Producer BpZy, known to anyone who rocked a Walkman with auto-reverse as Baby Paul, knows a thing or two about being underrated. Despite having tracks for Nas, Fat Joe, Smif-N-Wessun and Angie Stone under his belt, he still respectfully flies below the radar of the average hip-hop fan. So when he speaks about one of the most talented MCs in the game not getting his just due, his opinion holds a little more weight than most.
“I would definitely say AZ is the most underrated NY hip-hop artists coming out of the ’90s to now,” he says of his frequent collaborator. “He has been the most consistent lyrically of that era. There are only a handful of artists from that era that are still relevant. Of course you have your Jay Z, Nas, Fat Joe, etc but he’s the one dude that’s been consistent but hasn’t gotten to that level to where the average main stream audience would know who he is. Only the core fans that respect what he’s done from day one to now are still supporting, but it only takes one record with the right push to get him right back to where he should be.”
BpZy first worked with AZ on his 2002 project Aziatic, chopping up the Mary Jane Girls for the Nas collaboration “The Essence” and they haven’t stopped since. Hopefully the “next record” he speaks of should be on AZ’s highly anticipated Doe or Die 2 the sequel to his 1995 debut, which turns 20 this October.
“It’s a little bit of the vintage sound that people know of him for from day one, but he’s also doing stuff that’s progressive, but not forced,” BpZy says of the project. “The music is a reflection of where he is in his career now lyrically, image wise and across the board.”
With the AZ project in the works and a growing stable of artists, WatchLOUD wanted to take the opportunity to refamiliarize the masses with the man who helped Nas to destroy and rebuild Queensbridge.
How it all started
I was actually good friends with the legendary DJ Doctor Butcher from Corona, Queens. He was a DJ for Kool G Rap. I used to [work for him] at Power Play studios in Long Island City. That’s how I met and networked with a lot of people. In the early days of my career I’d be in the studio learning the boards, the gear, the SP-1200, everything. I watched the legendary Large Professor do production for Kool G. Rap, Eric B and Rakim and [saw] the inception of Main Source.
Working With Da Beatminerz
I basically was hanging out a lot in the Music Factory when Mr. Walt was running the store…I used to always buy my 12 inches there in Jamaica, Queens. I felt like it was important for me to build a relationship with the store [since] I kept coming in there. And as I was interning at Power Play studios I was starting to see the other side of the industry and get a sneak peek of exclusive music. You might get a copy from an engineer, something on tape, an advance copy of the album…and I used to be like “Yo Walt, I got the new G. Rap album before it came out.” We kind of built a bond from there.”
Making Heltak Skeltah’s “Therapy”
“I used a sample by Milt Jackson, the same one the legendary Pete Rock used on “Carmel City” for their second album. I was listening to a lot of records in my collection and listening to that one was inspiring. So I thought how I could use it again and make it brand new. I loved the vibes of those Fender Rhodes sections in that record.”
The Mistake in “The Essence”
When I shopped the beat I recorded it and saved it on a DAT. But when I submitted it I recorded the beat with the volume down. It wasn’t recording the audio. So when I realized it I slowly turned up the record level. So that’s why “the essence” starts where it fades in…
Making “Leflaur LeFlah Eshkoshka” aka Lost in Translation
I did that beat on an Sp-12—not the 1200— so I only had 5-seconds of sample time and I had to hook up an external hard drive just to save sounds. Initially I made the beat at home, but when I had to work on it in the studio to lay it down I didn’t bring my drum machine. So I had to remake that beat in the studio. If you heard the beat tape with the original you’d hear it was hotter. Some people thought it was a drum beat from The WhatNots but the snare is actually from James Brown…
The “Ultimate” Pay off
Sean J. Period introduced me to The Artifacts and got me the chance to produce “The Ultimate” and I introduced him to The Boot Camp, which is how he got on the Helta Skeltata album. It was one of those things where we showed each other love and respect and passed each other work. That’s something I miss. Today it’s so competitive. Everybody is fighting for their piece of the pie in the game. The song got licensed on the High School High soundtrack on Big Beat/Atlantic. The Jon Lovitz movie. The soundtrack went gold and the song got placed in the movie. There is a scene with the song. So I still get publishing off of that.
“Destroy and Rebuild”
I produced “Destroy and Rebuild” where conceptually Nas was talking about his roots in QB and the associates he rocked with, the good, the bad and the ugly. It was like a call to arms so to speak for Nas and it was pleasure to work with him. Interestingly enough when I first heard the record I wasn’t sure what the message was so I made sure at the tale end, once I heard the vocals when I was mixing the record, we had a short dialogue about it and made sure we ended it on a light note. The conversation we had on the outro. Then I let the music just play out a couple bars to let it marinate.
I’m working with an artist from California named AG and I’m also working with an artist named Drift from East Orange, NJ. He was featured in DJ Khaled’s “Never Surrender” video. I gotta couple records coming out with him, one called “Baby” and another called “Brazilian Wax.” Just a street record for cats that’s about bars. You gotta do that once in a while.
I also have an artist named Patrick Toussaint out of Brooklyn, NY. He was a protege of Pharrell Williams when he was doing the “Glow In The Dark” tour with N.E.R.D. He has an EP out on my label distributed by eOne called Truth. It’s available now in digital stores. I have one other artist named Colere Bonheur. He’s in London. A very organic music kind of artist. Kind of like D’Angelo meets Amy Whinehouse. I’ve always wanted to do that type of music. Completely organic, well written with a live band. He’s young, in his early 20s. Can’t wait to hit the net with the visuals.
I’m also working with Champion Pacino, That White Keisha, iLLA, and Dre Banks.
And of course Smif-N-Wessun they got some stuff coming. I got some records in the pipeline for them celebrating 20 years.
Follow BpZy on Twitter @BpZy