When did you start producing and what gave you the motivation to stay with it?
I started messing around with production back when I was in high school, I was rapping more at the time and I wanted original beats so that I could make original songs. The only person I knew who had any, was my boy Steve. Later on I met his brother Marcus, who introduced me to the MPC (drum machine). I already had an idea of how to move around the piano and translate what Im hearing in my head. So once I learned enough to get started, I made my first beat. Fast forward, I’m attending Bloomfield College 05/06′ and somebody I met there brought this program to my attention called FL Studio which I fell in love with and haven’t stopped using to this day. I acquired new sounds and better plugins over time from various sources, I started getting nice at building solid records, and then I landed my first placement in 2010, on Faith Evans “Something About Faith” album. I got that check and I never turned back.
With all the music producers in the world, what made you think that you were still going to be successful in this field?
Well, before any success even came about, music was a part of my being. I’ve always sincerely loved music in general and now I’m passionate about creating it. I’m multidimensional in my field, as a producer. Meaning I know how to do more than just make a beat, which is what a lot of people today think being a producer is. That’s only scratching the surface. I know how to build a complete song from ground zero, even without a beat if that’s the route I wanted to take. I’m very creative with my approach to music, so I know that there’s always something that I can do and/or do differently. We can see that there are a lot of one dimensional people in the music field. I aim to be great all around and I believe my mindset to be so will bring more success.
What was your first recording-related gig and what or who were your early passions and influences?
My first recording gig was a rap feature that I did when I was 15. I knew someone who putting together a mixtape and he asked me to be a part of it. He booked the studio, we went in, rapped over Missy Elliot’s “Wake Up” instrumental, and we killed it. It definitely was memorable experience that I haven’t thought about in a while. I think that day really boosted my confidence in recording. I’ve had a lot of in studio experiences even as a young child. I didn’t record anything back then, but I sat there, soaked the experiences, and learned alot. I grew up downstairs from my Godfather Derrick “Derky” Culler, who was heavily involved in music (specifically songwriting and vocal production) and the music industry. He is still one of my biggest inspirations. He taught me alot about the essentials of vocal production: being in the pocket, pronouncing your words, putting the feeling into, how to keep it simple sometimes, and when to take it up a notch. These are key elements that go a very long way and I hear alot of these crucial things missing/off in music all the time. It just let’s me know that there’s room enough for me and what I have to bring to the table. Speaking on it now just reminds me that my godfather gave me alot of sound advice and guidance in terms of music, and the music industry. I thank him for that.
How long did it take you roughly to start excelling with your career?
It’s not really a matter of how long it takes. I believe I started excelling once I really started networking with different people and putting myself out there. Pressing the play button on people in your field is very important. Sometimes you have to let people know that you’re here too, and that you’re confident about your music. Once people are aware of you, things start happening as people start talking. Next thing you know, someone is reaching out to you, wanting to work with you. Word of mouth is real.
Tell about some of the artists you worked with. Have you ever been star struck?
Your favorite artist or celebrity is probably more normal than you expect. At least that’s how I felt when I started meeting alot of the people I was familiar with from radio, television, and now the internet. I haven’t been starstruck just yet, but I’m waiting to see who pops that cherry. Faith Evans was the closest case for me because I had a thing for her coming up as a kid. She probably doesn’t remember this at all, but my mom setup the opportunity for me to meet her back in the 90’s when she was really poppin, and everything was everything . My mom knew her mom so that’s how the magic happened. We stopped by a church I wasn’t familiar with one weekend. My mom tells me that Faith was there and I was actually shook. It’s crazy, we got there during recess and there she was right in front of my eyes. I didn’t go crazy or anything Iike we expected. The kid kept his poise lol. She just had given birth her daughter Chyna, and I just remember thinking how normal she was. The starstruck idea pretty much subsided for me after I met Faith. That story is cool to me now because she’s the first celebrity I ever really met, and years down the line, she ends up being the first major artist I ever landed one of my songs on. Since then, I’ve ran into her multiple times and she has shown me love every time. I definitely wanted to tell her that story, but I have to keep that same poise.
What do you consider to be the incisive moments in your artistic work and/or career?
I have a few. The moment I heard Trey Songz sing “Ladies & the Drinks” and I knew exactly where it came from. Another is the moment I heard my “K2” tag before the beat dropped on Tamar’s “Hot Sugar”. Lastly, that moment I recieved notice that I was nominated for a Grammy, then I found out it was true. All moments I won’t forget.
How would you define your role in the creative process?
