“We’re Samplers So We Listen to Everything”: An Interview With Da Beatminerz

Oumar Saleh speaks to the legendary sibling producer duo about their upcoming album Stifled Creativity, what they've learned after being in the game for 30 years, nearly getting to work with 2Pac and...
By    April 2, 2024

Image via Da Beatminerz

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Common’s “Be (Intro)” is still a top 5 intro in Oumar Saleh‘s books.

When asked about how sampling has changed since Da Beatminerz first came up, DJ Evil Dee holds a stack of little-known 7” vinyls to the camera. “We only just bought these yesterday,” he grins as his older brother Mr Walt nods in agreement. Despite having produced canonical hardcore rap anthems since the early 90s, the duo still feel the need to keep digging. “We used to go record shopping with Pete Rock, Buckwild, and Lord Finesse,” Walt adds, equating the friendly competition between the East Coast’s finest producers to steel sharpening steel. “This is our lifeline, this is what we love, so we take this to heart.”

This is the duo who remixed Black Moon’s classic call-to-arms “I Got Cha Opin” by flipping a Barry White babymaker. With its instantly recognizable horns, Smif-N-Wessun’s signature “Bucktown,” was built around an obscure jazz record by an ex-Cream frontman. They even tapped into their Belizean roots by looping heavy drums from a Caribbean remake of The Godfather theme for the lead single to their first album in nearly two decades. “We’re samplers, so we listen to everything,” Dee says. “When you do what we’ve done for so long, it’s not hard to take inspiration from anywhere.”

Raised on late ‘70s Brooklyn block parties, the brothers Dewgarde both grew up with similar musical aspirations. Walt, who was already DJing during his spare time, worked at Queens’ Music Factory and got acquainted with regular patrons Phife, Jarobi, and Q-Tip (who would later immortalise Walt and the iconic record store on The Low End Theory’s “What?”). Dee, who was on his way to forming Black Moon, followed his older brother’s lead by also juggling turntablism and shifts at a couple of music shops. All the while, Da Beatminerz were beginning to take shape, honing their craft by toying with SP-1200s, creating the sonic equivalent of rumbling terra firma from serene soul and jazz.

When discussing Golden Era NYC rap, Enta Da Stage used to get overshadowed by the more celebrated debuts from Nas, Mobb Deep, and Wu-Tang. However, no other ‘90s album pioneered the gritty and raw sensibility of East Coast rap more than Black Moon’s breakthrough. Ranging from vigorous Preemo-like scratches and colossal snares to deep basslines and jazz samples, Walt and Dee’s production was every bit as game-changing as what the Bomb Squad did in the ‘80s. The seminal record also helped spur the genesis of the Boot Camp Clik — a constellation of Brownsville’s grimiest spitters featuring Black Moon, Smif-N-Wessun (Tek and Steele), Originoo Gunn Clappaz (Louieville Sluggah, Top Dog, and Starang Wondah), and Heltah Skeltah (Jahmal “Rock” Bush and Sean “Ruck” Price).

Alongside the newly joined Baby Paul – who Walt was already familiar with since his Music Factory days – they perfected their boom bap blueprint on Dah Shinin’, hit murky depths throughout O.G.C.’s Da Storm, and leaned towards horrorcore on Nocturnal.

It wouldn’t be long before artists outside of the Clik requested their skills. The two lent their talent to Ras Kass, Naughty by Nature, Mic Geronimo, Bahamadia, O.C., M.O.P., Busta Rhymes, and Black Star. They even added a subterranean flavor to D’Angelo’s “Brown Sugar” with a head-nodding remix that featured a sharp verse by Kool G Rap. All that exposure eventually got the attention of Rawkus Records, who enlisted them to cook up a cartoonish beat for a ravenous Eminem to eat up on the landmark compilation Soundbombing II.

By the time they dropped their own debut LP Brace 4 Impak in 2001 under Rawkus, Da Beatminerz had expanded their roster to include fellow producers Chocolate Ty and Rich Blak. Creative differences while recording the album led to Baby Paul’s departure before Brace 4 Impak’s release, and by the time ‘04 rolled around, the beat mining troupe reverted back to the two OG members and had already left Rawkus.

