Orig: At the Time, Smo and I were just doing hip hop. Straight rapping about what everybody else was rapping about. He eventually hired Haystak to be featured on a song. Haystak was really impressed with him. Kind of took him under his wing. Smo not only was a rapper at the time. He could make beats, but that wasn’t his forte. That wasn’t his thing. He could also record. He did a lot of recording for local artists. I went to school at SAE. Every day I’d get out of school I’d come home and show Smo what I learned. So, that’s kind of how he developed his professional recording abilities and skills. We were also doing music videos. I was helping him back in 2003 doing our own home music videos and trying to figure stuff out. Trying to sync the music with the video. Anyway back to Haystak. Haystak started to hire Smo to do his music videos for him. And then he got Smo to be his backup. His right hand man on the stage when he did shows. Smo got to learn a lot about the business on an independent level through Haystak. Got to travel around the country on a tour that Haystak was on with the Dark Lotus tour with ICP. Smo was promoting his album. I made a mixtape for him. We had already done an album together called The True South. So there was Country Kitchen. There was True South. So that was what Smo was promoting out there. Selling whatever he could. He got to meet a lot of people along the way. that’s where he started to develop the idea of the hick-hop sound.
He didn’t pioneer it. But he realized that the urban hip hop was not his true passion. It was too much of trying to do that. Like the hood, hip hop dirty south type deal. So he actually did his third album, American Made. I wasn’t around at that time. He hired a guy, Charlie Bonnett, who was a guitar player. kind of a heavy metal rock singer, country singer to work with him on certain song ideas. He had other beatmakers working with him and I made a few beats for him to help him out. American Made was really the beginning of that sound that was Smo was able to pinpoint. The Hick Hop sound. Basically, hip hop beats with southern rock guitars. And southern rock type of hooks but with rap verses. Instead of rapping about the hood, he raps about back roads, cornfields, John Deere tractors, moonshine, home grown pot, all that good stuff. (laughs)
Orig: Yeah. Spoken Nerd came to me. He was digging me as a DJ. When he found out I made beats, he approached me with an idea for an album. He wanted me to help produce it. So I said “OK cool.” So he came over. It started out with him. He brought his acoustic bass guitar. He had a melody and played it for me and I recorded it. I took that recording and chopped it up and edited it in Ableton. Made a loop out of it; and started making beats to complement and support that and then make a bass line. And whatever else. We’d make a basic beat. Then we recorded vocals. After the vocals were on, I started to tailor the beat to go along with the vocals. Maybe a drop here, add something there. A Scratch there. For the most part that’s how that went.
Orig: I also made some beats on the side that I’d let him go through. A list of beats that I’d made. He would pick some stuff that he liked. So it was a combination of him on guitar and then also me with beats from years ago that he picked through. But it wasn’t that simple. About halfway through the album production, I lost everything from my computer. It was my fault. It was a stupid dumb mistake. I hope nobody has to go through this. I was doing what I thought was the right thing. I was cleaning my computer, I was backing stuff up. So I go through my music folder and I dragged all my important stuff to my external hard drive. I was mainly focusing on music that I use to DJ with because that took up a lot of space. And all the music I used for producing, that wasn’t backed up. I was going to leave on my computer because I was working on it. So what I accidentally did in the middle of all this dragging and dropping, I drug the entire music folder to my trash. I didn’t even realize it; I didn’t notice I had done that. And when I clicked empty trash it was taking SO LONG. I was wondering why. After it was done, I noticed my music folder wasn’t there anymore. I lost so many beats…
Orig: As a matter a fact, I’m taking this helping curse…but really it’s a blessing to be the unofficial teacher to my fellow DJs and producers. I can’t tell you how many times I’m navigating through a program over the program saying “Go to Options, and go down to Preferences, and go to Audio, and blah blah blah.” I can troubleshoot any program over the phone. Anyway, I’m going to take that skill and I have the opportunity now to be a teacher. Thanks to a guy I met: Victor Chatman. At the last MASHVILLE, I was trying to kill some time before we set up. So I went to Guitar Center. That’s my Toys R Us. They have the DJ room, so I went over there and I was messing with the Numark NS7 with the Serato Itch. This older guy came up to me and said “Hey, that’s pretty good! Where else do you DJ?” and I was saying ” I don’t really have a club or anything; I do this thing called MAASHVILLE.” We were just chatting. Anyway, he had this idea to teach children how to set up sound systems and how to DJ. and I was like “Yes! That’s my vision too! That’s my dream and I’m teaching a lot of my friends how to do stuff anyway!” So we exchanged numbers, and even as busy as I am; I just called him on a weekly basis. We never were able to get together. “I’d just say “Hey this is Ray. Just wanted to call in. I wish I could come out to your spot sometime but I’m really swamped right now.” And he’d say “Oh, I appreciate you calling man. That’s cool.” When we finally got a chance to sit down to talk about it; he said his idea launched and it blew up more than he expected. He’s got a bunch of kids and they’re really eager to learn. He’s already got the ball rolling. Probably within a month; I’ll be teaching my first class. it’s at the Hickory Hollow Mall next to Macy’s is Victor Chatman Studios. So I’ll be able to take that dilemma I had of helping all these people and getting frustrated. Now I’m getting the help I wanted to get. That just goes to show: Don’t expect anything. Just do it. Unconditionally. Just like you love your family. Love your art. Love our THING. You know? don’t expect money back. Until you get a manager. Then your manager will be the one that will fight and get that money for you. Be smart in choosing your manager! Yeah so that’s what happens when you’re selfless. You always get rewarded.