(Left to Right: Rio, and Nez)
Where would music be without the production duo? Gamble & Huff, Cool & Dre, Elton John and the dude he produced with, the Beastie Boys and Rick Rubin (Beastie Boys serving as one collective person)…Anyway, you get the picture. In this RH First Look, we turn the microscope on an emerging production duo straight out of my backyard (no Vimby)…Nez & Rio, part of Brainiac Society, are bubbling right now in Chicago’s underground…Find out why in this new RH First Look.
RubyHornet: Let’s start with an introduction of sorts…How did you two meet? Were you both producing prior, or did you undertake this craft as a duo?
Nez: We have actually been around each other since grammar school. However, it wasn’t until around 2005 when we started getting mad cool and working together musically. We were producing separately before.
Rio: We started working together when he came through one day and was like “let’s make a beat.” We didnt start with this in mind. This was just the outcome when two people work well together.
RubyHornet: What quality would you say you two most share?
Nez: Our musical tastes are eerily similar, that’s why the musical partnership works. We are on the same page 99.9% of the time.
Rio: Our drive as a team is crazy. I’d hate to have a partner that doesn’t work hard.
RubyHornet: What quality would most set you guys a part?
Nez: I’m dark skinned. He’s light skinned lol.
Rio: Nez is wild. On the surface I can be a bit more laid back. lol
RubyHornet: In terms of making beats, is every Nez and Rio beat a true collaboration? If so, do each of you fill a certain role when you collaborate?
Nez: Every joint is a collaboration. It’s an organic situation. We kinda tag team the beat and just let each other work and keep pushing each other until the craziest s**t comes out.
Rio: Our sound is uniquely cohesive. We both have the ability to make anything fresh and that’s what makes it work. You never really know who’s doing what on the beat.
RubyHornet: What part of Chicago are you guys from?
Nez: Hyde Park baby!!!!!!!
Rio: South Side/ Hyde Park and damn near everywhere else south.
RubyHornet: They say Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, do you agree? How would you say your neighborhood has impacted you?
Nez: Chicago is probably the most segregated city in the world so it’s definitely separated by neighborhoods. I think coming up in Hyde Park was dope because you kind of get the best of both worlds. Most kids that live in the area come from middle to upper class backgrounds but the hood is right down the street so you aren’t sheltered. For example, I have friends that went to Ivy League schools and I also have friends that are real street dudes. It’s a balance that translates in your lifestyle to the way you dress, talk, and in our case make music.
Rio: Yeah. Hyde Park is the only neighborhood that stayed constant throughout my life because of going to school. HP probably had the greatest impact on my upbringing in terms of a neighborhood. But I always had outside influences from Chatam, South Shore, and Wrightwood too.
RubyHornet: Album or artist that sparked an interest in music?
Nez: Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall. I used to have the white cassette tape and I played it everyday. I got so deep into that album when I was young I even cried when the song “She’s Out Of My Life” would come on. pause lol Mind you, I was like 6 or 7 at the time you dig?! Lol..
Rio: I always remember loving music. My parents played music at all times when I was growing up. My dad would always quiz me and ask “you know who this is?” I think the first artist that made me love music was Michael Jackson though. I was a dancing fool back in the day.
RubyHornet: Album, artist, or event that changed interest into, ‘I want to research, pick up machines, and learn how to do this.’?
Nez: When I was in grammar school my generation was heavy into Hip Hop. We were breaking, cats was into graff, battle rapping in the hallways all that. So I was listening to heavy Soundbombing and hella underground Hip Hop. I started reading credits and following certain producers and songwriters. That led me to who made certain songs with certain instruments so on and so forth. But real talk, it wasn’t until I got to high school and my homeboy Aaron Rhodan put me on Fruity Loops. I went crazy from there and the rest is history!
Rio: It wasn’t really a particular artist, but an interest that sparked it for me. Like Nez said, we were breaking and doing graf around the 4th and 5th grade. I was the kid with the ill beatbox. We would be on the bus going to school and my homies would freestyle to me beatboxing. It was easy for me to flip the beat even back then. My boy and I would install Fruity Loops in the beginning of computer class and delete it at the end just to make beats. It was over after that.
RubyHornet: Best thing about Chicago’s music and arts scene?
Nez: I think now is the best time for Chicago musicians and artists because it’s like the Harlem Renaissance but in the Chi. Mogs starting to understand that we can progress by uniting and learning from each other. That’s the reason Rio and I relocated back to Chicago. We have to be a part of this movement and lead the youth into an ill direction.
Rio: The best thing is that it’s so open for the taking. There’s room for plenty of artists to get in the game. I like how everyone is starting to get together and work with each other also.
RubyHornet: Worst thing about Chicago’s music and arts scene? (and you can’t say “Chicago hates on itself”).
Nez: I think the worst thing about the scene right now stretches further than Chicago and spills over in the industry in general. People aren’t paying attention to detail, there is no quality control, and the originality factor. Everybody is just following. If The Cool Kids is what’s poppin, then every n***a is gonna go cop the vintage wear and loop up hard hitting 808 drums. Back in the day cats were shamed for biting styles and it was all about having your own s**t. Let’s bring that back. Quatlity control- I think there are too many “Yes Man”. No one wants to be critical. At the end of the day its for the love of music so lets go hard!
Rio: Ditto to what Nez said. Too much biting, not enough leading.
RubyHornet: How do you choose which artists can get a Nez and Rio beat? Are there specific artist you work more closely with, what is it about them that has created a strong vibe?
Nez: Man we are down with anyone wit a checkbook! lol Real talk tho, right now we are really focusing on Chicago artists and really giving everybody their own sound that’s larger than life. We want to be at the forefront of the Chicago music scene and continue to branch off from there. We are currently working really closely with Naledge and we are in-house producers for Braniac Society, which is like a rap supergroup. everybody is really talented and we have some surprises for yall! We are also workin on J. Ivy’s album, which is dope because we are giving a whole new meaning to what a spoken word album is.
Rio: Yeah, Money talks. lol. Nah, but for real we like artists that go hard. Brainiac, J. Ivy, and paying customers lol.
RubyHornet: Twitter is the new ________________
Nez: Twitter is the new site to get on these bussdizzles early!!!! j/p
Rio: Twitter is the new ___________________ . F*** twitter! jk. The twitter joint is usually Nez lol. I’m only on there about 20% of the time.
RubyHornet: Favorite bar/club/party night in the city?
Nez: I be chillin in the Chi you might catch me at a party here and there, but I’m a fan of house parties! Stay tuned for some Nez & Rio house parties..
Rio: I only go out if its really crackin. Thus, I rarely go out. lol I’m really a studio junkie. But you can catch me at any Brainiac party for the most part. House parties are where it’s at though.
RubyHornet: 5 Favorite production teams.
Nez: Soulaquarians, Neptunes, Dr. Dre’s team (Mr. Porter, Focus ect.), Motowns: The Corporation, Burt Bacharach and Hal David
Rio: Timbaland & Missy, Neptunes, Quincy Jones & MJ, Ummah, Kanye & Jon Brion
RubyHornet: Lastly, for those of our readers who are first learning of you here, what are 3 things they should know about Nez & Rio before going and getting more music?
Nez: We are here to make some noise in this industry at every level R & B, Pop, Rap, Rock…all of that! We are the new ill-I really believe that. Get beats and songs from us now because are prices are going up everyday! lol
Rio: We are “producers” not “beat-makers”. We write. Get beats now, cuz its only a matter of time.