British producer Endemic Emerald talks to us about US success; inking an album deal with Duck Down Records and the transition of moving to Brooklyn, New York. Endemic is working with artists he used to listen to, idols he calls, ‘my people.’
Endemic Emerald you have producing for years! Tell us about your journey of becoming a music producer?
I started DJing in the early 90’s and from then on it was a general progression to start producing. Producers such as The Rza, Premier and Easy Mo Bee amazed me with their beats and I wanted to discover the original soul and funk records that they had utilised. After releasing a few albums and getting placements it was time to move over to NYC to further my career!
In 2009 you dropped your first album ‘Terminal Illness’ featuring both UK and USA talents such as the late Sean Price, Killah Priest and C-Mone to name a few. Back then you were one of the first UK producers to gain a major label distribution in the USA. How did that come about?
I had the album ready to pitch to labels, J Ronin from Brooklyn played some of the joints to an A&R called DJ Phantom. At that time he had a distribution deal with EMI and wanted to sign the record. They flew me out to NYC in 2009 to promote the album, it was a huge look and my first entrance to the US music scene.
In 2010 you inked an album deal with Duck Down Records, can you tell us about that album release and how you hooked up with Duck Down?
I had Ruste Juxx heavily featured on Terminal Illness part 1. He loved my music and wanted to collaborate on a full length album. Ruste, then took it to Duck Down and they released the record. That was a dope time.
Since that release in 2010 can you give us a run-down of what you have been releasing up until your newest release, ‘Counter Strike’?
I released the Needle Drop EP with UK artist Cappo. Quarantine – another compilation album of UK and US artists and then Terminal Illness part 2 in 2014. I have had various production placements out there too, with artists such as Bronze Nazareth, Masta Killa, Dom Pachino, Killa Sha, Ill Bill, Kasim Allah, Ruste Juxx and more!
You now reside full time in New York. How did you find the transition from living in the UK to New York?
I found it pretty easy. Brooklyn almost became a second home for me instantly. I soaked up the Hip Hop culture in New York quick time, and made a lot of good friends and connections in the first six months. I had a studio setup on the block in Crown Height and made some major moves! Now it’s a part of my life and second nature.
What’s a day in the life you making an album in NYC as opposed to still living and producing and album in the UK?
It’s a huge difference. Now I can go down to the studio with them and bang out the joints in person as opposed to over the net. Also, being out in the clubs and events on the scene allows me to build directly with artists I want to work with in person, and get to know them personally. It’s the life!
The last time we spoke was many years ago when you were called Endemic. Hell Razah added the Emerald part; tell us about the name change!
Yeah much respect to Chron, (Hell Razah). We were all chilling one night in Bed Stuy, at Killah Priest’s born day bash one night. A lot of Wu Tang artists where in the building. Razah suggested that I add on the ‘Emerald’ to the name as my beats shined like a jewel.
Do you still work with any UK artists?
Yes, I am in fact doing an EP with Scorzayzee. He is one of the best to do it from the UK and I love his political stance and vibe. Look out for singles from that project this year!!
Who were your influences and why?
Rza, Premier, Eazy Mo Bee, Large Professor and the Bomb Squad. To me they are the greatest to have done it. The way they sonically changed and flipped the old soul records is something that no one will ever be able to do better in my opinion. It’s dope to have some of these guys as my people now. Those are the things we all dream of getting into the game.
What’s the vibe like in New York at the moment?
Personally, I think we have a sick vibe of the newer artists coming through doing it proper and the old guard still hitting hard. So in Brooklyn and Queens (which is where I am at most of the time) you have the newer emcees such as Bankai Fam, Nutso, Mickey Bundles, F.T, Starvin B, A.T., Fame Labs, Mic Handz, Foul Monday, Innocent? Frank Knight and many more! It’s a close family vibe where you see all the same circles when we out!
What can we expect from Endemic Emerald and No Cure Records in 2016?
The first of three projects will be out soon, which is my collaboration album with Skanks of Bankai Fam called “Rapsploitation”. After that my EP “Black Bag Operation” will hit the shelves and be followed up by another collaboration album with the GOD Darkim be Allah.
Thanks for taking the time out to do this interview, is there anything that you would to add or who we should be looking out for in 2016?
Much respect for the interview! Look out for all my team as previously mentioned!
Listen to Endemic Emerald “Counter Strike” featuring Queens legends Tragedy Khadafi, Royal Flush and Nutso.