Some people might still not
know about E-Blaze, but that is rapidly changing. After immigrating to the US
from his native France around 2004, he quickly became one of the illest, yet
most underrated, underground producers lacing 12":s for Screwball's KL, and
Blaq Poet, which was soon followed by dope beats for Smiley The Ghetto Child,
Raze/Killah Priest, Big Noyd, and Infamous Mobb. His real breakthrough for
many, however, came when he officially linked up with the legendary D.I.T.C.
crew, being heavily involed in albums like Show & A's "Live
Hard", "Oasis" by OC & AG, the "The
Movement" compilation from D.I.T.C. Records, and so forth. One thing's
for sure, there's a lot of more good things to come from this good brother as
he has already managed to create his own sound and gained the attention of some
of the best emcees in the world, the Blastmaster KRS-One included. As far as I
know, The Lost Tapes is the first site to get an exclusive interview with
E-Blaze which is of course a definite read for any D.I.T.C. head. So first of
all I want to say thank you to E-Blaze for taking his time to thoroughly answer
my questions for this very informative interview. Read on and get enlightened!
claaa7: When did you first start
producing, and with what equipment?
E-Blaze: I started producing in 1991, I
co-founded and was a member of the crew called ”Tout Simplement Noir” (Simply
Black in English).We didn’t have any equipment at the time, we were making beats
on the spot in the studio. I was rhyming and I was mostly the only guy
from the crew who was interested in picking samples to make beats. As a young
kid I always loved listening to all kinds of music. My older brother was a bass
player and used to play all kinds of style of music
like soul,funk,rock,reggae,punk,carrabean, etc… At the time I was getting
familiar with the Akai S1000, the rack version, a midi controller was needed to
trigger the samples. When I left the click, I started working with a
friend who owned the legendary Akai S950, from there I tried to develop my
craft as a producer. In 1995, I bought my first sampler, the Ensoniq ASR 10 (Rack
version) which had just came out and it cost me an arm and a leg!! The ASR had a
very warm sound but the sequencer sucked big time! Anyway,I learned a lot with
c7: I know you are originally from
France; when did you move to the US, and was the move made solely with the
focus on building a music career?
E-B: I moved officially to the US
in 2004. I came for the first time to NYC in 96’ and from there on I started to
come more often and stayed longer each time. On each trip I met some interesting
people - for example in '96, I came and stayed for 2 months and met Chubb Rock who I
almost sold a beat to for the album he was working on at the time. The deal
didn’t happen due to my inexperience in the business. On this trip I also met
and chilled with the Boot Camp Click at their office,the A&R played me
the first Heltah Skeltah album which was not even out yet. I spent the all
afternoon at their office, they played me unreleased stuff and the vibe was mad
cool. Another day, I saw a Biggie show with Junior Mafia in Harlem, the
stage was in the middle of the street…incredible!
That was just a part of my
first trip to New York, so you can imagine how I felt at the time. It was magic
for me. Hip Hop was everywhere, it was a part of everyday life as a culture and
not a gimmick. When you are walking in the street, there’s a car passing by, blasting the first Biggie album and the woman who is walking alongside you, who
looks like she can be your mother at the time, sings along and knows all the
lyrics by heart, you realize the importance of the culture. From that trip
alone, I knew it was just a question of time before I decide to move to the US.
c7: Did you ever produce for any
French cats, before moving to the US?
E-B: Yeah I produced for the
Mafia K1 fry, a well known crew from Paris suburbs. The famous rapper Rhoff
comes from that crew. I also worked with Koma from the crew Scred Connection, and
other guys who were very active in the Hip Hop scene. I’ve done a lot of work in
c7: Once in the US you produced
for some of the great underground QB rappers, like Screwball, Littles and
Havoc, right? How did that happen?
E-B: For Screwball, first I met KL
in a music store, he came to sell some mixtapes. I approached him, we talked, I
gave him a beat CD and he called me the day after. From there, we started to work
together and he introduced me to his cousin Blaq Poet. We did a 12" with
KL (Kamakazee) featuring Blaq Poet. It came out in 2004 and had a huge success in
the underground scene.It got so big at the time,Marley Marl remixed the 2 songs
and played all the versions everytime on his radio show Future Flavas. Me and KL
continued to record some tracks,sometimes with Blaq Po as featuring,until
he saddenly died from an asthma attack in 2008.
With Littles, it’s a lil bit
different. If I remember correctly, I met him trough my people the Grim
Team, Chaze just started to work with him and we linked up in a studio
session. Littles has always been known to be a hustler and about his
business…he’s not really what you call an artist. He’s the first one who
introduced the CD/DVD package to the game. He did it for his 2003 street album/mixtape
called “The Feeding” I think. He never released an album or was signed to a
label, he was always putting out mixtapes. He picked up a couple of beats from me, recorded on some of them and just the song he did with Havoc from Mobb Deep
got released so far. I didn’t even know he was on the track until it came
out, Littles was always in and out of NYC making moves…I was not at the session
when he recorded that joint. The first time I heard it, I was surprised and
thought that was nice to have a platinum artist on my shit!
c7: Considering how tight you and KL obviously were, do you have any unreleased tracks with KL still in the vaults? What are the chances of us actually getting to hear those sessions?
i have some KL unrealeased tracks.At the time of his death, we were
working on an album, we have some unfinished songs.I have verse for that
song, 2 verses for that one etc...and i've got some completed too.Like
everything else i need to find the time to sit down and focus on it.I
want to release an album with all theses songs - the unreleased, remix the
ones already out and add some nice featurings.The world needs to hear
this...this is his legacy and it gonna happen!!
c7: WOW man.. to me KL was such an underrated dude, and it's such a tragedy that his life was cut short, although I didn't know him personally his music spoke a lot to me so I really hope we get to hear this one day.
Moving on, my first introduction to your
music was with 2007:s “Magic” on Show & A’s “Live Hard” project.
From that point on you really got involved with the D.I.T.C. crew, and
especially with Show & A. How did that hook-up come about, and what was the experience like?
E-B: Working on the “Live Hard” EP was
great for me, it meant some Hip Hop legends were co-signing me as a
producer. For a European beatmaker,it means a lot. I first met Show, we hooked up
like KL, in a record store.We talked about music, I told him I was making
beats, he told me he was looking for producers since he had just opened his own
studio in DJ Premier’s joint HeadCQuarterz.I gave him a beat CD and we started
from there…That was back in early 2006. I started giving him tracks every week, one
day I played him one joint and he told me to hold it, he wanted to play it for
A.G. That became the song ”Magic” on the “Live Hard” EP. That was my first official
song on a D.I.T.C release.
c7: Of course, you then later produced
more than half of OC & AG’s collaborative LP, “Oasis”, crafting some of that album’s finest moments. Were those beats crafted specifically for O
& A or did they pick beats from a larger batch of pre-made beats?
E-B: For "Oasis", that was the same
kind of vibe. I was living in Canada at the time and sending beats [to Showbiz] almost
every week. When the idea of the album became a reality, OC & AG started to
listen to some beats from a lot of producers, including Evidence,DJ Statik Selectah, Alchemist, Ski Beatz, and more.They were looking for a special vibe at
the time, and I think they found in my music what they were looking
for. They picked one track from Statik though. I remember Show calling me one
week and telling me ”They want to use 3 of your joints for the album”, and "I was like
cool, I was just happy to be a part of it". 2 or 3 weeks later, he told me finally
they now want to use 5 tracks and in the end, as we know, they rocked over 8 of my
joints. That was a beautiful thing! For a European beat maker to be able to
produce eight tracks on an album by legendary American Hip Hop artists; we can say that doesn’t happen everyday. Even if it was not a commercial success by “industry standards”, it’s still a very nice Hip Hop album to this day!And I
insist on the term Hip-Hop, I don’t want to use the word Rap for a good
reason. It's 100% Hip-Hop from the cover, to the sound, the subject
matters, the D.I.T.C legacy, etc...
c7: One thing I wondered about the LP for some time regards the album closer "Pain". Some sources have claimed that this is actually a production made by long-time DI-associate Amed, yet the credit give you the sole prouction credit. What gives?
E-B: Let’s be clear on that one! Amed
produced the album closer ”Pain”, I’ve got nothing to do with that song. My man
Amed made that beat and he killed it! It’s just a misprint from the record
company, but sometimes things like that happen. Amed is a very talented producer
and he’s got some classics .
c7: Since you moved to the States,
you worked with a large amount of legendary artists in a relatively short time,
which must feel incredible. Are there any artist that you are specifically proud to have worked with?
E-B: Have to say all of
them,because they are all part of my legacy.They all showed me love and
respect. It would be easy to talk just about the most famous ones but it doesn’t
work like that for me. Everybody had their own story,t heir own vibes, it was
always a learning experience. But if I had to choose one, it would be my man KL
because whatever I do or say, I will never be able to have another studio
session with him; never be able to exchange ideas with him about a verse or a
chorus, or maybe one day in Heaven you never know!
c7: There are a couple of songs
where you and Showbiz shared co-production credits; namely “Experience”
from the DITC compilation and “The Truth” from the Show/KRS album. How did
these songs come together from a studio session point and who did what for these two modern masterpieces?
