Producer Endemic Emerald Drops Jewels (Interview)

I recently caught up with underground beatsmith, Endemic Emerald. The BX by way of UK producer, and founder of No Cure Records sheds some light on his musical background, discography, label plans for the remainder of 2020 and beyond, and much more. Get familiar…

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INTERVIEW

With a discography that includes production credits for various members of the Wu, the late Sean P (RIP), Easy Mo Bee, Immortal Technique, Tragedy Khadafi, ILL BILL, Royal Flush, Roc Marciano, Skyzoo and even Brand Nubian, you’ve compiled an impressive discography over the years. What advice would you give to up and coming producers that are looking to get their production into the hands of their favorite artists?

There’s a few ways of doing it. One good way to make some noise is by releasing some projects with other emcees and guest appearances. It also help to network and meet the artists you’d like to work with in person. I’ll hand ‘em USB drives, and even meet ‘em at the studios where they record. It definitely seems like releasing a string of projects with either your own artists, or collab albums is the way to go these days.

Not only have you established yourself as a notable producer on the underground scene, but you also run the indie hip-hop label, No Cure Records which has made a name for itself for its long running Endemic compilation series that dates back to 2013. As of late, the label seems to be making a turn to more artist invested projects which seems to be kicking off with the release of H1N1. Please detail some of the forthcoming releases that you have planned via No Cure, and discuss why you’ve made the transition from compilation-style projects to more artist driven releases.

I’ve been focusing on mostly NYC-based emcee projects, ranging from new artists to legendary acts. We have projects coming from the likes of Tragedy Khadafi, Planet Asia and Darkim Be Allah, to up and comers likes Brooklyn’s Lucky Tatt and Piff James, to Frd Frln outta Jersey. I’m still gonna be dropping compilation albums, but I want the label to be an NYC movement with a focus on working with a new era of artists coming out the five boroughs, as well as Jersey. I hope to have a full length album with the Revenge of the Truence next year to chase H1N1, and add on more dope artists to the roster. I’m really looking for those special talents that ain’t even been discovered yet.

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(L to R): Tragedy Khadafi, Darkim Be Allah, Kasim Allah, Endemic Emerald

Please list your top five tracks that you’ve produced, and detail why they rank amongst your personal favorites. 

Sean Price, Ruste Juxx & Sav Killz – “Comin to Kill”: This was more or less the first proper banger I made that got a lot of attention. The joint went super hard and was featured on various mixtapes. It was also placed on my first record, Terminal Illness.

Busy Da God – “Skill Mathematics (feat. Masta Killa, Shyheim & Prodigal Sunn)”: This beat was always a favourite. It goes off like a proper Wu banger posse cut. The main sample came from an old gospel record. It was one of those joints where I can’t even figure out now how I flipped it. The track appeared on Bugsy Da God’s Camouflage Disciple LP.

Ruste Juxx – “Rap Assassins (feat. ILL BILL, Sav Killz & Cyrus Malachi)”: This was that “Two Lovely Pillows” sample from Laura Lee record that I flipped very differently to those who’ve used it prior (Sha Stimuli, 60 Second Assassin, Boot Camp Clik). Again a super hard posse cut that first  appeared on Ruste Juxx’s Adamantine LP, and also appeared on Ill Bill’s Howie Made Me Do it 2 compilation.

Tragedy Khadafi, Afu Ra & Ruste Juxx – “High Society”: This is one of my favourite beats. Its got that bounce with classic strings and basslines coming in and out. This appeared on Terminal Illness Part 2. The track was also used as part of a promotional video by Pioneer which features Jazzy Jeff using one of their DJ modules that they were pushing at the time.

Revenge of the Truence – “Trading Places”: This one’s been one of my more favourite beats lately. MuGGz and Tay Dayne killed it. This one’s of their H1N1 EP that dropped back on June 19th.

 

Considering the impressive list of artists that you’ve worked with to date, please list a few emcees that you’ve yet to have worked with that you’d like to scratch off the bucket list. And please name one emcee that you’d like to collaborate for an entire album, or even for a series of albums. Please detail.

Out of the crop of new emcees, I’d definitely like to work with dudes like Benny, Flee Lord and Rome Streetz, to name a few. As for legends, I’d like to work with Redman, Raekwon, Nas and Scarface. With regards to a full series of albums, it would have to be AZ. I feel we could come out with some classic shit utilizing all of my different production styles. I’d also like to put a group together. It’s been something I’ve been planning for a while, featuring four emcees for a few albums—I just need to finalize the line up!

Please provide some detail into your musical background, and how you broke into the music scene. And who were some of the first UK-based artists that you’ve worked with?

I started deejaying around ’96, but I first got into the music around ’91, when I’d cop all the dope CDs and cassettes that were out at the time. When I got my first pair of decks it was a beautiful to start building my collection on vinyl. I only actually started producing in 2005. I’m not sure why it took me so long to make the transition to be honest.

The UK-based artists that I first worked with include London’s Triple Darkness and Cappo, as well as Scorzayzee & C-mone outta Nottingham. Also my mate Masikah from London too, he doesn’t rhyme anymore for religious reasons, but he would have been one of the illest to do it from the island.

Taking your UK roots into consideration, please describe the hip-hop scene during your formidable years growing up in London and living for 15 years in Nottingham. And were there any regional producers that helped influence your sound, or help mentor your style, or were your eyes and ears more fixed on what was going on across the Atlantic?

Around the early days in the UK most of my production influence came from the greats like RZA, Preemo, Easy Mo Bee, The Bomb Squad and Marley Marl. But as I began producing and becoming more familiar with UK scene, producers such as Recordkingz (London) and the P Brothers (Nottingham) started to really inspire me. I think they’re the best to ever do it out the UK. The scene from 2009-10 was dope! I remember doing gigs up and down the country with Cappo and Cyrus Malachi. It was a good time.

What is your most proudest music-related accomplishment that you’ve achieved to date?

A few come to mind, but having my first record Terminal Illness signed to EMI distribution was definitely a big look. I was flown out to New York and did an in-stores at Fat Beats. Just being out there and having the chance to experience the game first hand was a great moment. More recently, securing a physical distribution deal with Fat Beats for our release roster, and seeing the fans show up to help sell out the vinyl release of H1N1 was very rewarding.

Of all the emcees that you’ve worked with in the studio, who impressed you the most? Either by how quickly they penned their lyrics, or how flawlessly they recorded their verses. And do you have any hilarious studio stories you’d like to share with any of the artists that you’ve worked with?

For me its gotta be Tragedy and Planet Asia. They both write super fast and the outcome is always top tier. They both seem to seamlessly find their groove over my productions demonstrated by how their vocals cut through the instrumentation. Something only the best can do. There’s been so many sick studio sessions in New York, one session at Goblin Studios in Queens really stands out. After a long nights work I remember being woke up by Tash of the Alkoholiks and JuJu of the Beatnuts in the early hours to go on a beer run. More recently, last month we were at No Measure Studios in Queens with Darkim and Trag; it had been a while that we all went in to work due to the lockdown so it ended up being more of a small party. We still got the work done.

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(L to R): MuGGz, Endemic Emerald, Tay Dayne, DJ Toshi

I’d like to thank Endemic Emerald for taking the time to chop it up, and bring our readers up to speed with his contributions to the culture, and plans for the future. Be sure to follow ‘em on social media, and keep up with his releases via Bandcamp and Spotify.

H1N1 by Revenge of the Truence

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EXTRAS

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