Dirty Swift (Midi Mafia) - conducted by Noah Fowle
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Dirty Swift has only got time for business
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Itís a wonder to catch either half of the production duo Midi Mafia for a quick chat. Since starting their own label, Family Ties, Bruce Wayne and Dirty Swift continue to increase the value of their stock. In 2003 their production of 50 Centís ď21 QuestionsĒ lead Midi Mafia to work with some of the top names in Hip Hop spanning styles and generations. Now they are putting out hit and after hit, and branding themselves so that artists are looking to them for that new sound and that next level. And for Swift, things couldnít be better.
MVRemix: Who do you guys look to for influence?
Dirty Swift: It depends. Sometimes stuff on the radio influences us. Itís different at any given point. Of course guys like Dre and Jermain Dupri are big influences. You know guys who do what they do consistently for ten years. Iíll never marry myself to one sound. Look at the Neptunes and Timbaland, they always come back. They re-invent artists all the time. The way they renew and stay relevant that inspires me. Our style is evolutionary and we try to change it to each artist. Sure it would make life easier to take one set of drums and do it over and over, but I canít do that yet
MVRemix: Is there anyone you guys are looking to work with in particular?
Dirty Swift: Weíve been blessed to work with so many talented people already. But, you know, I always wanted to work with Jay, and see his process. Snoop. We did some work with the new Westside Connection album with Ice Cube. That was a big deal.
MVRemix: Whatís it like working with some of the seminal names in the industry?
Dirty Swift: You got to shake it off and get down to business. They are looking to you as the new shit. You canít get star struck. Focus on what youíre doing. People are just people. When I met Dre, I was like thatís the god. But everybody else, it is what it is. Most everyone we deal with are real cool people who just want best product. Theyíre not on some BS.
MVRemix: When did you realize that music was no longer a hobby and had become your fulltime career?
Dirty Swift: That came when I did a track for Angie Martinez. That was my first major artist placement. All of sudden, I was in the Sony studio. I got my first check, and it was decent. Then getting the 50 Cent placement early on just accelerated everything. And Hooking up with Bruce was huge.
MVRemix: Often MCís garner all of the attention for hit songs, as a producer is it hard to work on project and receive less credit in the limelight?
Dirty Swift: Weíve been pretty good at branding ourselves. We are the kings of piggy backing. Donít care if they mention our names. Weíll get ours. Got articles immediately after ď21 Questions.Ē Weíre aware that our brand is important as the music. We play into being celebrities cause it helps make money, but it can be a pain the ass.
It really depends on what approach you take. Youíre either an Indian or a chief.
MVRemix: What do you consider yourselves?
Dirty Swift: Weíre definitely chiefs. We are the masters of our own destinies. We look for opportunities to exploit anything we do. We donít even keep a manger because no one can keep up with us. Artists call us directly. The game is getting bigger but getting smaller. There are fewer slots for more people. If you rely on others, it will slip through the cracks. I never worked well waiting on others. Fuck it. We get on the phones ourselves and stay in studio. It can be overwhelming, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
MVRemix: Whatís up with your pace?
Dirty Swift: We donít really have any down time. I donít even know what day it is. Iím Bi-coastal now. Every once and a while, Iíll try to get away from music for a day to clear mind. You take it where you can get it, build an extra day on trips. There is so much going on. Iíve got no personal life. Some times Iím lonely with nothing but work. I see people with families and the nine-to-five and wonder what it would be like. But Iím blessed to do something I love and get paid for it. I might not have it in ten years. You know it is what it is. Thereís always ups and downs, and the grass is always greener.
MVRemix: Who do you think has more influence over Hip Hop and its movement, MCís or producers?
Dirty Swift: I would say producers. Look what Lil John has been able to do. How he has affected the game. Respect with what he did with E40. He made them relative again. He is making that sound. Thatís dope to me. Thatís producer based. Not to take anything away from E40. Artists use producers to make them relevant. Helps an artist to reestablish themselves or emerge. Itís like a whole other tool.
Look at some of greatest albums, and they were done by producers. Not a lot of great MCs that can do it without regards to production. 50 Cent has the talent to make a hit song on any record. I canít deny that. But a lot of times rappers need that help to get that sound. But Iím a producer and Iím sure MCs would disagree.
MVRemix: How do you guys keep coming up with new sounds?
Dirty Swift: Iíve always been a new sound guy. I look for new drum kits, and soft synthesizers. So much of it is computer based and about the new programs. Also we work with mad sounds. Weíll just get a guitar player to come through for the day. We also do a lot of work with publishers go through old stacks for obscure things. We get a lot of inspiration form old stuff. Thereís not enough time for digging these days. We get publishers to do it a lot for us, which is nice because you see a lot of cats getting killed on samples
MVRemix: What kind of studio environment do you work best in?
Dirty Swift: We adapt to so many situations. I like a couple of rooms going at once. You know one artist a room, writers in another and mixers in a third. I like as much as possible. Thatís when it gets real creative. Itís like starting a factory. People inspire each other. Everyone is competing to turn shit out. I get creative under pressure. When you have to come up with hot shit now. I like the challenge. At home, you just loaf around and thereís no pressure.
MVRemix: What projects are you guys looking at in the future?
Dirty Swift: We did Fantasiaís new album, and weíre releasing Deemiís new album through our label, Family Ties. We did Lloyd Banksí new album, thatíll be coming soon. Also we did a couple of video games with Sony, the 06 and 07 NBA games. Weíre getting into all types of things right now. Chances are you hearing it everyday and donít know it.
MVRemix: How does Canadaís hip hop scene compare to New Yorkís?
Dirty Swift: Well you have to look at Canada like one state of the US. Itís so spread out. There are little pockets in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. The scene is so small. It eats itself. Itís its own worst enemy. Thereís no cohesion. There is a huge talent pool but no outlets and everyone is left fighting for scraps. Iím going back and helping because I still like the talent pool there.
I left because I was a big fish in small pond and thought Iíd try to be a big fish in a big pond. Just do it. Only live once. Start making runs. Got out there and networked. You can psyche yourself out. But fuck that. Itís like anywhere else. I can do that. You realize that relationships are more important than the last hit. Once people trust, youíll always be working.