New music would be sporadic in the following years, but Walt and Dee proved they still had plenty of fuel left in the tank. They put out two more albums (Fully Loaded w/Statik in 2005 and 2007’s instrumental-laden Unmarked Music Vol. 1), and produced the entirety of Black Moon’s underrated 2019 comeback Rise of Da Moon. In recent years, they’ve been running their own radio station, scored episodes for VH1’s The Breaks, and gathered emcees from each of the Five Boroughs (Nas, Ghost, Remy Ma, Dave East, and Styles P) for a throwback posse cut on Netflix’s The Forty Year Old Version.

As the legendary duo prepared to release the ironically-titled Stifled Creativity, the time was right to chop it up with Bushwick’s finest. Last month, Walt and Dee reflected on their 30-plus years in the game, almost working with 2Pac, their frustrations with Rawkus, being comfortable with relative anonymity, and even had time to share a couple of Sean Price anecdotes.

You guys kicked off the ‘90s with three bonafide classics in a row (Enta Da Stage, Dah Shinin’, Nocturnal), but would you say that you approached each album differently?

Mr Walt: So, there’s a ladder, know what I’m sayin’? It started with Enta Da Stage, which was one step on the ladder and along the way, we learned a few things during the recording sessions. Then we started working on Dah Shinin’, and learned a few more things producing stuff for Mic Geronimo and Bahamadia before eventually working on Nocturnal which was another step, and so on. Even to this day, we don’t stop learning, and we bring whatever new skill or technique we’ve acquired into our production. It’s a natural progression.

We gotta start off with Enta Da Stage, which is undoubtedly one of the most influential rap records of all time. I think you’ve been told this before, but it really felt like the twisted stepbrother of A Tribe Called Quest project…

Mr Walt: Right? It’s funny that people say that because it was Q-Tip who gave me the name “Mr Walt.” I used to work at a store that everybody pulled up in called the Music Factory in Jamaica, Queens, and that’s where I met Q-Tip, Phife, and Jarobi. Remember that line on The Low End Theory’s “What?” when Q-Tip rapped, “What’s Music Factory without Mr Walt?” That’s me. When I started out, I was just gonna go by my regular name of Walter Dewgarde, but when he made that name up, I just went with it and the rest is history.

Talk us through what you and Dee have learned from not just Q-Tip or Buckshot and Smif-N-Wessun and Heltah Skeltah, but also each other?

Mr Walt: I’m three years older than Dee, so everything I did, he copied. I DJ’d first, and then he became a DJ. I started producing first, and then he became a producer. My mother used to have this saying: it’s us against the world. So we use that as our mission statement in this whole Beatminerz thing. It’s us versus everybody else. So, of course it began as a big brother, little brother thing, but it then became a partnership where he’s the only one I can trust. As for Q-Tip, he’s the one who first showed me the basics of using an SP-12. Large Professor too. Somehow, someway, every producer on the East Coast learned something from Large Professor. Me, Premier, Q-Tip, Pete Rock, we all learned something, if not everything, from Large. He and Q-Tip kinda pointed me in the right direction, and I learned under them before moving my own way around the equipment and began making records.

And from there, you and Dee began work on Enta Da Stage. Remind us how Da Beatminerz, and by extension, Black Moon came about?

Mr Walt: Dee, 5ft, and Finsta from Finsta Bundy, who all went to Bushwick High, were the original members of Black Moon, and they needed one more member. 5ft, who is Muslim, used to go to the mosque over here on Bushwick Avenue. He met Buckshot there, they became friends, and he used to bring him around. We didn’t know Buckshot could rhyme, and word got out that he was an emcee and they put him in the group. When I started out, our original name from our production crew was called “Black Moon.” Then a friend of mine, who went beat shopping with me and my brother one day in this basement filled with records, came up with the name “Da Beatminerz” because we’d spend hours digging and we would come up looking like a couple of coal miners. I thought the name was dope, so I asked him if we could take it and he agreed. Once I took “Da Beatminerz,” I let go of the “Black Moon” name so that Dee could have it for his group, which was called “High Tech” at the time. That’s how Da Beatminerz and Black Moon’s names came about. They still weren’t signed to Nervous Records, but the group was formed by then, even though Finsta left a few weeks before the deal was inked.

