BUD'DA (May 2011) | Interview By:
Multi-platinum producer Bud’da has worked with a virtual who’s who of the music industry crafting sonic back drops for artists like Xzibit, Nas, Timbaland, Shanice, Lenny Kravitz, Tank, Dawn Robinson of En Vogue, King T, Dr. Dre, Aaliyah, and Ice Cube to name a few. It was with Ice Cube where this Pittsburgh, PA native became known throughout the industry and began a career of hit-making prominence. Producing five tracks on the Ice Cube-led Westside Connection album “Bow Down”, along with WC and Mack 10, including the earth-shaking title track “Bow Down”, Bud’da became a reputable producer while revitalizing the west coast sound amidst the East vs. West era.
Through that successful stint, and the mutual acquaintance of fellow Pittsburgh, PA producer Same Sneed, the critically acclaimed Dr. Dre wanted to bring Bud’da even further into hip-hop history by featuring snippets of a Bud’da-produced track in the beginning and end of the 2pac & Dr. Dre video for “California Love”, off the late Tupac Shakur’s “All Eyez On Me”. Soon after Dr. Dre’s historic departure from Death Row Records, Bud’da was once again recruited to help the good Doctor form the foundation of his Aftermath empire, by co-producing the lead-single, “Been There, Done That”, off the “Dr. Dre Presents…The Aftermath” compilation project.
After numerous credits for Snoop Dogg, Xzibit, Ice Cube, Knoc-turn’al, Onyx and others, Disney invited Bud’da to score “The Proud Family” animated television series, the WB Network enlisted him to compose their animated series “The Boom Crew”, he later worked with both Spike Lee and Bill Duke on the television miniseries “Miracle’s Boys, which led Spike Lee to call upon Bud’da to score his wife’s 2006 show “That’s What I’m Talking About”. Currently, Bud’da is working with Disney on their upcoming television program “As the Bell Rings”, as well as working with his artists on his record label Bout Time Entertainment.
Dubcnn sat down with Bud’da to discuss a range of topics, including working with Ice Cube and Westside Connection on the monumental “Bow Down” project, who his early inspirations were, how he landed on the Dr. Dre & Aftermath production team, the background on a few of the classics songs he’s produced, and much more!
Interview was done in May 2011
Questions Asked By: Chad Kiser
Dubcnn: Dubcnn is here with the legendary, multi-platinum producer Bud’da! How’s it going, man, and what have you been up to lately?
Bud'da: Well, I’ve transitioned to composing for more film and TV projects. I still produce records, but my company now also develops TV shows and movies additionally.
Dubcnn: Ok, let’s get into this a little bit by talking about how you got started producing records. Who were your influences early on?
Bud'da: I got started in the game by Sam Sneed professionally. But, I have been producing music and DJ’ing since I was 13 years old (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3cqD2Du6vM)
I was influenced by my parents at an early age because they had a soul and R&B band where my dad played guitar, and my mom played bass and sang lead vocals, so, I got to hear them rehearse all the time especially since I played the drums for them. But Marley Mall really was probably my biggest influence to make me want to get into producing. And then, years later, producers like Dr. Dre, Large Professor, Pete Rock and Diamond D were other major, major influences.
Dubcnn: Coming from Pittsburgh, PA, how did you wind up in California producing for the likes of Ice Cube, King T, Dr. Dre and others?
Bud'da: I was looking for a way out of Pittsburgh to pursue music. I knew Sam Sneed from before he moved to California and he was in town one Christmas and I went to go see him and asked him if he could point me in the right direction being that he was in LA working with Dr. Dre at the time. He was like, “Yeah no problem.” He gave me his number and every time I would call him, either I got no answer or when we did talk, he was too busy, so in my mind I’m like, “This dude is a fake!” And so, I stopped calling him and moved to Atlanta to see if I could get something started there. Then it must have been about 7 months later, Sam called me out the blue and said, “Are you ready?” I was like, “Ready for what?” He said, “I just got a new spot and want you to come out to LA and help me work on my album.” And one thing led to another… the rest was history.
Dubcnn: Talking about Cube for a moment, tell me about that particular connection with him. How did that working relationship begin?
Bud'da: Sam Sneed introduced me to a group named Kaution, They where doing an album and were signed to Cube’s Lynch Mob label. We gave them some beats and they ended up picking 2 for their album. So after Kaution’s album came out, Cube hit me up and told me he was starting a group called, “Westside Connection”.
