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Jake One sits down with HipHopSite.Com to speak on his just released LP with Brother Ali, Mourning In America & Dreaming In Color, working with Dr. Dre on Detox, Freeway’s next album, working with MF Doom, and much more.


HipHopSite.Com: First off, what are you using to produce?


Jake One: Pretty much, the foundation of it is the ASR-10. Then I got a bunch of vintage keyboards and other gear, I used protools as well, but mostly the ASR-10.




HipHopSite.Com: I was kind of joking with you on Twitter about Detox, because there are a few tracks on Brother Ali’s Mourning In America, Dreaming In Color that kind of had that big, apocalyptic Dr. Dre sound, which got me thinking, “Damn, he had to have played these for Dre, like ‘yo, do you want this?’”


Jake One: (Laughs) The only one Dre actually really recorded to was “Only Life I Know”, but a lot of those beats were made just for Ali, so he didn’t actually hear them. He might have heard the beat for “Mourning In America”, but it was a different beat at first, so maybe the first variation of it. “Only Life I Know” is definitely something he cut vocals to, but I guess he thought he didn’t like it, so… (laughs).




HipHopSite.Com: What has that process been like, working with Dre on Detox?


Jake One: It’s been dope. He heard some of my beats, probably in like 2009. He cut some songs to a couple of the beats, and he basically offered me a song deal, so I became in-house. So I would just kind of send him ideas that I was working on, and we’d go from there. I was only in the studio with him one time, mostly just dong it from home, so I’d hear what they came up with if I ever made it down to LA. He’s one my heroes, so him liking what I do is enough for me.




HipHopSite.Com: So you ended up producing this track for Rick Ross’ album, “3 Kings”, with Dr. Dre and Jay-Z. It’s definitely one of the most talked about hip-hop songs of the year. Tell us about how that all came about.


Jake One: It’s funny because, I made the beat after hearing Drake and Just Blaze’s “Lord Knows”. I just wanted to make something with that vibe. Every once in a while I hear something like that I like – and it was kind of bugged out, because I had been sitting on that sample for a minute – so I ended up making the beat, and sent it down there. I think it was going to be for Kendrick first, but Kendrick decided not to use it. So Dre went to Miami to work with Ross and then I got a call that Ross was going to put Jay on it. I wasn’t even privy to all that shit, it just happened. It was pretty crazy, it just dropped, it’s big record. It’s ill to just go to places and just hear your shit playing all the time. It’s not something I’m used to. I went to New York and I was just hearing it everywhere. There’s a couple of songs I did for 50 maybe, but not like this.




HipHopSite.Com: So originally “3 Kings” almost went to Kendrick, and you recently collaborated with Kendrick on this track with “Scoe”, “Thank You”, which is a tribute to Dr. Dre. What’s the story behind that?


Jake One: It’s kind of funny, because I made the beat and didn’t even think of that angle, I didn’t have Dre in mind. So I sent it to Dr. Dre’s A&R, and he didn’t take it, but he put it to the side. So he manages Scoe, and they came up with the record. And then Kendrick got on there. It was done a while ago.


HipHopSite.Com: Did you have any work on Kendrick’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City?


Jake One: Nah, I didn’t do anything for his album. Before Section 80 came out, I gave him some beats to mess with, but we just never all the way connected. He was just running around after that, I don’t think I ever sent him any more beats after that. It’s funny because I probably listen to his shit more than anything, but I’m not sure I had the right shit for what he’s trying to do. I’m going to be anticipating the album just like everyone else. I definitely would like to work with him in the future though.




HipHopSite.Com: So back to Brother Ali, you guys definitely had a chemistry on Mourning In America, Dreaming In Color. He kind of has a style where he just gets on a beat and just rides it, but I felt you two were really in-sync on this album. What is your creative process with him like?


Jake One: I’ve known him for a long time, but we never worked together this much. I would send him beats, and he would come out to Seattle, and we would kind of cut like a demo version of something, and then we would decide on what we wanted to make sound tighter. We had 60 ideas like that, he just kept recorded. We just narrowed it down – there were some songs that I liked that didn’t even make the album – better than some of the ones on it.


