MORE THAN MUSIC: J. CLYDE

NORFOLK, VIRGINIA | J. CLYDE

NORFOLK, VIRGINIA | J. CLYDE

INTERVIEW: TERRELL “REALIFE” BLACK [@REALIFEVMG]

VALIDATED: BEING FROM NORFOLK, VIRGINIA, WHAT’S YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY OF HIP-HOP CULTURE?

J. CLYDE: WELL, IF YOU MEAN WHAT IS MY EARLIEST MEMORY OF HIP HOP IN THE CONTEXT OF VIRGINIA OR THE 757, I WOULD HAVE TO SAY THAT IT'S TAPE RECORDING NIGHTLY EPISODES OF THE “BOODAH BROTHERS” SHOW ON 103 JAMZ. THEY WERE THE ABSOLUTE BEST. THEY SORT OF BROUGHT WHAT “THE STRETCH ARMSTRONG & BOBBITO SHOW” WAS DOING IN NEW YORK DOWN TO VA. THEY WOULD PLAY ALL UNDERGROUND AND B-SIDES STARTING AT 9PM. THOSE SHOWS REALLY SHAPED MY MUSICAL EAR, AND AS I WOULD LISTEN BACK TO THEM OVER AND OVER AGAIN THEY WOULD ALSO TEACH ME SOME RUDIMENTARY DJ’ING TECHNIQUES. DJ LAW QUICKLY BECAME ONE OF MY EARLIER MUSICAL HEROES, AND WOULD LATER BECOME ONE OF MY MENTORS. HE WAS THE ONLY PERSON TO EVER SHOW ME HOW TO CRAFT A BEAT ON THE MPC.  

VALIDATED: YOU STARTED OUT DJ’ING, WHAT LED YOU TO TRANSITION INTO PRODUCING?

J. CLYDE: IN THE BEGINNING, THE DREAM WAS TO BE AN ON-AIR MIX SHOW DJ, JUST LIKE DJ LAW. I WANTED TO PLAY ALL THE UNDERGROUND HIP HOP THAT I LOVED ON THE AIR, BUT AS IT TURNS OUT I WAS BORN 10 YEARS TOO LATE. JUST AS I WAS STARTING TO GET MY SKILLS UP AS A DJ, THAT RADIO FORMAT AND FREEDOM BEGAN TO GO EXTINCT. PLUS, I DIDN'T REALLY LIKE PLAYING IN CLUBS BECAUSE I CAN'T STAND LISTENING TO MUSIC THAT I HATE FOR HOURS ON END... EVEN IF I'M GETTING PAID. SO THE DREAM CHANGED. JAY-Z DROPPED “THE BLUEPRINT” AND THEN “THE BLUEPRINT 2”, AND THOSE TWO ALBUMS KIND OF CEMENTED MY INCLINATION TO START MAKING BEATS. I ALSO HAD A VERY GOOD FRIEND FROM HIGH SCHOOL THAT STARTED MAKING BEATS, AND HE HOOKED ME UP WITH THE PIRATED SOFTWARE. FROM THERE, I TRIED IT OUT, AND THEN GRADUATED TO SOME REAL EQUIPMENT.

VALIDATED: WHICH PRODUCERS INFLUENCED YOUR STYLE OF PRODUCTION AND WHAT IF ANYTHING DID YOU BORROW FROM THEM?

J. CLYDE: THERE'S SO MANY. WE COULD DO THE WHOLE INTERVIEW JUST ON THIS QUESTION ALONE, BUT I'LL TRY TO KEEP IT SHORT. NOTTZ, HE MADE ME SEE THAT THERE ARE ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES WHEN IT COMES TO SAMPLING. IT ALL DEPENDS ON YOUR EAR, SKILL AND IMAGINATION. BINK, HIS DRUM PROGRAMMING IS SECOND TO NONE. THE WAY HE UTILIZES NEGATIVE SPACE IS JUST AWESOME. THE BEATNUTS, I LOVE THEIR STYLE BECAUSE IT'S COMPLETELY UNIQUE, AND THEY OBVIOUSLY DIG FOR RECORDS THAT NOBODY ELSE FINDS. RZA, HE TAUGHT WHAT'S A GOOD SAMPLE, AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, WHAT'S NOT. JUST BLAZE, I LOVE HIS ENERGY, THE WAY HE PUTS BEATS TOGETHER, AND HIS DRUMS ARE ALWAYS KNOCKING. TY FYFFE, SUPER UNDERRATED. NOBODY EVER MENTIONS HIM, BUT I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE DARKNESS AND HARDCORE AESTHETIC THAT HE BRINGS TO THE TABLE. HIS BEATS ARE ALWAYS GOING TO LEAVE YOU WITH AN UGLY FACE. I COULD GO ON FOR YEARS.

