Salaam Remi Talks Amy Winehouse, The Fugees and The Roots with Fuse

Story courtesy of Fuse
 salaam remi fuse interview

In the latest episode of Fuse‘s digital series Backatcha, hip hop producer Salaam Remi looks back on working with the Fugees and Amy Winehouse, as well as his first TV performance.

“It was on Leno a few weeks ago. I played on Fallon with the Roots one time, after Amy Winehouse passed but I never actually performed. I never had a DJ set up by myself,” Remi says. “To have to play my song live, rehearse, get the blister on my finger… and for that to happen be on Jay Leno with Akon and a string quartet and a harp and my band? It was a great experience. I was really excited about it.”

Fuse then shows the producer an old image of a floppy disc. “The Fugees Bass Kit, that disc was actually the disc I used 20 years ago, which was the first record I did for the Fugees, ‘Nappy Heads.’ That’s the drums and bass from the first hit that they made. I was going through my discs at my house and came across the actual disc that was that record.”

“She’s actually there doing her parts [for the album]. She knew who Spragga was because he was actually on a couple of her songs, but I actually had his poster in the background, hanging up in the living room while Amy was playing and singing all her vocals on the Back to Black album, the songs I produced.”

Interview: Salaam Remi Talks New LP, Working w Amy Winehouse, Mack Wilds, Miguel

Story Courtesy of
The Boom Box Speak softly and make big hits. That’s musician, producer and Sony Music executive Salaam Remi‘s approach to the music business. You’ll never hear a Salaam Remi track branded with a signature sound bite or his name at the beginning of it. You’ll rarely see him featured in the music videos of the artists he works with. He’s never on Twitter venting, or arguing with fans. But that’s just now how the 42-year-old musician rolls. He’s content to stay behind the scenes developing artists and making music that you’ll remember even if you can’t recall the name of the guy who did the track.Those who need to know his name, however, know it well. Take Doug Morris, CEO of Sony Music, for instance. He’s known Remi and the quality of his work for years, in addition to his work under the Sony Music umbrella — he runs the Flying Buddha label, RemiFa Music as well as the Louder Than Life label. The Recording Academy also knows his name — his ‘One: In the Chamber’ album is nominated for a Grammy in the Best Urban Contemporary Album category where, coincidentally, Louder Than Life signee Mack Wilds‘ ‘New York: A Love Story’ album is also nominated for an award.The Salaam Remi-related nods don’t stop there — Hiatus Kaiyote, the Australian progressive soul band he signed to his Flying Bhudda label, are nominated for a Best R&B Performance Grammy. Salaam Remi, the music producer, is up for a Grammy for his work on Miguel‘s hit ‘How Many Drinks.’Then, of course there are the other artists he’s worked with in his 26-year career in music: the Fugees, Nas, Amy Winehouse, Nelly Furtado and CeeLo Green are just a few of the major artists he has helped make timeless songs.

Sitting in Remi’s office in the Sony building high above Madison Avenue in New York City, we discuss his recipe for success, the role of a music executive in the 21st century and how the diverse cultural landscape of the city helps him make music that crosses boundaries of culture, nationality and even language.


Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The Boombox: Let’s start by talking about all the stuff you have going on right now. Tell me about the record.

Salaam Remi: My own album, ‘One: In the Chamber ‘ is out now. It’s basically my first vocal type of album I’ve done. I’ve done an instrumental album digitally a couple of years ago, but for me this is pretty much [my first album]. For me this is about music. Sometimes we don’t get the chance to make music for music’s sake: Not music for charts, not music for how many, whatever [awards] this is going to win. I listen to music to put me in a mood. It’s part of my therapy, it’s part of my day, it’s part of my life in that way. I make music for the same reasons; it’s just that within that arc that it’s created, it becomes a job. A lot of times the job might take over the exact reason why we’re here in the first place, having music that has a human connection [to it] without words being said.

You’re responsible for a lot of record sales and success for this company [Sony], but now you’re talking about doing music for music’s sake with ‘One: In the Chamber,’ why now and not before?