I’m a leader, and a great team player. I can create a whole song on my own, or we can collaborate. I’ve been a one man band on numerous occasions. Though I know how to be the one stop shop, sometimes it’s easier and more fun when you don’t have to carry all the weight alone. I love working with my peers. Feeding off eachother’s creativity, bouncing ideas back and forth. It’s all necessary for growth. You can’t do everything alone, all the time. It just doesn’t work that way.
If there was one word you could use to explain your experience so far while working as a music producer, what would it be?
Without naming any artists, tell us your worst experience when it came to working with an artist.
There’s a few, but here’s one, I was trying to get this female vocalist to say a certain line to see if it would fit the song or not. She starts lecturing. going on about “that’s just not me”, which started a whole conversation that just threw the vibe completely off. I definitely left out for like 2 hours and took a nap. I left her with the engineer and the song wound up being cheesy. That record never went anywhere.
Have you walked away from any projects, if so, why? If not, did you receive the urge to?
I have absolutely no problem walking away from a project if there is no artist potential. A lot of indie people try to get my help on an artist’s project, but with no budget it can become difficult. I’m all for building people up and helping start something new from the ground up, but I’ve already helped a numerous amount of people with their artists, that you will never hear me talk about simply because nothing ever happens with them. At some point, you say to yourself, it has to be worth my while. It’s not even about getting paid all the time (even tho I love that part too) I just can’t stand wasting my time. I can spend time on myself and people that I know are worth the effort. So now, it’s either come correct or stay home. Time is money.
If you can come up with one habit that could possibly ruin or stall a person’s career, what would that downfall be?
Depending on someone else. Self sufficiency is the key to being successful in music, entertainment, and most businesses. Not to say that you won’t need help along the way, but initially, you need to have enough knowledge and ability to make moves on your own.
Maintaining a successful career takes a lot of work and committment,how much time do you dedicate towards your work?
I spend as much time in the lab as I can. Even if nothing great is coming out one day, I make sure that I’m in there enough to catch it on another day. You have to put in the hours if you expect to find the jewels. Even beyond that, music is therapeutic for me alot of the time, so i actually don’t mind putting in hours and hours. That is, until it’s for something I’m not necessarily feeling, that’s the work part.
What was the inspiration behind Love Beyonce?
Honestly, It started off with me just having fun. I was actually gettin wavy on New Years eve. I decided that I wanted to do a cover of Drake’s “Girls Love Beyonce”, after I seen a girl sing it on Instagram or Vine. I said that’s a dope song for me to cover, but I’m not into doing things the typical way. So I made my own beat with the JT sample I love, and I made it bang. I flipped the storyline into my own, then came Heaux Love Beyonce. I must say the final product came out a bit spicier than the original recipe.
The Jaz-O is pretty interesting, what was the thinking with that collaboration?
I didn’t think it at all. It just happened honestly. My manager Vida booked a photo shoot. We get there and I’m taking pictures with my artist at the time. We wound up kickin it with everybody in the spot because we show love like that. So I’m introducing myself, peacing everybody up, then I see this guy in front of me with a skully on and I’m like “wuddup bro, K2..” He replied “Jaz-O” I had to look at him again, and then I was like oh shit, the OG? The Originator? And yea, it sounds kinda cheesy now that I say it out loud, but I definitely wasn’t expecting to see him in there. Long story longer, we exchanged info, chopped it up with each other’s people, then he was at the crib like 2 or 3 days later. They were trying to get some beats from me for a project they were putting together. In the midst of me playin beats, I played some recent records I had done. Soon as the HLB joint came on, EVERYBODY starting vibing and looking at each other. His people said that’s it, We need that. I actually had the whole song finished including a 3rd verse on the original, but I told him that I’ll scrap the verse that I did and let him rock if he wanted to. He wrote his verse, I recorded it, and that’s all she wrote. Boom.
Tell us how Eric Bellinger’s Rihanna came about.
Eric is the brother I never knew I had waiting for me on the West coast. We work on a lot of records together, and when I first sent him HLB, He hit me back and went crazy. He told me he wanted to record it, but flip it and say Rihanna. At first I was like eh, because I was in love with Beyonce over Rihanna. But then we decided to do them both, and drop them both, on the same day. We do things like that because that’s just our kind of fun, plus we hadn’t been on a song together since we answered Brandy and Monica “It all Belongs to Me.” So he recorded it over with the Rihanna flip, we sent it back and forth until we were satisfied. Then boom again, rockets.
There are other versions out there, was this intentional?
There may be a few floating around because I had a whole different vision for a visual concept before the actual video came about. But that’s another story for another day.
Check out below for K2’s Love Beyonce featuring LeA Robinson & Jaz-O