When I meet a hip hop producer for the first time, they usually fall into 2 categories: quiet, introverted music geeks who wear faded polos and works IT at an office building or is brash/flashy/wears sunglasses indoors/chain wallet/personal lip gloss girl. Tha S Ence falls somewhere in the middle–he looks like Large Professor but wears Skateboard P-inspired sneakers (no Ice Creams). S Ence makes soulful boom bap but has a blog and an IMEEM page (I still have no clue what the hell that is). He’s also one of the best young producers in Philly simply by mastering the art of chopped samples, banging out drums that swing like Ken Griffey (understandably smooth), and crafting bass lines that would make Pete Rock jealous.
S Ence just collaborated with Dave Ghetto on one of my favorite hip hop albums of the year, the self-titled Hustle Simmons LP available via Break Bread Projects. Producing all 11 cuts, the album has a cohesive vibe similar to The Listening and Popular Demand. It’s his breakout party, and Dave Ghetto fits right in pocket on beats that any hip hop head would kill for. Now it’s time for Tha S Ence to learn you something:
1. At what point did you realize music was what you wanted to do?
There wasn’t a set event or anything, it was just always there. When I was young I started to play the drums, I wanted to do the whole arrangement but, I didn’t have any dough for any other instruments or equipment and drums was the only thing I could play. I started to listen to hip hop heavily and found out about samplers, that just gave me the avenue to do everything I wanted to.
2. How has Philly/New Jersey shaped your sound or molded you as a producer/DJ?
Honestly, not at all. I was always listening to music that didn’t even come from the region. Being a producer, sometimes it can be good and bad having a “regional” sound. Then again, Philly has so many styles from “neo-soul” to dvd street spitters. So maybe you can say having a range of sounds has molded my various styles of music.
3. Who are the people you look up to and learn the most from?
On the musical tip, that’s really hard to narrow it down to because there’s too much talent out there. The production legends of course : Premier, Dilla, Pete Rock, Diamond D. I learn from all them, even the newer producers like Just Blaze, Oh No and so on. On the personal tip, I would definitely have to say my dad because he showed me how to work my ass off to get what I want.
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?
Work even harder! There were times when I wouldn’t be motivated because I wasn’t getting any calls back or anything, slack off, then all of a sudden your getting calls then you have to play catch up. I didn’t have my musical work ethic straight. It’s better to be ahead and be on top of stuff instead of waiting stagnant. Also looking back I would have gotten better equipment from the get go, backed up everything I had, and definitely focused on learning the business more. What I mean by better equipment is; I had the 1000 as my 1st machine, that jawn died, hard drive corrupted, and erased almost all my beats, a big set back!
5. What’s hard for you? What do you struggle at?
Haha this will probably sound like a job interview but the ability to say no to certain tasks. If someone steps to you for something, and then later stack on another big project, I have a hard time turning it down even though it will make my job last till the wee hours of the morning, but ill bust my ass to do what needs to get done on time!
6. 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?
1. Give the people jobs that I’ve been coming up with like my homie Lex that has been putting in work on the photography tip and he’s the one that hooked me and Dave up. My roomie P Slang another fellow producer that definitely needs to be heard so he would be in-house. Get Dom p the managerial desk he deserves, and I cant forget Khal of rockthdub, he would be the publicist/journalist everyone would be checking for! 2nd thing I’d do is make BreakBread projects a household name, bigger than def jam. And 3rd be an active hip hop enthusiast and get quality acts on mainstream. I’m tired of seeing and hearing this crap on the radio.
7. What are some of your favorite albums?
There’s too many….there really is but for starters, Pete Rock – Soul Survivor that alb um felt like it was the blueprint for “producer” albums, The UN – UN or U out, Illmatic, Soundpieces, Beats Rhymes Life, Enta Da Stage, Fantastic volume 1 and 2, Firing Squad…I could go on for days.
8. What is inspiring your work right now? As cheesy as it sounds, life. Music is a perfect parallel to it, every type of situation and emotion can be conveyed in music. And I feel like it’s my job to make it sound a certain way without lyrics. And of course old records.
9. What advice would you offer to someone getting in the business at this time?
Keep it moving and keep working. Don’t get discouraged if something falls through or doesn’t pan out. Go to shows and network your ass off, your connections are usually what push you a lot further than just your talent.
10. Any words to live by?
“Hard work pays off so I take no days off” – Nas
I want to thank S Ence for taking time away from blogging, going to release parties, and grinding like Stevie Williams to do this interview.
You can watch the video for Hustle Simmons'”The Rundown” (directed by Hezekiah) featuring Break Bread fam-a-lams 84 and Fel Sweetenberg HERE
You can buy the Hustle Simmons album for $7.99 (a great mothereffin’ deal) on iTunes HERE
You can check out Tha S Ence’s blog HERE
And for you MySpace freaks, add S Ence HERE