[There are] a couple reasons: No. 1 was that just in my own personality and the way that I flow, it wasn’t something that I wanted to do [before]. I spoke about doing it when I created my — I call it my “composers mixtape” — [when] I worked with Lalo Schifrin on the ‘Rush Hour 3’ [score/soundtrack]. So I made ‘Prague Nosis’ [an instrumental album released in ’09] spending my own money and then investing into my art, as any great artist would do, whether they’re buying spray cans to do graffiti, whether you’re buying canvases and paint to be a painter, buying an instrument to learn how to play it to become that type of artist. I felt that me, going in working with orchestras was something that I wanted to do and within that process, from that [album] came [Jazmine Sullivan’s] ‘Lions, Tigers & Bears,’ the ‘Bust Your Windows,’ [Nas’] ‘Queens Story’ [and] The ‘Black Bond’ — the many records that have come out.

At first I was going to do a vocal version of that [‘Prague Nosis’] and that’s what I toyed with, but then I realized I’ve done it so many different times over the last few years that I actually had a lot of songs that had that element to it on a classical level and when I was looking at launching the Flying Buddha label — which is one of our labels at Sony that is partners with Masterworks, which is typically the jazz and classical department of the building — it was like, you know what? I have an idea. Let’s combine what you’re doing [at Masterworks] with what I’m doing musically, then this [joint venture] can also be for young people. This is also music that inspires young people. When I worked on the first Amy Winehouse album when she was 18, she would describe herself as a jazz singer.

You put me on to Amy Winehouse! I remember we had that conversation at Complex magazine many, many moons ago. You said, “You gotta check out this girl, her name is Amy Winehouse.” You sent the first record to me and I thought it was pretty amazing and then low and behold, superstar Amy Winehouse.

Right and that was the thing. So my thing is understanding where I’ve had my success, wanting a label, now I’m saying OK, if I had an artist that was potentially to have the success of Amy Winehouse at the peak, what are the first steps? We have to have a place to put music that’s very musical and feels right, that still young people enjoy because there is a huge audience of people on that level so, Flying Buddha, that’s my label.

You know I have Hiatus Kaiyote, that album that I put out already, they’re working on their second album. [With them] it’s the same thing; I’m just mentoring and guiding them to the next phase of their career and then my record is kind of filling in the void … here’s some music that I have that people want to hear. So it’s nothing more than a flyer to what you will expect to get from my direction and in conjunction with what you have been getting.

Flying Buddha, why that name?

When I initially got to Sony I went through a list of copyrights of names that they owned already, so Buddah Records was one of them and originally I said, “OK, can I bring back Buddah Records and make it the musical label?” because I loved the [music of] Norman Connors, Cecil Holmes, everything that I would’ve sampled. [The label has] the Curtis Mayfield connection, the Isley Brothers [and] T-Neck/Buddah Records [association], all those things that happened historically. As a company in the ‘60s or ‘70s, whenever they first got that Buddah Records [name], they [Sony] only had a trademark for the U.S., and being that we are a global business right now, I was like, “OK, I need to think of something a little fly-er,” then here comes “Flying Buddha,” which is also a wink at Flying Dutchman, which is another old jazz label, so you know, Flying Buddha.

A little nod to the crate diggers.

That I am, so it always works out that way.

Listen to Hiatus Kaiyote’s ’10 Nakamarra’

You mentioned Hiatus Kaiyote, I saw them perform a few months ago in Brooklyn at this spot called Free Candy. I was blown away. Thinking to myself, “Where did these people come from?” “How did they develop this sound?” What was it about that group that made you want to work with them and help them develop their talent?

I’m just impressed by what they’ve done. You know, in general, once again it’s music that transmits across the globe. They could have not been speaking English and I still would’ve felt it. The difference with my career as a producer is one thing, because it’s still about not the talent I have, it is about that when you’re a beat maker, the talent you have, but then as a producer it’s about the talent that you can recognize and how you can see how to develop that into what it needs to be. So that’s really the root of my career; I’ve made a lot of beats in the early part and different things but really my success came in knowing how to help people who had ideas, bring their ideas to life and that’s with the Fugees [was], that’s what Amy [Winehouse] was and everything else.

So once again, this is a band not just a vocalist, or someone who plays one instrument. A band who have been able to put together a piece of work that I’m impressed by, that I would’ve paid my own money to invest into or to buy, or to actually see them perform. During their last round of trips, I saw them perform four times in one week. Every one [performance] is a little bit different, they continue to grow onstage, so I sit down and say, “Wow, I love the fact that they are able to transcend borders within themselves as musicians.” So that’s a little bit of the fusion jazz space, but also at the same time, this is what they are now, what’re they going to be in five years?

