interview BOSKO  (December 2006) | Interview By: Lil Jay

Dubcnn sat down with superproducer Bosko for an exclusive interview. The Portland native has been making noise this year with his production on various albums such as E-40's "My Ghetto Report Card", and most recently Kevin Federline's debut album "Playing With Fire". The multi-talented maestro produced and performed on a couple of songs on the album, including K-Fed's first single "Privilege".

We talk to Bosko about working with Federline and how the connection came about. We also discuss his work on E-40's last album and the upcoming 40 record dropping next year, hooking up with Kanye West and how he introduced Kanye to E-40. We proceed to talk about the major and the independent game, new projects at Jus Family Records as well as Bosko's upcoming solo album.

As ever, you can read and listen to this exclusive interview and we urge you to leave feedback on our forums or email them to liljay@dubcnn.com

Interview was done in December 2006

Questions Asked By: Lil Jay

Bosko Gave Dubcnn Shoutout! Check That Here

Full Interview Audio Here


Dubcnn: The last time I talked to you was when we did the 3-way interview with Cool Nutz. That was in 2004 and a lot has happened since. What's going on with you?

Bosko: So much! Let me see, one of the big things I did was with Kanye West on the first record. That was right after we talked. I was doing a lot of production out here on the West. And I did something for T.I. They wanted me to come down and play talkbox on the T.I. album "I Wanna Be Your Man Remix". It happened that Kanye was the producer of the joint, so once he heard me play the talkbox he was like 'Yo I gotta get that on my album'. He flew me out the New York, and I jumped on the record. It was a trip cause nobody knew what Kanye was gonna do what he did at the time. It was super cool and we connected on that producer level.

He was already a big E-40 fan which was crazy to me, I didn't realize that. And it was just a coincidence that E-40 happened to be in New York at that time, so I invited him up to the studio and introduced Kanye to E-40. So I made that connection for them, which is a good thing for both of them. And we did that "Workout Plan" record. Since then we won a Grammy on that joint, I performed it live at the American Music Awards with him. That was a good little jump off.

Dubcnn: Did your appearance on Kanye West's "College Dropout" album open new doors for you?

Bosko: Yeah definitely. Just that a lot of people heard that I work with Kanye opened their eyes a bit. Maybe I might have been in a pigeon hole for a while, and once they saw that and listened to some of my music, they expanded their horizon as far as what I can do. And also in terms of what you can do with the talkbox, cause a lot of people think that the talkbox can only be layed over one kind of beat. And that's almost like saying you can only play guitar or sing over one kind of beat. It doesn't make any sense. But definitely, it was a real good look.

Dubcnn: That's kind of crazy that Kanye was a fan of E-40's music before they even met, cause I didn't expect that. And plus, the only song they worked on together as of today is the "Tell Me When To Go Remix".

Bosko: Right, right. Well, you know what? They were actually working on some stuff for 40's last album. And obviously I produced a bunch of songs on 40's record "My Ghetto Report Card". But there were some sample clearing issues at the last minute. And it's actually crazy, but the song "Happy To Be Here" which I produced was originally a Kanye West record that Kanye produced. But like I said they had a sample issues at the last minute, I'm talking a day before mastering or something. So I flew up to the Bay that day and came up with a whole new track. I've never even heard the original track, they just told me what happened. But he just spit the lyrics over and I came up with a whole new hook. And that song ended up being the last song on 40's album, it's crazy.

But they're defintely still working together, 40 and Kanye. And as a matter of fact, Kanye produced a song for 40 that is called "Get Deleted". I'm singing the hook on it as well. So it's Kanye, E-40, and me. It's probably gonna be on 40's next record.

Dubcnn: You're making noise with your appearance on Kevin Federline's album. How did that connection come about?

Bosko: Really, that one's kinda crazy. My engineer Doug also works at this studio in Malibu where Kevin is recording. And with Doug being a cool cat, Kevin invited him to come work at his home studio at the house. So Doug was recording with Kevin and Britney the whole time, and he was like 'Yo Bosko, you need to come up here and meet Kevin, cause he's a fan of your music. I think you guys could put something together!' I was like aight, I didn't know what to expect when I rolled out there. They're living up in Malibu, like 6 studios in the house. It's like Vegas in Malibu or something, just coming in that house.

And he turned on the music and I was actually kinda scared, hoped this don't sound crazy, cause of all the rumors, and plus I never really heard the dude's music. And he turned it on, and I was like 'OK! OK, K-Fed can rap!' You know, myself as a producer, I try to bring the best out of every artist that I work with. And him being from Fresno, which a lot of people don't know, we really connected. Cause you know, Fresno is close to the Bay Area and they got a lot of the same attitude and listen to a lot of the same music. He was already deep into a lot of the underground Bay Area shit. So we started putting together some records.

Dubcnn: Did you get any flack for working with K-Fed, cause dude is known for not having the best reputation as a rapper.

Bosko: You know, it's one of those things. We'll see, with his record they didn't really do a lot pre-promotion. We performed live on Jay Leno, we performed on Tyra Banks' show. So now people are starting to hear the music and make the the connection between me and him. So it kinda remains to be seen what kind of response that I personally get. For the most part, a lot of people are surprised. Because they're like 'K-Fed? what they hell are you doing Bosko?', but when they hear the record they're like 'Ohhh ok, I'm fucking with this!!' So everybody who has heard the music has given me a good response. Because the expectations are really low and when they hear it they're like Wow. You did some good records with that cat. My only thing is I hope that people will listen to the record and at least give it at chance, because they will be surprised.

Dubcnn: I thought the line-up on the album was kinda crazy. You got Ya Boy on there, and when you skip the track you got Britney Spears!

Bosko: Yeaah!! That's the thing, the way it came together, it wasn't so much artificial. It wasn't so much of having his manager go out and call the 10 hottest producers, call the 10 hottest artists and put them on a record. A lot of times this is how a record is made, it doesn't even matter what it sounds like. They just go out and get the 10 most popular cats at the time. But on this record, it was more of who happened to be around, who he was vibed with on a personal level, or cats that he respected already in terms of feeling their musical style. That's why it's so crazy, because it wasn't put together with the standard formula. Just a new cat that wants to finally get a chance to put out some music.

Dubcnn: Did you try to get out that box and grow as an artist by doing that project?

Bosko: Definitely. I mean it's a good look for me in terms of exposure. Like I said, hopefully we'll get some people that give it a honest listen. And of course working with Britney, you can't be mad. She's one of the biggest artists on the planet. We're already working on some stuff for her record. So it's definitely a good look in terms of trying to break out of the box for me. And then also me singing on the hook was an opportunity to showcase that part too. Cause I've been doing more and more hooks, singing for people. Now all of the records that I sing on tend to be the ones that people either wanna buy or wanna make the single or whatever. The magic is in the singing for me.

And I'm working on a solo album, so all the exposure with this single and the other records that I've done lately, like on 40's record I sang on 4 songs. I'm all over the records singing, and people don't really know that's what I do. But I'm working on this album, and it's all part of that.

Dubcnn: How do you go about producing tracks for such artists, compared to more familiar cats like Cool Nutz and E-40, knowing that they got a completely different sound?

Bosko: I'm a music lover. I grew up playing in jazz bands, singing in church, playing piano, breakdancing. I was all over the place. And as far as the music that I listen to, I love Soul music. I love Hip Hop music. When I say Hip Hop I'm talking all kinds, from the underground backpack shit to the Down South heavy bass, to hyphy. I like it if it's good. It doesn't really matter what type. So as a producer, I like to challenge myself to do records that don't sound the same. I actually think that's something that hurt me over the years, because people identify a particular producer by all of their stuff sounding the same, and that's kinda how you blow up.

