Sound: Classic hip-hop infused with ’60s wall-of-sound chamber pop and indie rock undertones.
Favorite gear: My Akai MPC1000 is the nerve center of most of my productions. The workflow is so intuitive for a musician, and as opposed to sequencing in the box, it’s really quite easy to retain a natural and organic feel. Beyond this, my new album, Cassette City, is peppered with a lot of synthesizers from the late ’80s and early ’90s. I like that synthesizers from this era aren’t quite “vintage” sounding, but at the same time, hadn’t quite evolved into what they are now.
Influences: Pete Rock, Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Premier, Easy Mo Bee, all the usual suspects. Lushlife productions builds on their architecture with a fair amount of live instrumentation. For this, I look to the work of Phil Spector, Gamble and Huff, and Brill Building pop. Lyrically, I think that Nas’ rhythm, timbre, and flow have informed my sound, while Camp Lo showed me how to paint expansive pictures with words.
Play by ear or play as written: In composing the music for Cassette City, I found myself playing a lot of guitars, basses, synths, and percussion by ear; but having a background in composition really came in handy when I wrote out scores for cello, violin, trumpet, trombone, and other orchestral instruments for many of the songs.
Newest project: Cassette City is a true expression of my artistic vision. It highlights my work as an emcee, producer, and multi-instrumentalist. The album also features guest appearances from Elzhi, Greg Saunier of Deerhoof, and several other artists from across the pop music spectrum.
Words of wisdom: Try to work and keep company with people who are inspired. From mixing engineers, A&R people, and graphic designers to friends — if everyone on your team is enthusiastic and creative, it will have a positive impact on your project.