In the small amount of time since Beat Garden started, we’ve been EXTREMELY fortunate to meet so many outstanding people that share the same love for music as us. Whether they be fellow MC’s or DJs, bloggers, promoters, or fans, it’s been amazing to see how approachable and genuine people are when they are truly doing something they love. And frankly, it makes the hustle/grind/hard work that much easier when you interact with anyone who has “the Glow” like Bruce Leroy (sho nuff!).
One of the reasons I started this blog was to start a discussion with people I’ve met the past 2 years who are heavily involved in music and are doing big things. They might not be on the radio. They might not be on YouTube. They might not even be doing hip hop. But they are dedicating a large portion of their lives to contribute to this big messy traveling sideshow we call the music business. With that in mind, here’s the first installment of the segment titled Let Me Learn You Something, where I let these dynamic people share their experiences with you. (I owe a huge debt to Guy Oseary because his book “On the Record” is the main inspiration behind this segment. Go cop that!)
The first person I wanted to feature on this segment is Stress. Before we met, I was terrified of him–a fully tattooed, buzz cut-having metal head who was posting alot on 215hiphop.com as well as working with Philly greats Reef the Lost Cauze, Side Effect, and the Sub Hoodz. After meeting him at the World Cafe Live last December, Stress has become one of my favorite people in the world. I have yet to meet a more honest, helpful, and good-hearted guy in the Philly hip hop scene.
He’s been touring for the past 15 years with Sub Hoodz, Lordz of Brooklyn, Reef the Lost Cauze, and many others. He has produced absolute BANGERS for the above mentioned artists as well as Gym Class Heroes, Tyga (of MTV’s new joint label with Gym Class Heroes and Lil’ Wayne), Ghostface Killah, Lil’ Wayne and many more. He is a tremendous engineer and student of music. He is one of the rowdiest live DJs I’ve ever seen. He’s pushing to be the hip hop Annie Leibovitz (check his photos on his blog Stress The White Boy). And he is a man that values family and relationships above all else. Here’s some info on Stress for those that slept…
1. At what point did you realize music was what you wanted to do?
When I graduated high school, my best friend Harry (Hav) started SubHoodz, and we started doing big things quickly, so that was definitely a catalyst. That and just being a true lover of music definitely had a hand in me jumping head first in making music a career..
2. How has Philly shaped your sound or molded you as a producer/engineer/DJ?
is DEFINITELY a DJ’s city, everyone knows that. I got into production from being a DJ. I looked up to, and still do, to DJ Cash Money, Jazzy Jeff, etc. I am definitely a crate digger, and Philly in
general has soooo much diverse music to pull from, its retarded. I pull from everywhere, but definitely some obscure soulful sounds that are based have been flipped by me. I love Philly and everything about it. I have “700 Level For Life” tattooed on my forehead and many liberty
bells tattooed on me as well.. haha
3. Who were the people you looked up to and learned the most from?
Most importantly, my parents. I come from a very blue collar steel worker’s family. My parents supported me and my brothers & sisters in whatever we chose to do in life. My Dad would let me quit countless jobs and still live at home so I could do tour after tour after tour. Amazing. When my Father died, I made a point to even go harder at pursuing my goals in music. Aside from my family, I have always looked up to legendary Grammy Award wining, Dave Ivory. Dave is a legend in the business and a class act. Dave has taught me alot from just being around him. I have also learned a lot from a close friend by the name of Paul Conroy. Paul is probably the biggest name in the heavy metal world. Although its not hip-hop, I have learned sooo much from him, its crazy. I also look up to Tony D, Trenton based producer thats known for all of Poor Righteous Teachers hits, as well as Adam “ADM” McCleer of The Lordz (of Brooklyn).. Definitely learned from him when I was coming up as well.. Joe and Phil Nicolo are guys that
I looked up to, as well as my bud Chuck Treece.
