Worldwide Beatmakers: DJ Concept
Today we had a chance to talk with seasoned producer, DJ Concept, hailing from Long Island, New York. Referred to as an “upcoming production wiz” by some, and having his beats described as “a moody boom bap workout” by others, you know it will be a treat to read what this guy has to say about beats, rhymes and life. Following up his 2016 underground classic LP, Seventy Nine, with a new instrumental version of that release, which was preceded by a new instrumental LP, Meditations, you know we are not dealing with a lazy man. Let’s hear what he got to say...
01. Just to make things clear, who the hell is DJ Concept, where is he from, and what is that guy really about?
Peace Peace, I’m DJ Concept…deejay/producer/graphic artist from Long Island, NY and I’m about creating dope music for the real heads. I'm also all about putting in crazy work, so I appreciate ya'll calling that out in the intro to this article. We have so little time on earth, I just wanna create shit that will be played for centuries. Timeless music.
02. You both deejay and produce as a member of the Bash Brothers deejay crew and rap duo, Dirt Disciples. Tell us more about these two crews?
The Bash Bros was created by me and my boy Mickey Knox. We started the crew as just the two of us, but then expanded out to include other deejays and producers that we fucked with. We had a show on SiriusXM prior to the Sunday night slot of Rap Is Outta Control…shouts to DJ Eclipse. Dirt Disciples is my group with NY emcee Rome Clientel. We’ve released an album, along with an EP and got a compilation coming out very soon, which will be followed by another album. You can always expect pure, heartfelt music every time we drop.
03. Like so many other producers we speak with, you also started out as a deejay. Please tell us what got you into music, what sparked the interest, and what got you hooked with the art form of beat making?
I always loved music since I was real young. I would make my own little mixtapes before I had any real equipment. I even made a list of the music in my collection that I would pass out to people in my school. Tell me what you want and I’ll make you a mixtape type shit, haha. But I got my first turntables in high school and then I was hooked. I did college radio for years and then got my show on Sirius satellite radio for like five years. I had started producing already but didn’t feel I was ready to start passing out beats yet. I worked on my craft for a while.
04. What was your very first production setup, how did you get the money for it—please describe it as vividly as possible?
I definitely messed around with a little Casio keyboard I had but my first real machine was a Korg Triton. I actually sold my drum set to get it. I was a drummer growing up and got to the point that I wasn’t using my set anymore. I knew I wanted to makes beats, it was the logical move for me. I sold the drums, bought the keys, and never looked back.
05. What’s your current production setup and what are you looking to buy next for your studio if money was no object?
Right now I’m very digital with an analog feel. I work with a turntable or course to sample and I mostly use Reason or Pro Tools to make my beats. Truthfully I think if money was no object I would just build my studio to be more custom to my workflow. Not sure I would buy too many more pieces of equipment cause I’m cool with what I use. Maybe a few little toys but nothing crazy.
06. Many people find music production to be a very cinematic in a way the conjures visual imagery. That said, what is you favorite soundtrack of all time and why?
Great fucking question. I think of my production style as very cinematic, 24 frames per second type shit. A movie no doubt. As far as my favorite soundtrack, definitely a hard question. I'd probably go with the official soundtrack for, Together Brothers. I mean how can you go wrong with Barry White and The Love Unlimited Orchestra.
07. Your new instrumental album Meditations is a collection of beats taken from various projects and artists like: Typ-Ill, The Day Laborers, Kaleber, Stat Quo, Jon Connor, GH, Smoke DZA, Reks, Rick Gonzalez, Rome Clientel, Skyzoo, Dirt Disciples, John Jigg$, Nature and More. Please share some tricks of the trade when producing such a broad scope of artists and also explain why you choose to put the album out instrumentally?
Honestly I just make beats based on my mood. Sometimes the sample comes first and sometime the drums lead. Mostly when I make tracks I’ll think, "so and so would sound good on this" and then I try to get it to them. If I’m working on a full project with someone I try to catch a vibe of what the album might sound like and then play in that arena. Always trying to respectfully inject my style into theirs. I decided to put out Meditations because these were all joints that came out but didn’t necessarily get attached or credited to me. Definitely proud of all those joints so why not.
08. What’s your favorite beat on the album, and could you please share some crazy stories of working with any of these artists?
I never release anything that I don’t mess with completely so it’s a hard question. But I really love “Ambition.” Just the overall message, the vocal sample and my daughters laugh at about 1:30. Crazy stories...not really. I just put in work. Although when I got up with my G, Rick Gonzalez, the vibe was ill and we did like five joints in a couple of hours. Dude was on point to say the least.
09. What other projects will we be hearing from DJ Concept during 2018?
I got a ton of shit dropping this year. After the Seventy Nine instrumentals I have the release of the Dirt Disciples’ compilation that I mentioned earlier, which is titled, Stand For Something, followed by two volumes of a producer compilation titled, Produced By DJ Concept, then Meditations 2, a project with Shabaam Sahdeeq, another with my dude Kaleber, and one with John Jigg$. Then I have two or three instrumental-themed beat tapes, a couple reflip projects…the list goes on. I don't like to talk about projects before they are mostly done, but best believe I'm gonna dump a bunch of fire out this year.
10. Name a few key producers that have inspired your music and why? What made each of the special to you?
So many producers inspire me from Rap to Rock. But as far as Hip-Hop producers, I would say The Alchemist for his originality and filthy chops, Statik for his consistency, Madlib for being one of the originators of the whole lo-fi loop type shit and MoSS for his rare finds and unmistakable drums.
11. The love for samples and rare records is a given, what crate diggin’ finds are you most proud of and where did you find it?
Damn thats hard. I'm a vinyl junkie so my collection is deep. I wouldn't say there's one specific record but I did hit a gold mine one time in LA. Aside from a crazy dig session at the old Record Surplus on Pico, we were driving somewhere through the the surrounding area and I saw a crate sitting at a yard sale. I pulled over so I could jump out and flip through it. It was one banging record after the other. Curtis Mayfield, Black Ivory, Barry White, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Issac Hayes…you get the point. I asked how much for the whole crate and the lady was like “gimme five dollars". I gave her ten and ran, haha.
12. What new producers inspire you at the moment?
I wouldn’t necessarily call them all “new” but I’m definitely feeling Futurewave, Big Ghost LTD, V-Don, Vic Grimes, Dirty Diggs. There's a ton of others that I'm forgetting right now, but there is definitely a lot of talent out here.
13. If you would crown the king beat makers at different aspects of the production process, who would take home each specific quality?
• King of beat programing and patterns? Nottz…dude is a beast!
• King of basslines? Marco Polo For sure.
• King of chopping samples? Preemo…he makes magic with a bunch of crazy chops.
• King of rare samples? MoSS…no question. Dude has the rarest shit I ever seen.