As for Da Beatminerz, we really had more people in the crew because our friend Ike Lee was the first one to actually get on. He [and Aaron Lyles] did the Ultramagnetic MC’s “Poppa Large” remix, which opened the door for people to know of Da Beatminerz, and then Dee and I took it further. We were trying to push the others like Baby Paul, Chocolate Ty, and Rich Blak into the forefront, but everyone just wanted me and Dee. We did have all five of us doing our thing on Brace 4 Impak, the first Beatminerz album, but people only saw Dee and I. I don’t know why that is.

Your production on the classics we mentioned earlier defined East Coast rap for a generation, yet you’re rarely mentioned in the same breath as RZA, Preemo, Pete Rock and such when hip-hop fans discuss the greats from that era. Do you both feel that you don’t always get the credit you deserve?

DJ Evil Dee: I definitely feel that. I think one reason for that is because we weren’t as outspoken as the others were. We were just focused on knocking out record after record. We weren’t worried about letting people know that we did this or we did that. That wasn’t our job. We just wanted to make the joints back then. And now, when we’ve built up enough credit to praise ourselves to everyone, it’s kinda out of sight, out of mind because we didn’t care about the fame. We just cared about making dope records.

Mr Walt: This is what we put our kids through school with. This is what we love, so we take this to heart. We don’t have to be compared to the Pete Rocks and the Preems and the Larges and the Tips and all that. But what I was upset about was the fact that Black Moon and Boot Camp Clik don’t always get acknowledged for bringing hip-hop back to the East Coast when Dre and Snoop had it on lock. In fact, it was two records that dropped around the same time that brang it back to New York, and they were “Protect Ya Neck” by the Wu-Tang Clan and “Who Got Da Props?” by Black Moon. They brought it back here, and that opened it up for the likes of Mobb Deep and Nas and Biggie to take over.

I couldn’t agree more. It must’ve been a big deal for a joint like “Who Got Da Props?” to hit the Billboard 100 back then. Were you taken aback by its success, or did you expect it to chart?

DJ Evil Dee: We weren’t thinking about Billboard or getting into the charts or anything like that. We just wanted to make a dope record.

Mr Walt: All we wanted was for Red Alert, Marley Marl, Pete Rock, Kid Capri, and all those other DJs to play the record. What happened after that was unexpected.

That’s a stance I fully appreciate…

Mr Walt: That’s our mentality to this day. We’re still the same guys who still live in the same house in Bushwick. We’ve been here since we were babies. We’re still able to walk the streets of Brooklyn unnoticed. Well, Evil Dee’s the mayor of Bushwick so… [laughs] Nah for real, we’re just regular people and this is a nine-to-five job for us.

DJ Evil Dee: Yeah, we don’t care for the glitz and glamor and all of that. Though every once in a while, we get a new sampler [laughs].

There’s something else I wanna bring up from the vaults, and that’s the Clik and 2Pac collab album One Nation which never saw a release. How involved were you both on the project?

Mr Walt: We weren’t working on One Nation because at the time, we had our differences with Boot Camp. However, on the original track listing for what would soon become All Eyez On Me [which ‘Pac had tentatively titled Supreme Euthanasia while imprisoned in 1995], ‘Pac wanted me to produce a song for him. He never actually said it to me, but I learned years later that he wanted to record a song with Tek and Steele and me on production.

DJ Evil Dee: There’s a tracklisting he made that started floating around, and on the tracklist and in his writing, there’s a record with Tek and Steele on it and produced by Mr Walt.

Mr Walt: He already had the song mapped out, but we never did it. It was a wishlist thing for him.

I’m a huge ‘Pac fan, so learning that he was gonna put Smif-N-Wessun on All Eyez on Me is mind-blowing! Speaking of dearly departed rap legends, I wanted to touch base on Sean Price. Talk us through what it was like working with someone as dedicated to his craft as Ruck?

DJ Evil Dee: Sean was a funny individual. And I mean funny as in “haha funny.” He was definitely a character, a good dude, and he took his work very seriously. But I did more work with him on shows. We didn’t spend a lot of time together in the studio.

Mr Walt: We really just did Nocturnal together. We were still cool, and we did a lot of Boot Camp songs together, but we didn’t do too much solo stuff together. Despite that, he was a part of Da Beatminerz Radio, and we’d travel with him too. This guy was a character though! But I can definitely tell you a funny Sean story [laughs]!