In that same conversation when he told me what he was up to with the Westside, he asked me if I had any beats he could hear. I said, “Yes!” and got him some beats a couple days later! He liked what I was doing and asked for more beats to hear. I would do about 25 beats a week until we came up with the majority of the Westside Connection album including that heated beat for Bow Down
Dubcnn: It must have been crazy around that time to have been involved in a project of that magnitude. During the recording sessions, what was the atmosphere like, especially with the whole East vs. West beefing going on?
Bud'da: There wasn’t a lot of talk going on. Everything that was felt was translated through the lyrics and the music, and when records where finished no one could deny the message that was coming across, Westside Connection was one of the first to throw the stone to break the glass to start the war.
Dubcnn: You’ve worked with Cube on several of the emcee’s albums including War & Peace, Laugh Now, Cry Later, the Gang Related Soundtrack and others. But you seem to be missing on his more recent offerings like “Raw Footage” & “I Am The West”. Did you guys have a falling out or anything?
Bud'da: No, Cube gives me an opportunity to get on all of his records. We did a song for “Raw Footage” that had R-Kelly on it that he didn’t use and we met when he was doing, “I Am The West”, so he could show me the direction of the record but shortly after I committed to do a movie called “Trapped” and didn’t have enough time to do some bangers for him.
Dubcnn: Handling such a heavy load with the original Westside Connection project, it just didn’t seem right that you weren’t involved in the follow-up, “Terrorist Threats.” Was it one of those scenarios where you just weren’t around?
Bud'da: Between War & Peace 2 and Laugh Now Cry Later I was out of town a lot working with Aaliyah, Tank, Static and had an artist named Bradshaw who was signed to my label on Blackground Records Virgin, I also I did a song with Nas called “Gangsta Tears” and a song with Timbaland called Party for the Exit Wounds soundtrack, I had also been
Working on a cartoon called The Proud Family and I hadn’t talked to cube in a couple of years, I hated I wasn’t on the follow up, but I had to do what I had to do!
Dubcnn: With you and Ice Cube having such great chemistry working together, as evidenced on songs like “Greed”, “Ghetto Vet”, “Chrome & Paint”, “Bow Down” and others, is there any chance for some future collaborations from you and him?
Bud'da: No doubt, Cube and I both have a mutual respect for what we do and know there is magic when we do records together.
Dubcnn: Ok, let’s switch gears for a moment. After the Westside Connection time, you were a visible part of Dr. Dre’s early Aftermath Entertainment production team. How did that situation come about for you?
Bud'da: Well it’s a funny story, Sam Sneed introduced me to Dre and he never knew I even did beats! We would kick it at his house parties and sometimes in the studio when Sam would bring us, but how Dre found out I did music was from a guy named J-Flexx who was writing for him at the time, Flexx lived in the same building as us and would get beats of mine to write songs for Dre so he could be prepared for when Dre did a beat. And he would have something on deck, one day Flexx was at Dre’s studio and was writing to one of my beats when Dre walked in and asked, “Who did that?” The next time I saw Dre, he asked me why I didn’t say I did beats.
Dubcnn: I don’t think many people know that in the Dr. Dre & 2Pac video for “California Love” snippets of your music was featured at the beginning and the end. Can you elaborate for the readers what those snippets were of and how you got those placed as part of one of the industry’s greatest-selling songs?
Bud'da: That beat was the first beat Dr. Dre heard of mine, he told me he needed an intro for the “California Love” video and asked if he could use my beat, and of course said, “yes!” We went into the studio and what started out, as a beat in my SP 1200 was about to become a part of history, to the public and for myself. Then right after Dre left “Death Row”, he asked If I wanted to be involved with his new label he was about to start called “Black Market” which is now called “Aftermath”.
Dubcnn: I’d like run through a couple of tracks with you that you have done, and talk about them a little more in-depth. First is an obvious one, the lead-single to the Westside Connection album, Bow Down. Talk about what went in to making that record because that’s such a landmark record in terms of what it meant to the west coast at that time, and the sound of that record was incredible!
Bud'da: My motivation was hunger! Once I started giving Cube tracks, I wanted to keep getting him beats to try and get the whole album locked down. Bow Down was in about the 3rd batch of 20 I had given to him. I was working day and night to come up with joints I thought he would like. What’s crazy is, while I was waiting for Cube to respond to one of the cd’s that had Bow Down on it, I played it for Dr Dre, and he said he wanted it! I let him know I had already given it to Cube. I always wonder what Dr. Dre would have done to that beat; just curious.
Dubcnn: “Greed”, with Ice Cube on the “Gang Related” soundtrack is one of those tracks for me that is simply incredible. I love that track, the inclusion of the pigs squealing really made that track come to life, and Cube definitely did his thing on there. Tell me about that project and how it came together.
