Lessons from a Legend: Easy Mo Bee

The iconic producer talks about working with Biggie and Tupac and his new instrumental album in AHH’s Lessons from a Legend series.

It would be hard for anyone to build a resume like producer Easy Mo Bee’s.  He was behind the boards for some of the best songs in 90’s Hip-Hop.  Biggie’s “Gimme the Loot,” Tupac’s “Temptations,” Busta Rhymes’ “Everything Remains Raw,” among many others, are memorable largely due to the  beats that the man born Osten Harvey, Jr., created.  Plus, he got his first break sharing album credits alongside one of his idols, Marley Marl, on Big Daddy Kane’s classic, It’s a Big Daddy Thing.  He won a Grammy with Miles Davis.  And he has made amazing music in the 21st century alongside Alicia Keys.

With enough accolades to make St. Patrick green with envy, Mo Bee is rightfully content with just letting his work speak for itself.  And it is because of that, AllHipHop.com was very grateful for the opportunity to speak with him.

In celebration of 25 years in an industry that changes faces more frequently than high school and a new instrumental album, …And You Don’t Stop!, Easy Mo Bee drops knowledge proving that wisdom not only comes with age, but also, and even more importantly, experience.

Play to Your Strengths: Everything (on …And You Don’t Stop!) was created on SP1200s.  You’re talking about the same kind of equipment that people like me, Large Professor, we were all using, like around, ’92, ’93, ’94.  We’re still using the same stuff.  I love the sound of it; I love the feel of it when I play it back and I listen to it.  I’m more of a hands-on type of dude.  I cannot sit there and be clicking the mouse.  I can’t do it.  I have to have my hands on the machines.  I guess you could say that’s equal to people who play instruments.  I feel better, like I’m actually playing a real instrument- like somebody who plays the guitar.  I’d rather play them for real because its hands on.

Aspire to Stand out From the Crowd, Instead of Fit into It: Hopefully what this album will do is inspire some more originality in Hip-Hop. I also hope that it will just kind of allow people to come out of the closet after all these years.  What I mean by that, is music has changed and Hip-Hop has changed and a lot of everything, production-wise, is geared towards the southern trap sound. And I see people where I’m from, from New York, or Brooklyn, or a place like Harlem or whatever doing the trap sound.  It’s cool to adapt, but it’s just not us, do you know what I mean?  I have to come out and say that, it’s not us.  I hope that will inspire people.  You know I’m getting real different with it.

Let the Good Times Outweigh the Bad: I’m glad you asked that (about 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G. working together).  A lot of people all these years, have concentrated on nothing but the negativity and the beef.  I was there and I was working with them when they actually were friends and I was able to see them interact together.  Them interacting together, it was just cool watching them work like that.  I had no idea what was gonna happen [would] happen.  All I saw was a bunch guys in a studio having fun, doing the same thing that I loved to do, which was make records.  Pac, he’s more aggressive as far as styles when recording in a studio.  He can’t sit down. He’s like, “Come on man, come on get up.  We gotta get this done!”  Biggie’s more laid back, he’s like the opposite, he’s sitting on the couch and kind of speaks when spoken to.  He’s kinda quiet, just looking around.  You don’t even think he’s working, but he’s writing in his head.  They had kinda opposite styles, but they both came out with greatness when it was time to deliver. 

Know You’re Judged by the Company You Keep: A lot of people may not know but I started out really really early with the Wu-Tang Clan, being associated, hanging around them, before they even decided to call themselves Wu Tang Clan.  For that matter, Wu Tang Clan had not even happened yet. It was 1989 going into ’90 and I had just produced the Big Daddy Kane stuff.  So, Lil Kwan had approached me and said “Hey man, I liked the Big Daddy Kane stuff and there’s an artist that I want you to work with.”  They said his name is The Genius (GZA). I was like “Oh, ok.”  He said, “I’m telling you G, you gotta meet these guys. What they’re doing is fusing the martial arts together with the Hip-Hop.”  I’m like, “Yeah yeah, whatever.  Let’s meet him and work.”  I meet Genius and we end up making the album, Words From the Genius.  I was still in the projects then, not really paying attention, they always were bringing somebody with them.  I wasn’t paying attention to these tag alongs that were still coming. One time they brought Raekwon, and then another time they brought ODB. Me and ODB, we actually got involved.  I have homemade demos where we put the microphone into the back of the DJ mixer and we were playing SP1200 beats.  I have demos of Wu-Tang, Genius, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard that have never been released.  I made them at the house in the projects.  That’s my earliest involvement.  I’m always proud to say that I had early involvement in the stages of Wu-Tang.

Recognize There Are as Many Personalities as People in the World: People are different.  You have to be open to different personalities.  Everybody has their own special way.  In this business when you agree and commit to working with somebody you take on that whole plate of who that person is, to understand them, and you will fit a mold to work with that person. I think we end up doing that every single day, working 9 to 5. I didn’t do music all my life, I was a 9 to 5 dude too. People have different personalities from your boss to your co-worker or whoever. And you gotta understand who they are to get along with them, and that’s all for the purpose of getting things done.

…And You Don’t Stop! is available now on iTunes!