In the music industry a lot of times people see what’s hot now and they want to jump on that so they sign an artist because they’re hot at the moment. What you’re saying, however is: “Yes, I like what they’re about now, I like what they’ve done in the past but I feel that like they have the potential to do even bigger, better, greater things and develop as artists.” Correct?

I mean, that’s what my career is really rooted in, the fact that I’ve worked with so many artists that became the influential people of their generation and what was going on. But not when anyone else could see it.

Watch the Fugees’ ‘Fu-Gee-La’ Video

When did you realize that you could identify a person or group as not just having the potential to make a hit record but to be a genre-defining or culture-shifting artist?

I probably realized it after the Amy Winehouse era when she was doing a lot. It made me really look back, at first when I worked with the Fugees and up to their success, I was a part of the band. I was lookin’ at it like, “Wow, this is how far this beat that I made for Fat Joe, that is ‘Fu-Gee-La,’ could actually [go and] sell this many units?” This set of talented individuals, who I met as talented individuals, if they’re set on the right train tracks, they can actually go that far. And then also by the time I got to Ms. Dynamite and Amy, they were influenced by Lauryn Hill as, to me, every vocalist that came out in our genres post-Ms. Lauryn Hill’s emergence [are]. They took a little page [out of her book] somewhere, whether it was writing, musical styles, something, a lot of them took something out of that, some concepts … if it wasn’t a direct bite it was a nibble. Once again, it’s inspiration.

I look at the fact that Wyclef could inspire an Akon, a T-Pain and a Did those types of characters exist in our genre prior to Wyclef? Being musically different, looking different, it didn’t happen. It just kind of flows into it, the way I looked at it … by the time I’m now in the early 2000s and then my ‘90s stuff is influencing people who were in 2000, I’m like, really? So you’re 18 and you like that? Now they’re in their 20s and by the time Amy gets to a certain age and there are girls who’re like, “Yeah I’ve listened to ‘Frank’ since I was 11!” Before she passed I was like, “Amy, I met you at 18 and there’s a girl who’s 18 who says she’s been listening to you since she was 11.” She’s like, “Oh wow, I guess so!” It makes sense, the cycle just comes around so for me at that point, that’s now, as I’m looking back.

What is my job here? Is my job to make a funky beat? Is my job to put my name in front of something? Is my job to stand up or is my job to empower that [artist]? Look at Miguel’s current success. I did the title track on both albums, I did ‘All I Want Is You’ but realistically, I just helped him get to where he was already going. ‘Sure Thing’ and ‘Quickie’ was Top 5 records — he had those already. All I did was help push it into the track it’s going. Every time I hear ‘How Many Drinks’ now I laugh, we did that before ‘All I Want is You.’ But we started it that same day and he said, “No, I don’t want that,” “It sounds too this,” “I want to go here.” But the fact is that most of all, Miguel produced ‘Adorn’ himself. He wrote ‘Adorn,’ so it’s not about if I’m actually part of the actual song that happens or that product, am I part of the process that helps that artist be inspired to do them. That’s a whole ’nother thing, that’s what an executive would do. I feel like I’m just extending officially, what I’ve been doing for many years.

Listen to Miguel’s ‘How Many Drinks’ Remix

I definitely get that. I really feel that you’re one of the elite producers out there. Unlike some others, Salaam wasn’t always trying to be the most visible or the most vocal about what he did, he lets his work speak for itself. You listen to the album cut and look at the liner notes and think “Oh s—, Salaam did that.” I think there is a through line between that and your approach to being executive, as you are now. But now that you have ‘One: In the Chamber’ out, what takes priority in your existence? Is it Salaam, the musician? Salaam, the beat maker? Salaam, the producer who’s trying to bring this person forth as their musical mentor? Is it Salaam, the executive who says, “All right, let’s make this great and make it make sense at the same time”?

First things first, is it’s always about the song, it’s always about the music. The music has to find a place that actually locks in with an emotion and that emotion being locked in music speaks to humans. That’s first things first. Also, I’m working for Doug Morris who is one of the greatest executives of the last 50 years, as far as being a mentor to other executives and his thing is all about the song and I agree with that, so now I’m back looking at my songs, looking at the emotional connection people have to them and then how much that works on things being timeless.

