Beat Assailant is a name you should remember. From Miami to Atlanta to Paris, B.A. has used his travels to create a unique yet universal sound in hip-hop. Even though his debut album “Hard Twelve” has yet to be released, the waves of hype and respect are rolling. His LP will have collaborations by Tash (of The Liks), J-Zone, Phil Da Agony, Vanessa Jacquemin (Brooklyn Funk Essentials), and Danger Mouse. Handling production and rhyming, Beat Assailant is taking total control of his debut LP. Along with his partner in crime Zash, B.A. is making true hip-hop music. The LP will have an eclectic mixture of Brazilian music, jazz, and electronic music all weaved into a hip-hop package. On a hot August day in 2004, Todd E. Jones had a chance to talk to the up and coming emcee / producer. Beat Assailant is about to roll a hard twelve.
MVRemix: Your new debut LP is coming out soon. Tell us about it. Who is on it? Who produced it?
Beat Assailant: Well it’s called ‘Hard Twelve’ and it has twelve tracks. We recorded the whole album in Paris with live musicians so it has a different kind of feel for a rap/hip-hop album. All the tracks are co-produced by me, and Zash, who is my partner in crime and a musical phenom. Tash is the one featured artist on the album so I’m basically holding down the fort solo on this one.
MVRemix: What is the meaning behind ‘Hard Twelve’?
Beat Assailant: I like to play craps and when you roll two sixes, that’s a hard twelve. Statistically, it’s one of the rarest rolls, but a well-timed bet can yield the highest returns on the craps table. It pays 30 to 1 odds on a single roll bet, so I kind of use it as a metaphor for the whole music game. The odds are long to make it in this business but if you’re lucky enough to be successful, the payout can be huge. So that’s the main answer, but the number twelve has been significant to me for so many reasons that the whole concept just came naturally.
MVRemix: Do you have a favorite song on the album?
Beat Assailant: It changes all the time but probably ‘Hard Twelve – The Ante’ always get hype performing that one.
MVRemix: What song took you the longest to do? Why? The shortest? Why?
Beat Assailant: Good question. I really don’t know. I think they all pretty much took about the same amount of time. We follow the same format in making the songs. It usually takes one session to make the rough version. We’ll go home, sleep on it, make some changes and finish it up the next day with a clear mind.
MVRemix: You spent some time in Paris. What was that like? How is the Paris hip-hop scene different from U.S.?
Beat Assailant: Paris is crunk. The nightlife is great and the hip-hop scene is huge there. They listen to all the same music as well as French rap. I’d say the one big difference is that the whole time I was there, I never really saw any battles or ciphers or anything like that. Everybody kind of made music in their own corner so there wasn’t much interaction musically. No real exchange of ideas. But there are some true hip-hop heads over there. Cats that can break down the whole history of rap way better than I ever could.
MVRemix: You worked with La Face Records? When? What did you do? What was that like?
Beat Assailant: Actually, I worked with Tim & Ted, producers who were on the La Face label but I never worked directly with La Face. This was way back when I was a teenager though. They were working with a lot of young unsigned talent in the Atlanta area like Usher. It was a great thing because I got to get in the studio and meet other artists and players in the music industry. It gave me a lot of experience at a young age so that put me way ahead of the curve. I always felt like I was a step ahead of other cats making music in high school and stuff.
MVRemix: Tash is on one of the songs on your new single. How did you hook up with him and what was that collaboration like?
Beat Assailant: Tash is mad cool. He’s one of the real MC’s in the business. The guy eats, sleeps, and breaths rap. The first time I ever talked to him he was spitting hot rhymes over the phone. My boy Danger Mouse hooked us up. He had worked with Tha Liks on his Ghetto Pop Life album so the connection was easy.
MVRemix: When making hip-hop songs, do you go into the studio with pre-written rhymes, lyrics and themes or do you hear the beat first and write then and there?
Beat Assailant: It’s funny because I talk about this on my DVD ‘The Hard Twelve Minutes’. I never match rhymes to a beat. We make the beat and then, I write the lyrics right then and there. I feel like a good beat conveys a certain emotion and I like to write my rhymes in that same tone. Ideally, there’s a kind of marriage between the beat and the rhyme and you can’t force that. It has to flow naturally. I think its kind of criminal to shoehorn some rhyme you already wrote into a hot beat.
MVRemix: What is your favorite part of your live show?
Beat Assailant: The whole thing really. It’s the most fun I can ever have being up there with the band jamming my songs. The whole show is crazy really but something special happens when we play ‘Love Gone Wrong’.
MVRemix: How has your live show evolved?
Beat Assailant: Well a lot. I’ve come a long way from doing DAT shows or shows with the MPC backing me up to now jamming with a six piece band and backup singers and the whole 9.
MVRemix: When did you first begin rhyming?
Beat Assailant: Probably when I was 13.
MVRemix: When did you first begin making beats?
Beat Assailant: Probably when I was 18 or 19. I always had ideas and stuff before that. I would come to my producer with the sample and let him put the beat down. Finally one of my best friends got some equipment when we were in college and after that I was hooked.
MVRemix: Production wise, who are your major influences?
Beat Assailant: Wow! I love music so this could go on forever. A lot of jazz artists and funk & soul artists have been very influential. To save space, I’ll keep it hip–hop. Ali Shaheed Muhammed of A Tribe Called Quest, J Dilla, Erick Sermon, Dr. Dre, Pete Rock, DJ Premier, and Neptunes.
MVRemix: Emcee wise, who are your major influences?
Beat Assailant: Q-Tip, Buckshot, Method Man, Prodigy. I know I’m forgetting some people here but I’ll go with this fab four.
MVRemix: What song made you fall in love with hip-hop?