I can’t remember if we were working on Nocturnal or finishing up on Dah Shinin’, but one day, we were at D&D Studios and Posdnous was coming over to meet up with me. He walks into the studio where we work, and Sean is there. So I introduced Pos to Ruck, and instead of greeting Pos, Sean gets up, looks him in the face, and goes, “Yo, I’m nice son! I’m nice! I could rhyme, son, I’m nice!” So I’m looking at Sean like, “Yo, what the f*ck are you doing?” I looked at Pos and told him that this is Sean, this is just the way he is, while Sean is still going, “Yo, I’m nice son! I can battle anybody! I can beat anybody!” I was like, “Dude, he didn’t even come here for this, come on man!” [laughs] That’s the type of person Sean was, he’ll always have you laughing.

Another time, we’re in Atlanta together. There’s a tram that you take from your plane to the baggage area where you collect your luggage. We’re all in the tram, it’s quiet, and all of a sudden, all you can hear is “Alejandro! Alejandro!” [laughs] Everybody in the tram just started laughing. The guy was funny.

Fast forwarding a little bit, but I wanna talk about your experiences with Rawkus given that you worked on Soundbombing II and later released your own debut album Brace 4 Impak under the label. For those who aren’t in the know, what difficulties did you encounter there?

Mr Walt: [laughs] Oh, difficulties?! I’ll let Evil Dee answer that…

DJ Evil Dee: Man, Rawkus were wack. Here’s the thing, Rawkus were dope when they were independent. Once they started trying to become Def Jam, that’s what killed them. One minute, they’re the underground kings and they got all of that ill underground stuff. Then, a couple of days later, I go to the label and they’re talking about buying me a Rawkus ice chain. I couldn’t believe it. They had these chains that they made, which was a Rawkus logo with diamonds. They wanted to buy one for me and my brother, and my response was honest. I told them, “Yo, if you buy that for me and my brother, we’ll take pictures with y’all, and then we’ll take those chains and pawn them and buy records and equipment. You may as well give us the check, so we can buy equipment and records to sample.” After that happened, all of a sudden, they started buggin’. By the time Brace 4 Impak came out, we had zero support from Rawkus. We marketed and promoted our record ourselves. Rawkus did absolutely nothing, and that’s me being kind.

Mr Walt: And that’s why I let Evil Dee explain that, because you’ll hear nothing but curse words from me.

DJ Evil Dee: I don’t walk in labels angry, not even at Nervous. But Rawkus was the first label that I ever walked in and felt angry. It’s not even in my nature to knock stuff off of people’s desks and make threats and all of that, but Rawkus was bringing it out of me. I mixed Soundbombing for them, which was the only album they ever made money on. Soundbombing was the cheapest album to record because I did it in my own way, and they didn’t have to spend big money either. They’re bananas. I’m not gonna keep going into that, but Rawkus disrespected everybody.

Damn. So did your time at Rawkus make you realise that signing with an established label isn’t the way to go?

DJ Evil Dee: You don’t let one experience spoil your entire outlook. If that was the case, I’d have stopped at Nervous. When you go into business with somebody, there has to be mutual respect. That’s what we were looking for at Rawkus, but we never got it. With everybody else, we were able to do our business, y’know? I’m saying from Duck Down on, and that’s because Duck Down was owned by my friends, but still… [laughs]

Mr Walt: But don’t get it twisted, Duck Down got their own bullsh*t too…

DJ Evil Dee: You have good and bad with everybody, but with most situations, the good outweighs the bad. There’s no such thing as a perfect relationship.

Mr Walt: If Michael Jackson was f*cking upset with Sony and Epic, everybody is gonna be upset with everybody. Everyone has issues with their labels.

DJ Evil Dee: Business is never perfect, right? When it comes to business, my brother and I would argue, but it’s strictly business, never personal. Come to think of it, I can’t remember the last time we had a business disagreement…

Mr Walt: Yeah, like when you sample some bullshit, I would be like, “Take that shit off! What are you doing?!” [laughs]

For the longest time, you’ve been flipping jazz, soul, and funk into the type of sound that would immediately make me think I was walking around Brooklyn’s concrete jungles during the ‘90s. Now that you’ve clocked over 30 years behind the boards, do you think the art of sampling has changed much?

