Featured images by @blackmilk_za
Over a month ago, it was announced that Rémy Martin had partnered up with Riky Rick to kickstart season 1 of the highly popular #RemyProducers series. This partnership announcement, of course, highlighted the fact that season 1 is the pioneer of many more to come in South Africa. #RemyProducersSA is a hashtag that has been used throughout the timeline of the competition (which has now closed) to offer producers the opportunity to work with Rémy Martin and Riky Rick on his new album. And perhaps you might still be asking yourself this; What is Rémy Producers? Well simply put, its a co-sign seal of approval given to an up-and-coming artist by an established artist who is willing to share their success. And so far we know that to win, producers had to submit their best beat (1 minute long) which would then be judged by a panel of respected judges (Riky Rick & Master A Flat) and survive a series of elimination rounds well at least according to the American version. With that said, HYPE Magazine editor, Roo, had the opportunity to chat with Riky Rick (who is, of course, responsible for steering the whole competition) about how the relationship between himself (Riky) & Rémy Martin came about, how important authenticity is, the producers vs beatmakers, Master A Flat and what the next step is.
So how did you and Rémy Martin come together to agree on creating this experience?
We’re trying to get involved in projects and get into situations that help people… And getting this opportunity to sort of be the “face” of this or the ambassador of this, you try & stay away because there’s no legacy , there’s nothing that we’re building for the next group of people that are going to come through. So Rémy really approached this, already having a plan to create a program to uplift other people and it’s a program they’ve already been running in the states for quite a while… And bringing it to South Africa for the first time is based on elevating other people’s talents and when something comes like that I’m keen to be involved. So its was pretty much a natural selection for us working together.
What do you think about the South African version of the #RemyProducers competition in comparison to the one that already exists?
I think South Africa is in a space where it’s doing musical soul searching right now and with the American one you already know what to expect and what type of producers that are going to apply for that competition but for this one it’s like we’ve got Hip Hop producers, we’ve got our House producers, we’ve got our guys now doing Afro Pop as well as Hip Hop making it one thing, then some are mixing it up with a bit of Kwaito and Hip Hop with a touch of traditional sounds… So we already have a much broader trait to work with in terms of music which means that more people are looking for that “break”. I looked at the American one, it was straight forward mostly just Hip Hop.
Let’s talk about the role of producer in terms of the mainstream (industry) and this is a topic that even us at HYPE want to touch on, the fact that producers aren’t getting the recognition that they deserve, well at least I strongly feel that way… I feel like if you look at the producers in the states like your Metro Boomins’ for example, the way he carries himself or the way he is perceived it’s like he’s a superstar and when you come to SA you find that you’d just meet a MashBeatz somewhere in the mall or something but then the public doesn’t see him like this guy that’s behind all these hits. In your opinion what would you say are the challenges producers in SA are facing right now?
I feel like it’s just not in SA it’s everywhere, producers and songwriters have to fight to get some sort of recognition or position but at least overseas they streamline the songwriters writing process, they credit them, pay them and get them on the backhand you know? That’s just the system they are used to… Uhmm we just haven’t been used to having a system that allows people to be able to charge and be able to be on paper to create a real business from producing to making beats. And in reality they’re artists I’ve worked with which seems like artists produce themselves a lot of the time in SA, so when you do get them gents like a MashBeatz or a Tru Hitz or like a…who do I say? A Gemini (Major) or a JR, someone like that… They are not really not thrusting the light because there are so few of you and everyone thinks they can do your job too. So with this program (#RemyProducersSA) that we’re running, we hope that people will understand that they’re people who can do an amazing job too who we are not paying attention too.
From the over 2K submissions (of beats) you’ve have received, are there some that have already stood out for you? Or what’s your overall impression so far?
I mean I try not to skim-listen so since we just closed the submissions, I want to listen to everything properly in the studio but the stuff I have and the people that have notified me that they have sent their stuff through… I already know it’s going to be amazing because there’s a huge variety. Guys have sent all sorts of tunes and all sorts of styles. I’m really excited to hear it all…
I saw that you were searching for authenticity apart from guys that focus on the popular sounds… Have you found those authentic sounds yet?
