Small-Pro-Interview-PhotoSmall Pro has been making music for over a decade, far exceeding the 10,000 hour rule for mastering a craft. Over that time he’s been able to create his own undeniable sound, chopping away at anything that inspires.  The Philadelphia producer has released several instrumental tapes jawns that he puts up on his Bandcamp page and has been working with a number of MC’s since he won the Fortilive remix contest back in 2011.

We talked about what he likes to do in his free time, his upcoming projects, and his latest Vulcanized rubber-tough release Highway Robbery, with the ever-gully Guilty Simpson. – Brad Beatson

How often do you make music?

I try and do some sort of music every single day. Back in 2006, when I was unemployed for most of the year, that’s when I really started finding my style. I was learning and listening. Today I can sit at my computer and I can’t even say how much music I have – an obscene amount – push play, and as soon as I like somethin’, I get to choppin’.

When you’re choppin’, do you ever have a certain rapper in mind?

Sometimes I’ll build beats around rappers vocals and make some remixes. I’ve made some folders for different rappers, but there’s nothing in them. You can never tell exactly what rappers will like. I can only think of two guys, Castle & Has-Lo.

What about when a rapper takes one of your beats without your permission?

Obviously I’d prefer they asked me first, but I’m generally okay with it as long as it’s good. It’s really sketchy when it’s promoted as “produced by Small Pro” when they didn’t ask. Especially if it’s ass. I’d rather not get credit than that happen.

How’d this project come about w/ Guilty Simpson?

Matt Diamond of Coalmine Records was the brainchild behind that, I’ve got to give him all the credit. Basically Guilty is always on tour so whenever he was back in Detroit, I’d send him some stuff and then we’d go back and forth. I’d send him a grip of beats and he’d send me some verses back, most of the time a finished product, a full song. Then I ended up remixing the album so it had a cohesive sound before it dropped.

How’d you meet Guilty?

I’d first worked with him back in 2011 on Gigantic Vol. 1 and that had to be one of the greatest musical things to ever happen to me. I sent him a beat and the next day he had delivered 32 bars and it was exactly what I wanted. I told him the beat was called “Hair Razor,” which became “Spare Razor” and he killed it! One of the funniest things about that was right after I sent him the jawn, he hit me back with an e-mail essentially saying “cursing or no cursing?” Like, who the hell is going to send Guilty Simpson a beat and be all “keep the murder references to a minimum, alright?” I was dyin’, that was hilarious.

What do you do when you aren’t working?

A lot of the time I’m hanging out with my girlfriend or friends, or I’m with my kids. I get them two weekends out of the month so I like to head to the playground with them, watch some movies, eat a lot of junk food. But on Sundays it’s all about the scholastic work. Keep them fresh for the school week.

Do you have any upcoming projects?

I really want to work on another project with Matt Diamond and Coalmine Records. I’ve also got an instrumental release coming up called Nasty Jawns where I’m sampling a bunch of songs about sex. My girl likes that one but I’m not sure how my parents will feel about it. My girl is an opera singer, so sometimes I mess with house music and we should be putting out a project next year, too. Also I’ve got this project coming up with Y?Arcka that’s been on the back burner.

What’s that project like?

That one’s called Hancock and it has us interpreting Herbie Hancock in a new way. The reason behind working with Arcka, aside from the fact that he’s one of the coolest guys on Earth and lives down the street, is that our production styles are opposite. See with him, he can take one track and chop it into five different songs. With me, I’ll take 5 different songs and chop it into one track.

How’d you come up with the name Small Pro, was it a hat tip to Large Professor?

It was definitely a hat tip, but when I came up with the name, I think I was subconsciously trolling. Like I knew one day people would just write me off just because that’s my name. And also, I’m a very short guy. I remember I met Blu at a show in Philly the year Below the Heavens dropped, and I had connected with him through MySpace or whatever. So I went up to introduce myself and Blu’s like 6’5″ and I’m 5’4″ so he had to lean all the way down when I told him my name. And he just burst out laughing, to the point where I was like, “it’s not that funny bruh!”

Who are some of your biggest inspirations?

Knxledge, Madlib, Alchemist, those are some guys who are consistently dropping numerous dope projects a year. Right now I’m loving that new Boldy James album.

Do you ever feel the pressure in the current internet hip hop landscape? It seems like if you don’t put out something each year, you’ll be forgotten.

Nah, I don’t think about it like that. It was Zilla Rocca who was like, “you gotta put stuff out, you could lose it all.” And I’ve had my hard drive crash and luckily I was able to get it back, but now I can’t help but put music out. I try to put out 5 projects a year, it’s the competitor in me.  I remember hearing that 9th Wonder was making beats on FL Studio, so back in 2003-04 I was like “I can do that.” These days though, I’m competitive against myself. At the end of the day, I’d like to be remembered in hip hop history.

 

 

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