Mr Walt: Not really. Everyone has their own different techniques, and we’ve seen what everybody else has been doing over the years, but we’ve kept to the same blueprint. We’re still digging for records. Like you said, we’ve been in the game for over 30 years, so we’ve learned a lot during that time. The main differences between back then and now is that we have more equipment and more technology that’s easier to access.

DJ Evil Dee: We’re still shopping for records [holds up a stack of 7”s]. We only just bought these yesterday.

Mr Walt: Yeah, we’re gonna keep doing that because I feel that we still need to stay ahead of everybody. In the ‘90s, we all used to go record shopping together with Pete Rock, Buckwild, Lord Finesse, and so on. If we weren’t going to a convention, we would go to a record store, buy records, chill, and go grab lunch later. If it was a grimy record store, we’d go buy the dusty records, go to someone’s house, sit in front of the TV, and clean those records as we watched Video Music Box. That’s the way it was. But it was all friendly competition. Not only with buying records, but with production too. We all loved each other, but we were all trying to stay ahead of each other too.

While I was researching for our interview, I stumbled upon your smooth remix of D’Angelo’s “Brown Sugar” with Kool G Rap. It made me wonder how dope a Beatminerz album full of remixes to neo-soul classics would sound. How did the “Brown Sugar” remix come about?

Mr Walt: G Rap wasn’t the guest feature we had in mind at first. Initially, we had Rakim down to do the “Brown Sugar” remix with us, but it never panned out. D’Angelo and Rakim were both managed by Kedar Massenburg, and Rakim was supposed to come to the studio, but he never showed up. Then we had AZ in mind, then Mobb Deep, but both never materialised. At the time, G Rap had the 4,5,6 album out and “Fast Life” had really taken off. So we thought, “Let’s just go with G Rap,” and he knocked it out of the park. Both times we worked with G Rap, he came into the studio and killed it.

Given the illustrious names you’ve produced for, what would you say is the most memorable studio session you’ve had?

Mr Walt: Someone asked us that a few days ago, and honestly, I don’t remember! Every session had a different energy. It was fun. We look at this as a nine-to-five, so we’d just go to work and have fun. Our ritual at D&D was that we’d normally start a session at 12, but Dee and I would probably get there 30 minutes later…

DJ Evil Dee: This was during the days of analog, so it took them like half an hour to set up the studio for Da Beatminerz. We had equipment set up and stuff had to be wired, so it would take them a half hour so we would get there in time for work…

Mr Walt: We’d walk in, our engineer Kieran [Walsh] is usually there before us, so the first thing we’d talk over is decide what we’re going to have for lunch. So technically, we didn’t start sessions until maybe 1 o’clock or 1:30. We’d start some work, then our lunch would come, and we’d go eat lunch while watching Seinfeld or whatever was on TV…

DJ Evil Dee: I was watching the OJ trial at the time!

Mr Walt: Yeah, he was always watching the OJ trial. We wouldn’t start a session until we listened to Dr Dre’s 2001, which really inspired us to work. In later years, we’d also listen to “Icky Thump” by the White Stripes to really get us going in the booth.

That’s a great record! Why “Icky Thump” in particular?

Mr Walt: Oh my God, the production on that song was crazy! The way the song’s put together… Even though “Seven Nation Army” defined the White Stripes, “Icky Thump” was the record.

DJ Evil Dee: We’re samplers so we listen to everything. When you do what we’ve done for so long, it’s not hard to take inspiration from anywhere.

Mr Walt: You know what inspired me to make the original version of “I Got Cha Opin”? Janet Jackson’s “That’s the Way Love Goes.” When I first heard that record, I was like, “Wow, this was a vibe!” So when I heard that song, I needed to make something like that, and I felt that when I made “I Got Cha Opin,” it was kinda on that vibe. Other people might not hear it, but I heard it while I made it. Certain songs make you think of other records. Like on Brace 4 Impak, the Smif-N-Wessun track “Extreme Situation,” I was inspired to make that by Jay-Z and DMX’s “Money, Cash, Hoes.” I wasn’t going to emulate the sounds, but I needed to match the energy.

DJ Evil Dee: We listen to R&B, funk, soul, rock, jazz… that’s how you find your samples. There’s been so many times those ill drums you heard us sample on were from rock records, or jazz records, or even some random children’s record. Yesterday, when we were shopping in that record store, and they were playing this song, I asked Walt if this sounded familiar. It was some techno, boogie, whatever record, but I found it and sampled it yesterday. And now when you hear it, you’ll never know what it was because I chopped it up to what I hear. That’s how it works.

