92YTribeca hosted the first of a three-part installment, Sound & Vision, featuring legendary mixer and DJ Young Guru on Friday. Young Guru is most widely-recognized for mixing 10 of Jay-Z’s 11 albums. Though his impressive history could be a forum in itself, he moderated a discussion between two of The Hitmen producers and longtime collaborators, Sean C and LV. With production for Terror Squad, Mobb Deep, Wu-Tang and Jay-Z between them, the two offered insight into the alternate environment of the hip-hop industry — behind the boards.
Guru wanted to maintain an informal discussion, while the setting in the downtown venue presented an intimate and personal atmosphere. Sean C and LV detailed their come-ups and introduction into music. Sean C interned at Loud Records and knew a producer named Nobody who lived across the street from Damon Dash. This connection landed him on Jay-Z’sReasonable Doubt album with “Can’t Knock The Hustle.” LV began his music career choice DJing for Big Pun despite his mom’s disapproval for his musical endeavors. Both producers come out of Harlem and note their environment as a big influence on their music.
The majority of the discussion surrounded their work on Jay-Z’s 2007 album American Gangster. Diddy served as an associate producer for the album, but Sean C and LV produced six tracks off of the brilliant project. LV explained that Jay-Z would have the film American Gangster playing in the studio which helped establish the mood for their studio sessions. To the crowd’s delight, LV played the various elements that made up the album’s second single “Roc Boys (And The Winner Is…).” The track samples Menahan Street Band’s “Make The Road By Walking.
Though they are known for their sampling techniques, Sean C and LV are not on the side of bringing anything back. “We don’t want to go back, we want to keep going forward.”
Young Guru had them explain the importance of maintaining sampling in hip-hop culture as a means of producing records.”The beats that are out now and sound like everyone else’s because producers are becoming lazy. When we didn’t have shit we made work with what we have. That’s how sampling came about. Right now we still have to push the envelope,” explained Sean C.
Both producers were very amplified in explaining how fortunate they were to have as many resources as they did for American Gangster. They explained how after Jay-Z left the studio to hit the gym, he came back to a recorded hook by Beyoncé for the track “Pray.” LV then shared the story of how Diddy expressed his desire to purchase a record store, to which LV could only picture the unlimited (and affordable) access to LPs to sample. Diddy had them going to the record store everyday to look for the hottest records to sample for the album.
Young Guru was very comfortable and effective in moderating the event. He perfectly deflected the attention off of his own impressive résumé to focus on the discourse centering on the production aspect of our hip-hop culture. The next installment for Sound & Vision will focus on “vision” and will be held on July 24th.