I work on records and people tell me it’s timeless, but I’m sitting there going, how can I lock time in a song? I’m not thinking about time, I’m thinking about the emotion. If the emotion is there, you always will feel that. If you listen to a blues record, you feel that, no matter what — if it’s there you’re going to get that emotion, if you want to hear something that feels happy, maybe that sound might be different, but you’re going to feel a happy vibe to it, you’re going to get that. That’s first things first, as far as the lyric and the music actually locking in something so when you hear it you have a reaction, good, bad, the hip-hop that I make, it feels [like the] ‘80s but that’s also what it felt like. I grew up in the late ‘80s of the PE [Public Enemy].

You grew up in Queens?

Yeah. So for me it was a lot of Jamaica Ave, Hollis [Avenue] versus Southside [Jamaica, Queens], Hollis versus Southside on Hillside [Avenue]. ‘88, ‘87, that energy that I saw, coupled with watching BDP in the ‘My Philosophy’ video rushing to Union Square, that’s the ‘Made U Look’ energy that’s the hip-hop that I listen to. That’s the hip-hop that I actually get my emotion from if I’m going to do it. So I just feel in every different aspect it’s the emotion in the music and that takes precedence and then we have an idea how to market it, how it can sell and everything else.

If I can’t talk about artists that people remembered, instead I’m talking about great records. So it’s also that artist development factor that has to happen. A lot of artists back in the days were developed over having a dope record, a dope record, a dope record. One, two, three, now you knew them, now you’re waiting for the album, Ultramagnetics, Rakim two, three singles into a record. Now you have somebody who’s like, “I’m really dope, I put out three free mixtapes with 20 songs a piece” and now you can’t find a song within them.

That deals a lot with artist development. You have this diverse body of work, you work for artists across the board in different genres. Now you have your own label here, what types of artists are you looking to sign? Is it that you just want universally good music?

I don’t think there’s any one thing that I’m trying to sign. Once again, my eyes and ears are open. I’ve had different imprints that are different genres. Flying Buddha has something rooted in jazz, blues, classical, ReMiFa music is kinda in it’s own R&B space, Louder Than Life is straight up the middle — there will be all types of records coming from me. Once again, I’m a music listener, a music lover. There’s no other way to shape this.


Salaam Remi’s Interview with JET Magazine

Salaam Remi recently sat down with Quassan from Jet Magazine to talk about the new album, working with Amy Winehouse and Kendrick Lamar, and what we can expect in 2014.

Read the full story below.

Courtesy of

Born in Queens, New York producer Salaam Remi has been the immaculate tour de force for popular artists for over a span of 20 years.

Salaam has produced hits for popular artists spanning various genres, such as Alicia Keys, Miguel, Kendrick Lamar, Nas, The Fugees, Jazmine Sullivan, Nelly Furtado, Cee-Lo Green and Usher.  His collaborations with singer Amy Winehouse included “Me & Mr Jones,” “Some Unholy War,” and a few other songs that helped to put Winehouse in a production class by herself.

Salaam’s CD Salaam Remi One: In The Chamber features guest vocalists Akon, Ne-Yo, Corinne Bailey Rae, Jordin Sparks, Estelle, Stephen Marley, Lemar and CJ Hilton, in addition to orchestral songs composed by the producer. He scored the remake film Sparkle, the Mike Tyson documentary, TYSON, and was executive music producer on the both Sex and the City films and Rush Hour 3.

Louder Than Life is Salaam’s own label imprint through Sony Music.

The Grammy-nominated music producer performed “One in the Chamber” with Akon on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno earlier this week and recently chatted with me about music production, the late Amy Winehouse, hip-hop and his first CD.

Quassan: Often producers have a particular sound attached to their name. You can listen to that particular sound and say this individual produced that piece of music. You are constructing music that carries diversity with each sound. Alicia Keys’s “Girl on Fire” is so different than Amy Winehouse’s “Tears Dry On Their Own” and that sound is so different than Nas’s “Reach Out.” How do you do it?

Salaam Remi: I try not to actually create music based on a particular sound trend. I design the sound based on what the artist is trying to get across.  Similar to a movie set design, I try to find the sound that goes best with the person’s voice and design that sound.  I consider the emotion that needs to be evoked.  I’m always trying to strike an emotion with each piece of music. I don’t have a typical sound the way many producers have, where people can recognize my beat. I create a different sound with each musical piece.

