New York-based producer Ras Beats is a master of organic music production. Having just dropped his latest record Control Your Own, he maintains this philosophy in all aspects of his life with the founding of his own record label Worldwyde Recordings. Following his own rules and directions, his latest project features the phenomenal talents of Roc Marciano, Elzhi (Slum Village), and Masta Ace among many others. With his unique sound and consistent experimentation, Ras Beats is without question a pioneer in production amongst the New York hip hop scene.
We chat to Ras Beats about his latest record, his writing process as a producer, and what it means to run a label in this day and age. Ayla Dhyani writes.
You just dropped your latest record, what does Control Your Own mean to you?
As far as music goes, it means controlling how it sounds, how it's made and how it goes out to the masses. But it's also on a larger scale than that in the sense of controlling your behaviour, your morals, and your ethics. Basically following your own rules, but in a conscious way. So it kind of has those two meanings to me.
Tell us about your writing process working with such a huge selection of emcees.
I'd say it's a little bit different with each one. Basically when I started out, I had some emcees who I had in mind for the project, and I created a lot of beats before reaching out of them that I though would fit well with their style. I came up with the beat for Roc Marciano beforehand and when I sent it through to him, he was cool with it. That's how it happened with a lot of emcees. Usually they were happy with it, but I wanted them to be inspired to do their best as well. I wanted to make sure that they liked the beat. So I'd say 90% of it was tailor0made to the emcees on each track. I definitely wanted to find some of my beats that would bring out the best in them and inspire them to shine on each one. It was quite organic, and that's how the best music comes about.
Tell us about your record label, Worldwyde Recordings.
Worldwyde Recordings definitely goes back to "controlling your own" again. I had a couple of situations where some labels were interested, but in the end I just decided that the best situation was for me to do it myself. I have a couple of people working with me at the label, so it's not me doing everything. But I decided that it was right me for my music to be very self-controlled and quality controlled. Not in an egotistical way, but just so that the music was put out the way that I wanted it to.
How do you find running a label in this day and age?
It's mixed. I would say it's mostly good. One of the things I come across the most, is that it's very easy to promote your own material this way. These days that aspect is very beneficial for smaller labels. However, there is a lot of music out there, so there are challenges to make your music stand out, but that's where you just have to work harder.
How did your journey as a producer begin?
I think my journey is very similar to a lot of people. I started out as fan. I listened to rap a lot, and then I started to DJ, and then after a while I started getting interested in the origin of each sample, bass-line or horn etc. So I started getting into old records and from there it just went off. I think the way I got into it is very similar to a lot people who do sample-based production.
What are your thoughts on New York's current hip hop scene?
I think the New York hip hop scene is larger than it's ever been before. There's probably more rappers and producers and DJs than ever before. There's always been a lot, so that's saying something. I think that where it is right now there is a strong spectrum of quality. You get the highest quality and the middle quality and the not great quality (laughs). It always happens when there's a strong music scene, and it's just about putting out high quality music as much as possible to stand out.
What do you anticipate for the future?
Definitely a lot more music. We only really just started promoting this record, and without giving too much away, we've got a couple more things coming from this album. So there's definitely a lot more coming out with Control Your Own. But aside from that, here are a few other projects that I'm starting on right now that I can't really give away too many details about right now. I get superstitious and don't want to jinx anything (laughs). But for any body that appreciates this album, definitely stayed tuned. There are a lot more great things coming up.
What moves you?
Definitely music. I'm always thinking about music. Looking for old records, listening to albums and mixtapes, revisiting old classics. My life is definitely very music focussed. It's definitely my driving force in life. Besides family and good people of course.