Studdah Man – The Consummate Producer Talks of Latest Works and SLAMjamz
By Marielle V. Turner, Virtual A&R, SLAMjamz.com
So personable is he. Studdah met me at Starbucks. I got him a free beverage. Cool huh? He thought it was too sweet. They do load you with carbs in that piece. You know what’s so live about Studdah? He answered my questions and followed up with me like two weeks later to make sure I didn’t use information he had given me in this article incorrectly. I text messaged him on his cell: “You’re so efficient. Will you marry me? LOL.” He’s a cool guy but I don’t ish where I eat. Nah mean?
Anyway, I was real excited to hear about his trip overseas. We both agree, when you travel, your perspective of the world is so much clearer. I’ve had a great time in the industry, meeting cool people. Thankfully, I haven’t had the scrapes like some I’ve heard about.
Marielle: How did you get in touch with Chuck D and become his engineer slash producer? How did that process happen?
Studdah: That’s a long story. It started like 20 years ago. I had a group. Me, my friend TNT, Gary G Wiz, and Cam’ron. Cam’ron and Gary G Wiz were my DJs. I met Chuck just before Public Enemy was coming out. I saw a flyer when him and Hank were promoting and looking for groups. At that time the number one underground Hip-Hop radio station out was 105.9 with Hank Love, Awesome Two and Teddy Ted. So I thought it was that Hank. I brought my group down there. That’s when Leaders of the New School and Mobb Deep were down there. Chuck listened to our group but he didn’t sign us. Hank had a great idea. Since The Beastie Boys were hot, he would start his own White group. He wanted to start this group called Young Black Teenagers. Since I came down with two White DJs, Hank put Cam’ron in the group…
Marielle: Cam’ron spelled like the rapper?
Studdah: No. K-A-M-R-O-N. It stands for King Aries Macking Ruling Over Nuckleheads. G Wiz didn’t want to be in the group. But he came from a management background, because his parents own a management company and a booking agency. So he says, “What it is, is I will produce and manage them. I never got signed with Chuck, but Young Black Teenagers came out. I had a relationship with the group. So, when they went on tour, I went on tour with them.
I didn’t tell him knuckleheads is spelled with a “K.”
Studdah: I started from the ground. I started as a driver because Chuck didn’t want to pay for a whole tour bus. He paid for a Winnebago. Me, the Young Black Teenagers, DJ Scribble, Kamron, ATA and First Born went on tour. We followed the Public Enemy tour bus in a little camper. We were on tour with Public Enemy and Anthrax. After that I just constantly stayed around. When PE came out I went around on tour with them. Then there was Son of Berserk, a group that Chuck had out on the MCA label ? MCA Soul. From starting as a driver I moved on to become a Road Manager for Chuck’s group Hyenas in the Desert. Then Professor Griff gave me my first chance. He left Public Enemy in 1990 and went to Luke Records. He called me up and asked me to come in to work on his album. I went down to Miami for three months and was living with Professor Griff and the Too Live Crew. Professor Griff let me produce. He let me mix the whole album. I wrote a couple of songs and then when I came back to New York in 1991, I was still friends with Gary G Wiz. G Wiz was the main guy doing the beats with the Bomb Squad. I did some remixes with him for Eric B. and Rakim. I produced my first Public Enemy album in 1994 – The Muse Sick In Hour Mess Age album. The biggest hit off of that album was “Give It Up.” I went back on the road again and was like a Road Manager. The next album I produced was “There’s A Poison Goin’ On.” Gary and I did the whole album. I was honored but kind of scared because there was no Keith and no Eric Sadler or Abnormal, just me and Gary. To make a long story short, I’ve been with them since like 1986 or 1987.
Such is the life of the Roady on the rise.
Marielle: I also want to know what your role is with SLAMjamz. Which artists do you represent and could you give me the story about them?
Studdah: My role with SLAMjamz is A&R. I’m in charge of the European side of that. There is Tijana Bass. She’s from Slovenia. I’m working on her album now. “I’m Not That Girl” will be out in September. She’s cool and sexy. She has a story to tell because her country is war-torn and she’s going through a lot of problems out there now because she’s half Serbian and half Croatian. Croatians don’t like Serbians. There’s a lot of racism. Her Father was a professional soccer player and her Mother was a very popular Journalist. War broke out. Croatia is really the old Yugoslavia. When that crashed, her parents had to leave for fear of their lives. They lost everything. Now, they’re living in a small town called Slovenia. It’s hard for them because the money they had, they lost in Croatia. The government took everything from them. So I’m working on her album now. I recently came back from Germany. Chuck was saying that he really wanted to branch out in Europe to bring out Tijana and Dirty North. Kyle Jason is like an artist slash producer. He’s kind of like Prince and James Brown. He does everything himself since he’s been in the game so long. He doesn’t really need help doing anything. He just needs to know the place and time. I went to Germany to check out the Hip-Hop and R&B scene. I went to Düsseldorf. I also went out there to hook up with NFL Europe. I’m trying to hook up SLAM artists to do commercials for them. The NFL Europe is a small league that’s getting bigger each year. The NFL calls this their European training ground. Guys who aren’t really that good in the States, they send out there. I found Düsseldorf kind of interesting. In my spare time, I deejay. I spun at 3001. It’s the biggest club out there. It holds about 3000 people. I also deejayed at this club called Checkers and it was kind of weird. They didn’t want to let me in because of the color of my skin. They didn’t want to let in people of color but in front of the club, they had pictures of DMX, Bobby Brown and Ludacris. All of these Black artists that came to the club to party. That club wasn’t that popular but they were getting a lot of artists from the States to come to that club since they started playing R&B and Hip-Hop. Once it became a popular club, they didn’t want Blacks coming anymore. They just wanted straight White Germans to come. The guy at the club said it wasn’t because I’m Black. One of the football players had a fight there, so that was the reason. I told him, “You can look at me and see I’m not a football player. I weigh like 80 pounds soaking wet with a fake gold chain on.” But he was like, “No, I’m sorry you can’t come in.” I just wanted to check out the vibe in the club but they would not let me in.