But it's been hard for me to adjust to doing that. So for me to go from E-40 to Kanye West to Lil' Jon to Kevin Federline to Britney Spears, it's nuthin'. Because I already have music that fits all those different styles. I know how to dig in and figure out which particular kind of a sound an artist needs to appeal to their fans. And a producer is like a coach, I'm trying to bring the best out of each artist. The same coach should be able to coach Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman. And that's what I do as a producer.

Dubcnn: Doing that project you're being exposed to a new audience, plus you're doing these appearances on Jay Leno and shit. Thats like more promotion than you ever had?

Bosko: It's huge. I mean I've done all these records for E-40. Some of my favorite records of my career, and half the time I can't even get a mention in The Source even if I got the single. When they review an album, they just put "other" for production. But here I do one song for Kevin, and I'm all over the world. People see my name alongside Kevin on the Tonight Show and the Tyra Banks Show. So it's a totally different world.

Dubcnn: You also have your own solo project coming out. Talk about that?

Bosko: Well you know, like I said earlier, I got all these different influences musically. And I've been singing since day one. I've been singing since day one, but I was more of a rapper in the beginning, cause I didn't really appreciate a lot of the lyrics in R&B. It got kinda repetitive and boring 'Oh I love you Baby, you're so fine...', it's boring! So I combined rapping and the hard beats with melodies that I play on the keyboard to make something that's real unique. And also music that has something to say. I can talk about things a little bit more complex and more honest. I also found that I've been able to take my voice to the next level. Initially I thought of myself as just a background singer, but once I really started getting into it, I'm like 'Fuck that!', let me try to compete with the best. I wanna sound like Stevie Wonder or Al Green, but still have the lyricism of the best lyricists. So on my solo project, that's what you gonna hear. You gonna hear kinda like a Hip Hop/Soul fusion with lyrics that are more progressive. Talking about situations that a regular R&B song might not talk about.

As far guest appearances, it's kinda still in the works. I'm sure I'll do something with E-40 just because we have that chemistry. But I might step out the box a little bit on this record. I've been talking to The Roots about doing something. And who knows who else is gonna end up on the record. I might collab with other producers as well. But it's gonna be something totally different, but at the same time fans of the music that I've been producing can appreciate. Cause it's gonna bang! It ain't gonna be Luther Vandross, I'm still gonna be rapping too!

Dubcnn: How was that transition for you from being a producer to an artist?

Bosko: Well you know, it's two sides to it. I always had the skills. I write a lot, even when I work with artists. I help them with the lyrics or I write the hook. So that part is simple, cause I love to perform. So all that comes easy. I would say the hard part was figuring out what direction I was gonna go in. Cause I wanted to do something different than everybody else. That's just so boring to me to just copy everybody's music. The difficult thing is blancing your time, because as a producer you're supposed to be in the studio. As an artist, you're supposed to be on the stage performing. You can't be at two places at once. Right now I'm really just gonna devote my time to the artist part of it, and I catch up on the producer part when I get done with the record.

Dubcnn: DJ Quik said a while ago that he gave up on the talkbox cause that's a thing from the past. Whats your view on that? Are you gonna do the thing forever?

Bosko: Well yeah. I respect Quik, he's one of the best producers out of the West Coast and one of my favorites. But like I said, the talbox is all about how you use it. On the "Workout Plan", that's the perfect example. That doesn't make you think of Roger and Zapp. But it's a great record, and it's a progressive sound with the talkbox that works perfectly and gets across the message of the song. So it's just how you use it. It doesn't make any sense to throw it away. It's just like Jimmy Hendrix throwing his guitar away saying 'Oh, this guitar is old!' Drums been around since the beginning of time, and we ain't throwing them away. All of the sounds in Hip Hop are based upon regular drum sounds, it's just what kind of effects you put on it. So I'ma keep riding with mine, I will be the guy that took the talkbox from where Roger took it to the next level.

