The Derby based producer talks about the sucess of his work with Skinnyman, the other projects he's dropped and the new album by Blade.
First up, could you tell us how long you've been making beats on a professional level?
Been doin' it full time for about 12 yearrs… The name 'baby' came a looong time ago!
What artists and producers inspired you to begin the production thing? Any particular records that wow'd you?
Early EPMD, Big Daddy Kane, Ultra Magnetics. But Premo was the first dude I really idolized and studied to try and learn his techniques etc.
Could you give us a run through of the projects you've been a part of to date
Wow… Shabazz The Disciple 2×12", Baby J LP and 12" (1998), Yogi LP (1999), MSI Asylum 12" and LP, Black Samurai 2x LP, Moorish Delta 7 LP and 12", Yogi LP and EP, Skinnyman 2×12" and LP, A-Alikes 2x LP, Birth Of A Nation (DPZ Mix LP), Baby J LP 12", Blade LP 2×12", Antourage LP 12".
How did you hook up with Skinnyman to become involved with 'Council Estate Of Mind'?
I met Skinny through a mutual friend before he got banged up last time. We started doing some work together before he got clipped and then when he came home, we just fell straight back into it. He's a rare talent and I hope the opportunity for him really to get his stuff out there happens.
To what extent did the success of his album help you in terms of exposure and artists asking for your beats?
It was a good look. I was known but I was mainly big in the midlands, but the Skinny stuff put me on the map in London so that opens doors industry wise. It was nice 'cause I don't feel Skinny broke that year. I feel UK hiphop broke that year and I was there on that ride.
How long did you spend making your new CD 'FTP' and how would you describe it to potential listeners?
Some tracks are 4 months old and some tracks are 2 years old. It's a collection of my favorite tracks I've done with artists I've worked with.
There's interludes throughout the album that suggest what FTP stands for. Which one do you like the most?
Fuck The Police!
How did you tend to create a track? Did you work together with artists in the studio or was it a lot of emailing beats about?
The only track that was done remotely was the Shystie track. On the whole, I don't like to just hand in a beat. I want to be part of the process, to work on the concept, hook, delivery. I like to be involved in it all. At the end of the day it's my track too.
Unlike a lot of Uk hiphop production, your beats aren't particularly depressing or grey. Is this a conscious effort?
They used to be! Nah, my style just changed as I got older. I still love the dirt, but I like the sunshine too. Ya feel me!
Also, you dont seem to have a trademark style. Do you focus on doing something different each time?
I aim to work outside the box and have original ideas but at the same time have a sound where you know its me.
Do you have any info on the female singer on there, Laurissa? Has she got any projects of her own coming out?
Yeah. Laurissa's hot! We've worked on an album together which should surface later next year. I've never really worked with a singer before. She was more like a soul singer than an RnB singer so I felt we gelled sonically. The stuff's gonna be quite different to what's out there soul wise.
What producers on the UK scene do you rate, and what artists would you like to provide some tracks for?
Too many MC's I'm feelin. But I'd definitely like to do a big joint for Big P and Skeme, Rodney P and Klash' and Fallacy. Producers; Joe Buddah, Mentat, Cipher, Urban Monk.
How did you and Blade hook up and how far into work on your joint project are you?
Album's done and dusted. It's out Feb' '06. I don't want to sound all over the top but I feel it's one of the most rounded hiphop albums from the UK ever. Some people feel Blade's not relevant any more, but I think the tracks we got embrace classic hiphop from a UK perspective. But the people will decide!
Could you tell us about some of the flavours on the album and what fans can expect?
Just pure hiphop. Every angle of hiphop has been covered. You know, it's not a fashion based album.
How have you found working with a rapper long term in comparison to just doing a one off track? Ultimatley it must mean the outcome is far greater?
The first track you do with someone can never be the best because you don't know what you can bring out of someone and vice versa. On the other hand, when you work with someone all the time they can take your input for granted.
Taking into consideration the success of Blade's last one producer album (The Unknown) did you feel any pressure getting involved in the project?
Nah, not really. Mark B is an ill producer but I'm very confident in my ability (to the point of being arrogant!). I don't expect it to have the same success as 'The Unknown' because this is all independent and times have changed in the scene as well.
What production equipment do you tend to use?
I'm old school… or just old… so I tend to use the same equipment that I been using for the last decade. Emu esi32 and Cubase. But I strongly feel it aint about your equipment. It's what you do with it.
What's your opinion of the many offsprings of hiphop in the UK that has happened over the past few years?
Some I personally like more than others but it's all love. The more black music out there the better.
How healthy do you view the UK hip-hop scene as being and what stands out to you as the most obvious thing that needs improving or addressing?
I think it's in the healthiest stage it's been in for years. There's a lot of new artists and healthy competition. The main problem is people arent really buying as much music anymore so it's hard to make money out of what were doing.
Is there much of a scene at all in your town of residence, Derby?
Nah. Not really. It's a small town so there aint much goin' on. You got me, Rukus, Yogi, Shade One, Laurissa and Alex Blood. So there's talent there but it's on the low.
How does a UK producer living far away from the UK hiphop focus point of London, end up working with people as far afield as America's Dead Prez and A-Alikes?
Probably for that exact reason. London and the UK scene didn't seem interested so I reached out across the pond and got an immediate response. I'm glad the 'US dick riding' phase of UK hip hop is finally over. I love hiphop regardless of where it's from. If it's hot, it's hot, but for a while we were loving the US even when it was shit!
A lot of UK talent seem to settle for the small domestic scene instead of pushing themselves to new heights like yourself. What words of advice would you give an up and coming UK producer?
If you aim for the top you might only make it to the top or might might only make it half way. If you aim for half way you definitely aint making it to the top. You gotta believe in your ability. Thats paramount.
At the end of the single 'None Of Them', Skinny invites people to send an mp3 for a third verse to your site. Is the internet and your music something you'd like to integrate into one another more?
I think it's the future. I'm trying to do more and more online (check the site www.babyj.biz). Eventually I want to have exclusive tracks and albums just through the website.
Aside from the Blade album, what other projects do you have lined up and when can we expect all of this to drop?
'Baby J Presents… F.T.P.' In stores now! Blade 'Guerilla Tactics' Feb' '06. Antourage (Yogi, Shade One and Rukus) 'Ants Dem Swarm' Jan' '06. Plenty of other bits… Keep your ears peeled!
Do you wanna make any shout out's or drop some promo messages to end this on?
Love to all the hiphopers and supporters. All power to the people. Don't talk to the police.