4. With everything you’ve learned thus far, what do you wish you could have told yourself at the beginning? Would you have done anything differently?
I dont think I would have done everything differently. I believe that everything happens for a reason. There is perfect timing for everything on this earth, and you just have to keep pushing forward
and bide your time. When Hav and I started SubHoodz, we didnt want to be a “corner bar band”.. We shot for the stars. And thank God, we have done A LOT of stuff. In 17 years beween the two of us, we have done everything imagineable in the music industry but get rich, and that isn’t the most important thing to us. Its been an up and down roller coaster ride, but I genuinely love music, so in the long run, its OK with me. I wouldnt change anything.
5. Here’s a scenario: tomorrow you become the CEO of a major label. What are the first 3 things you would do as the boss?
Thats a real tough question to answer. I probably wouldn’t take the job. haha. Fuck that. My phone blows up off the hook 24/7/365, so I couldn’t imagine what the phone situation would be like. haha. My buddy Hav and I for years have run our own indie record labels, before it was the cliche’ thing to say or do. We used to run and own a label called 215 Records, Inc. and now we run Krush Unit, Inc. We have kind of slowed down with putting records out b/c we are trying to find a way to compete with the state of the way the whole music business is nowadays. We basically started our own labels to put out our music or music we believed in. The game has definitely changed. We are just trying to figure out how we can change with it and still do us.
6. What are some of your favorite albums?
“Rock For Light”.. Slayer “Reign In Blood”.. Nas “Illmatic”.. “Back With A Bong”.. Cro-Mags “Age Of Quarrel”.. Supergrub “Communicator”.. Anything & Everything from the Bouncing Souls.. Anything & Everything from Madball.. BDP “By All Means Necessary”.. Tiger Army “Music from Regions Beyond”.. “Main Ingredient”.. “London Calling”.. Lee “Scratch” Perry “Cutting Razor: Rare Cuts From The Black Ark”.. “Ignarus”..
Ghostface Killah “Big Doe Rehab”.. Vision “In The Blink Of An Eye”.. Descendents “Somery”.. Token Entry “Jaybird”..
7. What is inspiring your work right now?
As of lately, turning my phones off to be honest. My phone has been nuts. Haha. Makes me NOT want to do music. I have been touring alot for the last year and a half, and I have been home for a little bit, so its back to making tracks again.. Just being home is good inspiration. I always find different ways or methods to get inspired, it just varies daily.
8. What advice would you offer to someone getting into the business at this time?
If you get into music “trying to get that rap money” or thinking it is an easy payday or road to the riches.. You DEFINITELY have a rude awakening. Think about it… Thanks to the computer, EVERYONE thinks they are some type of musician… You really have to love it to hopefully
succeed. Its a very clogged and watered down market.. Talent and the test of time will be the tell tale of who “makes it” and who doesnt. You just have to have a genuine love for music and never try to burn any bridges. Your reputation is all you have…
*All photos taken from Stress The White Boy Blog*
Here’s the latest news on Stress. Be sure to add him here on MySpace:
“STRESS has 4 song placements on the new TYGA album “No Introduction” on
Decaydance/MTV Records. One was with on the song “I Am”..
Im hoping the clearance happens so that song it makes the album!!!
STRESS will be on this summer’s VANS WARPED TOUR DJing for The LORDZ!
Speaking of The Lordz, they have a reality television show on FUSE TV
called “The Brooklyn Way” which debuts April 17th, 2008. Check in to
see me part of the show!!
The Official STRESS ReMix of Gym Class Heroes “Clothes Off!” is now
available on the Gym Class Heroes “As Cruel As School Children” MVI
Re-Issue on Decaydance/Fueled By Ramen Records and is also featured as an
iTunes “album only” bonus track on the new album “Big
Doe Rehab” on Def Jam Records!!!”
I want to give a big THANK YOU to Stress for being the lab rat on the first installment of Let Me Learn You Something!