And we’re back with another hugely collectable group from the mid 90s. The first of 2 releases by Smoked Out Productions is a bitch to find – so we have 2 killers off that record, plus 2 period remixes of the 2 joints on their 2nd release [Bok, Bok/Styles] and also included are 3 previously unreleased bangers. If you don’t know much about the group peep this short interview with producer DJ 360 below or just cut to the chase and peep the snippets!!!!
Smoked Out Productions – Mad Drama 94-96 [CD]
1 Back Up Kid (That’s What You Get)
2 Aw Yeah
3 Keep Smokin
4 Bok Bok (DJ 360 remix)
5 Styles (DJ 360 remix)
6 Stress Vs The West
7 Mad Drama
Smoked Out Productions are Agony, Stress, Black Attack & Problemz.
PEEP THE INTERVIEW:
Where did you grow up man?
Born in NY moved down to south Florida and then back to NYC in ‘93
DJ’d on the radio in Miami throughout my teens doing the mix shows (Power 96, Hot 105) and the night club circuit. Once in NYC again DJ’d in night clubs and worked at Capitol Records and later at Chung King Recording Studios which was the the biggest studio to date in NY at the time.
When did you get into beat making?
Been producing music since ‘89 Akai MPC 60 was my weapon of choice. Working at Capitol Records I used to go into work and produce music throughout the day. I felt like I was being paid to make music even though I should have been doing my job but there wasn’t too much supervision at that time.
How did you cats meet?
Met John Kapon in the city at the venues that put on shows for the up and coming hip hop artists. Being Smoked Out Productions he was a big weed smoker and one of my boys at the label used to make some cannabis transactions and I hooked them up. As time went on John would come up to the label and visit me (I think he just liked being at the label to see how the machine worked). From that point I started meeting the other guys in the group Big Tone was a really cool dude from Harlem. A really likable guy both him and John were the core producers of the group. John used the Ensoniq EPS plus keyboard to produce the tracks you know and love from the group. It always tripped me out that people could make great music and drums on a keyboard based production studio. I was always a drum machine guy but that EPS plus was a beast and John produced great shit on that machine.
When did you start recording as a group?
John brought me a couple records he pressed up and it was never the type of stuff I played in the clubs it was definitely underground. As a producer I was listening to the lyricism from that group and there were a few of them that stood out to me. Stress was definitely one of them and Black Attack or Sean Black was another monster on the mic. I started secretly making music for the group in hopes that I could get into the mix with the group. SOP was recording at The Cutting Room which was a great indie studio that was affordable for groups to record and get behind a board. John asked me to come up to the studio and that’s where I started meeting the rest of the crew and I asked them if they wanted a remix to a track on there early demo “Mad Drama”. The Crew was Down to try anything they really wanted to get signed and how could it hurt I worked at a label and they were on board. The crew loved the sound for that remix it was a little raw and SOP really wanted that hard sound I felt. That one remix allowed the guys to feel more comfortable with me and I wanted to try and get these guys signed. A friend of mine had an uncle that was in the music business wrote classic songs “I Think Were Alone Now” and created and cultivated the career of Joan Jett. It wasn’t the genre of music they were into but everybody wanted a piece of hip hop at that point so he took the meeting. It was in Bert Padell’s office who was the biggest entertainment lawyer in the business. The entire crew sat around a large conference table and I thought this was gonna happen for them. I don’t remember why it never came to fruition but SOP modeled itself the way Wu Tang was. They wanted to record as a group and also create a deal that allowed solo projects so they were asking for more than most wanted to give but SOP believed in they could be on that level.
Once that deal fell through the group started feeling like it just might not happen. We were all getting older and needed to make money. I started working with a few members trying to cultivate some solo careers. I asked Stress and Tone to come out to a studio I was using in Brooklyn and that’s where we made Stress vs The West (East Coast/West Coast Drama was heightened at that time) so Stress decided to write about that. I tried to take that demo to Capitol/EMI and try to push it to the people I worked with but they were making money with Hammer, Vanilla Ice, Digable Planets, Lords Of The Underground as well as Foo Fighters and the Beastie Boys. It was hard to see this group on the labels roster.
Were any “big” labels interested after the singles dropped?
I felt that we came really close to signing but the group started to think that maybe this wouldn’t happen. Slowly the members started looking outside the collective. Al Tariq took on a few members on his God Connections album Problemz was featured on “Think Not” and Black Attack & Problemz also appeared on “No Question”. So as you see peoples started getting into other lanes. John Kapon was the heart and soul of the group and his father owned one of the biggest wine stores in nyc and I know that his father wanted him out of the music nonsense and focus on the family biz. John has done very well for himself turning his dads business into a titan corporate giant in the wine world. Crazy where life takes us. As far as the rest of the group I lost touch and moved on to focusing on career opportunities for myself as well but I miss those guys and wish I could have made something happen for them.
What were your feelings about Bok Bok/Styles being bootlegged back then? Did that help or hinder the cause?
As far as the songs getting bootlegged I didn’t produce those tracks I would imagine John and Tone would have been upset since that was the creative part to those songs. You have to remember in NY at that time bootlegging was everywhere and happened sometimes before a single even came out. Shit was crazy I remember getting promos of songs from the label and before we could even break them they were white labels already at certain record stores. Even the engineers in major studios were copping the Acapellas and instrumentals and making some side money. The hustle is always in effect. At the end of the day this music needs to be heard and looking back I think having this stuff sitting on a computer or drum machine is ridiculous. We loved this era and even though we are older now it’s always great to revisit when we had the ambition and drive to go all in on an industry that we all dreamed about being a part of…