Let Me Learn You Something: Haj of Dumhi

For the second installment of Let Me Learn You Something, I reached out to my good friend Haj.  a fellow producer living on the mean streets of South Philly.  Haj is the driving force behind Dumhi, a hip hop group with a revolving door of MCs, like the hip hop Queens of the Stone Age.  He just released the album “Demystification” as Fermented Spirits, a spoken word neo-soul hip hop album with vocalist MicheleQJ.  And he’s gearing up to release the album “Yoga At Home Vol. 1” featuring apperances from Reef the Lost Cauze, Doap Nixon, Von Pea of Tanya Morgan, Che Grand, and Sadat X.
 
In short, the man’s got more product than Marlo Stanfield.  And his motto is “Learn an instrument in 2008.”  

 

 

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*

1.  At what point did you realize music was what you wanted to do? 

 

 

I’ve always been a huge music lover but as far as making music, I was definitely a late starter.  In a bout 2000 I bought a cheap acoustic guitar from a used instrument store in the Bronx.  I couldn’t play anything for a long time but I also couldn’t put it down.  As soon as I could play 3 chords, I thought to myself, “Wow.  I need drums NOW.”  A friend of mine had a Roland TR-505, which was very old even at the time, and I bought a 4 track Tascam  tape recorder.  I would do remixes and everything with those things.  Rubbing electric guitar strings to simulate scratching sounds and running acapellas out of headphones jacks of my stereo until things lined up.  From there I wanted to make new original songs and then put out projects.  My progression and passion for music just continued from there.  It is still continuing. 

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?

Sgt. Pepper

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.

You can check out the entire Dumhi catalogue here.
You can check out the Fermented Spirits album here.
You can check out Haj’s biggest muse here.

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3 thoughts on “Let Me Learn You Something: Haj of Dumhi

  1. Good shit, Haj is a definite problem. I agree with his ’08 motto to learn an instrument. But the motto is “Get Beasted in ’08.” Sorry Haj.

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