Haj has opened his doors to everyone in the Philly hip hop scene while making leaps and bounds to get his name out to the world by collaborating with talented, left-of-center cats far and wide. He also produced one of the best bangers of 2008, “Squeeze,” for Reef the Lost Cauze’s new mixtape “Long Live the Cauze Vol. 2.” Haj is a guitarist, a drummer, an avid Phillies fan, and he drinks like sailor with a hole in his leg.
*As always, make sure you pick up the book “On the Record” by Guy Oseary, which is the main inspiration for this segment here at Clap Cowards*
That said, although I put everything I can into music, I am also leery of music being my “job.” I haven’t really liked any job I ever had so I am very concerned that having a music “boss” would ruin my passion.
2. How has Philly shaped your sound or molded you as a producer?
Wow. I am not really sure. I mean, Philly is such a great place with so much personality and passion. Whether its food, family, sports, music, art…if we like it, we are prolly going to be passionate about it. There is also a lot of variety, history and culture in Philly. Probably more than we are given credit for at times. I like to think that all aspects of Philly have influenced not only my music but my life, character, and personality. Philly is so ingrained in me that it’s hard to identify aspects that would come out in music. I feel like the music is just an extension of me and in turn an extension of all of the emotions and experiences of my life. And I owe alot of both to Philly.
3. Who are the people you look up to and learn the most from?
Musically? Hendrix, the Beatles, Miles Davis, Prince Paul, the RZA, Primo, Madlib, MF Doom…so many. Hendrix is probably the most amazing musical being of all time in my opinion.
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 had picked up a guitar in high school for a few weeks. Thinking about all of the time wasted by putting it down is one of my biggest regrets. I would be badassed right now.
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?
Go drink! Then I would funnel all promo money available into my next project, buy and uproot a basketball team, and do a soundtrack for a Denzel Washington movie.
Seriously, I have no idea. Music/entertainment seems like a terrible inudstry to earn a check from that I would prolly look for something with more job security. Alaskan crab fishing or something.
6. What are some of your favorite albums?
De La Soul is Dead
MF Doom MM..Food
Gangstarr Daily Operation
First 6 or so Wu Tang albums (group & solo)
Kind of Blue
Dare is a Darkside
I dunno…there are so many, man.
7. What is inspiring your work right now?
I want to see what I can do next. The project I am getting ready to release next month will be my sixth in five years I think. I think I have grown a bit between each one and a ton between the first one and where I currently am. Music is infinite though. There are no experts. No one has ever exhausted the possibilities. You can never know everything there is about music and art in general. The minute I felt like I did I would murk myself because tomorrow wouldn’t excite me anymore. With that in mind…I want to hear what my next song is going to sound like. I think anyone who makes music on any level has felt that high. That “3am, I have to work tomorrow but instead of sleeping I am pacing my bedroom, smoking cigarettes back to back, looking for people to listen to what I just did” high.
Sometimes you don’t even like that mess the next morning when you wake up but…I can’t imagine that I would ever stop chasing that high.
8. What advice would you offer someone getting in the business at this time?
Beats me. I don’t think I am really in the business. I guess I’d just tell people that Google is the most powerful thing in the universe next to hard work.
I want to thank Haj for taking part in the second installment of Let Me Learn You Something.