Legendary Corona, Queens, New York producer & DJ Dr. Butcher is best known for working with Kool G Rap, Akinyele and the X-Ecutioners. With a new EP entitled “Ringtone Madness” about to drop, he took time out to speak to William Hernandez…
Interview conducted by William Hernandez.
Talk about your new EP “Ringtone Madness”.
Ringtone Madness is a collection of vintage trax that I had in my archives and decided to release via Domination Recordings.
Do you have any more material from the mid 90’s in the vaults and if yes do you plan to release them?
Absolutely. I am going to release an EP called “The Butcher Shop of Horror” that will feature past and present material along with a few up an coming vocalist.
Can you talk about your history as a DJ and working with Queens legends such as LL Cool J, Kool G Rap, and Akineyle?
Well, my history with LL Cool J goes back to high school and my days as a rapper. We were in a group together. I later produced a song on his “14 Shot’s to the Dome” LP called ‘Soul Survivor’ but that’s about it. We don’t talk much nowadays but we are still best of friends.
I’ve been DJing and producing for Kool G Rap ever since “Wanted Dead or Alive”. He became aware of my turntable skills just as production began and requested that I attend all of the recording sessions. I did scratches for over half the album with ‘Kool is Back’ and ‘Death Wish’ being my favorite two songs.
With regards to Ak, I replaced Rob Swift as his tour DJ. Rob wanted to pursue the whole X-Ecutioner situation and asked if I would fill his spot. He was a little nervous about leaving but felt it was what he had to do. I was Large Professor’s DJ at the time and while we waited for Geffen Records to get his situation off the ground I would fill in for Rob. Because Large’s deal never evolved into what he expected I found myself traveling more and more with Ak. I eventually became his main DJ/producer as well.
How did you make the transition from DJ to producer?
It was a gradual thing. Large let me borrow one of his SP 1200’s and taught me how to chop beats. Once I felt comfortable with my production I began shopping beats. The rest is history.
How did the song ‘The Butcher Shop’ come about on Kool G Rap’s first album and how the production process behind it?
Marley Marl produced that record. He did the scratches as well. G Rap already had it in his mind that he wanted a turntablist to accompany Polo but hadn’t found anyone to fill the position. He wanted the DJ to be named Dr. Butcher, hence ‘The Butcher Shop’…
How did the X-Ecutioners come together and how did you take Rob Swift under your wing?
Rob and I were working together long before the X-Men/X-Ecutioners evolved. We met via JuJu of the Beatnuts and have been best friends ever since. He told me that he wanted to compete and I told him that I could help if he was willing to dedicate his entire existence to practicing. He did and it paid off.
We later met the Xmen (Steve D, Roc Raida, Sean C, Big D, Johnny Cash, Fatman Scoop) and decided to become one unit. The group’s popularity grew and they were offered record deals with Asphodel, Def America, and Sony/Loud. Because of the groups relationship with Sean C who at the time was an A/R for Loud records they decided to sign with Steve Rifkin. The name “X-Men” became a copyright issue so they changed it to “X-Ecutioners”.
Equipment wise what are you using for music production?
I use the Emu Ultra Platinum, MPC 2000XL, and various keyboards.
You did production on both Kool G Rap album’s “4,5,6” and “Roots of Evil”. Which do you consider your best work out of both.
I can’t say. I put my all into each project and I am happy with the results from both.
How was the production process on “Roots of Evil”, being that Kool G Rap was living in Phoenix, AZ at the time?nDid the location influence the outcome of the album?
Location didn’t have any ill effects on the recording process. We recorded most of the album in AZ but mixed in LA/NY. As for the production process, it was my first time in AZ so I was pretty excited about being out of the city. That inspired me to work. G Rap lived in a nice area so I would get up and go driving every morning just to view homes. It was a very relaxing environment that was great for creating. Most of the music production was completed in NY prior to going to AZ. After writing to about 3-4 tracks, G Rap flew myself and CJ Moore out there to mix and produce the album.
Why weren’t you involved in any of the X-Ecutioners albums and which is the best in your opinion?
What do you mean by involved? I was involved with every Xecutioner
album with regards to production but not as a turntablist.
I saw recently the video for Akineyle’s ‘The Bomb’ and saw you came out in the video. What do you remember about the video shot that day?
Did you really? I have never appeared in any music videos! Didn’t you know they call me Dr. Butcher aka
“Seldom Seen”? My preference is to stay out of the limelight.
What are your thoughts on today’s generation of DJs, and in your eyes what makes a good DJ?
Hmmmm… I don’t know if I have any thoughts on today’s DJs. I’m not familiar with any up and comers. I always ask Rob if there is anyone to look out for and his answer has been no. I look for innovation and because of the internet/dvds/youtube I think the art has dissipated. I’m sure there’s someone out there creating some sickness and I look forward to seeing it.
What makes a good DJ? Dedication. If you ask any great DJ he will tell you that he spent countless hours practicing. That in my opinion makes a good DJ.
Who are some of your influences as a DJ?
That’s a two part answer.
Directly – Cut Creator (the original), AC Vinni Vince, Disco Twins, C4 and the X-Men of course.
Indirectly – Flash, DS.T, Cash Money, Jazzy Jeff, Cut Master DC, Aladdin, Barry B, Q-Bert, Mix Master Mike, and the Supermen.
Which were your favorite records to use in a DJ battle/routine?
‘Welcome to the Terrordome’, ‘Pump Me Up’, ‘AJ Scratch’, ‘Catch the Beat’… to name a few.
Did you ever have any issues clearing samples?
Of course. Brook Benton wouldn’t let me use his music for a Kool G Rap produced song called ‘Check the Bitch’ and understandably so!
The 6-track EP titled “Ringtone Madness” features instrumentals from the good doctor that is a gift to all the true hip hop fans that are tired of the typical wack ringtone.
2. Pick It Up, Pick It Up
3. The Message
5. We Don’t Stop
6. No 1’s Home