincidence!  If you are a real artist the timing and your relevancy is a part of your art.  That’s what makes somebody dope… the title, message, ideas, production…the whole package!  Beatnick: Hip-Hop is at such a low point…the timing of the album is definitely crucial because things can’t go on like this for much longer.  People have to step forward, take a chance and do something that’s honest and real!AllHipHop.com: What were you looking for from the talent you sought out to work with on this project?  The list is so diverse, from Papoose to Luciano, why did these people stand out?Beatnick: It ultimately came down to people who we respected and were feeling…K-Salaam We’ve been shopping beats and creating relationships for a while now, so with a lot of the featured artists [on the album] it was a mutual thing. We work with good people and good musicians. That’s what we’re about.  We reached out like “here’s the message” and they felt it and in turn chose to get down. For some [of the artists] this topic is not [normally] something they would address in their music but it’s still something real that they live every day. AllHipHop.com: Can you briefly tell me about your individual journeys? How did you two link up and get into music to begin with?  K-Salaam: I been deejaying since the early 90’s and then slowly got into production. My moms’ was a professional piano player. I play the trumpet and mess around on the keys. When I linked up with Beatnick he was already a full-fledged producer. He’s the brains behind the actual musicality of what we create.  Nick is a composer, engineer, beat-maker…musically we just click. Beatnick: My family is a musical family so this is in my blood.  My grandfather was a Jazz arranger and I’m a trained musician.  I started off playing the guitar and then got into music theory… I went to a high school that specialized in music and was introduced to Hip-Hop and producing in that style… I met K my senior year [of high school] and we’ve been grinding side by side ever since.AllHipHop.com: How would you describe your production style?  K-Salaam: Our style is that we don’t have a style.Beatnick: There’s no one particular sound that’s going to define us. The one consistency that you’ll hear in every track, whether it’s club, street, or conscious is honesty and substance.K-Salaam: “Feel” (f/ Talib Kweli) and “We Gotta Take It” (f/ Papoose & Busy Signal) both really highlight a new sound in music…if you really listen to the beat you’ll say, “this is fresh, I’ve never heard anything like this before.” Papoose deals with the subject on a simple political level and Busy speaks on a gangsta’ level but both verses come together… demanding us to take back our life our culture…our freedom!K-Salaam: “Babylon” (f/ Young Buck & Sizzla) is another brand new sound. I’ve been playing that in clubs and people are loving it!  It’s very colorful and visual.  When Buck heard what Sizzla was coming with, he hit me back and immediately wanted to jump on.  AllHipHop.com: What a sick combination…K-Salaam: Thank you. We don’t make 20 beats a day. Good art doesn’t work like that. We really take this seriously and put our blood, sweat and tears in it.  The producers out there who make 20 tracks a day you can listen [to the track] and tell.  K-Salaam: Another thing that’s being overlooked in Hip-Hop right now that we’re incorporating [in our beats] are drums. All the drums suck in Hip-Hop!AllHipHop.com: That actually ties in the question that I have about the dope drum solo [following “The World is Ours” / Black Ice]…who’s playing and what type of drum is that? Beatnick: The drum solo is kind of throwback to what Pete Rock used to do. We borrowed that from his creative genius.  It’s a reward for people who actually listen to the album all the way through…they get a little treat. That’s actually just a cheap Gimbe drum that I bought a while back.  I was excited about something at the time when I got it and just started playing…it turned out to be a hot track and what better place to throw it on the album…K-Salaam: Black Ice is one of the most talented people I’ve ever met in my life.  He was really inspired by the project. Beatnick: Well that Black Ice track is significant because it’s the direct answer to the question in the title of the album [Whose World is This?] and honestly just sums up what the album is about.AllHipHop.com: How long did it take for you complete this project?  For the aspiring DJ’s/Producers out there who may not truly understand the grind…could you describe your coming of age?Beatnick: It took us a while because we basically started with nothing.  We started with very few relationships and built from there…this whole album is us becoming who we are now. K-Salaam: Nick and I were dropping mix-tapes back in Minneapolis and then eventually just progressed as producers while simultaneously working on this project…  We were deejaying, shopping tracks, building relationships…  We’ve been in the game for about five years now and still aren’t even close to where we want to be or where we know we’re capable of going.AllHipHop.com: What’s your mission in the game overall?K-Salaam: The game needs good music. We’re trying to bring truth, honesty and substance back into the music…  Beatnick: It’s been too long that music’s been mediocre and uninspiring. When anyone comes around and is just a little bit above the bar they’re considered “the greatest.” The bar is real low and K & I are definitely raising it.AllHipHop.com: What major projects have you worked on prior to the release of this album?K-Salaam: We actually did a couple tracks on Nas’s [Untitled] album but he didn’t use them.  He recorded about four songs over our beats; a couple of them were just crazy.  We’re working with Young Buck and Collie Buddz right now on their albums…heavily with Pharoahe Monch, Outlawz, dead prez, Sizzla and Rihanna. K-Salaam & Beatnick with Pharoahe Monch in the studio from ksalaam beatnick on Vimeo.AllHipHop.com: Growing up in Minnesota, how prominent was the Hip-Hop culture in your life?  Listeners may assume that it’s impossible for two “white” dudes to address a struggle that they know absolutely nothing about…why do you feel like it was your job to do this?Beatnick: The love for music and our responsibility to let people know that there’s still good s**t out there…K-Salaam: And the love for the people too. I come from an activist Iranian family so I live in the struggle.  Beatnick [Albanian rooted] lives in the music. When you’re real [even if we were straight up white dudes] and you’re bringing something to the table that people can learn from… no one’s gonna’ question you, and nobody has. People respect and appreciate it.AllHipHop.com:  Why did you guys decide to link with VP Records?  K-Salaam: VP came and offered us a major deal.  We’re both big Reggae heads so it was convenient.  We were trying to get our album out in a timely fashion so we decided to run with it and do the best we could with it. AllHipHop.com:  Any parting words?K-Salaam: Pick up the album…we are really giving something back to people…we’re not just putting out some bulls**t paper music like the s**t that’s out now…this is real.  If you’re too poor to buy the album just download it for free and listen. 

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