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Dani Kartel - Sound of the South
12/23/04 - LatinRapper.com exclusive interview
 

Dani Kartel

Latino producers seem to stay obscure despite cranking out winning beats for artists, but with producers like Dani Kartel that may soon change.

 

Nicaraguan and Honduran by way of New Orleans, this guitar-playing producer isn't new to the beat scene. Earning his stripes making beats for various No Limit Records and and Rap-a-Lot artists, Dani was behind the smash Soulja Slim and Juvenile single "Slow Motion"

 

Things aren't slowing down, either, as the Big Easy hitmaker has his sites set on forming his own label while a variety of artists have come calling for a beat of their own. Dani Kartel spoke with LatinRapper about his experience with Soulja Slim, Latinos in the production game and more in our exclusive interview.

LatinRapper.com: What got you into producing?

Well I always dealt with music as a young dude. I had a garage band in junior high, and I ended up running into a producer from New York. He was a little bit older than me, he basically showed me what he was doing, and I inevitably got involved with it. That's how that started. And just, you know, the genuine love for music. Today, either you're a producer or nothing.

How did you end up working for No Limit?

Well, I end up working for No Limit through a producer I knew that was part of Beats By the Pound, his name was Carlos Stevens. He was with the original production crew for No Limit. I met with him, I had just moved down from Houston from doing guitar work for Rap a Lot and different little labels.

What are some of the instruments you play?

Well guitar is my main instrument, but I play the bass also, I play keys. A little bit of the drum set, but mostly the drum machine. I'm just like a hardcore guitar player, if you boil it down to the core of it.

What production tools do you use?

Well I used the MPC, I have a Triton, I just recently got a Roland Phantom. I have my guitars, I have like three different types. A Spanish acoustic, electric guitar, my basses. And other than that, I sample from records and CDs and whatnot, and I record on Pro Tools. That's the basic setup that I use.

Every other hit that Juvenile has had, Mannie Fresh produced. What's it like getting this kind of validation as a producer?

I think it's really really ironic, things just work out like that. It's definitely an honor being able to do something like that. Right now my main focus is just trying to make more hits. Mainly I want to do, like we talked about the other day, bringing in new artists. I think that would really show my skills as a producer.

You were doing some work with Soulja Slim, RIP, what did you take from your experiences with him before he was gone?

My whole take on me and him was basically that we were both experienced people at what we did, but we never made it to a certain level of success. What I got to see with him was two people coming together and building something from scratch, and making it the biggest thing in our city and our region. I got to learn from that, taking something that's about to blow up. Obviously he didn't get to get that far because he was murdered. But it was like we put our previous experiences with the music game and basically took over the city. And that to me, that's invaluable, ‘cause it teaches you that you can do it again. I think I can do it again with another artist, at least I know the process to make a hit album.

Does being Latin fit into your production somehow, as far as the sound you create?

Most definitely, ‘cause I get a lot from both my parents. My mom is more like Salsa, Merengue type of listener, and my dad was more like classical age like with Los Panchos, Andre Segovia and stuff like that. As far as Latino music, I think I got both sides of the Latin American culture, the dance side and the serious guys that sit down and drink their rum and coke. And growing up in New Orleans is really what rounded it off, I really love this local music, this New Orleans sound I soaked it up, I mixed it with my music to make a sound itself. Definitely a big part of my music.

There are Latin producers like Beatnuts, Cool and Dre, SPK. Being that you're Honduran and Nicaraguense, does it seem significant to you that you're adding to Latinos getting respect as producers?

Most definitely, once they find out about me, I'm sure that will add a little something. I believe I'm definitely coming from a whole ‘nother angle then these other dudes, especially coming from New Orleans.

What producers did you look up to, and whose production do you enjoy today?

Well... I guess as far as the people I enjoy today, I'm feeling Scott Storch, Kanye West, the Neptunes. They got a couple underground cats, I haven't really heard their name. Then as a producer, I'm so caught up in my world, I can't really give a good answer . As far as influence, mostly people I worked with. Good friend of my mine Wendell you haven't heard of but you will, down here I work with Full Pack, and KLC from Beats by the Pound, N.O. Joe out in Texas, Carlos. My main influence, I was always the type to listen to Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, the old sh*t.

N.O. Joe, I remember he used to do Rap a Lot beats in the early 90's.

The dude that was working with down here, when I was like 13, 14, we were making beats together. The guy I was working with was making beats for N.O. Joe, what we started doing was mixing the real bass lines, real guitar riffs, real organs, with the drumbeats, which really wasn't being done at the time. Back then it was DJs, real samples in the beat. So when Joe went to Houston, and became successful with that formula , I knew we had something special going on, I been involved with it ever since then.

Who are some of the artists you've done beats for?

I debuted with C-Murder, I actually did his last song that he did before he got locked up, called "What's the Reason". Soulja Slim, B.G., Lil Rob, Young Eight. As far as right now, I'm working on Pimp C's project, this dude Zero out of Houston, Devin the Dude, Outlawz, dead prez. And some other stuff coming up, I cant even remember.

Any artist in particular you'd like to produce for but haven't had the chance yet?

Yeah, they got a couple. I wouldn't mind doing a song with Eminem, I always wanted to do something with Noreaga. I really want to mess with this Anthony Hamilton dude, this R&B dude. I do a lot of R&B stuff, haven't been able to do anything on a major level, but I think our sounds would work good, a lot of chemistry. Another big thing would be a song with Carlos Santana, too.

Anything coming out soon with your beats that you're looking forward to the public response to?

I have a single coming out with Rap a Lot, with that dude Zero, its called The Mule featuring Devin the Dude and Juvenile. And it should be hitting the radio pretty soon.

Have you considered starting your own label, acting as in-house producer and using "Slow Motion" as music capital to sign new acts?

I'm in the process of doing it right now. But when you doing stuff like that, every time you open a book, gotta make sure it's the right book you're opening. Every producer knows, even from the fresh producer that's trying to work with someone trying to put a label together. That's the whole learning process, you're constantly trying to make a new record label. All the experience has culminated, I'm ready to make that move, I'm ready to get the artist together that's most conducive to what I want to do. And I wanna make money. So that's what I'm doing right now, I'm just sitting back, contemplating on what's the best way to attack that.

As you can guess, a lot up and coming producers will read this. What's your advice to them on how they can get into the game, and stay in the game successfully?

you have to have the skills, number one is developing your skill and knowledge level. Just having a solid business plan, ‘cause you can be the baddest producer in the world, but if you don't have the equipment and what it takes... Also surround yourself with good producers, if you can surround yourself with successful people that's making money, they can teach you some hands-on sh*t. Always be willing to conform a little bit (laughs), don't always be so hard core.
 

Dani Kartel on Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/dknorecords  

 

 




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