Vinny Idol has never felt the pressure of being placed on the high pedestal that most producers covet. His love for the game was instilled in him when he was just a kid running around with his cousin Davey D, who lent his producing skills to legends like Run DMC. With rappers like Spooney G and Curtis Blow coming through his family BBQ’s, Vinny knew that he wanted to pursue a career in music.
“I was already in the game a little bit,” said Idol. “But, I just chose to make it into a career.”
Music became his passion but Idol didn’t immediately dive into the business side. He made his initial success crafting jingles in commercials for companies like McDonald’s and Yoplait Go-Gurt. But after busting on to the scene with his first body of work Microphone Terrorists in 1996, the Bronx producer got his first major placement thanks to DJ Kay Slay. Idol was able to work with the LOX on the title track for the Drama King’s Streetswiper Vol. 1 and the rest is history.
Since then, Idol’s resume has grown significantly. He’s cut numerous records for Redman, Jadakiss, Method Man, Termanology, AZ, 50 Cent, Cory Gunz, and so many more. In between that time he’s also moved up the ranks with his jingle-making skills by lending his talents to critically-acclaimed series like HBO’ “The Wire” and “The Making Of Rome.” But his most honorable mention for 2015 goes to his work on The Diplomats comeback record “Have My Money.” Idol spoke with WatchLOUD about his reasoning for picking the Ed OG sample for Dipset’s latest. He also discusses his early career and what he has in store for his upcoming solo project King Of Beats 2.
WL: Your cousin Davey D brought you around DMC of Run DMC when you were younger. How did that have an effect on your career in the beginning?
VI: It had an amazing effect. That’s when I decided I wanted to do music. When I decided to do music, he used to come scoop me and take me to the studio and different sessions. I was meeting rappers from back then. When I was like 8, 9 years old, I was meeting rappers like Kurtis Blow. They were all at our family BBQ’s and stuff like that. DMC used to come by the crib with Jam Master J. I was already in the game a little bit but, I just chose to make it into a career.
You were making jingles for commercials at one point. How did you fall into that?
Honestly, I was doing that first before I even did my first rap record. I was doing jingles already. I was working with this company called Sicarella which is now known as Facesta music. I was doing that and made commercials with McDonald’s and Yoplait Go-Gurt. I wasn’t even thinking about rap at that time. I was just a musician. I was already getting checks from that, but then one thing led to another and I just started making records.
You also made some songs for HBO’s “The Wire.” How did you get that gig?
Well, I had already cut some songs for the show. But I got that through my management. They reached out to us and made it happen.
Talk about your first release Microphone Terrorists.
Yea we were all young man. Just testing the waters. Pressing up wax and just running around. Those were the early days back in the ‘90s. It was pretty much the test run.
You went on to produce the title track for DJ Kay Slay’s Streetsweeper Vol. 1. How was it working with The LOX on that track?
I was hype man. That was my first placement. My first check you know? I was pretty much hyped. That was like everybody I wanted to work with, you know, the legends. You got the LOX and DJ Kay Slay. It was a plus for me.
It’s been over a decade since you got started in the game. The sound of hip-hop has changed, especially in New York City. Did that change have anything to do with your production thus far?
Honestly, no because being a producer, that’s what you’re hired to do, produce. You just really got to adapt to the sound. Everything is going futuristic so you gotta think about it. As a producer, I can’t use old machines and expect to have the same sound as everything else on the radio. You got to fuse everything together. Keep the hip-hop, keep the boom-bap but you gotta sprinkle a little bit of everything that’s going on right now. The sounds are just so much different than before everything is knocking. Everything is intensified now. I don’t think it affected me too much. I think it affected the whole game but not me because I was still making music regardless.
Explain your involvement in Tupac’s Concrete Rose Vol. 2. How did it feel to bring Pac’s poems to life?
I did the track called “When Heroes Fall.” That was a project that put together a bunch of Tupac’s poems. It was another accomplishment for me in the hip-hop game. It felt wonderful doing that project. I got to deal with his mother a little bit. I met a couple people that were involved, a couple of [Black] Panthers. It was cool, it was a great experience for me.
You’re working on the next installment of your King Of Beats mixtape series. What do you have in store for the project?
It’s going to be a good thing. I’m still gathering up songs right now and still doing a lot of studio work for that. But it’s coming up soon. It’s going to be like the first one. All the music production will be done by me. It’ll have remixes and a lot of songs that I did that’s out but people don’t know that I did them with D-Block and other different artists. I’m using that to display my work and show them that we still working. It’s going to have some big artists on it like the big homies The LOX. I like to just surprise people man
Your most recent work was on Dipset’s new song “Have My Money.” What made you use the Ed OG sample from “I Gotta Have It”?
For different reasons. That’s one of my favorite hip-hop tracks of all time. So once I got my hands on the loop and started spicing it up a little bit, I mean I just had to touch. Everybody’s doing remixes anyways so why not touch that one? I didn’t do too much to it because I didn’t want to mess up the whole sonic of how it was originally. I felt great doing it. It came out crazy. I had that beat sitting for almost four months.
Cam’ron came to you for the beat?
Yea his A&R Unkasa called me on a Sunday and said that they were doing a session that day and they needed a record. They were getting together and were coming through that night. I sent about six records over and they picked two. The other one was called “Vinny’s Thing.” They laid that one out too but it’ll probably be for the mixtape. I’ve been sending them more so we’re going to do a whole list of songs. That song came along in a 24-hour time [frame] man. I sent that beat to them on Sunday and Monday morning they hit me up to mix it.
What’s a hilarious moment you’ve had in the studio?
One of the homies, he was in the studio. I won’t give names. But I was on my way to lay some tracks down because we was doing these projects. One of the guys who was fixing the cable took it upon himself to give the address to one of his boys. So the dude pops up in front of his crib. His family and everybody live there. He was talking about “I’m trying to be down. I want to be down with D-Block.” So against his own will, he was brought down to the studio. When I walked in, dudes had things pointed out. I was trying to dab five’s but I can’t dab five’s because I’m seeing things pointed out and some dude crying on the floor saying he wants to be D-Block. It was a hilarious moment for me because it’s like people will go to the full extent. People would rather get shot to prove their loyalty.