Interview with DJ Nastee

I recently had the opportunity to interview DJ Nastee — If you don’t know anything about Nastee, you should know that he has Platinum production and engineering credits including Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz, Big Punisher, Noreaga, T.I. and Joey Bada$$ just to name a few. Nastee has also created VT Union & 4Word Productions well known throughout VT and beyond.

What was your first engineering gig and how did that experience impact your life?

I’ve was engineering unknowingly as a young teen DJ making demos wit MCs in my mom’s basement but my first official engineer gig was for a crew called “Lordz Of Brooklyn”.  The Lordz were signed to Ventrue/American Records which was Rick Rubin’s label.  They were down with Everlast and the Soul Assassins crew.  A mutual friend linked me up with The Lordz, we gelled, and I proceeded to record 90% of their first album “All In The Family” at FIBRE Studios in Red Hook, Brooklyn.  That project was crazy too.  We had hip hop legend Rammellzee (of “Beat Bop” fame) in the studio freestyling and The Lordz didn’t just have a love for hip hop, they loved rock equally so sometimes they’d bring in loud ass guitars to record over the beats. Late night sessions until 6 in the morning to get it done!

This was the first time I was dealing with label budgets and politics as an engineer, so the experience impacted my life greatly in many ways, mainly how to conduct business and get money as an engineer.  My main money maker in the 1990’s was engineering so that first project let me know what I had to do to accomplish the goals of any given project and get paid for my work too.

Do you have a favorite project that you worked on?

They all have their own special qualities but I’d say the whole mid 90’s era. To be apart of the foundation of this industry is pretty dope. Plus I feel it was more about the music back then. Everybody wanted to get they money but the music came first. Nowadays that’s not always the case.

Do you feel that the production side of the industry is over-saturated nowadays? aka. are too many people trying to be producers and engineers?

Yes. Today’s music technology is so user friendly that EVERYBODY thinks they can produce, engineer and even DJ.

Are there new artists that you are excited about?

There’s a whole bunch that I’m checking for…  Joey BadA$$ ( I just mixed his album), Action Bronson, Kendrick, Schoolboy Q, Odd Future, Captain Murphy and a new artist from LA (whose album I just mixed) called Azad Right.  Hip Hop’s future is in a great place, in my opinion.

Do you think that mixing on an analog console offers a better sound vs. mixing inside a DAW like Pro Tools? Which do you prefer?
Analog will always trump digital but only a trained ear can really hear the difference.  I prefer analog but have no problems with digital.

How has being a DJ influenced your production? Do you think it helps to start out as a DJ and then learn about studio production?

For me, it helped me learn song structure as well as what makes people move on the dancefloor. Being a DJ first definitely helped me understand music before I ever got into the studio.

Do you have a favorite piece of production gear / Studio equipment?

Any Akai MPC series gear is a must!

Do you have any advice for new producers and engineers who are just starting out?

Stop listening to the radio! Create your own sound by digging deep inside and expressing yourself. Originality is underrated. Be yourself and be true to the art and you’ll find your way. Be honest in business and it will pan out for you. Also, remember this quote about the music business that Chris Lighty told me back in the day: “Persistence overcomes resistance.”

How did the idea for the 4word movement show come about?

Basically I got tired of making the same ol’ music videos for my music so I decided to investigate a different medium, creating animated landscapes to convey the visual dictated by the music.  As I got further into the animation I began to develop the 4word Movement into a full fledged animated reality series covering such topics as music, politics and the truth.  We are currently in talks with VH1 and MTV2 to develop the series so you may see it on TV next year!

Do you think that Ghost producing is a bad career move for up-and-coming producers?

It’s a dual edged sword.   You can make hits for others and nobody ever knows it was you!  But on the flip, if you are getting a good check from it and you realize that it’s on YOU to hustle for yourself and get money and publicity for yourself, it can be a good way into the industry.

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