Aaron Matthews is coming for you, David Gregory.
Following Jeff’s comprehensive talk with Motown’s golden boy, what follows is an interview with some of the producers responsible for The Hybrid’s cohesive sound. Denmark Vessey and Quelle (formerly of Wasted Youth) comprise the Chicago/Detroit group Crown Nation, and along with Quelle’s little brother Mosel, are collectively responsible for almost half of Hybrid’s production. I sat down with them to discuss the process of recording the album, making beats and backstage shenanigans with Danny Brown
How did you first meet Danny?
Quelle: Him and 87 of Wasted Youth, they had started working on this project called Prophet Jones with Nick Speed. I came into Detroit for a show and me and Nick were chilling. 87 says, I’ll let you hear this new shit we’re working on. He says, you gotta meet this dude Danny, he’s a dope-ass dude, he don’t really listen to hip-hop, he listens to all types of crazy shit – he kinda remind me of you. So we went over to Danny’s place and we just kinda kicked it. I was drunk as shit, I had a bottle of vodka and we smoked a blunt. I was playing some beats and he was like, “Get the fuck outta here! You ain’t make these beats!”
We just bullshitted. He had the MPC up there so we just sat and played a shitload of beats for a hour or two. We went around in the cipher and from there it was just solid. I respected each other as folks. We actually cut a crapload of songs over my beats that didn’t end up on The Hybrid – he’s got a lotta of beats. We would go to [DJ] Magnetic’s, at the Disc [Ltd Studio] and he would ask to record over my shit. It was a process of just going through songs until he got to the point of recording the CD.
Mosel: I met him through my big brother around the time he was releasing his first project Hot Soup. I remember going to visit my brother in Chicago and he gave me like 5 joints Brown did. I was like yeah, ‘I gotta work with dude in the future, his shit is retarded.’ So some time passes and on the day of Brown’s release party for Hot Soup, I went to Nick Speed’s house where everybody was just chillin’ before the show. He was just calling me “Lil Quelle” at the time. I was still in high school when this happened but Nick Speed already knew about my shit. We exchanged numbers so we could build in the future.
After that, me and Brown would kick it just on some chill smoking shit. Funny thing is anytime, I was with Brown it was never on no music or let’s-make-a-track type shit, it was just on some let’s chill. Around the time Brown was working on his next project, which would become the Hybrid, I went to Virginia for school. So I wasn’t in the D and able to really kick it with Brown or work on music, but I remember almost every time I made a beat in the dorm room I’d send it to him. I got a call from a mutual friend one day saying that Brown did some ape shit over one of my beats. I never heard the song but I kept hearing crazy things about it and how dope it was. I remember Brown texting me, saying my music set the mood for the entire album and really had him on some other shit. Basically my beat birthed The Hybrid, like the soundtrack to his evolution [laughs].
Greatest Rapper Ever
Q: That beat, that one was hard candy. I was surprised he used that one, because it seemed like he was only fucking with the more sample-y ones. That was in the same period that I did “Drinks On Me”, when I was getting off into the synth-y stuff I do now.
Nowhere 2 Go
D: I was originally going to make this for Crown Nation. This was another joint that I didn’t even know anybody was on! I gave it to him and Danny had given Quelle an advance version of the album before it officially dropped and that’s how I found out he rapped on it.
Q: The sample on there actually isn’t a White Stripes record. It’s a really hard portion from a soft-ass song. It’s Wham! [laughs]
Q: I just made that one cause I wanted something that was hard as shit [laughs]. I made that beat in the same place I made most of the beats for Blue Mondays [Quelle’s solo album]. I was pulling out the dirtiest drums I could find, the dirtiest samples. At the time, I was making beat CDs with 50 beats on them. So Danny recorded that at the Disc in Detroit and when Denmark played me “Re-Up”, I had forgot that I had made it!
Q: I was kicking with my homeboy Howard, he had come through with a load of records. He came back with this Stanley Clarke record. I used that sample and this guitarist Rich Clarke revamp the guitars a lil’ bit. That was going to be a Crown Nation joint but I had already let it out there so I let Danny run with it.
Drinks On Me
Q: That one had been floating out there for a while before Danny snatched it up. There’s a couple people who already did joints to that particular song. That beat was when I was getting away from [sampled] beats and getting into beefing up the guitars and synths, playing a lot of stuff myself. That beat is something I put a little more time into so I’m glad it came out as a song people liked.
M: The way he flipped my “CrazyBaby” beat, which later became “Juno”, is definitely my favorite. When I gave him the beat, I thought he was gonna come back with some typical Brown shit. Like just straight retarded bars. Instead he surprised me and turned it into a concept song that anybody who understands the hood/struggle, especially Detroit, can relate to “Juno.” I don’t think Brown gets enough credit for his socially aware lyrics. My mans Brown be getting conscious, he just gives it to you in a different package.
M: I honestly wish he would’ve picked another one of my beats for this one, but too late now. This is another social awareness track for people who don’t know anything about this lifestyle, and a reality record, for people living the way he explains.
BONUS: The Hybrid
M: I came home for New Years Eve and stopped by his spot, and Danny gave me the CD for the old unreleased Hybrid. I had like 3 beats on there, one of the main ones being “The Hybrid”. A year passed with me only seeing Brown like once or twice. Next thing I knew The Hybrid dropped, I heard it the same time as everyone else and was surprised by the joints he used from me, beats I had sent him like 3 years ago through email.
The actual Hybrid song that didn’t make it on the album is bananas, one of Brown’s dopest songs to me, “I’m the first to breakfast, late for dinner…” and straight bars for the rest of the song after that. He destroyed the beat. In a good way. Seeing how he switched his style up and how nutty the shit was, I was like damn!
Danny’s got a rep for being kind of a crazy dude. Any good stories?
Q: Last time I saw Danny, he was pumping some Lil B and just geeking. He knew every word to the Lil B joint! [laughs] The wildest time I kicked it with him, it was at this place called the Marah House. It was a house party show in Chicago, so it was pretty nutty. Everyone was doing an assortment of drugs. It’s a minute or two before we were supposed to go on and Danny was supposed to rock with us, we were going to do “Cut The Lights Out.”
So it’s a minute before we’re going on and we’re like, “Where the fuck is Danny?” So we’re running around the house trying to find him. We finally get to the basement and the nigga’s getting brains from some chick! [laughs] So I just let him do what he does and then as we got toward the end of the set, he just showed up!