Dubcnn: What's the status at Jus Family Records?

Bosko: Well you know, Jus Family is alive and well. We got some great releases coming up for the next year. Primary Cool Nutz' record "The Miracle". We're putting it out through Sick-Wid-It and it's gonna be a collaboration with E-40. We're almost done, we're going to the lab with me, Cool Nutz, and 40, and we gonna come up with a few more songs. But it's gonna be crazy, "The Miracle" record. Cool Nutz is taking his lyrics to the next level. And I'm doing the same on the production side. With 40 involved we can't lose!

Dubcnn: Since you still got the Jus Family thing going and at the same time you're producing for artists on a major level, what are you more comfortable with? The independent game or the major dealings?

Bosko: Well, it's a trip. I'm definitely more into the major level. The nice thing about the major level is that somebody else is putting up their money (laughs). But from the creative side I hate the fuckin' major game. A lot of the time you deal with cats that don't know the music, they didn't come from the music, and they don't understand how it works. And they can't imagine. They can hear a hit after it's already a hit when it's played on the radio and everybody is trying to buy it. But they can't hear it in the lab when you come up with that idea. So it is frustrating from that standpoint to deal with the major game. And the timetable of the major game is so slow. A lot of times you put together a record and it got this crazy release schedule, but you gotta wait for like 9 months. That part is frustrating.

But right now it really all comes back to the independent game and the internet, because you have to just do it yourself. Whether you're a major or independent, unless you're Jay-Z or something, you gotta get to the lab and make that record, get the buzz going, give it to your people at the radio station and all your DJ's, and get it buzzing. The majors ain't spending a dime until they see it on the radar. But just to answer your question, I guess I'm more comfortable with the independent game, as long as I know at the end of the day I got that major money.

Dubcnn: So if an up & coming artist came up to you asking if he should stay independent or go major, what would you tell him?

Bosko: I would tell him you should stay independent until you get onto a level. It depends on what kind of person they are too. Because to be independent, you gotta have hustle. You gotta be willing to work that shit, to work 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Writing, being your own promotion, marketing, your own recording team, your own money. So if you're not ready for that hustle, you might as well go with the majors and let somebody else do it. But if you got that independent attitude and that hustle mentality, then you should just stay independent until they come write you that check that's so big you can't cut it now!

Dubcnn: But it's funny cause after all these years you're still more comfortable with the independent game. I guess 10 years ago you were probably more into the major game.

Bosko: You know, that's partly me grindin' and growing in the game. And it's also cause the game is changed. Back then it cost 500,000 to put together a decent studio, it cost half a million to do a video. There was no internet promotion, and it weren't half as many rappers out there. Not to say that it was new, but it wasn't pop music. Now rap is pop music. It's like a blockbuster movie. So when you're putting together a blockbuster movie you got Jurassic Park and X-Men, they both got a 100 million dollar budget. You can't come in with your little million and think your picture is gonna compete. So the whole game is just totally different. You just gotta understand and know how to work it.

Dubcnn: What else can we expect in the future? Anything else we left out?

Bosko: Of course this new E-40 record is gonna be crazy. We're gonna get in the lab, like I said we already have the one with Kanye. We're gonna get down and dirty and take 40 to the next level. I think he did a great job this last time, and he really showed the world who he was. And with Lil' Jon behind him, now I think he's ready to hit them with that double/triple platinum joint. So I'm excited about that.

Other production that I've been working on is with Trick Daddy. I just wrote on Xzibit's record with The Game, I wrote that hook for "On Bail". Probably a lot more work with Lil' Jon. We developed a really cool relationship during that time we were working with 40. So expect more collaborations with him. I did something with Bohagen, I did something with Scrappy, I got something with Trina in the works, the Britney stuff. A whole bunch of new stuff, taking them to the next level.


Bosko Gave Dubcnn A Shoutout! Check That Here

Full Interview Audio Here




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