Marielle: Is Düsseldorf a racist town?
Studdah: It’s not really a racist town. They have a lot of Turkish Muslims and Africans there. But like any city, it has good parts and bad parts. Here in New York City, I’ve been turned away. They give you some excuse like, “Those aren’t dress shoes” or “Your pants are too baggy.” In that town they just said, “There’s no people of color allowed in here.” That’s straight to the point. I met a lot of cool people out there. This guy named Alex Nelson was a middle weight boxing champion in the ‘90s. He was about to fight Mike Tyson but in his fight before that he detached his eye’s retina so he couldn’t fight anymore. I met a lot of great German rappers.
Marielle: I know I listened to something I heard on the SLAMjamz backboard at Rapstation.com. I thought it sounded really good but this guy told me what they were saying and I was shocked and appalled.
Studdah: I did a remix for a Japanese rapper and I don’t speak much Japanese so I couldn’t really understand it. It really didn’t matter what he was saying, it was all in the flow. If they’re flowing to the beat, I’m good. The people in Germany were really receptive to me because they knew I was with Public Enemy and they had posters of Flava and Chuck on the walls. Right now it’s really a house music thing but rap is getting bigger.
It’s really a shame that the media can make us like some artists just because the music is good. In my opinion, this is only contributing to us developing negative images of ourselves. Oh well, the revolution is gonna have to come sooner or later.
Marielle: How did you learn to engineer?
Studdah: I never went to school. I learned a lot from Gary G Wiz. He is a technical wiz. He taught himself. There’s no set rule. It depends on what artist I work with. If I work with Kyle, I don’t have to give him that much, because he knows exactly what he wants to do. If an artist is young and raw, I’ve got to guide him or her step by step. A lot of times when I work with Chuck, I help him with a couple of lines here and there and then Chuck will do it like he does it. If I don’t think something he does is that strong I’ll let him know. He tells me, “You know I really respect you and your opinion.” A lot of guys who work with him are just so amazed that they’re working with Chuck D that they don’t pay attention to what they’re doing and they just let him go. When I make a beat, I don’t know what I’m gonna make. I just start with a kick or a snare and wherever the beat takes me, that’s where I’ll go.
Marielle: Did you do any work on the “Revolverlution,” “New Whirl Odor,” or “Rebirth of a Nation” projects?
Studdah: When those projects started, I had been working with Tijana. The “Rebirth…” album is not really a Public Enemy album. That’s PARIS’ project on his label. The last PE album I worked on was “There’s A Poison Goin’ On.” I’ve done a couple of solo things with Chuck. We did a remix with him and Curtis Mayfield called “Winner.” I think it’s on the “Curtis Mayfield Tribute” album. We also did a remix with Chuck and U2. I don’t even know if this came out. It was a song called “Bullet The Blue Sky” from the “Joshua Tree” album by U2. For the past couple of years I’ve been concentrating on Tijana Bass and getting the SLAMjamz artists out. I want to bring a lot of American artists out in Europe. Out here the industry is so crowded and it’s so hard for artists to get deals. I know a lot of old school guys are getting deals in Europe. Why not give the young guys a chance out there? I’m starting up my own company out there. It’s going to be called Co-Signers Entertainment.
Marielle: So you’re going to promote SLAMjamz artists out there through your company?
Studdah: I’m also trying to put a lot of SLAM artists on different tours out there. That’s my next thing.
Marielle: So were you born out there on Long Island where Chuck lives or what?
Studdah: Actually, I was born and raised on 155th and St. Nick. Then in the early ‘70s, I moved to The Bronx in River Park Towers when they first opened up. When I got to high school, I went to Andrew Jackson in Queens so I took the train to school out there. It took me two and a half hours each way every day. I went to school with Ed Lover and Run from Run-DMC. I also went to school with LL Cool J for a hot minute. Run and Ed Lover were both in my graduating class. Now I live somewhere on the borderline between Queens and Brooklyn. They say the street I live on is in Brooklyn but my Post Office box says Flushing, which is in Queens so I don’t know where I live. I didn’t go to Long Island until like 1983. That’s when I met Griff. We became friends and now he’s like my best friend. We talk all the time. Chuck and Flava have been my friends for over 20 years too.
Afterwards, Studdah gave me a ride home. I’m happy to have had the opportunity to get to know him and feel I even know Chuck a little better through his friendship with Studdah. Make sure you go to www.slamjamz.com to hear artists on the label and read their bios. Look out for Tijana Bass in September. Send any questions or comments to Elleski@slamjamz.com.