BIG 4D (June 2008) | Interview By:
Dubcnn recently sat down with Big 4D (aka) Da Oz, who is truly one of the West
Coasts best kept secrets. This producer, artist and song writer started his
career carrying sound equipment for groups like the Wreckin Cru, Dream Team,
Ice T, Eazy E, Rodney O and many others. Since then he has worked his way from
DJ to producer, and has since worked on records with MC Ren, Battlecat, Kokane,
Above The Law, 2nd II None, Tracey Edmonds, Mack 10, Short Khop, Spice 1. Most
recently 4D produced on T.I.s Grammy nominated album T.I. vs T.I.P and the
latest track from Xzibit. We get the low-down in this interview on who he is,
his production, working with artists and much more.
As ever, you can read this exclusive interview below and we urge you to leave
feedback on our forums or email them to
Interview was done in June 2008
Big 4D Interview Audio:
Dying 2 Live (Produced by Big 4D)
Dubcnn: Alright. So, we’re sitting here, Dubcnn and Big 4D. How are things
Everything’s going lovely my man. Just chillin’ and enjoyin’ this
California weather baby.
Dubcnn: Ok, ok. Now for those that might not know what you do, tell the
world what it is that you do.
Well, basically I’m one of the hardest producers that’s coming out the West
Coast. And I’m gonna keep it 100 and be humble wit it. I really wanna earn
your votes. So, I’m about to hit you with that hot production, me and my boy
Cavie. We represent the Secret Specialist, West Coat most def.
Dubcnn: Tell me a little bit about Secret Specialist.
Secret Specialist…basically it’s a production company started by me and my
brother Cavie. I’ve been in the game for a minute going way back in the days
of the old Dream Team and things of that nature and movin’ on up with NWA. Now
we bringing it into the present with T.I., Xzibit “Dying to Live”. We makin’
it current basically trying to stay relevant.
Dubcnn: Now, tell me how did it feel to have a part in a Grammy nominated
album with T.I. vs TIP?
It really felt incredible but the most incredible thing about it was the way
everything came about. It was so much work and we put so much into it and at
the time we really didn’t have an opportunity to understand what was going
down. Now I look back on it and reflect and it was an incredible experience.
But it was also humbling because we’re basically the new guys on the block so
we’re really trying to get it in.
And it was all good energy. There wasn’t any Hollywood it was just…basically
we went in and had a track, he was feeling it and I heard rumors that that’s
how he came up with the concept of T.I. vs TIP with him battling on himself.
So from there it was all magic.
Dubcnn: I guess that would lead me into my next question which is, how
active are you in the song creation? Are you only providing a beat or do you
generally have a hook in mind? How is that process for you?
Well, basically what happens is I may come up with the beat and then my
partner may come up with the streamline. But on this particular beat it was
something we had done for another artist that was actually on Interscope, who
I can’t name. And basically it started out as just a drum pattern. We try to
keep the West Coast in it. What we try to do is mix the South beat and still
keep the West Coast elements.
So when we did it with the…when you first start off you hear the congas and
you hear the percussion and it basically came together that way. So it was a
mutual thing. I may come up…you may hear the drums up and my partner may come
in with a line but we basically come together to make it happen.
Dubcnn: I was curious, how often do you get to work in the studio with the
artists that you produce for? Because I know sometimes you make the beat and
you submit a beat CD or maybe you just send the track electronically. So how
often do you get to sit and create with them in the studio in the same type of
You know, to keep it real it depends on the artist and what’s going on at the
time. Sometimes time doesn’t permit so it’s an email game. And if it’s a last
minute thing, and their in the studio at the last minute like, “Yo, send me
the beat I’m ready to put it down.” Because nowadays you really have to prove
yourself unlike the old days where they come in, drop some duckets and spend
five or six days in the studio. Because of sales nobody’s playing that game.
They definitely try to close (unintelligible) before they buy so it’s a whole
But with Xzibit we actually had the opportunity to go in and create with him
so it was a very unique experience. We also created this deal with Macy Gray
and Frankie J so having the opportunity to go in the studio…it depends on the
artist and what’s going on, I’m gonna keep it real with you.
Dubcnn: It would seem like it would be…the energy, if they’re feeling it
right there and they write it on the spot…it seems like the synergy or the
energy or chemistry would be a lot better if you get the opportunity to do
Yeah, unfortunately everything is instant now.
