5 Questions with Emcee/Producer/Engineer Vandalyzm (@Vandalyzm)

If you like that golden era hip-hop If you like music with dope concepts, captivating and entertaining lyrics, and solid production, you need to hear Vandalyzm.

Vandalyzm is one of the rare people that can make a syck beat, spit even sycker lyrics over it, and then engineer it into a complete record.

Only other people I can recall doing that other than him are:

  • Big K.R.I.T.
  • Pimp C
  • Kanye (minus the engineering)
  • J. Cole (minus the engineering)

Got the chance to ask him a few questions about Vandalyzm’s start and progression as an emcee, producer, and engineer. He dropped some knowledge and some relevant thoughts about the sound of commercial hip-hop nowadays. Read on to learn more.

You’ve clearly been honing your craft for some time as an emcee, producer, and engineer. How did you get started in each of the 3 “hats” so to speak? Who are some of your influences as an emcee? As a producer? As an engineer?

Well man, I started rhyming when I was 7 years old.  Just being silly freestyling with some friends, they were trying to  write a rhyme and I kept giving them lines that they liked.  Turned out I ended up writing the whole verse myself.  After that I started DJ’ing around 11 years old.  My uncle Hakim is a DJ, and he taught me how to do it.  I eventually got good at it, and he started putting me on gigs.  So I was out DJing at skating rinks and wedding receptions at 11-12 years old man.

Engineering, just one of those things I kind of picked up once I started producing, which was about 13 or so.  I know how to make beats. I also know how I would like for them to sound, so I just mess with knobs and I also have a decent amount of knowledge on frequencies.  Anything else I don’t know I research.  Its honestly no major science to what I do.  I just use my ears.  If something sounds good, it stays, if it doesnt I change it till it does.  Thats it.

Being able to see your musical vision through from the beginning to the end has to be invigorating. How do you go from song concept to mastered record? Do you consciously separate each step? Do you have the final version in mind when you start working or does it develop as you go?

I hear music and I see it as well.  Not in general like folks that have synesthesia do.  But sounds become an entire world around me.  So certain settings, I know what they sound like.  You know?

Like if you showed me a picture of a desert with canyons and whatnot, I can tell what I think that picture sounds like.  Its how my mind works.  So I turned that into, “This is what my video should look like with this sound, and this should happen when this part comes in.”

I hope I’m making sense, basically to answer your question short, its an entire production in my head.  At that point its 100% execution.  Alot of times it comes out just like I hear and see it, the times that it doesn’t, pisses me off lol.

[editor note: “Makes sense to me. If it doesn’t make sense to you, let us know in the comments.]

What piece of engineering or production advice made the largest impact on your growth?

Trust your ears, they are your biggest tool.

That was told to me by a few folks. It’s the realest thing I was ever told.  You gotta be comfortable with what you are making and hear it properly.  Even though the average listener might not be able to hear a mistake, that doesn’t mean you should be lazy.  If you can hear it, make it right.

Tell us more about your upcoming project.

I’m currently finishing up my EP “The End All Be All” which is my return project from my hiatus I took a year or so ago.  Just wanted to live life, and plus things got a bit crazy for me so I really didn’t feel like making music at the moment.  But I’m back up and running.

I decided to create a project that is completely to the left of everything that is out right now.  All music at this moment is 65-75 bpm.  Rolling snares and 808 kicks with minimal synths.  Its insanely lame to me at the moment because ALL SONGS SOUND LIKE THIS.

No artists are showing any range in their production styles, or choices.  They’ve completely played a sound out that I enjoy thoroughly so I wanted to create something that was basically forward, but backwards as well.

I’m talking that old boom bap, chopped samples and loops.  Just really that whole sound when cats ain’t have anything, but created everything.  I wanted to recreate that feeling but just on some 2012 shit.  That’s what this project is about.

I’m still working on the “Vandalyzm Is The Stepfather”  album as well.  I’ve been at that project for a year or two now.  That will drop for sure 2013.

Where do we learn more about Vandalyzm?

Basically everything you need to know @Vandalyzm for my twitter and http://vandalyzm.bandcamp.com. My website is about to be rebuilt so that new site will be up and running soon!

Be sure to thank Vandalyzm via twitter. <- It’s as easy as clicking the link.

Leave your thoughts, concerns, praise, and gripes in the comments section as always.


Hip Hop Mixing by TeslaThemes