The D’USSE Remixer Series returned to New York for a Grammy Edition series that was hosted by 9th Wonder.
9th is a Grammy award-winning producer who has worked with artists such as Jay-Z, Destiny’s Child, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar and Rapsody. He also has his own label called Jamla Records and he also teaches a hip-hop production class at Duke University. During the session we got to talk to 9th and ask him about the recent success of Rapsody, as well as how he’s managed to stay consistent with his sound throughout the years.
Since it’s getting close to the Grammy’s and you’ve been in the game for 20+ years, what are a few of your favorite songs that you produced?
For me some of the stuff outside of the songs that a lot of people know, I did a song with Buckshot called “No Comparison”, that I really love. It’s one of those beats I listen to all the time, just the instrumental of it. I did a song with David Banner and Ludacris called “Be With You” that I really like. There’s so many man, stuff I did in the underground is so vast, you know what I mean? Or the one I did with Nipsey Hussle “Face The World” that’s dope.
With you, Rapsody and J.Cole being from North Carolina and bringing that soulful style to the limelight now, and even getting recognition for it. Rapsody we know her album is one of the top albums of the year regardless if the Grammy’s nominate it, but bringing this sound to the forefront, how proud are you that now NC is put on because of you three for the past 5-6 years and even before that?
Our state operates differently from other markets, like a New York, cause it’s not the state of NY, it’s the city of NY. It’s not the state of Georgia, it’s Atlanta, so with us it’s our entire state and it’s kind of tough for an entire state to be put on. And trying to get out of there is tough because a lot of people back home they don’t believe that you’re doing what you’re doing until somebody else says it, but that’s with every local place, you know? Familiarity breeds contempt, if people see you they don’t believe it, but if you go away for a while and work then people start to believe it. That’s what it is; I mean we’re happy about it. Definitely the biggest thing for me is that I haven’t lived anywhere else, I’ve always lived in North Carolina, I never moved to Los Angeles or New York, or anywhere else. I’m not knocking anyone that did, I just always believed that I could get the job done from where I’m from and it worked out.
Because you stayed true to where you originally found that passion?
Yeah and it keeps the fantasy of hip-hop and it keeps my love for it alive, I don’t know if I saw it and I was around in New York everyday and the rat race and trying to keep up with Joneses and all that, I may get tired of it, who knows. But being the fact that I’m away from it and I can still look at it from standing back then I can appreciate it more and it never gets old to me.
You’ve been working with Rapsody since she was at NC State, and it’s been almost 10 years since you’ve been mentoring her and now seeing her growth and progression what are you most proud of her about?
The thing with her is, a lot of people want to credit me for her success. If it was a man, they’d say the man did it on their own, you know what I mean? But for me it’s being the fact that she’s a woman, I did this and I helped her do this and I helped her do that. I didn’t tell her to stay in the studio a lot of nights, I didn’t tell her to keep writing raps, writing raps, writing raps. Doing songs over and over. That’s the kind of drive you can’t put into somebody, you got to have it already and it has to come from within, to be able to stay in there, stay in the studio and sleep overnight to just go home and take a shower and do that for weeks and months on end. I can’t tell anybody to do that, they’re going to have to do that on their own, so I’m most proud of her because she did it. You know me producing for her and everything may have turned some people to look this way or that way but even when you turn you have to see something and she did it on her own. She worked her ass off for it, determination and discipline, you can mentor people to the highest level but those are two things you can’t put in a person. So I’m just proud of her basically standing on her own two feet and doing it on her own terms.
It’s like that quote where you can bring the horse to the water but you can’t make him drink.
You can’t make them drink, dog. You can’t make them drink and that’s the thing about it, she made sure she went for hers. Kind of same thing Jay did for me, Jay-Z said my name on a song 15 years ago this year, the rest was up to me. Ok, lights on you, what are you going to do with it and that’s where that came from.
That quote you had on “Everyday Struggle” about trendy clothes vs. a suit and tie which has been consistently worn for many years, you used courage as one of the words to describe how you’ve stayed consistent. What has motivated you to stick to your style of music regardless of the current sound of hip-hop?
Again, I’m not running a race against anybody, maybe if I stayed in a bigger market and this was the sound and trend then maybe I’d be more inclined to say I got to do that. I don’t live around that, so that really gives me extra incentive to stay myself and be myself, and to keep going and not compromise, and do what makes me feel good. I refuse to believe that everyone likes this one thing; people like to think that just because it’s a jumping in the club song, that everybody likes this one thing all the time, the club is four hours, three hours, on maybe one to two nights, you have the rest of the week to live, and I’m trying to make music for that. The rest of your week, as opposed to try and fit in with the fifty million other songs in that two-hour span. I just think about that algorithm, even if it is four hundred thousand people that want to hear what I’m doing as oppose to everybody trying to split these two million people, I’ll take my four hundred thousand people and keep it moving.
As the series came to a close, attendees toasted to the evening with D’USSE XO cognac.
2 parts D’USSE VSOP Cognac
1 part lemon juice
1 part Monin Ginger Syrup
10 mint leaves
1 part soda water
Directions: Muddle mint, lemon and syrup in base of Collins glass. Add D’USSE VSOP Cognac. Stir ingredients, then fill with ice and top with soda.
Garnish: Mint leaves and lemon wedge
1 ½ parts D’USSEVSOP Cognac
½ part coffee liqueur
1 short of espresso
¾ part Monin French Vanilla Syrup
Directions: Shake and strain into a glass filled with ice
Garnish: Coffee beans
The D’USSE Julep
2 ½ parts D’USSE VSOP Cognac
½ part simple syrup
2-4 sprigs of mint
Directions: Place simple syrup in a glass with 5 or 6 mint leaves and muddle. Fill the glass hallway with ice, add 1 ½ D’USSE VSOP Cognac and stir. Add more ice and remaining D’USSE. Stir again until the glass is fully frosted. Top with ice.
Garnish: Fresh mint