Quassan: You did some incredible work with singer Amy Winehouse and she died at the height of her career when her music became even more popularized. Describe your experience working with Amy and who she really was outside of the addictions?

SR: Amy was someone I met at 18 years old.  She had enormous talent and she and I treated each other like brother and sister.  The day when Amy died, I was on my way to her home because we were set to attend a wedding the following day. She was my good friend, more than a collaborator. Amy was caring, she could crack jokes yet still be passionate about her artistry.  That was the Amy I knew. If she struggled with doubt, my job as her friend was to help her to realize her potential. [Pauses] Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday musically inspired Amy.  She knew the work of music artists that passed way before she was born. Amy Winehouse is my sister. She’s missed.

Quassan: Listening to your CD, it’s obvious you have a really good ear for selecting music that has success potential. I know your dad is producer Van Gibbs. Growing up, what artists were you listening to as a young person?

SR: Growing up, I listened to gospel music. My grandfather was a pastor, so I grew up listening to all types of music connected to the church. My dad is from Trinidad, so I listened to West Indian music as well. Jazz and disco were also part of my music upbringing. When I became a music fanatic, it was at a time in the ’80s when the hip-hop generation was emerging. I was immersed in hip-hop.

Quassan: The birth of hip-hop conjures up so many memorable moments! What artists did you favor across the genre board?

SR: I grew up in New York, which is a melting pot of eclectic music. I jammed to Tom Browne’s “Jamaica Funk” all the way to records by Big Daddy Kane and Biz Markie. I also jammed to Sugarhill Gang, Yellowman and Evelyn Champagne King.

Quassan: Have we narrowed our scope of originality and creativity as it relates to present day hip-hop music?

SR: Wow! Hi-hop is commercialized. We are in a place where people copy what happened yesterday. The current state of hip-hop is where there is a venue, there is music that plays and that music becomes what everyone listens to. The current Southern influence in hip-hop is because the South is where you find massive clubs where people go to party. The music in those clubs permeates in pop culture and on the radio.  Any place where there is a live nightlife, music can become popular even before it hits the radio. Take what’s being created in hip-hop and move it to the next level.

Quassan: Your CD features new music from Akon, Ne-Yo, Corinne Bailey Rae, Jordin Sparks, Estelle, Stephen Marley, Lemar and CJ Hilton. When you reflect on the work of your album, what are you most proud of?

SR: It’s the soundtrack of where I been in my life. I’m proud of the musical element as well as my personal growth that is reflective on the CD.  It’s a body of work that speaks to what my weekend music vibe consists of. [Laughs] The weekend vibe music consists of some chill out music, which can range from jazz to Ne-Yo or Akon.

Salaam Remi & Akon Perform on ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’


Salaam Remi and Akon served as musical guests on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Tuesday night. The Grammy Award-winning producer and multi-platinum selling singer performed their collaboration “One In the Chamber” for the first-time on late-night television.

Nominated for “Best Urban Contemporary Album” at this year’s GRAMMYs, Salaam’sONE: In the Chamber LP is available on iTunes with physical copies hitting stores on March 24. 

One in the Chamber

via Yardie/MrWorldPremiere

Salaam Remi talks Grammy nominated ‘One In the Chamber,’ Nas and Jennifer Hudson

Salaam Remi sits down with HitFix Music to talk his latest single “One In The Chamber” feat. Akon and working with industry heavy-hitters like Nas and Jennifer Hudson. Read the full story below.

Courtesy of 

Salaam Remi will have a lot to celebrate about 2013 as he rings in the new year. He was recently nominated for four Grammy Awards, including one for his recent solo set “Salaam Remi One: In the Chamber,” for Best Urban Contemporary Album, plus others for his work with Miguel, Hiatus Kaiyote, and Mack Wilds. The producer, songwriter and studio instrumentalist launched his label Louder Than Life, too, for which he can hand-pick his collaborating artists.

Above, you can hear just one of his recently collaborations, with Akon “One in the Chamber” (directed by Robby Starbuck).

For 2014, Remi will be all over the next Jennifer Hudson effort, and will at least be taking phone calls with Nas; “In the Chamber” will also get the deluxe edition makeover for re-release in March 2014.

