interview BIG 4D  (June 2008) | Interview By: Javon Adams

   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
Javon Adams.

Interview was done in June 2008

Questions Asked By: Javon Adams

Big 4D Interview Audio: Listen Here
Related Media

Xzibit - Dying 2 Live (Produced by Big 4D)


Dubcnn: Alright. So, we’re sitting here, Dubcnn and Big 4D. How are things going man?

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 environment?

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 different process.

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 that.

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 tomorrow.

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 that?

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 stand.

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 for it.

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: Listen Here


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