VALIDATED: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THE YOUNGER LESS EXPERIENCED YOU WHEN IT COMES TO THE MUSIC BUSINESS?

J. CLYDE: MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS. IF YOU'RE ONLY MAKING 3 BEATS A MONTH, DON'T BE MAD WHEN YOU'RE NOT GETTING ANY PLACEMENTS. IN ORDER TO SUCCEED IN THIS GAME, YOU'VE GOT TO GIVE IT EVERYTHING YOU'VE GOT. IT'S A COMMITMENT. THAT MEANS YOU'VE GOT TO DEVOTE AS MUCH OF YOUR TIME AND ENERGY TO IT AS POSSIBLE. I KNOW GUYS THAT ARE INCREDIBLY TALENTED, BUT THEY JUST DON'T HAVE THE TIME TO MAKE MORE THAN A FEW BEATS EVERY NOW AND AGAIN. THAT'S JUST NOT GONNA GET IT. YOU'VE GOT TO MAKE SACRIFICES TO ENSURE THAT YOU HAVE AS MUCH FREE TIME TO DEVOTE TO YOUR CRAFT AND YOUR HUSTLE AS POSSIBLE.

VALIDATED: YOU ARE ONE THIRD OF THE BOSSMEN PRODUCTION CONGLOMERATE ALONG WITH THE LEGENDARY LORD FINESSE AND GRAMMY AWARD WINNER DAVEL "BO" MCKENZIE. HOW DID THE COLLABORATION COME ABOUT?

J. CLYDE: I LINKED UP WITH BO IN 2006 THROUGH A MUTUAL FRIEND. WE STARTED MAKING TRACKS TOGETHER, AND HAVE BEEN ROCKING OUT EVER SINCE. I DIDN'T KNOW IT AT THE TIME, BUT BO ALSO HAD A WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH LORD FINESSE. I MET NESS SHORTLY THEREAFTER, BUT WE WEREN'T REALLY MAKING MUSIC TOGETHER UNTIL MANY YEARS LATER. I THINK IT BECAME OFFICIAL AROUND 2017 OR SO. I THINK IT JUST TOOK A LONG TIME FOR HIM TO TRUST ME MUSICALLY. A PERSON LIKE LORD FINESSE IN AN ICON IN HIP HOP, AND HE TRADES ON HIS NAME AND HIS REPUTATION. FOR HIM TO PUT MY NAME NEXT TO HIS NAME TAKES A LOT OF TRUST THAT I'M GOING TO BRING THAT HEAT CONSISTENTLY, AND HE CAN BE PROUD OF THE COLLABORATION. THOSE GUYS ARE MY MENTORS AND BIG BROTHERS IN THE INDUSTRY, AND I'LL ALWAYS BE INDEBTED TO THEM FOR TEACHING ME SO MUCH, AND BRINGING SO MANY OF MY DREAMS TO REALITY.

VALIDATED: WORKING ALONGSIDE SUCH TALENT AND EXPERIENCE, HOW HAS THE COLLABORATION HELPED YOUR GROWTH AS A PRODUCER?

J. CLYDE: IT'S IMMEASURABLE. I'VE GOTTEN TO SEE HOW THINGS WORK BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE TOP LEVELS OF THE INDUSTRY. I'VE BEEN ABLE TO HEAR STORIES ABOUT THE MOST ICONIC ARTISTS OF ALL TIME THAT PRETTY MUCH NOBODY ELSE IN THE WORLD WILL EVER HEAR. THROUGH NESS I HAVE ACCESS TO THE ABSOLUTE CRAZIEST RECORDS ON THE ENTIRE PLANET THAT, TRUTHFULLY, ONLY A RELATIVELY SMALL AMOUNT OF PEOPLE HAVE ACCESS TO. THE NETWORK OF ARTISTS, MANAGERS AND INDUSTRY PEOPLE THAT I'M SO MANY STEPS CLOSER TO IS SURREAL. BUT WITH ALL OF THOSE BENEFITS, NESS AND BO HAVE SHOWN ME HOW TO BE A PROFESSIONAL. HOW TO CARRY YOURSELF IN A ROOM FULL OF LEGENDS. HOW TO NAVIGATE THAT NETWORK OF INDUSTRY PEOPLE IN THE CORRECT MANNER. THESE ARE PRICELESS JEWELS.  

VALIDATED: YOU ALSO REPRESENT THE BETTER BEAT BUREAU, ONE OF THE MOST LEGENDARY DJ/PRODUCTION CREWS IN THE 757. WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT IT?

