(AllHipHop Interviews) Sharif "Reefa" Slater's hands have been involved in the creation of songs by some of the top Hip Hop artists in the business.
Projects by Rick Ross, The Game, French Montana, Fabolous, Maino, Beanie Siegel, and Troy Ave feature tracks from the Brooklyn-born head of ATM (Addicted To Money) management group/production house.
Even with that list of accomplishments, Reefa is not slowing down. Up next is Diddy's forthcoming album MMM. He has also been in the studio recently with rap legend Nas, pop icon Jennifer Lopez, British singer-songwriter Estelle, and YouTube sensation Maddi Jane.
AllHipHop.com spoke with Reefa about his production work, the "King Of Brooklyn" discussion, and what he looks for when he considers signing an aspiring producer to ATM.
[ALSO CHECK OUT: Troy Ave #BGA Ft. Pusha T “Concrete Jungle” Prod. by Reefa]
You worked with Diddy and the Trackmasters early on in your career. What were some of the lessons you learned from working with those producers?
Work ethic is the main thing that I learned from being around Puff, the Trackmasters, and other producers - work ethic, staying focused, and staying humble.
You’re currently working with Diddy on his next album. Can you give an idea what musical direction that project is taking?
I can’t really talk about that much, but I can tell you it’s going to be a movie. It’s going to be fire. You’re going to expect, hopefully, something that can change the whole Hip Hop sound.
You have a lot of connections with the Bad Boy camp and Ciroc Boyz. You produced Rick Ross’ “What A Shame” from his Mastermind album. Whose idea was it to build that track off Wu-Tang Clan’s “Shame On A N***a”?
That was of course the mastermind Rick Ross and French Montana. That’s where the whole idea for using that Wu-Tang hook came from.
Can you talk about some of the other artists you’re currently producing for?
I’m currently in the studio with Estelle. I’m working on Nas, Fab, J-Lo. Plus, I’m developing my own artists. I got a lot coming later on this year.
You mentioned Fab. Is that for his album?
Yes, Loso’s Way 2.
What about the Nas joint?
Nas is working on his album. I don’t know too much about it. I just know for a fact that we’ve been collaborating. Hopefully, you’ll hear something from Reefa and ATM on his project.
I heard you have a track with Iggy Azalea and Keyshia Cole for The Other Woman soundtrack.
Yes, I think that movie comes out this month.
That’s an interesting pairing. Can you give some details on how that song came together?
That whole idea came about with me and Iggy. Then we hollered at Keyshia Cole, and Keyshia hooked up with Iggy.
I want to talk about one of your past tracks. You produced The Game’s “One Blood.” The remix is one of the most famous posse cuts of all time. Did you play a part in that version coming together?
I knew that remix was going to happen. At the time it had a lot of momentum. Me and Game spoke, and he told me everybody he was putting on that remix. A lot of people were calling me, calling him, getting the instrumental, and laying their verse.
Did you guys have any idea it was going to be that many rappers when you first started talking about it?
No, not at all. I didn’t know how big that record was. I knew it was a monster, but I didn’t know how big it was until it spread all over the world. Then I was like, “Oh yeah, we got one.”
You mentioned that you’re doing some work for your own artists. How did you first discover Maddi Jane?
Maddi Jane was discovered by one of my business partners Chris Lorenzo. That’s how we met her. I locked in the studio with her and did two records. I ended up signing her. We’re doing her album and EP.
Is that project coming out soon?
Yeah, she’s supposed to drop a single sometime this summer on iTunes. We got a good campaign coming with that single. It’s not just putting out a single on iTunes. There's a whole campaign and plan going behind that record.
What do you look for in an artist or producer when trying to decide if that’s someone you want to sign?
A lot of producers out here, they make beats. They’re programmers. They can do this; they can do that. But it’s not a lot of producers out here that have personality in their music. Somebody can easily program some s**t, and the s**t can sound hot, but that’s what makes the Timbalands, the Swizz Beatz, the Jermaine Dupris, the Puffs, the Rico Loves – all these guys have personality in their music. A Just Blaze, a Kanye. It ain’t just making a hot beat and move on to the next one. It’s personality. You’re going to know it’s a movie that’s coming.
How would you describe your musical personality?
My music personality is aggressive, hard drums. Sometimes I have two sides of the beat – down part, up part. Like if you hear on Mastermind’s “What A Shame,” I have the boom bap drums switch up to a more hype kind of pop. I do that a lot now. I did that before with my previous record with Red Cafe’s “The Hottest In Da Hood.” I have different sounds. I got a great team, and we’re just trying to take over.
Being from Brownsville, what’s your opinion on the recent “King of Brooklyn” and “King Of New York" talk?
Maino’s King Of Brooklyn project, I executive produced that EP/mixtape. I think everybody in Brooklyn is they own man from Maino to Fab to Uncle Murda. I respect everybody from Brooklyn. I don’t really get involved in that type of controversy.
What do you think some of the rising emcees out of New York City can do to attract national attention again?
Honestly, it will take great music. I feel the momentum, but it has to be good music that comes with it. Certain rappers, I hear them doing those records, but it’s only like one or two rappers besides Fab. He has that momentum. He’s ready. The new rappers are coming, but it's going to take a little bit of time. It’s going to take some good music, some good dedication, and a whole movement. People have to buy into artists now. It ain’t just about the music no more.
You’ve talked about some of your tracks. Do you have any other projects coming up that you haven't mentioned?
I have a whole lot. Sometimes I forget, because I’m working so much in the studio. I have a lot. I probably have over seven to eight projects coming out. As of now, I’m focused on the things in front of me from [Diddy’s] Money Making Mitch project, Nas, Estelle, and Fab. Hopefully I get some hits. I know I got some great music.