Super Hot Instrumental Album- East Duel West- Drops!
Recently the SpitSlam Record Group launched an Instrumental label, INST, and in 2016 will be releasing many albums under it. One of the first that just dropped is East Duel West by Public Enemy’s Sammy Vegas and his partner in crime, Charlie Mac. I had the opportunity to sit down with Charlie Mac and talk about the new album, find out why he thinks instrumental music is important, how he met Sammy Vegas, and what musical influences have impacted him.
The SpitSlam Record Group (Kate G): You are releasing your first project, East Duel West with Sammy Vegas. Tell us about the project?
Charlie Mac: The project is a collaborative effort from two creative minds. Sammy and I initially set out to write and produce music for mainstream Pop, R&B, and Hip Hop acts. After we created a few tracks, we realized that we worked well together, so we formed a production team. Not long after that, Chuck D of Public Enemy suggested that we become a group. He gave us a name, and East Duel West was born. Our first release is an eclectic mix of Hip Hop, Trap, East Coast, West Coast, Pop, Funk, and R&B tracks. It's super hot!
Tell me about your musical influences and how they impacted you?
Charlie Mac: I have been, and continue to be influenced by so many. I could go on for days about this. There’s really just too many to mention, but here are some of my notable influences, and how they have impacted me. Here are just a few: Dr. Dre, Luther Campbell, Teddy Riley, Babyface, Michael Jackson, Tupac, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Marley Marl, Larry Smith, Chuck D, Afrika Bambaataa, Jay Z, Erick Sermon, Public Enemy, Easy Mo Bee, Just Blaze, Timbaland, The Neptunes, Rick Rubin, The Bomb Squad, DJ Quik, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, James Brown, Larry Blackmon, Quincy Jones, Maurice White, Jimi Hendrix, Robert John “Mutt” Lange, Jimmy Page, and the list goes on. Each of these great artists have impacted me in their own special way. For example, the first time I heard a Michael Jackson song, or saw Michael do the moonwalk, I was so impressed. Or the way I was introduced to James Brown's classic, "Funky Drummer" with Clyde Stubblefield on the drums was inspiring. I became addicted to funk after hearing George Clinton's "Atomic Dog"! I was blown away attending my first Public Enemy concert in Miami Florida. Voodoo Chile by Jimi Hendrix still gives me chills. Planet Rock by Afrika Bambaataa will rock on forever. Jazzy Jeff inspired me to become a DJ. Dr. Dre influenced me to become a better producer. Timbaland and Missy changed the game. Tupac inspired millions, going from being a dancer for Digital Underground, to becoming one of the biggest voices in music. Marley Marl and LL Cool J made many hits, and Larry Smith produced hit records for everyone from Kurtis Blow, to Run DMC, to Whodini. I owe them all a great deal of gratitude.
Chuck recently has launched an all-instrumental label, INST LABEL, and your release is going to be part of it. Do you feel instrumental music is the future of hip-hop and if so why?
Charlie Mac: East Duel West is super excited to be a part of this new movement. In today's market, instrumental music holds tremendous value. With all original music, there is zero liability, and the profit margins are high. With instrumental music there are no lyrics for someone to be offended by, so the music can be played in any setting or environment, and listened to by people of all ages, from all walks of life. Instrumental music is the primary driving force behind commercials, advertising, gaming, film, TV, and a number of other media outlets. I wouldn't say that instrumental music is the future of Hip Hop, but I would say that instrumental music makes Hip Hop more accessible.
Some say that instrumental hip hop allows for more complexity in arrangement than hip hop that includes words. What are your thoughts on this concept?
Charlie Mac: Personally, my approach to producing a track has always been to arrange the music I produce as if it were going to Jay Z,or Beyonce. So, virtually every song I create has a certain level of complexity, breaks, cuts, back beats, pauses, effects, etc. I usually start with an intro, hook, verse1, hook, bridge/verse2, hook, outro, and then end with a Sunday night football type sting. My tracks are meticulously arranged, and sweetened in all the right spots in a way that tracks are strong with or with out vocals.
Tell us about your partnership with Sammy and explain how you both collaborated on the album?
Charlie Mac: Sammy is my brother from another mother. We have a shared vision. We share some of the same interests and want to accomplish some of the same goals. I met Sammy during a listening session with one of Flavor Flav's artists, who I did not know was his artist at the time. I was invited to a studio by an A&R from Slip-N-Slide Records, to play tracks for Flavor Flav's artist. Sammy overheard some of the music I was playing, and asked what I was trying to do. After explaining what I was doing, and what I do, he asked if I would like to work with him. I said yes, and immediately started sending him tracks. He liked the quality of sound I was getting, so he started sending me tracks he produced for me to mix and arrange too. We would meet up at the studio, a coffee shop, or a casino in Vegas, discuss our plans, and transfer the files from his MacBook, to my flash drive. Sometimes he would transfer the song files online in wave format with tracks doubled up, two synths, piano, strings, or snares and kicks on the same track. It made me crazy, but I would go through the tracks, find similar sounds in my catalog, replace his sounds with new sounds, add a bass-line, a lead, more drums, or some percussion, then send him back completed tracks, all while producing more new tracks to pitch. After about a year of collaborating, we had a surplus of tracks, and at least 3 to 4 albums worth. Those tracks are now being used for this project, and we have many more for our upcoming projects.
Anything else you would like to add?
Charlie Mac: I would like to thank Sammy Vegas for working with me. Thanks to Mr. Chuck D for believing in us, and EDW, aka East Duel West. Thanks to Flavor Flav, DJ Lord, Kate Gammell, and the entire Public Enemy family. Thanks to SPITdigital, INST LABEL, RAPstation, SLAMjamz, and everyone involved with the success of this project.
We really appreciate you! Thank you!
Kate G is Kate Gammell for Update Reports on The SPITdigital SLAMjamz Recording Label Group