J. CLYDE: IT STARTED OUT AS A DJ CREW IN THE LATE NINETIES. I KNEW OF DISKO DAVE, ONE OF THE FOUNDING MEMBERS, FROM WATCHING VARIOUS DJ BATTLES IN THE AREA, AND HE ALSO HAD SOME BEATS PLACED WITH SOME INDIE ARTISTS THAT WERE GETTING A LOT OF PLAY ON 103 JAMZ. ONCE I STARTED MAKING BEATS, I INTRODUCED MYSELF AND WE BECAME COOL. ONCE I REALLY GOT MY SKILLS UP, DAVE ASKED ME TO BE A MEMBER OF THE CREW IN 2012, AND I GLADLY ACCEPTED. THE BUREAU ALSO CONSISTS OF ABE-SKI, DJ VEX, LAWDAMERCY, THE OLOGIST, ANTAGONIST, BOBBY BLUNT, V-SHARP, DOUBLE-O-SKITZO AND SOOOMAN CRATES. I DON'T THINK I'M LEAVING ANYONE OUT, BUT SO SORRY IF I AM. THESE DAYS IT'S A GROUP OF DJ'S, PRODUCERS AND EMCEES. IT'S KIND OF LOOSE AFFILIATION IN THAT WE WORK TOGETHER SOMETIMES, BUT WE DON'T FEEL LIKE WE'RE BOUND TO THE GROUP. IT'S MORE LIKE A BADGE OF HONOR, IN MY OPINION.   

VALIDATED: YOUR PRODUCTION CREDITS INCLUDE HIP-HOP NOTABLES LIKE STYLES P OF THE LOX, SMIF-N-WESSUN, PARRISH SMITH OF EPMD AND PHARAOH MONCHE TO NAME A FEW. WHICH ARTIST HAVEN’T YOU WORKED WITH YET BUT WOULD LIKE TO?

J. CLYDE: AGAIN, I COULD GO ON FOR DAYS WITH THIS, BUT REDMAN, BEANIE SIGEL, EVERYBODY OVER AT GRISELDA, CYHI THE PRINCE, SCARFACE... REALLY JUST LEGENDARY TALENT. ANYONE THAT'S LEGENDARY, OR BUILDING A LEGENDARY CATALOG.


VALIDATED: HIP-HOP, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?

J. CLYDE: IT'S EVERYTHING TO ME. LIFE WOULD BE SO BORING WITHOUT IT. IF I DIDN'T HAVE HIP HOP I'D PROBABLY BE ONE OF THOSE DUDES THAT GOES TO WORK EVERYDAY AND HAS NOTHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO. I FEEL SORRY FOR SO MANY PEOPLE I KNOW THAT WORK A JOB THAT THEY HATE ALL DAY, AND THEN HAVE TO GO HOME TO A SPOUSE THAT THEY'RE NOT THRILLED ABOUT, AND ALL THEY CAN HOPE FOR IS TO WATCH THE GAME.


VALIDATED: LYRICALLY, WHO ARE SOME OF THE NEW VIRGINIA ARTISTS YOU’RE MOST EXCITED ABOUT?

J. CLYDE: I JUST RECENTLY LINKED UP WITH ALONDO JACKSON AND PRETTY SAVAGE. THEY BOTH HAVE REALLY STRONG MOVEMENTS GOING IN THE 757, AND WILL BE MAJOR FORCES VERY SOON. I'M ALWAYS EXCITED TO WORK WITH MY USUAL SUSPECTS LIKE AMIR DRIVER, NOAH O, JOEY GALLO, COLE HICKS. I'M EVENTUALLY GOING TO DO A PROJECT WITH SIC MIC, AND MY GUY INTALEK. I INTEND ON WORKING MORE WITH MICHAEL MILLIONS, AND I WANT TO FINALLY TRY GETTING SOME BEATS TO NICKELUS F. SAME FOR MY GUY INTALEK.

VALIDATED: WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM J. CLYDE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF 2019?

J. CLYDE: DEFINITELY EXPECT WORK WITH ALL THE VA ARTISTS I JUST NAMED. I JUST HAD A SONG PLACED IN THE NEW WU-TANG DOCUMENTARY THAT'S AIRING NOW ON SHOWTIME. I DEFINITELY WANT TO START PUTTING OUT MORE BEAT TAPES ON THE STREAMING SERVICES. WHY NOT? I HAVE A TON OF MUSIC JUST SITTING ON MY COMPUTER WAITING TO BE HEARD.

VALIDATED: WHAT ARE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA CONTACTS?

J. CLYDE: @JCLYDE757 ON TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM.