In the last year Atlanta (by way of Brooklyn) boom-bap enthusiast/producer Raticus has made up for the last seventeen years of radio silence (more details on that below). His warning shot was the well-regarded full-length project with Ruste Juxx entitled K.O.C.H (King Of Crime Heights). Later this month (October 25th to precise) he will release two full-length projects on his own Tenement Records label that should make all Weekly Rap Gods readers salivate. These will include New York State – The Renaissance with Mooch of Rochester, NY rhyme syndicate Da’ Cloth and CRYPTEX Murderous Materials with Lynn, MA astral thug, Al Divino.
According to all reports, he has several other projects of equal potency close to release as well. Meet Raticus…
Doing a search on Discogs it shows that you had an album out in 2001 and then not again until your project with Vast Aire (The Heir Vast) in 2016. How come you were
dormant for so long?
Big fan of your publication. Keep doing what you are doing for the community!
Fair question that deserves some explanation. But the short answer is a shift in mentality took place. 2001 is the last full album I recorded in my Studio in Brooklyn.
I relocated to ATL and rebuilt my studio over the years. But during that period I still was making beats and recording songs. I have a ton of material from the period you mentioned, but because of my mentality at the time I didn’t release much of it. I look at this time period as putting in my experience hours (10,000 hour rule). But it was a period of time where I learned a lot about what not to do to complete an album lol..
What sparked you to start releasing projects again?
Its not until I started receiving correspondence from Japanese and German fans (in mid 2000s) regarding my first release in 1996 (under the crew name “Da Shaup Productions”) that I realized the impact my music had on people and how important it was to put out releases. I mean the steps some of the fans took locate me really blew my mind. Checking business records sending me snail mail asking for copies of the vinyl. Come to find out my first project was so coveted over seas that it lists for $250 right now on different websites.
Two major changes in my mentality took place.
1. KIM and FOH. Basically meaning keep up with me or I got to Keep it Moving and you can figure out the rest.
2. I took full responsibility of projects I was working on. Meaning I am managing the pace of the project, deciding if material is acceptable. Building on concepts the MC sparked through his rhymes. Making final decision on music being ready for consumption. Working on Art direction, finalizing distribution deals etc.. Again not waiting for someone or some label to do it. If its needs to be done then do it!
Your bio says that you learned your craft in studios in NY during the 90’s. How did you decide to start producing?
A long drive from college I made the decision to start learning production. This 18 hour trip I did a lot of thinking about my life and passions. I had made the commitment then during the trip.
Worked at 78/88 Studios in Queens,NY for several years in the Mid to late 90s. Started as an intern and later became a regular engineer. I have a lot fond memories, professional relationships and friendships from the experience. Much love Rich and Brian the studio owners.
Any good recording sessions / stories that you can relate from those days? Any surreal moments that you witnessed (like a legendary posse cut/legendary joint being recorded)?
Heltah Skeltah recorded their Magnum Force album (19980 at the Studio I worked I at. I was able to witness a bunch of songs recorded, The one that stands out was “I Ain’t Havin’ That” with Starang – the beat was bumping they had a bunch of cats there and it was lot of energy about how dope the song was. Smif-N-Wessun “Super Brooklyn” joint was created and recorded there on the DJ Rob & Domingo compilation, Game Over.
A big deal for me was meeting PF Cuttin’, he was there adding scratches for some joint.. he brought a single turnable in a coffin and setup and began to scratch out a hook for a song. Learned a lot from that session he also was very down to earth dude. Still cool with him till this day. Speaking on DJs I also engineered a few of DJ-JS One sessions, again learned a lot from watching him add scratches to music. Domingo used to come through as well.. A fly on the wall those days absorbing the process. Another frequent visitor was Masta Ace he recorded Disposable Arts there with one of my mentors Rich A, again a fly on the wall during sessions absorbing the process.
This period of time really cemented my foundation on the process of recording and mixing of music.
Your new projects with Ruste Juxx, Al Divino and Mooch all have that classic 90’s vibe to them. Are you also using period samplers and equipment (SP-12, MPC) etc? Do you also use any analog keyboards or instruments?
For the Ruste Juxx album I would say maybe half of the production was done on the MPC 4000 and the rest were done on MPC Renaissance.
For along time my favorite machine was the MPC 4000 (i have various MPC models). Loved big screen and computer integration.
The Renaissance featuring Mooch and Crytpex featuring al.divino were all done on the MPC LIVE/STUDIO. This in now my flagship beat machine.
They really thought through the design of these new MPCs.. removed a lot of the cumbersome steps which leaves you more time to experiment.
I also have some analog synths, roland sound modules, Akai S900 for filtering.. These elements have been used on my projects as well.
What is one or two good pieces of advice that you can drop to newer producers or those passionate about the same style that you deliver
Here are three:
1. Practice and push boundaries to create your sound.
2. Keep putting out material. Stop waiting for some perfect moment.
3. Work with good Mcees. Skill wise and professionalism. One without the other makes them useless. FOH.
In this digital age do you still go record shopping or pull your samples from digital sources?
Every so often I have landed a truck load of vinyl over the years. Whether it is was a college radio station I worked at to chance garage sale.. I have tons of vinyl.
I also have a large college of mp3s of various genres of music. So I have adapted to the convenience of the new technology but still utilize my original methods.
What else are you working on? What other emcees would you like to work with?
I would say verbally I have some agreements to produce around 5 albums right now in the next few months. However things change as life goes, people disappear or priorities changes, so I don’t want to speak on projects that are in the initial stages.
However I can mention a few that are near completion:
Street Corner Diaries – various artist 18 track album. Coming out probably in December
RocVille – Two MCees and one Producer/DJ – First Quarter of 2020
Law 21 – Currently laying down foundation of this project. First Quarter of 2020
There are a lot dope Emcees I would like to work with right now, sadly to many of them are gased up or lack the professionalism to warrant my attention after communicating with them… so Rule #1 KIM & FOH..but bucket list I really want to do an EP or Album with the legendary KGR. I periodically chop it up with his MGR but at this point resources aren’t available to make it happen.
Any Iabels interested in collaborating on this “Raticus | KGR” project, hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More info / order ‘Raticus’ projects here: https://tenementmusic.bandcamp.com/