Below is an abridged interview I had with Remi, on his past – like working with the Fugees, Amy Winehouse, posthumous Michael Jackson material and “Sparkle” – and what it takes to have a successful future as an engineer and label head.

HitFix: Listening to album “One in the Chamber,” what does this album represent you? It is just such a diverse mix of things that seem to be dear to you. 

Salaam Remi: Number one, this is all the music that’s there is a reflection of the music that I actually listen to and am inspired by. So it is over a period of time where I just listened to things that feel that way that has more of a musical meaning more than even a commercial meaning at times. And the collection for me is just really me establishing what I’m known for, which is music, you know, making things that have a musical edge coming left of the center into the center. And even for the things that I’ve done in my career that I guess have been the most commercially successful, they’ve also been the most artistic piece, the artistic piece that just represents my difference.

Speaking of the idea of art and commerce meeting together, rumor has it that it’s a tough time to have a label right now. And yet you started up with Louder Than Life. And I was wondering what went into that decision of wanting to work with your own stable of artists and making albums in that way?

I mean in general I think that when I’ve always done is artists development from the Fugees 20 years ago to producing Miguel’s first hit few years ago or whatever else it is, it’s always starting from the fresh level. For me it’s about continuing to do that like continuing to find the next set of talent that’s going to come out and do great things 5 or ten years from now. And at a time when a lot of superstars are in a different period of their own lives, much less their careers, you know, me making the decision to not just be a freelance producer as I’ve been for the last 20 something years and really to say Okay, cool, now let me work within the system and help develop a system that’s set up for artist development and attacking culture in places that things aren’t normally there. And doing what I do best, what I’ve been able to do best and continuing to do that. It’s really about me just saying Okay, you know what, I was granted the best opportunity a person could possibly have in this entire industry.

The work directly for Doug Morris who has had a long illustrious career of not only many artist falling through but great executives, and it’s a perfect time for me to have a label for me to come up with ideas and everything.

What is the mark of a good label, you think? What do you think you want to aspire to do that other labels fail at?

I wouldn’t say much on their fail but it’s just most of all what I’ve always done, be at the beginning part of the many great artists careers. Whether it was like Amy Winehouse, the Fugees, Jazmine Sullivan’s key records, Miguel, you know key records for many artists. I just want to continue to have great records and great artist flow through whatever doors I’m sitting there.

You’ve always had really great taste in working with vocalists that come with just a whole mass of talent. I was wondering if you know right away when a vocalist has “it,” when there’s just that superstar mark on them? Can you even tell when you’re talking to them — just talking to them, and not even when they’re singing?

I guess my taste is just at a certain place. So that really just kind of marks it. I guess two things, for me it’s a conversation of two parts. One is them having the voice, which is their tone, having a great instrument, and a great instrument doesn’t have to be the same type of voice but their own voice that actually speaks to me and I can hear the tone. And then secondly, what’s made all the artisst that I worked with standout is that they were also great writers. So where even if they weren’t that at first, by the time we worked through our process it was always about having a story, them telling the story, spilling it out and me understanding that and pulling it forward.

The first half of my career was really about me making beats and what instrumentals I did and me totally being able to have total control over whatever I had in my head or whatever the artist had in their head and being able to musically make it. But the second half was really focusing on songs to the point where a lot of songs I’ll do I’ll do it based upon one instrument and the vocal. I’ll turnaround and slip the arrangement later into 20 different ways. Whether it was an orchestra or whether it’s a laptop. It makes no difference because the strong was stronger than the music, which means the music has the ability to stand outside the box.

And speaking of instruments, you play so many of them. Has there ever been something that you wish you could play that you can’t?

I have a thing with setting realistic goals, so I don’t know if I’ve had an instrument I wanted to play that I can’t. For me the things that I can play I’ll play and if I can’t get what I hear out then I’ll get someone else to do it. So it’s kind of like an old Phife Dog lyric: “Lord send a hand. If you can’t send a hand, send a man. If you can’t send a man, then do it yourself.” So if I sit down and I hear something and I’m like “I like this,” I can just do it without even thinking about it. And if it’s something I hear someone else doing I’ll cast them in.

I think that’s just another tool like being able to say I’m going to hire a band to play this groove for me rather than me doing it, and then same thing with engineering and everything else. I feel like every experience every morning when I wake up, by the time I go to sleep I don’t want to know what’s going to happen.