That’s for sure…
There’s always been this confusion with regards to producers and beatmakers, some people think that they are the same thing. How would you define a producer and in comparison to a beatmaker?
Uhmm… I feel like a lot of people get caught up in the technicalities and people get caught up in titles. For someone who knows how to make beats, I’ve always looked at myself as a producer even before I produced something you know? But you see with the whole game sort of changing, you get DJs that are making tracks and people are putting things together so it became different, I like to use the word arrangement. So if you are arranging the music and you’re the beatmaker or you are not the beatmaker that’s the most important real element (arrangement). So there’s no battle in producing or beat-making because everyone is making something and put something together, everyone is trying to arrange the music they best know-how but for me, a producer is a beatmaker. Just because a beat is just a beat doesn’t mean it hasn’t been produced just because you haven’t put vocals together, got that person or that person to put something together, doesn’t mean you haven’t produced. For me, it’s a pointless conversation comparing producers and beatmakers because as long as you are making something you are producing. And if you are not making something, I don’t know what you could call yourself because I grew up listening to J Dilla, Madlib and them, they were super producers and I fell in love with their beat tapes without any vocals and you know those were the best producers ever you know what I’m saying? They did less tracks with actual people than they did beat tapes, they were the best producers ever I don’t like the beatmaker versus producer conversation because I don’t think it’s a real conversation because there are people that don’t know how to press the boards and they are producers who, when someone is making a beat and sends it to you, they don’t expect you to do all the work as they have their ideas on what the track should be and it might not always turn out the way they want but they have their ideas, so I wouldn’t limit someone to just beat-making they are also producers.
Right. You’ve received like you had mentioned, so many entries, so what’s the next step from here?
What’s going to happen now is that we’re going to select and shortlist the dopest from each city being Cape Town, Durban, Joburg and we’re going narrow it down until we get the champion. So this month we’re going to be doing events which will be on the 26th of July 2019 amongst other prizes… People mustn’t forget Mpilo (Master A Flat) is also there, we’ve already started putting something, with a few ideas, together so we have a solid vision of what we want to create and we want to make it big like a movement that you would want to be apart of.
Why go with Master A Flat, with regards to helping you judge and choose the beats?
Well I mean we worked together for my first album and we actually used to perform together before he had his current position and we’ve always had a great relationship. And it’s a musical relationship it’s not a relationship based on like “let’s just you know let’s have fun and take pictures together”, it’s more of a let’s get together and talk music and it’s always been that… So it’s great that we can work on this together and sit down make this whole experience something special for the producers that end up on top.
How different is his (Master A Flat) ear in comparison to yours, I can imagine that Mpilo is more hands-on with the keys and all so how’s his judgment different in comparison to yours?
I feel like we’ve always got the same ear so it’s like the first opportunity we’ll get together, we will create something because he created 3 tracks on my first album. We are on the same wavelength when it comes to music but like typical back to back fashion I come with the drums and he comes with the melodies so it’s very easy for us to work that way so when we add the third aspect, being the kids that are coming through… When we look at the equation it’s going to be us and how we work with them and adjust because we are not looking for anything set, we’re just looking for someone super talented. And how do we adjust to them and work with them? I think we can’t choose a kid to get a track with me but its more of we get to make a track with them you get what I’m saying ? It must be their track that we are just part of.
Final question… I just wanted to ask you what makes a great producer but you already answered that on social media and stuff, well are there certain sounds that you’ve heard in the entries that might not make it but you’re like “I definitely gotta hit this guy up”?
Well, I just got from The Voice now and it made me realize you can’t take everybody but everybody has an opportunity to do something, so you have to go in knowing that not everybody is going to go through but we’re going to release seeds for them to be able to still progress. You don’t have to be the winner of the competition to be given an opportunity, it always goes further and you always have to make connections and make links you know? When we started at The Voice we had 100 people and I’ll truly say that 50 or 60 of them were people that could continue to do something in the industry. So it’s all about making the connection because I even performed with some of the guys that got voted off the show. So once you link over music it’s difficult to say let’s not try something, you’ll try and it doesn’t work then it didn’t work but as long as you guys have each other’s numbers and a vibe there’s always opportunity to do stuff and that’s the more important vibe and building is the most important part not necessarily winning.