You mentioned the popularity of the drumless sound, which goes back to when Roc Marciano released Marcberg and produced the whole record himself…

Mr Walt: RZA and Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz did it back in the day, but Roc Marci really was the first one to bring it to the forefront…

DJ Evil Dee: I think every hip-hop artist has a drumless record. Like, Da Beatminerz has “Slave” by Black Moon, right? And “Slave” was an unfinished song. We just thought it was dope the way it was, so we left it with just Buckshot’s two verses while the beat played as it sounded funky like that. Everyone has one, but to have a bunch? To continuously do it? I don’t know…

Mr Walt: RZA did it in sprinkles here and there, but Roc put it on the map. Then everybody else started doing it. Roc really did it because he wanted to do his own sh*t, but nobody else could get it to where he wanted it to go. But for everyone else, I don’t know. I feel like the engineer is sitting there doing nothing, the producer just lays a loop down, everybody rhymes, but how do you mix those records? Come on. There’s no bottom to these records, and what’s important to us is bottom and smack. You gotta have some bottom, and you gotta have some smack.

DJ Evil Dee: We don’t hate records with just a loop. We just feel that if one artist or group does it, everybody shouldn’t do it. Be original with what you do. I come from the “no biting” era, and they can call me old school or whatever, but that was the rule. No biting. If you’re gonna flip something, flip it in your own way.

Mr Walt: Yeah, like, pick up those drum loops! Get that kick and snare snapping, and let’s go kids! Come on now!

DJ Evil Dee: You know the original record they sampled for “Ain’t No N***a” by Jay-Z? When we were using the MPCs and the SP-1200s, it was hard lining up drums with that loop. Now, we have Ableton. We have so many things where we could go in and chop up the sample and put it in the grid and do what we do. There’s no excuse nowadays. At times, I tell cats that it took me three or four hours just to put the drums on Black Moon’s “Stay Real” because that rock loop is so off-beat. Now you got the J Dilla technique where you take the quantize off. But to sit there and line those drums up… it took me a while.

Yeah, y’all strike me as absolute perfectionists who don’t waste a second in trying to find the perfect loop…

DJ Evil Dee: 100%. A Beatminerz session will usually go like this: either myself or Walt or both of us together, we’ll create whatever beat is being mixed. Walt’s listening, I’m in the corner with headphones on, making a beat. Once it’s done, I’ll pass the headphones to Walt and ask him how it sounds. Walt will go, “Yo, that’s dope!” or ” Change those drums”, or “Yo, make that baseline growl!”

I’ll work anywhere. Like, I’ll be in the airport on Ableton, or I’ll be on my iPad on Koala. I learned the art of working anywhere by being with Boot Camp. On the other hand, Walt has to be in his setting with his cup of tea [both laugh]. He does his stuff at home. In my house, you’ll always hear music. You’ll either hear me DJing or working on a beat, or Walt DJing or working on a beat. That’s Da Beatminerz’ ritual.

Are there any other producers out there that you’d consider to be the stylistic heirs to that gritty boom bap sound that you’ve become synonymous with?

Mr Walt: I’m a big Nottz guy. Nottz is boom bap all the way, and he produced during the ‘90s, so I saw guys like him and Jake One as huge inspirations. I also think Khrysis is incredible. Soundtrakk is dope too. To be honest, I can’t think of anyone else. It’s unfortunate that we live in an age where we don’t read credits anymore. Everything’s through word of mouth nowadays.

DJ Evil Dee: I was definitely a credit reader.

Mr Walt: Saying that, I can’t remember who did the beats on the last Westside Gunn joint [And Then You Pray For Me], but a couple of them on that album were crazy. In particular, “Mama’s Primetime” [produced by Beat Butcha and Mr Green] had such an ill beat!

Let’s talk about Stifled Creativity, which is supposed to drop pretty soon. I don’t believe your creativity has been stifled one bit, so was the title choice of Stifled Creativity an ironic one?