The thing about working with him – and I’ve never worked with someone like that before – he is so concerned with what he is saying, that the music is secondary. And that is what is important to me, so we had a little tug-of-war on that kind of shit. I haven’t worked with anyone that works that hard at what they do. I was also one the first times that I made beats specifically for somebody, rather than making beats just to shop, or whatever. I didn’t want it to just be hard beats, because thats not his strength – he’s got different styles. Something like “Letter To My Countrymen”, I made specifically for him. Normally, I wouldn’t make a beat without a snare, but that’s just what it seemed like it needed to be. A lot of stuff like that. We took probably way too much time to put it together.


HipHopSite.Com: So you said you did like 60 tracks. Do you think we’ll see those tracks end up on other projects?


Jake One: I don’t know. He put out that mixtape last Valentine’s Day with some of it – and some of those beats were sold to other people, but there’s still a lot of ideas and songs that might get resurrected for something. I think he wanted to make a statement on this album, and I think he wants to ride it out pretty hard, so I’m not sure what the next thing is. Whatever the next move is, he needs to move on it faster this time. It’s amazing how much he sold his first week, given how much time there was since the last record.




HipHopSite.Com: So, are working on Freeway’s next record?


Jake One: Yeah, I think it’s being mixed in the next couple of days. I have like 8 tracks on there. He’s got some shit on there. Just Blaze is on it, Bink – pretty much what we want him to do.


HipHopSite.Com: One of our forum users, Freshman_Woes, asks “A few years ago, Jake One mentioned that he was working on an album with Vitamin D. Is that still in the works?”


Jake One: As with all things with Vitamin, we never finished. Some of those beats turned into other people’s songs. Like Freeway’s “She Makes Me Feel Alright” was for that. Also, we were just super-flagrant with what we were sampling, and he’s getting turned up on that shit, which makes me kind of scared to do it. We kind of had to go on the back-burner a little bit. A lot of it was taking real obvious shit.




HipHopSite.Com: Machiventa asks if there is a record with MF Doom still in the works?


Jake One: I’d love to, he’s just real elusive. Beyond elusive. He’s stuck over in the UK, I guess. He’s not even around America these days. I actually did a couple of joints with him, so we’ll see where those end up, but as far as a whole album, I can’t say.


HipHopSite.Com: Where do you expect those tracks to surface?


Jake One: I will probably use those for my album.


HipHopSite.Com: Tell us a little bit about that.


Jake One: Well, I’m maybe halfway done on that. Just waiting on people to send stuff back and that’s taking a long time. So I have so many other things that I am working on, so I can’t say when to expect that. The problem with me working on an album like that, is that I send someone a beat for my album, and then they want to end up using it for their project. And so then they are paying me, so how can I argue with that? So that’s happened a couple of times.


HipHopSite.Com: So who is on the album?


It’s the same cast of characters, and a couple of people you would not expect to be on my album at all. A little bit of everything. But like I said, I can’t even see the finish line. It was supposed to be out last year, but it just wasn’t coming together. I didn’t want to do another album with the same people, and I like a lot of these new rappers, and I want to have a lot of them on it, because that’s what I’ve been listening to. I’ve reached out to a ton of people that were excited to do it, we just didn’t do it. Part of that is being out in Seattle. I can’t just go down to the studio like, “let’s go to the studio tonight”, whereas if you are in NY or LA, people just fall through and you get shit done.


HipHopSite.Com: What else can we expect from you in the near future?


Jake One: There’s a couple of big ones, but I don’t want to jinx them quite yet. But I did a song for Game’s album that’s real dope, did something on Wiz’s new album, 50′s new album, Pusha T’s album. And I produced a lot of the new Mayer Hawthorne album, but that won’t be coming out for a minute.


HipHopSite.Com: Wrapping up, anything you want to add?


Jake One: I just appreciate all of the support on the Brother Ali album. Thanks for everyone who is supporting it.


Brother Ali’s album, ‘Mourning In America & Dreaming In Color’, produced by Jake One, is in stores now.

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2 Responses to "Exclusive: Jake One Talks Brother Ali, Detox, Freeway, MF Doom & More"
  • Freshman_Woes says:

    Nice job Pizzo!

  • [...] One spoke on the origins of this track in our recent exclusive interview. Meanwhile, Slim The Mobsta joins Kendrick and Scoe to thank the good doctor. Creative fields: [...]

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