Seasoned UK producer Baby J took time out of his busy, pre album launch schedule to answer a few questions for Britishhiphop.co.uk / Certified Banger with questions put by Aidan Severs. Read on to find out what Baby J had to say about his latest LP amongst other things…
Aidan Severs: Your new album, ‘Baby Food’ is out towards the end of this year, in a couple of months. What can we all expect from that? What are you most excited about with respect to its release?
Baby J: It’s just nice to have my s**t coming out, I love letting people hear my stuff and seeing what feedback it gets. I always feel lucky just to be able to be releasing music, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do so every time is an honour.
Aidan Severs: You’ve had loads of attention from the sphere of UK Hip Hop and I’ve heard your tracks on Radio 1 nuff times, especially ‘Young, Gifted and Black’. You’ve made moves with big names in the pop world like Mark Ronson. What are your hopes and expectations for the success of ‘Baby Food’?
Baby J: I think I’d just like to get my stuff heard outside of the UK hip hop arena, I feel like I got my stripes there, I’d like to be known as a producer not just a hip hop producer, I’m always gonna make hip hop cause that’s my heart but id like to be able to try some other stuff to.
Aidan Severs: There are going to be loads of guests on ‘Baby Food’, as usual. Who have you had a chance to work with this time that you have never worked with before? How important are the guest singers and rappers to your work?
Baby J: Farma G and Million Dan were big ones for me, just cause they’re both legends. The artists on my albums make the albums, I provide the landscape but they make it what it is.
Aidan Severs: What do you look for in an artist when doing collaboration? Are there any MC’s or singers who you would really like to have on your productions in the future?
Baby J: Just someone that stands out. And someone that’s about their business, I’m getting too old to be chasing rappers! I’d like to do something with Dizzee, and Rodney P and Lilly Allen and Adele.
Aidan Severs: Let’s talk about your production sound now. You seem to have a knack when it comes to picking samples; your beats are always so catchy whether they have a happy or a darker vibe. What’s your sample finding process?
Baby J: Two things, firstly its got to be sonically nice, there’s gotta be something nice about the texture of the sound, the way it was recorded, the instruments used. Secondly the original music’s gotta be hot. I’m usually into a track before I sample it.
Aidan Severs: Lots of people read my interviews with producers to get tips. What tips would you give to an aspiring producer? Are the any little secrets you can let us into?
Baby J: When you’re working with samples you’re the last musician in the room, so try and add instruments and playing styles that are sympathetic to the music that’s already down, don’t just add some generic boom bap drums over the top. And… EZ Drummer, vintage rock, insider info.
Aidan Severs: Does the production on ‘Baby Food’ follow the traditional sampling method or have you started from scratch on any of the tracks?
Baby J: There are no samples on the new album. All the tracks have been made from scratch. A couple of tracks have been inspired by other tracks id heard and id got musicians to come and replay things but everything else was from scratch. It was a conscious decision, I felt I'd done the sample thing and I wanted to challenge myself with a new way of working, so I bought a piano of ebay for £40 and a bass and a guitar.
Aidan Severs: Who and what inspires you to make music? What got you into producing in the first place?
Baby J: I first started making music because that way I didn’t have to wait for new records to come out to have new music, in some ways it’s the same thing now, I make music when I want to create a certain vibe or feel.
Aidan Severs: As a fan of Blade, I’ve got to ask, as you produced his last ever album, how did you feel when he said he was going into retirement? Did you know he was going to do that when you were working on ‘Guerrilla Tactics’?
Baby J: To be honest I don’t think I really believed him, I thought it was talk. When we did the album and it came out it was on the tale end of records actually selling and I think he just got disheartened with the sales from the project. We new it was a good album, and it got the critical acclaim but that just didn’t manifest into sales cause people just weren’t buying music in the same way they were five years ago.
Aidan Severs: A lot of prominent people in all walks of life feel a certain amount of responsibility. What’s your role in UK Hip Hop besides making dope beats? Is hard being the one behind the ones with the voice or is that good for you?
Baby J: I get to choose which artists I work with, so they get to speak for me in a sense. I look at music as propaganda. Its a tool to talk to the youth so we all have a responsibility to use it accordingly, if you aint got nothing worth saying put the mic down. Recently I was at an anti BNP rally outside their national festival, you see these guys pushing their pro-white racist bulls**t and it suddenly occurred to me, I bet most of their kids listened to black music, they damn sure ain't listening to morris dancing.
Aidan Severs: Thanks for your time. Are there any last words, anything you’d like to add that we’ve not covered? Any interesting insights that you’ve been thinking about over the last couple of weeks?!
Baby J: Check my blog http://babyjbiz.blogspot.com to hear my rants about life. FTP (oh, and buy my album, please).
- Mark Ronson – 'Valerie' ft. Amy Winehouse (Baby J Remix)
- Skinnyman – 'I'll Be Surprised' (Produced by Baby J and taken from the album 'Council Estate of Mind)
- Rukus – 'Let It Go' ft. Ty, Klashnekoff & Yogi (Taken from Baby J's album 'F.T.P.')
- Blade – 'UK Hip Hop' (Produced by Baby J and featuring on Blade's last album 'Guerrilla Tactics')
- Yogi – 'Black or White' (Produced by Baby J, taken from 'F.T.P. 2: Fight The Power')
- Dynamite MC – 'Young, Gifted and Black' (Produced by Baby J, taken from 'F.T.P. 2: Fight The Power')