Are you going to wake up tomorrow and work on any more soundtracks? 

I haven’t done any of this year. I have a couple indie films and projects I’m working on I’ve been doing the last two years on my independent films. The last I did was I scored “Sparkle.” I also did “Being Mary Jane”; I scored and music supervised that. So maybe something in that realm wouldn’t be the same amount of intensity as far as having to do every bit of music in it. For me it’s just about having great opportunities come up. So anything can happen. I’m open to it all.

Are you able to talk about any of the indie stuff or any of the other stuff that you’re working on currently?

I mean mainly right now it’s just things I have out that I’m kind of pushing through really on my label, and a lot of it I’m not even actually producing full time. So I have Liam Bailey who’s an artist out of the U.K. who’s actually featured on my album. But his project’s a bit different than what you did on my album, finishing up his stuff. What else am I working on? I’m working on Mack Wilds actually just came out so that’s the first R&B hip-hop New York artist that’s out on my label on another front. And then way on the other side I have Collie Buddz with a different type of record called “Light it Up” we just put out. So I’m all over the place label wise and I’m excited about the whole flow through. I think that in general it’s just about me – it’s about the talent not that I have but the talent that I’m able to recognize.

You obviously have a great year for classic sounds, but what do you think is R&B’s biggest problem these days? What do you want to work hard to kind of abolish out of like current R&B trends?

I don’t want to abolish anything. I think there’s room for everybody to be as mediocre as they want to. So I have no qualms or I look down not upon anything else. I just feel like everything that I work for is options. I don’t work for money, I work for options. And when I’m doing music I’m hoping to inspire someone else to have a different option. They can go that way or they can go this way, go this way or that way. So I’m always looking for the positive opening.

I was thinking about how people’s relationship to the music of their favorite singers changes as that singer’s life changes. I was thinking about your work with Michael Jackson, and Amy Winehouse and working with [executive producer] Whitney Houston on the “Sparkle” soundtrack. How does your relationship to that music change after lives change for those artists, and with their deaths?  

Honestly, I can’t really reflect on it until I stop. So when I’m able to stop totally – like I haven’t been producing as much recently and I do it as a tool more than a focal point. My goal isn’t to just get another production credit. So I think in general like I’m continuing to grow by the minute, but at the same time maybe ten or 15 or 20 years or maybe never. When I actually totally stop I’ll really be able to reflect on it in a different way.

I just feel like me putting even this project together and having my own album that’s just saying what I wanted to say, no filter, that’s a great start. And that’s actually what my feeling is.

So you’re saying with those artists who have passed on you feel like the music for you hasn’t really changed?

It’s not so much the passing on that’s making it, more or less just this is just when they were here. The music that they created will last way longer than everything else and that will make it all work.

I think about my own job listening to a lot of music at times, but I have to purposely go out of my way to create silence or something that’s quiet. How do you institute silence into your own life?

I wake up really early in the morning most days. So I’m usually up at 5:30, 6:00 AM and I’m usually listening to anything, don’t really want to focus on super early in the morning, and that’s usually when I get most of my ideas and thought in my day.

That sounds very peaceful.

Before the world wakes up. Some people get it in the dead of night because that’s when people are asleep already.

I read somewhere you haven’t worked yet with Nas on his new album. What’s the story there?

Yeah. I mean I guess someone asked me that. So, it’s funny how it gets like stretched into something else. I don’t know exactly what he’s going to do but he and I always get up and work whenever he’s really ready to do so. We have a chemistry like that and of course, we’ve already created so much music together.

You guys will always find time for each other?

Yeah, we talk. I mean that’s what the basis of most of my creative relationships are I actually talk to the people a lot. So by the time we go to make music it feels like oh yeah, music, but we’re really right there.

I am curious, how are things moving along with Jennifer Hudson, on a new album? Do you know what’s going on there?

Jennifer Hudson is almost done with her new album so I’ve been helping out with that as well. She has one song that Pharrell did for her that I think is out now that she’s kind of pulling together a whole ‘nother vibe, again, that will be sometime earlier in the year, but I’m helping out with that as well.

So you’re producing and you’re also playing on it?

Yeah, I produced some records for her and just help them pull together the whole vibe, kind of my role being with them.