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The Diaz Brothers: Sounds of Success
4/3/07 - exclusive interview


the diaz brothers

Luis and Hugo Diaz are real life hermanos who form the Diaz Brothers music production team based out of Miami, Florida.


While not limited to one type of music, their primary focus is on Hip-Hop, and are recognized primarily for bringing Cuban rapper Pitbull to mainstream recognition. The Chilean brothers learned the ropes of the music industry through running their own labels.


Luis became a reputable engineer, earning jobs recording artists such as The Baha Men, P Diddy, 50 Cent, Juvenile, Beenie Man, Trick Daddy, Lil Scrappy, Beyoncé, Toni Braxton, Mary J Blige, Lauryn Hill, the entire Marley Family and produced tracks for Daddy Yankee, Lil Jon and LLoyd Banks. Luis speaks with LatinRapper about the production and music engineering business in this exclusive interview. When did you first get into the production game in general?

We've been in the game for a little while. I was in a band, that was my start. My brother was the one who brought kind of the DJ aspect of things, he got into DJing. We both went our own separate ways, after years of playing around in it, we got together and became officially the Diaz Brothers. After I had been an engineer, he was producing on his own, we ended up folding together and becoming the Diaz Brothers.

When did you start producing Hip Hop Beats?

I'd say probably around the time we signed Pit. Before that, we had been together and had done a bunch of remixes for Sony Disco, the Latin division of Sony here in Miami. We did the whole gamut, everything was club dance, breakbeat thing going on back then. A little bit of Urban, but soon after that we got into the American Hip Hop thing heavy.

You guys are from Miami, is it safe to assume that your name is an homage to the Diaz Brothers mentioned in Scarface?

(laughs) Yeah, we can't run away from that. When we first decided to do it, we were looking for a name. The name just came with no associations to Scarface or the movie. And then immediately after we said it, I looked at him like 'wow, you do realize how many people are gonna compare people to that'. Doing hip hop, being from Miami, how can that movie not be a big part of our lives. Its obviously an homage to the city in the movie.

Tony Touch works with rappers known as the Diaz Brothers, has there ever been any real confusion between you guys in the media?

Yeah, we've been confused with those guys as long as we've been out there. Its not bad people to be confused with. Ironically, I've never been in the same room with Tony Touch. I know everybody he knows, he knows everybody we know. I think Tony Touch doing the "Return of the Diaz Brothers" wasn't really out there, he did the mixtape thing for a while, at the time we started it they were kind of on a hiatus. So we tried to go out there and promote ourselves as the producers that we can. But between Myspace and the media we get hit up, or people ask us for autographs, I'm like 'look man we're not the rappers.' Its cool, I don't think its ever hurt us in any way or been an inconvenience.

Originally, you weren't heavy into producing but actually engineering and remixing existing tracks, correct?

What happened was, I left the whole band thing and started doing the engineering and did that for a while, I was pretty successful with that. I worked at a studio down here called Circle House, not that I worked there, but that's where I did a lot of my work. Me and my brother were doing remixes together, we did a remix for The Rolling Stones, one for Ivy Queen and Wyclef Jean, one of the reasons why we found Pit. I was engineering, and I mixed a record called "Who Let the Dogs Out", I did a bunch of other mixes, I won a Grammy with that record. The other was Beenie Man's Art Life. Kind of a plateau as far as the mixing career. After me and Hugh had done the Ivy Queen remix with Wyclef, we met Wyclef at the video shoot for the song that we did. He's the one that said, 'You gotta get your own artist, invest yourself in that', and that brought us to Pit.

Quiet as kept, you guys were instrumental in Pitbull blowing up, how did you first meet?

I was at an engineering session for Luke, and Pit was signed to Luke records. I was in the session mixing, he just happened to come in the session and talk to me. I didn't know he was an artist, I thought he was an intern working for the label. I was mixing a record called "Lollipop", and he's on there spitting. So, talking to him, he said 'It's Me', I said 'what?' That kind of took me back a little bit, because I thought this kid's nice, I didn't even think that the kid was an artist. After being in the session for six hours, we kind of hit it off. He was complaining to me about being on that label. At that time, Luke taught him a lot of stuff, he was a big part of refining him and showing him the business. But Luke wasn't really giving him the attention that Pit wanted at that time. I told him if you ever get off the Luke label, call me. Three or four months later, he calls me, that was it, we signed him up and we rolled.

So for Pitbull's first album, which didn't take long to go Gold, what was your involvement as far as beats, executive producer, promotion, album direction and so on?

Really with Pit, that album was the product of two and a half years of me, my brother and Pit living together. We really believed in him, me and my brother really saw that this kid's got it. I think now when people meet him, people see what we saw early on. It was just songs, we did probably 120, 130 songs. We were definitely producing, producing, producing. Me and my brother were really aware to not close the album out to other producers. So we opened it up to bring Jim Jonsin to do "Dammit Man", which was a big album for him, everyone wanted to be part of it, we were really generous with the album. We thought it was an investment to Pit to get to that level. That label has I'd say two and a half years of work into it, there were a few things done at the last second, but for the most part that album had a good representation of that time.

What other Hip Hop artists have you produced for?

For that period of time, we did Pit for two and a half years, we didn't have time to do too much else. But once Pit got his wings and went Gold, we realized that he was on his own, we didn't have to keep pushing him. We started venturing out and dealing with our career as producers. We did LLoyd Bank's Hunger for More album, we worked with Lil Jon. That's the path we been on lately. Literally tonight I was supposed to be in the studio with Daddy Yankee, but we're going to wind up going to the studio two days from now because his voice is hoarse, but we're doing two new tracks on his new album. DJ Khaled, we're doing our own thing.

You were born in Santiago, Chile, do you ever work your background into your music, put a Latin spin on the beats?

We were having a talk with Pit not too long ago, sometimes I think people expect because you're of Latin descent that you have to have a Latin touch to the music. I think to a certain degree we do, I don't think we purposely do it, there will be certain beats that are Latin sounding, not because we're Latin but who we are. I'm sure you guys, being part of LatinRapper understand, being Latin you have a different outlook on culture and food and women, know what I'm saying? By that virtue, I definitely think what we do has a Latin spin on it. Not sonically all the time, but in Miami you can't help it.

Did you guys ever have aspirations to become rappers yourselves?

At least for me personally - I can't speak for my brother - I don't think either of us really came from that artist point of view. We're both musicians, I'm a fan of rap, I don't think I could ever do it justice, I think we're more from the musician side of it.

Name a track you've produced that is the most significant to you personally.

That's a good question. There's a few out there. We tend to have a few records out there that are real hardcore fan favorites, like LLoyd Banks Hunger for More "Southside Story" was a real good record, like if you were a LLoyd banks fan and came from Southside Queens you felt it. We like the records that are like that. On Pit's M.I.A.M.I. album, Hustler's Withdrawl which is about his dad, was a good record. I think the last album that we did that we really liked was "Raindrops" on this last Pit record. It was about his dad and his friend Eddie that died, it was different for Pit. We like to do records different from the norm, we like hit records but, you know.

For being on the grind so much, you guy's don't bask in the limelight much. So What's the one track that you tell people you produced, and their first response is, "wow, you guys did that beat"?

I can't say that there's one record, its more about Pit. We produced "Culo" along with Lil Jon. But I think overall its the accomplishment of getting a white Latino rapper from Miami who's real Cuban to actually make noise in the urban world. Because that was a crazy battle, that was just nuts. At first, we didn't realize what we were up against, but we got tired of hearing the word 'no.' Everybody thought we were nuts, because this kid's not Black enough, he's not urban enough. Just to see the fact that he got to that point is probably the biggest accomplishment. When people say, 'What do you guy's do?' 'We're Pitbull's producers' and boom, immediately they say 'Oh, that's you guys!" We got a couple of bangers coming out, so maybe that will change, but Pit's probably the most identifiable credit that we have.

In the back of every Hip Hop mag you can find ads for music engineering schools. For readers interested in that type of career, do you feel that those schools are worth the money?