Bud'da: I was excited because I think that was the first movie soundtrack I had ever done work for and I have always loved film music and this was one step closer to being on the big screen. Cube wanted something that was high energy and very percussive that had sound effects in it to paint the picture even more vivid for the song, some of my favorite effects in the song was the passing car horn sound and the crow sound, I think during that time I was definitely living out my film love through music!
Dubcnn: The next record I want to discuss is the post-Death Row Dr. Dre lead-single for the opening of Aftermath Entertainment, “Been There, Done That”. Fill us in on the creation of that record because, again, that was pivotal record you were involved in for a major artist.
Bud'da: “Been There, Done That”, started out to be a song for me, actually as an artist/producer at first. I did the beat then me and Mel Man wrote the hook, and I recorded it. When Dre got to the studio and I played it for him, he was like, “this is it!” I said, “for what?” He said, “my single for the Aftermath album.” There was no way I was going to deny him that record! So J –Flexx wrote the verses and the rest was history! We mixed that song about 10 times but with each time it got better & better, I learned form Dr. Dre that it is never too late to make something better.
Dubcnn: Working with Dr. Dre on that record, and on the entire “Dr. Dre Presents….The Aftermath” compilation for that matter, what were those early times at Aftermath like? Did you ever envision the label turning into the success that it has become?
Bud'da: Working with Dre during that time was a great experience. It was like school for me. Anything that I didn’t know, I learned from Dre himself. He was an open book and respected my talent also. The sky was the limit as far as production and getting your ideas together; any instrument, any musician, any vocalist, was all at your fingertips! And we were all family; working, having friendly competition between all of us to do the best music we could.
I knew anything Dre put his mind to he was going to succeed at it, so where the label has gone is no surprise. I can only imagine that as good as it was when I was over there, during The Aftermath Album, the Firm, and other projects; it is 50 times crazier if he has the right people around him!
Dubcnn: Another Pennsylvanian was also involved over there, Mel-Man. How close were you two during your time at the label, and do you guys still speak?
Bud'da: Yeah, Mel and I still speak, and we were very close during that time. I had Dre fly Mel-Man out to LA originally to be an artist on Aftermath, I have known him from back in the day in Pittsburgh we would play beats for each other in his basement and DJ parties that’s my homie.
Dubcnn: What other projects or artists were you working with during your time there that we may not know about?
Bud'da: Well I worked on The Firm record, King T, D Ruff, he was a singer who is David Ruffin’s son, Kool G Rap, Dawn Robinson, Reuben, The Brothers, Truth Hurts, and many more most where all in-house projects because Dre liked all of his producers to be exclusive at that time.
Dubcnn: Were you still around when Eminem came on board? If so, did you do any work with him, and do you have any recollections of early Eminem stories?
Bud'da: No, unfortunately I wasn’t around when Eminem came to Aftermath, But Dre did give me the opportunity to come up with music for “Forgot About Dre”, they didn’t use it, but used some of my programming on the song.
Dubcnn: You produced King Tee’s lead-single “Got It Locked”, as well as several other cuts on the shelved Aftermath project, “Thy Kingdom Come”. What are your thoughts on that project, from an artistic standpoint, and it eventually being shelved?
Bud'da: I miss artists like King T who have a voice you remember and to be honest there is so many things that may go un heard from the Aftermath vault it was upsetting at the time, but it found its way to the public, King T is a great story teller and still well respected, maybe one day Dre will release an Aftermaths’ unheard hits album!
Dubcnn: Looking ahead, you’ve worked with the WB Network on “The Boom Crew”, with Disney on the animated TV series “The Proud Family”, as well as with Spike Lee’s “Miracle’s Boys”. What’s next for Bud’da?
Bud'da: Wow additionally, after doing the new Muppets called, Studio DC, and As The Bell Rings on Disney Channel, I can’t believe God has allowed me to come this far. I’m looking forward to composing more feature films and TV shows as well as doing more earthshaking good music!
Dubcnn: You have a label, Bout Time Entertainment, what can we expect from you there and what artists/projects are you working on?
Bud'da: We are working on a artist that I have named Eddie Gomez; he is a mixture of Lauryn Hill and John Mayer! He plays guitar and piano… and is a beast of an all around artist! Look out for him in 2012! Also we are developing Film and TV projects and a non profit program for inner city youth.
Dubcnn: Bud’da, that’s all I have this time around, thank you for your time and we’ll definitely be looking out for you! Do you have any lasting words for our readers?
Bud'da: Thanks to anyone who knows and supports my music, keep an ear and eye out for me and I promise I will continue to give you the best music and content in the years to come.