Yesterday I had a chance to speak with one of my old comrades, J. Rhodes. I met ‘J,’ around 2005 when he first started producing and I have had a chance to witness him grow into phenomenal producer.
Last year he signed with super producer S1’s(Power,Best Thing I Never Had) SKP Production team, and 2012 is looking to be a great year for the Oak Cliff, TX native. After several weeks of Facebook tagging, we were finally able to connect and here are the results:
Kelland: So What you been up to?
J. Rhodes: You know running the label and still working on my craft. In 2012, since signing with S1, I’m fully focused on producing because it’s gonna create the lane for me to do everything that I wanna do. So my main focus now is working on beats and getting more placements.
Kelland: How did you start producing?
J. Rhodes: I can go all the way back to elementary school when me and my cousin was writing rhymes and performing for our family. But, when I went to college I got serious. I had a friend name Rusty who was my producer and when he left school, I was sort of forced to learn how to make beats. I started getting really heavy like 2003. That was the first time I began to call myself a “producer.” It’s like every time I lost something instead of giving up, I learned how to do it myself.
Kelland: How Did 80’s Baby Entertainment happen?
J. Rhodes:Well me and my business partners were a few young kids and we decided to start a studio called the 808 Studio. We had the “if you build it they will come” type of attitude. So after the studio had its run and kind of dismembered, a lot of the artists that worked their wanted to continue building. So a month later we started the label. We dropped the last 8 on “808,” and started calling ourselves 80’s Baby Ent.
Kelland: So who is 80’s Baby Entertainment.
J. Rhodes: 80’s Baby consists of myself, D.Hayes, Ni-Taylor, Braysonic, Klyrik-the VP song writer and my right hand man. Also Dinky Beats, Bre Bryant-graphics, Sobechi-A&R, Q.West-Street Team, Raymond Wright-Promoter, Alicia Logan and female vocalist Ashley Johnson. And of course DJ Lil Bro is our official DJ.
Kelland: Do you do most of the production for the label?
J. Rhodes: Right now 80’s Baby is kind of on hold. I feel like we have gone as far as we can go with our current business model. So it’s like me being the leader, I’m having to take a step back to take a step forward. That’s why I’m focusing on more producing with the SKP Production team. You know S1 of course he produced “Power,” “Murder to Excellence” and “The Best Thing I Never Had” by Beyonce. But for the most part, most of the 80’s Baby production has been done by me. In 2012, my main focus is attaching my sound to more mainstream artists.
Kelland: So how did you end up with the situation with S1?
J. Rhodes: Ha, that’s a story that never gets told. When I first came back to Dallas after going to college at the University of North Texas, is when we first met. He was checking what I was doing, and I was checking what he was doing. As he was moving up levels, I was moving up levels. One day we had a producers union were we met up, and really just talked about what we was really trying to do with this music thing. And not just music, but also how we could help people. He felt my energy and I felt his energy and the rest is history. We began working together and around this time last year, I got an email saying Kanye needed some tracks. I was kind of surprised because I never asked him to really help me. But he just felt my spirit and my music and he reached out to me. Then he hit me up and said I’m gonna send you the contract over because I feel we need to go ahead and make this official.
Kelland: How do you guys work together?
J. Rhodes: We do have sessions, but we do a lot of work through the email. He may send me a track and ask do I have any sample ideas. Also, I may do the same thing. With me and him working together it’s like a Frankenstein monster. You haven’t heard it yet ‘K,’ but trust me when you do…
Kelland:So Who is SKP?
J. Rhodes: Soul Kontrollaz Productions is S1, me, and Caleb primarily. It’s a lot of other people too. If I mentioned everyone in the crew we would be talking all day, but we are the official producers. Caleb is really talented. He was the guy behind that Beyonce “Best Thing I Never Had” rift. And also, S1 has a 13-year-old son name VohnBeatz who is probably gonna be one of the greatest.
Kelland: Who are some of the artist that you are currently working with?
J. Rhodes: A lot of dope artists that people haven’t heard about like Ni-Taylor and Braysonic. I did some work with Slim Thug and I’m working really close with Rhymefest right now. He’s doing a lot of stuff in the community right now. I don’t want to count chickens before they hatch but we working with the “Good Music” team and probably whoever you can think of. Whoever your favorite artist is.
Kelland: How can independent artist get at you?
J. Rhodes: I still work with independent artists. Anybody that’s on their grind and serious get at me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kelland: What type of advice would you give the upcoming producers:
J. Rhodes: I took the road less travelled. I would say stay true to your brand and your sound. It’s nothing wrong with listening to the radio, but stay true to your sound and make legendary stuff. As a producer you can be around until your 95 years old. So don’t try to get in too fast because you will get kicked out just as fast. You will just be a trend. Have a sound that’s undeniable. Don’t pimp out your passion.
Kelland: What is J. Rhodes’ sound?
J. Rhodes: Versatile, Epic and Classic.
Kelland: What kept you going after all these years. What was your inspiration?
J. Rhodes: Artistically I would say Outkast, Jay-Z, and Kanye. My father has owned a mechanic business since I was young. Watching him put in hard work everyday, instilled in me as a young black male that you have to do something that you are passionate about. Having a daughter as well. I want her to go for her dreams. It’s nothing wrong with working a regular job, but I would recommend that everybody find something that their passionate about. Find a way to make it a business and strive for it everyday. It’s nothing like waking up with a purpose. I don’t know anything else but to chase my dreams.