Damn, that's a good question. You know, I think if somebody has no experience at all, like all they know how to play is the radio, it doesn't hurt to be at a school like a Full Sail in Orlando where you've got major facilities, in an actual facility so you're not a fish out of water. But then the price you gotta pay to get that exposure, I gotta weigh it, man. To me, the best advice would be -and its probably not the conventional way to go - if you can get in studio fetching coffee, and being that go-to gofer for a while, you will learn more. If you've got the ambition, and you just need the room, and you're in that sponge mode, definitely get into a facility and learn because it will be a lot cheaper. I didn't go to school for anything, I just fell into engineer, curiosity and wanting it. I can't say that I don't recommend school for anybody, it's just like the prices that these guys have to pay, and have to grind for five, six seven years, and you've got a huge student loan. A lot of my assistants I've seen, like Mark Vincent's now Lil Jon's personal engineer, Rob Marks who works for Jim Jonsin. I can name tons of guys who've assisted me that I've seen move on, but its like a doctor, you've got this giant bill for the rest of your life.

It reminds me of this old commercial for the Independent Film Channel, an actor says to take the money your parents gave you for film school and just make a movie with it.

It's true. It's absolutely true. I just don't want some kid to think just because you have ambition, you really have to have talent, you really have to back it up, you really gotta grind. You gotta get used to the word 'no' and to have thick skin and persevere. That grind is called a grind for a reason, you gotta just keep moving. Explain to a lot of kids out there, they got heart, that's probably the most important thing next to talent.

For those readers who wish to become hip hop producers, what advice can you give them as far as becoming successful at what they do?

The best piece of advice I can give a producer is to first understand that they're writers. Just the way a rapper writes lyrics, and a singer writes lyrics and producers. You're a composer first, and then a producer. A lot of these producers that don't know the publishing aspect of things, will do tracks, and you throw them a lot of money and they're ready sign anything, what they don't understand that they're signing away their rights to a song they created, there's a lot of money in that. If you're gonna learn one thing, learn publishing before anything, you're gonna be safe.

What's on your plate right now?

We signed an R&B kid out of Miami, named Casely, he's kind of a Chris Brown type of artist. We're going to go in the studio with him in a week and a half, we literally signed him five days ago, we inked the deal. We've got big plans for that kid, real big plans, hopefully he's gonna be an artist we can get behind like Pit. We signed a pretty big publishing deal with Sony, another thing we're embarking on. We're gonna do some tracks for the new Menudo show. We're gonna be working with Cassidy. Just the relationship with Sony, we had been looking for that publisher to really work with, and we finally inked that deal. We're working on a track for Daddy Yankee's new album, and we just finished a new track for DJ Khaled's next album "We The Best." The track's called "Bi**h l'm from Dade County", it features Trick Daddy, Pitbull, Trina, Rick Ross, Brisco, Flo Rida, C-ride and Dre of Cool & Dre.

Are you guys working on anything outside of music?

We've got some plans, we met with some people while we were in New York meeting with Sony, to do some branding stuff. We might be doing a book, not something really hype, just kind of an informative book. That's definitely in the works, definitely gonna do a clothing line, but we're purposely gonna hold that stuff off, in this game it's all about timing, you want to drop things when people actually care. A lot of projects, month to month, they kind of evolve. This year should be a real big year for us, by 2008 hopefully we have a lot of goals we set up accomplished.

Anything else you'd like to add?

We had a meeting with Juan Madrid, he's the urban director for Sony ATV Publishing. He's also Latino, he's from Colombia, he's got a little thing going on in New York where he's got kind of a network of Latinos that get together every 30 days and have lunch, and are mentors to young kids coming up. We would love to be a part of New York more, but obviously we're in Miami, we're going to get involved with that. There's a certain level of pride and care, at least from us, when you see someone Latin who is trying to come up in the game. We'll try to put a hand out, help people out, make people aware that we're real happy that Latin people support. When they see Diaz Brothers, they say those guys are Latin and support for those reasons, we definitely appreciate that.

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