Mr Walt: Nah, it’s just reflecting on how we used to do things and now doing it in a 2024 way. I guess the new wave nowadays is having no drums in samples, which I’m not the biggest fan of. On our stuff, we’ll always have the drums, the smack, the 808 kick going… so we just kept it the way we normally do things. To me, that’s a stifled sound, so we decided to call the album Stifled Creativity to show everyone that we’re still doing things the way we always did. The original title was supposed to be The Defiant Ones, but Dre and Jimmy Iovine came out with that Netflix docuseries, so we came up with something else.

I can’t wait to hear Da Beatminerz’ ritual come to fruition on the new album, because “Seckle” with KRS-One was dope as hell and made me want more. What details can you give us about it at the moment? Because I haven’t seen a confirmed release date as of yet…

Mr Walt: We wanna get that mapped out ASAP because I want people to hear the record, but I need to lock things down with Dee. As for what to expect, it’s just straight up traditional boom bap. We have a bunch of people on the record who we love to work with, who we have connections with, and in the case of some, are family. It’s really just us putting out the type of hip-hop that we feel is missing.

DJ Evil Dee: There’s beats, then there’s some rhymes, there’s some scratches, and there’s a lot of artists on the album [laughs]! I think it’s a great album!

Mr Walt: As for the features, we’ve also got De La Soul, Rasheed Chappell, Pharaohe Monch, Corey Glover from Living Colour, Rusty Juxx, Mickey Factz, Apathy, Keith Murray…

DJ Evil Dee: Of course, we’ll have Buckshot on there, AZ’s on the record too…

Mr Walt: Smif-N-Wessun are already on “Seckle …. Once Again”. We also have a record with Steele and M.O.P.’s Lil’ Fame. Bishop Lamont’s there, Ras Kass is on two songs, and we got Camp Lo too.

That’s awesome! So why the 20-year wait?

DJ Evil Dee: Hey, Black Moon made y’all wait for 16 years! [laughs]

Mr Walt: Especially with a Beatminerz record, it takes a long time to put these albums together. It’s a process, and we’re doing it by ourselves.

DJ Evil Dee: In between the other stuff we’re doing too. We’re still producing records for other people…

Like the record with Truth [Nostalgia ThEraPy] right? What was it like working with someone who’s just starting to get his feet off the ground in today’s era?

Mr Walt: We got hooked up with him through P.F. Cuttin’, who made the introduction for us. He’s hungry. He still is. He’s just a kid who just wants to put good music out there. We also have another guy named John Brown, and I feel like the project we’re putting together isn’t just in the tradition of boom bap, but it’s also some of our best work. And I think people are gonna be really excited about that.

I know you’ve mentioned wanting to work with him in past interviews, but please tell me you managed to get a Redman verse on Stifled Creativity?

DJ Evil Dee: Ah man, I wish!

Mr Walt: That right there is the definition of a bucket list item, but we haven’t got him there yet.

Redman aside, any other rappers you wanna tick off that bucket list?

Mr Walt: I just wanna make records with artists I respect, but we’re really on a bucket list thing right now. I wanna make a track with LL Cool J, and even though we did a couple of remixes for him, I wanna make a real record with Rakim. I feel like we’re still crossing off our bucket list. We did a record for The 40 Year Old Version a couple of years back with Nas, Dave East, Styles P, Remy Ma, and Ghostface, and to me, that was a bucket list item. We also did a record with Ras Kass, who’s our little brother. He took a beat from us for The Horsemen Project. Ras was part of the HRSMN, who also had Kurupt as a member. So when I found out that Kurupt was on the record, I was excited! As for more rappers on the list, it’s slowly coming together, but I’m patient.

After more than 30 years in the game, in which you’ve worked with some of the most influential names in hip-hop history, what does the future hold for Da Beatminerz?

DJ Evil Dee: Walt’s doing a Britney Spears album [both laugh]!

Mr Walt: That would not be dope!

DJ Evil Dee: That would be a trainwreck!

Mr Walt: Nah for real, we just wanna keep flooding the airwaves with our stuff and continue doing more boom bap records. We just did a record the other day that’s out of our league [both laugh]! We’re not gonna say anything until it drops, but I’m kinda excited about that one!

DJ Evil Dee: No matter what type of genre it is, everything we do is based in hip-hop. You’ll hear the hard drums, the basslines, it’s there. End of the day, we’re just trying to bring the Golden Era back.

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