E-B: This is an interesting
question. For “Experience”, me and Show were in the studio one day. He played me a
45 and told me he tried to flip it but was unable to do it the way he wanted. He
asked me if I wanted to try to do some with it,I was like “hell yeah”! The sample
was dope and as soon as I heard it, I already had an idea to chop it
crazy!! That's the way we work, sometimes we trade breaks, I can find a crazy
sample and I would give it to him because I didn’t have a vision for it, the
same for him.So at the end I made the beat with that 45, chopped the sample,put
the drums to it, gave it to Show and he took care of the arrangments and
structure of the joint.He put the spices on it!
For “The Truh”, it’s a lil bit
different. I was living in Canada at the time.Show told me he was working
on a project with KRS-One, he was supposed to produce an entire album for the
Blastmaster but asked me if I wanted to be a part of it…long story short,I
jumped on the occasion. KRS-One is part of the Hip-Hop history, his legacy can
never be challenged point blank! So I started to work on some beats with him in
mind. I knew I could make something hard, for him to spit to and deliver some
knowledge. I sent a couple of beats to Showbiz, they picked that track which
became”The Truth” .I was not in the studio with them but Show made a hell of a
job, he really took care of the production side. On that one I was more
like the beatmaker; I made the beat but he was at the studio session making sure
the song happened and come out crazy.A lot of people told me they like that
song, that means the combination worked well.
c7: Without a questionn, that was by far my favorite of that album. I would love to hear more work from you KRS-One and Show as a trio in the future, how crazy would that be haha!
A while ago there was talk
about a joint album between you and Showbiz called “Born Lords”. Is that still
going to happen, and if so how much of it have you recorded so far?
E-B: The "Born Lords" album is in hiatus right now, we really never had a chance to sit down and focus on it. The idea of the LP came came about a couple of years ago. We started to work on concept, the cover, but we never finished due to the fact that we switched to other projects all the time. We lost focus. It still can happen, but we really need to take the time to work on it.
c7: What was it supposed to be?
E-B: The idea was to make an
instrumental album with different parts, like a mini series with a different
concept for each volume.
c7: Sounds like a real cool idea though, a little reminiscent of Madlib's "Beat Konducta" series. But wasn't Born Lords originally a
production duo of Showbiz and Lord Finesse back in the mid-‘90s that had a couple of productions on some B-sies. Is that group back with you as a new member?
E-B: I really don’t know, we
never talked about it that way, at the time we just wanted to release an album
with that name.It never was a question of to be or not to be a part of a
group. It was never that serious, it was just about putting out good music and
having fun with it.
c7: You recently released a free
digital mixtape of 20 instrumentals called "For Tha Luv Of It, Vol. 1". Any similar projects you’re planning to
release in the near future?
E-B: Yeah,I’m gonna release “For
the luv of it part 2” very soon. It was already supposed to be out by now, but my
graphic designer took a lifetime to finish the artwork.It’s the same guy who
took care of the first one; he’s my man, he’s very talented and I wanted to keep
the same team for the second part as well. On that one,you’ll find the instrumentals for the
Krs-One, the songs I produced for D-Flow (D.I.T.C.), Prospect (ex-Terror
Squad), D-Shade (Canadian MC) , some talented newcomers from
everywhere (France,Canada,Japan…) plus some exclusive beats. After that one I’m
gonna release an instrumental album with only exclusive beats, this one will be
for sale on iTunes and other digital platforms.
c7: Any other projects or productions that you are you currently working on?
E-B: Right now on I'm working with Prospect (ex Terror Squad), we just finishe his mixtape which will be available soon for free download. It's a collection of work he recorded betweeen 2008 and now, basically. The mixtape is to let people know that he's still at it, on his grind and working. I shared the A&R duties on that one and produced two songs. We gonna start work on a new one from scratch with only new songs and little by little start to work on an album. I'm also working with my little bro Ressa Exxel, a French rapper who lives in Brooklyn. We just finished his EP "It's HIP HOP"; raw with no concessions. It's gonna be available for free download soon, and gonnna help build his buzz and let people know how nice he is on the mic for real!! We gonnna start to work on his albums too.
I'm working with Show, we're trying to get some beats placements with different artists, and I should be involved with some of D.I.T.C. new projects as well. I'm sure I'm gonna work with D-Flow on some more stuff.. I'm involved in a couple of more things, and you should be able to find my work on releases from talented new artists from all around the world (US, France, Japan, Cnnada....).
c7: A lot to look forward in other words! Goo luck on all your projects and much future success to you fam. Again, much thanks for this interview and really taking your time with some really thorough and interesting answers. And keeep pumping out that dopeness for us man!
E--B: Thanks for your support and
I’ll try to keep the music coming... Peace
* if you're not yet familiar with E-Blaze and want to check out more of his music, check out his official instrumental mixtape "For The Luv Of It Vol. 1", as well as my 20 track compilation "Born Lord Vol. 1". . And of course head over to iTunes and buy his tracks if you haven't these albums in your record collection already.