This week we put the RH First Look microscope on the production duo of K. Salaam and Beatnick. The two have made major way for themselves in the last calendar year. With production credits ranging from Pharoahe Monch to Young Buck, the NYC base team now turn their atention towards their first proper album being released later this year. Get to know them a little bit better here.
RubyHornet: Let’s start with your start, how and when did you guys meet? Were you both producing previously, or have you learned together?
K. Salaam: I come from a straight up DJing background and Nick comes from the producer background. Nick can play every instrument known to man, while I can play keys, trumpet, and I’m a turntablist. But I was good at chopping and just getting my start at drums. Nick had the whole package. I learned everything about the actual art of beatmaking from him. He’s the best in the world.
RubyHornet: Tell our readers about your relationship and how you compliment each other, it seems like K is the more upfront guy and Beatnick is more behind the scenes.
Beatnick: Yeah, K used to sit in on the sessions way more when we first met, but as time went on somebody needed to get out there and hustle and sell what we were doing. So that’s what K focused on, while I stayed in the lab since that’s what I was doing to begin with. I mean, we’re a team in everything that we do, but that’s how it works.
K. Salaam: Word…
RubyHornet: You recently sent me some beats for Mikkey Halsted and a mixtape that I’m putting together, and I noticed they all have titles before any emcee puts their vocals down. In terms of naming an instrumental, what do you draw from for the title?
Beatnick: We just think of something dope. That’s pretty much it. It’s not an intricate process or anything like that.
RubyHornet: When you submit a beat to an artist, do you have a vision or direction in mind for them? How often does your vision coincide with what they do?
K. Salaam: We always try to have a vision. But it really depends on the situation and how good our relationship is with any particular artist.
Beatnick: Yeah, if we have a relationship with the artist, then we can talk about our vision and build on the track with them. But if we don’t, then we pretty much just give them a beat CD and take it from there.
RubyHornet: I know that K is also a DJ. How does that relate to your production?
K. Salaam: It helps a lot. I know what new sounds are in at the time. That’s extremely important. For example, in ’08, using a snap instead of a snare will get girls in the club excited. Like the snap on T-Pain’s “I Can’t Believe It.” Girls love that sound. I know this because I DJ the clubs. So if someone comes to us and wants a club song for their new female artist, I will suggest to Nick to use a snap. I mean, I might not, but just having that info already puts us at an advantage.
RubyHornet: You work with a slew of artists in NY. Who do you consider to be in your camp, or your closest collaborators?
Beatnick: We actually work with more artists outside of NY.
K. Salaam: Yeah, like Young Buck, Sizzla, Dead Prez, Collie Buddz, the list goes on and on.
Beatnick: All of those dudes are family to us.
RubyHornet: What artist or figure has had the most influence on your work, why?
K. Salaam: I can’t even say…
Beatnick: There are too many to name for me.
RubyHornet: Going outside music, as Obama takes office what do you see as the biggest issue confronting him?
K. Salaam: The recession. And I really wish he would have the balls to speak out against what Israel is doing to Gaza.
Beatnick: Building our relationship with the rest of the world. Trying to make the U.S. a place that the rest of the world respects and views in a positive light.
K. Salaam: I agree with that too.
RubyHornet: How do world events influence your art?
Beatnick: Everything influences our art. World events, relationships, everything.
RubyHornet: Tell our readers three things they should know about you guys before checking out more of your music.
K. Salaam: Know that Nick plays every instrument known to man, and he does it well.
Beatnick: And that K is probably one of the best DJ’s on the planet.
K. Salaam: And know that we are going to be around for a very long time.