Unusual Suspects: Save the Music

If you like the sound of Pretty Ricky’s new music, it might not just be the video and singing. The producers behind the hit “Grind With Me,” and much of the album, have been a long time coming. After all, they were the genius behind Trick Daddy’s “Let’s Go” and Pitbull’s “Damn It.” Three hits is often the charm for true recognition in Hip-Hop. Having worked with R&B and Hip-Hop’s hottest [they were present during Foxy and Jackie’s smackdown], this duo is truly one to grow on.

Reppin’ Miami’s “305,” the two music scholars strive to create never before heard beats and sounds. Staying on top of the production game is no easy task. While incorporating the use of traditional instruments in making their music; Big D and Jim Johnson travel the world in search of unknown equipment to further advance their unique sound. Two guys living out their dreams tell AllHipHop.com how they may single handedly save the music.

AllHipHop.com: What’s going on?

Big D: We’re at Circle House Studios. We’re working here right now. We have a studio in Miami Beach called Unusual Suspects Inc. We’re musicians. We both write and produce.

AllHiHop.com: How long have you been around and how’d you meet?

Big D: We have been around for a minute now – like three years. We were both working with a group called Suns of Sacrifice. They had a deal with Warner Brothers. The group introduced Jim and I to one another. We respected what each other were doing and both worked well together. We decided to make a stronger force and team up. We come at ideas from different angles, but find a level of balance to mix them.

AllHipHop.com: When did you start taking your music seriously?

Big D: It’s never been a hobby. Since day one, we’ve been serious about making music.

AllHipHop.com: A lot of producers today work in front of as well as behind the scenes. Do either one of you rhyme also?

Jim Johnson: We both sing on our records. We try to help coach the artist. But we’re not Rap artists.

AllHipHop.com: What did you do before you were big producers?

Big D: Well, Jim here, used to be a trick DJ. known as Jealous J.

JJ: Yeah, I used to spin Bass music. I released a few albums. I think that they’re still available. But regardless, that’s where I got my roots.

Big D: I was a music director for artists and bands. I worked with Bebe and CeCe Winans, and a cat named, Vest`a.

AllHipHop.com: The Winans are some legends. So now that you’re doing this, what’s on the table as a group?

JJ: We are currently working with Kelis, and we just got done recording a few tracks with J-Kwon. He’s supposed to come back and record a few more. We also recently worked with Bone Crusher, Kid Rock, and the list goes on.

AllHipHop.com: Any local Miami cats?

Big D: Yeah, we have worked with a lot of people. Trina, Pitbull and Jackie-O. We did 11 out of 14 tracks on Pretty Ricky’s new album.

AllHipHop.com: The question often asked and rarely answered is what sets you apart from other producers?

JJ: We give people what they want to hear. I’m a firm believer in the truth. It not only goes for music, but for everything. We do more than just have bass in our music; we play all of the instruments.

Big D: The bass helps, but we have a lot of unheard riffs, drums and sounds in our music. I’ll lay down a slick guitar riff [while playing air guitar] over a hard 808 beat.

AllHipHop.com: What about the equipment to get your unique sounds?

Big D: We like to travel. Jim will go down to Puerto Rico and find something and bring it back. We just got back from South Africa. We picked up a drum module called a Caswancion. No one has it. It has all kinds of crazy jungle sounds.

AllHipHop.com: What else?

Big D: My favorite right now is the Kumbanda drum module.

JJ: Naw, I like the Telefunk better.

AllHipHop.com: What else did you do in South Africa?

Big D: We visited the Zumba tribe. We even recorded a few drum sessions with them.

AllHipHop.com: Damn, that’s ill. You were drumming with the tribe?

JJ: Yeah, we were inspired by them. We came back with a whole new perspective to adapt to our work.

AllHipHop.com: As producers and beat makers, do you feel that your job is the “back bone” of Hip-Hop?

Big D: Rap artists today rely on the track. Back in the day, artists rhymed over songs. Today, it is more musically driven. It’s not just a sample anymore. One can only rhyme over a turntable for so long. With out a good producer, the track is nothing.

AllHipHop.com.: Is there room for an old school styled record again?

Big D: No, there doesn’t need for an old school album dropped. Someone needs to put out album with that type of word play. We move forward, not backwards. Rappers can spend more time on the track itself. They should use more story telling. We can do a track in one day or three. It’s all in the time put into the track.

AllHipHop.com: So who are some of the new artists that you’re working with that we should be aware of?

JJ: Raw Filth. He’s no joke! We’re also working with this artist from Palm Beach named, Triple J. He’ll be coming out soon.

AllHipHop.com: If you could work with anyone out right now who would it be?

Big D: I’d have to say Janet or Kenya Moore, but we’ll work with anyone. We haven’t been in the game long enough to make claims like that. We like challenges.

AllHipHop.com: How do you two work so well together?

JJ: I’m the perfectionist.

Big D: I’m not a perfectionist. I think that it gives the music character. But I generally try to be focused on the track from beginning to end. Then we know how it turns out. I guess that’s what makes us “unusual.”

AllHipHop.com: What do you want to see happen as far as beats being made that hasn’t?

Big D: More musicians. We want to see more kids in school playing music. Technology has taken us far, but kids have gotten away from the actual hands on experience of creating music. You can’t get the same sound or appreciation from a synth or a module that you can from a real instrument. We do it. I want to see kids doing it too.

JJ: We support music of all forms. We want to help the kids that don’t have the opportunity to play music.

AllHipHop.com: What will you do to make that difference?

JJ: When I get some money, I would eventually like to help set up music programs similar to the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus.

Related Stories