Beat Assailant: You got some damn good questions, man! Hmmm. I liked the old LL tapes, and Special Ed and all that. But probably Slick Rick ‘Children’s Story’ and later Tribe ‘Check the Rhyme’.
MVRemix: How did you get the name Beat Assailant? What does it mean to you?
Beat Assailant: People have been calling me Beat Assailant since I was a kid so once I got in to the rhymes it just kind of evolved into that. Originally though, it was just because I had a bad attitude like that character on the A-Team.
MVRemix: What emcee/group would you like to collaborate with in the future?
Beat Assailant: There are many. I’d like to work with Q-Tip or The Neptunes. I’d really like to do some different stuff though. Like get Bjork on some rap shit or work with Sade.
MVRemix: What producer would you like to collaborate with in the future?
Beat Assailant: Any of the producers I named as my influences.
MVRemix: What was your childhood like? What kid of kid were you?
Beat Assailant: I was a normal kid I guess. Went to school sometimes, played sports, chased girls, got in a little mischief, just normal stuff I guess.
MVRemix: What was the lowest or dirtiest thing you ever did for money?
Beat Assailant: That’s funny. I worked a telemarketing job for some extra cash in college. They set up these call centers next to college campuses because they know students need beer money. Anyway, I forget what they were selling, maybe magazine subscriptions or something like that. To make a long story short, the only people who would buy the stuff were elderly people who were slightly incoherent or people who didn’t speak English. The real messed up part is that the telemarketing company really wanted you to be aggressive with these people and just bait them into saying ‘Ok’ on tape to close the sale. Needless to say, I quit on the first day on the job. BA could never be caught up in some shady shit like that.
MVRemix: What has been in your CD player or on your turntable recently?
Beat Assailant: Clara Hill. I heard the CD a couple weeks ago and bought it on the spot.
MVRemix: What was the last incident of racism you experienced?
Beat Assailant: Damn! You got real good questions man! Probably a DWB experience in Paris this spring. Three black guys riding around in a nice car in a nice neighborhood. We got pulled over for absolutely no reason. They searched the ride and us and had us like criminals on the side of the road. One of my boys lost some cash when they made him put all his stuff on the hood of the car. The wind was blowing hard and a good amount of cash flew off in the wind. It was a total violation of our civil rights. We didn’t even commit a traffic violation so they had to let us go. Funny thing though… When you’re in the right, somehow fate just smiles on you. They searched high and low and still didn’t find the chronic.
MVRemix: Abortion – pro-choice or pro-life?
Beat Assailant: Personally, I’m kind of on the fence on this one but I think everyone should be free to decide.
MVRemix: Death Penalty – For or against?
Beat Assailant: Totally against. We’re in the dark ages here. All the stats show capital punishment is no deterrent to crime.
MVRemix: Where were you on Sept. 11th (The World Trade Center Terrorist Attack)? How did you deal with it? How do you think it has affected music?
Beat Assailant: I was in Paris man. Had just came back to the crib, grabbing a bite to eat and listening to the radio. I heard them say something about NY in French so I flipped on the TV and the first tower had just been hit. We were in the afternoon there so I was wide-awake. I don’t know that I can really say I dealt with it. The footage is still shocking. I can just remember that day, walking outside after the towers fell, and nobody in Paris knew yet. Everybody was going home from work and hadn’t been around a TV yet. I just remember looking at all the people carrying on their normal lives and thinking, the world, as we know it has just changed forever and all these people were totally unaware of it. It was a really weird feeling.
MVRemix: What collaboration are you most proud of?
Beat Assailant: Probably the work I’ve done with Zash. It took a lot of time and work to get our styles to mesh together, but I’m quite pleased with the end result.
MVRemix: Word association time. I’m going to say a name of a group/emcee and you say the first word that pops in your head. So, if I say ‘Chuck D’, you may say ‘Revolution’. Okay?
Beat Assailant: Pioneers.
Beat Assailant: White.
MVRemix: 50 Cent.
Beat Assailant: Got shot (I know that’s two words but that’s what came to mind).
MVRemix: Phife Dawg.
Beat Assailant: Scenario.
Beat Assailant: Singer.
Beat Assailant: Money.
MVRemix: Gil-Scott Heron.
Beat Assailant: Revolution.
MVRemix: George Bush.
Beat Assailant: Criminal.
MVRemix: What do you think hip-hop or music (in general) needs these days?
Beat Assailant: I think hip-hop is fine. Rap doesn’t need to be “saved” or anything. I think hip-hop is stronger then ever. I just think we need to focus more on artists who are original and less on the super commercial copy-cat artists.
MVRemix: What is the biggest mistake that you made in your career?
Beat Assailant: Probably not taking stuff so serious when I was younger. I had a lot of success, as a teenager so I thought everything would just come to me. I realize now that it’s so hard to be successful in this business. Now, I won’t let anyone out-work me. It’s a war out here and I’ve got my hardhat on.
MVRemix: What are some major misconceptions that people have of you?
Beat Assailant: I’m not sure what conceptions people have of me. I will say that after hearing the single, people will be really surprised at the depth of the entire album. Lyrics and beats. The single is just the tip of the iceberg.
MVRemix: What is next in the future for Beat Assailant?
Beat Assailant: Probably start working on the next album in the fall and doing shows through the rest of the year.
MVRemix: What collaborations should we look out for?
Beat Assailant: I’ve got some things cooking for the next album but for now look for some collabos with J-Zone, Danger Mouse and Phil Da Agony.
MVRemix: Any final words for the people who are reading this?
Beat Assailant: Thanks Todd! I really enjoyed doing this interview. You had some great questions. Peace up – A town down! Yeaaauhh!