Haka, the producer who just dropped his first mixtape / album 'Underground Journeys', took a few minutes to answer my questions about him and his work. If you don't know, get to know:
Certified Banger: Haka, could you introduce yourselves to us a bit? Who are you? Where you’re from? What do you do?
Haka: I’m a producer, originally from Ladbroke Grove, West London. But I moved to South London when I was 17 and been in Battersea since.
CB: How long have you been producing for? How did you start out and what inspired you?
Haka: Only been producing tracks for about six months / a year, but been making beats for about four years. I started out just playing guitar in to Acid Pro and sequencing some simple beats.
There wasn’t one thing that inspired me, it was everything – my surrounding, my boys, my older brothers playing Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Eric B & Rakim etc when growing up, I just grew a passion for the culture and music.
CB: How did you first go about getting your beats heard? How did you get them to MCs? Did you have any knock backs or did you wait until your beats were top quality before getting them heard?
Haka: I been making tracks with my boys since I was 15, even though my beats were bate, its all experience, you can’t really wait until your beats are on point 'til you start recording, 'cause there's so much you need to learn and experience with recording techniques etc. But I remember showin' love to mans like Lowkey, Doc Brown, Klash, Mic Assassin etc. at Deal Real when I just got in to the music, me and my boys were the youngest there, but I just soaked it all up, I weren't askin' dem guys to do tunes, I knew I weren't ready and had a lot to learn. But now I'm workin' on tracks with some of them guys so it gets to a point where you don’t need anyone to tell you you’re good enough, you know when you’re on point.
CB: When you give an MC a beat, what do you expect them to do with it? Do they have creative control?
Haka: Man, before I give any rapper a beat, I have a chat with him about his ideas for the beat, and unless we both agree on the idea, its getting scrapped or we'll both have input on the tune. A lot of rappers ask for a beat when we're chillin' and I'll be honest with dem if I don’t think they'd come hardest to the beat, but at the same time, if you work enough with a rapper, you have a mutual respect, and I just leave them to zone out and do what they do best.
CB: What’s on your mind when you’re making a beat? Do you always go for a similar sound?
Haka: I zone out when I’m makin' a beat, I could be in my own world for hours. Whatever mood I'm in at the time, will show in my beat. And 'cause I'm new to the scene I'm always trying different techniques, programmes, effects etc when making a beat so I never make a beat the same as the last.
CB: How do you manage to get the more melodic R'n'B-ish side of Hip Hop mixed with the gritty, stripped back side of Hip Hop?
Haka: It's mainly about how you work your samples, you have to piece together the beat like a puzzle, trying out different drums, samples etc. But the way you EQ your beat makes all the difference. I grew up listening to a contrast of hip hop, from hearin' the gritty sounds of Mobb Deep and Wu, to Little Brother, A Tribe Called Quest, Devin the Dude etc. I think to incorporate both the RnB'ish side and the gritty side, you gotta know some music theory, and a knowledge of the instruments you're using helps a lot, knowing the chords, key etc.
CB: What’s more important to you: making a track for the club, the car, the ipod or the home stereo? How and where do you listen to music?
Haka: Making a track for a club has never been important to me, when I make music, the main thing is that I like it, but I mainly play my stuff in the car or on my ipod, I don’t play my own stuff at home too much unless I'm boasting to someone or with my boys playin' new stuff.
CB: Are you a perfectionist?
Haka: Definitely, I’m never 100% happy with my stuff, I always aim for perfection though.
CB: Your album Underground Journeys is more a collection of tracks you've done, would you agree on that?
Haka: Yeah definitely, it's a mixtape first and foremost, some tracks on there are album tracks, but by releasing this CD I wanted to show the versatility of my production and that I don't stick to one style.
CB: Which are your favourite songs on there?
Haka: Makes Me Say is definitely a banger, some of you may have heard it on a few radio stations. We Got Dat and Dats My Shitt are my favourite harder / grittier kinda tracks. And N.A.M.E is another smooth track.
CB: Can you tell us a little more about N/A who features on your album?
Haka: He's my brother man, and the best artist in the UK, hands down in my opinion. Me and Jetsun Beats are joint producing N/A's debut album this summer, it's pretty much done, we're just tightening it up and adding the finishing touches right about now. N/A and my other big bro OC Jigs definitely came the hardest on my CD, much love to dem man der.
CB: Are you working on another producer album? What formula will you follow for the next one, did you learn any important lessons during the making of Underground Journeys?
Haka: I'm doing a few downloadable EPs this year, so keep your eyes peeled, gonna send them around for free on datpiff.com just to give the people some real shit for free. I learnt a lot of lessons from the last couple years of putting Underground Journeys together, it's turned me from a beat maker in to a producer.
CB: Who would you like to work alongside? Any particular MCs – US or UK?
Haka: I'm workin' alongside my favourite rappers right now – Jigs and N/A, so boy, I mean obviously I'd love to work with Cormega, Tragedy, Jay-Z n all the greats but I'm happy with my team right now.
CB: Finally, What are your goals for your music? Where do you want to take it? Are you happy where it is? What drives you?
Haka: I just love making music, I wanna be able to hear my own tracks and be inspired. I want to take it back, back to when Hip Hop was at its realest, I want to see Hip Hop back the way its supposed to be, I'm not happy where it is right now, we got the most talented artists in the UK – producers like Harry Love, Lewis Parker, rappers like Yungun, Klashnekoff, Skinnyman, but instead all dese shit grime youts are blowin' and takin' the throne in the UK, that Hip Hop should have.