Soul Diggaz: Breaking Bread….from Missy Elliot and Diddy to Madonna

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, […]

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

quality music. 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, it’s 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 Omarion’s album Face Off called 

“Jump Off” Impressive…we haven’t

seen a sibling production team in a while… what was the music like

growing up?

Bless: We were both heavily

into music and there was music always around us. Our family always listened

to stuff.

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 wasn’t too much entertainment but listen

to music and just party amongst family. 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. Working as Mary J. Blige’s

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 wouldn’t

say that it was at the top. We had the opportunity to do some records

with her, but we didn’t get any real placements over there. 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

vocal production.

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 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 it’s a great record. The main thing is having a great

chorus that everybody can sing to. You need a chorus that’s 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 that’s a hit record! 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 that’s 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

they’re 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: It’s 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 don’t really call that producing. You gotta

start from scratch. You have to build, not just get beats from the store. 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. We’ll

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, we’ve

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 don’t sample because

we do we just like to incorporate instruments to drown the sample out. I know that ya’ll 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

with Missy?

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 we’re working on with him now. He specifically

called us up because he likes our sound and our formula. We’re actually

going to Miami for seven days to work on Danity Kane’s 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.

It’s a respect factor, even though we didn’t choose to work with

him at that given time he respected our decision. He was going through

a lot. Like…..

K-Mack: We didn’t 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 didn’t wanna get caught up in it and he’s not focused on

producing and building a company like we were.

Bless: Our thing was “How

would all this affected our career if he would’ve gotten caught up?” Did his alleged track record with

snubbing folks out of publishing and royalties play into your decision

at all?

Bless: Back then when we didn’t

sign with him we didn’t look at along the lines of royalties and publishing.

Our thing is you are your own man, you don’t have to do nothing you

don’t 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, ya’ll got the certain way ya’ll do

things. I’m not trying to take anything from ya’ll, but I need your

sound as apart of my situation.’ What made you wanna go

with Missy?

K-Mack: Look at it like this.

Missy Elliott is a songwriter/producer. She is the female version of

Puff Daddy and she didn’t 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. She’s a hot writer, anything she wrote on became

a hit record. Signing with Missy brought

along that Gap commercial with Madonna right?

K-Mack: Yeah How was it working with

Madonna? Were you star struck  like “Oh My Gosh its Madonna!”

Bless: (Laughs) Honestly, she

didn’t 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

I’m 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. I’m with you on that

one. Seriously though, ya’ll 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 that’s 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. 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 “What’s It Gonna Be Boy” Can working with superstars

like Missy Elliott, and Diddy ever become difficult?

Bless: Its not difficult, they

just don’t like to go to sleep. Missy doesn’t go to sleep and she

doesn’t want you to sleep. Puff doesn’t 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 don’t come in with a mentality

like “I’m Puffy, I’m Missy” They work with you as if you’re

a huge success just like they are. They put that pride to the side.

Its just great energy! 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 didn’t

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 wasn’t our fault’,

but I’m 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