Dubcnn: That’s true.
Everybody needs it right now. *laughs* So it changes the whole process of
doing things. The old days of really sitting down and having an opportunity to
vibe with people has changed. Its all about scheduling and if it permits. But
you know, like I say, I believe as the years come along and as we progress and
our name gets a little bigger we’ll have the liberty to slow ‘em down for a
little while. Or maybe not, who knows.
Dubcnn: Gotcha. Now you talked about drums a minute ago, how important are
drums to a Big 4D or Secret Specialist track?
The drums is everything. Really the drums are so important nowadays to me…I
feel like the drums determine if you’re going to have a hit or not. Cuz
everything you hear on the radio is either Pop Techno or its either Swing and
South. I have my little secrets where I try to keep the energy of the track
alive. Even though it’s slow I try to put things in the track that’s really
moving so you still get that same vibe but you ….it’s still slow but you still
get that energy. Again, it’s just mixing the West, to me it’s like mixing the
West and the South.
I believe all that really started in the West. What we call South reminds me
of the old ’85-’86, the Pee Wee Herman and joints like that. I feel fortunate
to have been a part of hip hop and seen it go through different stages and
turn right back around. It’s a beautiful thing. So, the drums are very
important to answer the question.
Dubcnn: Now, kinda along the same lines, how important is it to have a
signature sound or do you feel that creating great music is more important
than have a signature sound? Like, Pete Rock used to have those horns…how
important is it and what’s the difference?
You know, honestly it varies. Sometimes it can work for you or against you.
Some artists are so caught up into their sound that they won’t change or bring
diversity. But at the same time you have to keep it unique and still do you.
It’s just like having your own being and own energy but keep up with the times
but now get caught up in the trap of producing the same track. It’s just like
Snap Music, how long can you go doing the same ‘ol thing. Things have to
evolve. Being from the West Coast and being Dr. Dre certified we always have
to push our musicianship a little bit further because he’s such a dynamic
producer. So, walking in his shoes, as you know, is not an easy thing. That’s
why a lot of West Coast producers are struggling right now because they just
mimic the Dre sound. No disrespect, and I ain’t stepping on nobody’s toes but
nobody’s there to be original so you just have to watch yourself.
Dubcnn: You mentioned some of the people you’ve worked with in the past
that kind of mentored you, I see that Cold 187um from Above the Law was one of
those. Now he’s a talented underrated producer. What did you learn from him?
Basically he told me the rules of the game. When I came to him I was cocky and
I thought I knew everything. He was talking about longevity and not about
being hot for the moment but how long can you be hot. And not truly
understanding it but I feel that we are definitely on the same page now. Being
around a little bit longer and understanding that you’re here today and gone
He’s definitely underrated but he’s still a pioneer and no one can take that
from him. No one can take what they did at Ruthless (records) and that whole
sound that is still being duplicated today so that makes him a frontier. So,
in time I believe you will get your props and be on the lookout for Cold 187
cause he’s coming back. I heard some stuff on him today.
Dubcnn: Ok. Well for a producer, regardless of the genre longevity is the
key. So how do you intend to take those lessons and apply them to relevant 5
years or 10 years from now?
Well, fortunately for me, I’ve already done it. 15 years in the game. The only
reason you’re hearing my voice is because you can’t be humble anymore. Back in
the day you would be certified through the streets, they would have to certify
you. But now its not like that, you really have to come and let people know
who you are and what you’ve done. Back in the day hip hop was a small
community. The real West Coast hip hop…if I don’t know you then I know
somebody you work with and it gave me the opportunity to see different
neighborhoods and go through different experiences. So, I’ve already been here
15 years and I’m not going anywhere. I just have to wait my turn now.
I feel like Cat has his turn, Battlecat, that’s my dude. I feel like Jinx has
had his turn. If you stay patient and stay focused you’ll get your opportunity
and no one can take that from you.
Dubcnn: You hear or I’ve read of producers that produce a track but maybe
because they were too young in the game or they didn’t have the same clout as
the producer they were working with that the more accomplished producer put
his name on the track instead of the new guy. Did you ever go through any of
I definitely did that on the Mack 10 “Paper Route” album. My name is not no
where on there but I did do a song called, ‘Spousal Abuse’. Also the ‘Dollaz,
Drank and Dank’ with Short Khop. Like I say man, at the time…It’s a thin line
between business and being loyal. Sometimes you have to be careful but at the
end it all makes sense and I don’t have any hatred towards anybody. I love
everybody with all the life experiences. Sometimes things happen to you
because you’re not as experienced in the business but it’s all good and it
taught me a real good lesson.
Dubcnn: I know you used to be a rapper and you did some ghostwriting on the
project that you just mentioned. If all things were equal would you rather be
a rapper or a producer and tell me why.
Definitely a producer. I feel like producing and rapping is like the left and
right side of the brain. Every now and then you have a freak of nature that
can do both like a Kanye or a DJ Quik. But for me, people always gravitated
towards my production. Like I said, I try to be humble and realistic with
myself and not get caught up into the hype. I came from the days where you had
to battle for your spot. So I’m moving like Obama. *laughs* That’s my whole
campaign with the Secret Specialist. We’re bringing change. I”ve been on the
West Coast. I was born on the West Coast. I’ve seen the best and I just want
to bring a little diversity. I’m authentic and there’s nothing fake about me
so that’s the beautiful thing. I’m not made up and there’s no Hollywood
gimmick. Like I say, the truth speaks for itself it just takes time.
I really thank Tip and Grand Hustle for the opportunity to get in the game and
to do it on such a large scale and large album as our official come out for
the Secret Specialist. We’re one of the few artists or producers on the West
Coast that touched platinum last year. So we’re definitely blessed and it’s a
beautiful thing. And we’re moving with more people…we’re not a one night
We’re on the X-Files (soundtrack) with Xzibit and we actually went in and
remixed a lot of songs for the Full Circle album. It’s definitely been a
beautiful experience. Like I say, ‘We’ve just begun.” I feel like I’m being
reborn, I get a second chance. The Lazarus of Bbeats or whatever you want to
call me but definitely in the building baby.
Dubcnn: I’ve always wondered how you can gauge when to increase your
prices. You’ve worked with Xzibit and the late Pimp C as well. So, how do you
know when the time is right to up the price a little bit?
I feel like honestly that the process has been changed. Before you used to be
able to ride off of your name but now it’s like, “Who got the hottest track?”
So you don’t necessarily get that position anymore. It’s about what the artist
is feeling. You could be a new name and come in and knock everybody out the
box. Nothing is given anymore. But I like it that way because we gotta hustle
So, a lot of times what happens now is you end up going in and demo-ing the
song with the artist. They have a million producers that want to produce for
him. So you go in and if you beat him out and your track is the hottest then
they are willing to do whatever they have to do to get that track. Really what
it comes down to is for that moment. You don’t have the luxury of a hit that
was yesterday. It’s about that very second because there’s another dude right
outside with his drum machine ready to get it on. You got Pharrel, you got Dre
and all these different producers. Everybody is your rivalry now, there are no
friends. With that in mind you try to give the rapper what they need.
Dubcnn: I’ve seen producers make that transition to scoring for movies. Is
that something that interests you down the road?
Definitely but right now I’m just trying to be the King of the West. I think
its time for some new faces on the West. We’re definitely doing it and we’re
definitely blessed to be able to touch some big records. Right now I just want
to focus on the production. I still feel like a new booty. I still feel like I
need to earn my rep so I want to earn your respect.
This is the official coming out of the Secret Specialist and your boy Big 4D
and I’m here to win your vote. I’m like Obama, I want change baby!
Dubcnn: What’s on your plate for 2008?
2008…we did a little joint with Young Dro. We got one coming with Macy Gray.
Right now we’re focusing on this Xzibit, the X-Files movie, “Dying to Live”.
Also have a joint with Frankie J and a few other things I can’t really let out
the bag. But definitely look for the Secret Specialist. We’re definitely
coming to a hood near you and we’re definitely going to earn your respect.
That’s one thing we’re gonna do.
Dubcnn: Any last words for Dubcnn?
The last words for Dubcnn is look out for the Secret Specialist. We want to
make music that is relevant and that’s going to flow through the ages. 100.
Dubcnn: Alright. Fa sho. Thanks for your time man.
Good look Javon
Big 4D Interview Audio: