Tuesday, June 11, 2013

ARTICLE: "Elite: Sinner's Advocate" By Gregory Calvaire for Page 31 (An Article on J.Cole's co-producer and long time friend Elite)

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Page 31: How did you and J Cole come across each other and develop your working relationship?

Elite: When we were young I was an intern for Ruff Ryders, and had maybe one placement or something and I would go online like everyone else—and this was way back in like 01 when the internet was still kind of new, and we were rap fanatics. We would post lyrics and songs at the time and I think Cole hit me up, he knew I worked with Ruff Ryders and showed me his music, and he was like 15. He sent me the song called The Storm, which is available online, it’s the first song he ever recorded and it was incredible. I was like no way is a kid this age writing like this, he produced the song and everything, and so we developed a relationship. Then when he came to St. Johns for school, we just starting working together and the rest is history. 

P31: I believe one of his projects was recorded in your basement, maybe The Warm Up?
E: Yeah The Warm Up. Not my basement, but I had like a bedroom studio, which I just recently upgraded to a more professional situation. We were like bedroom producers, that’s the generation we’re in now. He recorded a bunch of The Warm Up at my crib, microphone in the closet. I produced for him on The Warm Up Heartache and Playground. We were in a nice little zone.

P31: Your obviously day one Dreamville fam. Cole said a few weeks ago he felt unsatisfied after Sideline Story, was that a uniform feeling? Were there things you felt he had to do next time around?

E: For me, I didn’t really have that many—I thoughtSideline Story was a great album, I still do. I thought Farewell should’ve been the outro, it was onFriday Night Lights. Everyone has their opinions, but I think now he looks back like damn, maybe I should’ve did that or this. When the album came out, I just thought this is a great album. Cole has very high expectations, and for me I thought it’s a great album and it’s selling but critically, the magazines were giving it mediocre reviews, and Cole wanted 5 stars across the board, which is what he’ll get with Born Sinner.

P31: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe you did 4 records on Born Sinner?

E: Well I co-produced Crooked Smile and Born Sinner. I did additional production on Runawayafterwards, and the song Let Nas Down, it’s interesting…I have a song on my mixtape as an artist featuring Dreamville artist Bas. Cole sampled it and flipped it into the Let Nas Down beat, which is like how he did Workout with Kanye’s song. So for Let Nas Down he sampled one of my records, which is a unique thing but its dope. 

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P31: You get to see these ideas as they’re being created, but what was you reaction to hearing Nas was let down by Work Out?

E: First of all I was blessed—that was an incredible song to be a part of. He called me in the studio when he sampled the joint, he’s like ‘yo I got this joint, I want you to hear,’ yada yada. But he hadn’t recorded it yet, so he plays the beat and he’s asking me should we change anything. I’m like dog, this shit is perfect, it sounds great. Just leave it how it is. Then he went into the booth and recorded the whole song all the way through, I think he might’ve done it in one take! Or at least maybe two. So I never heard the story, I’m hearing the story live as he’s rapping it in the booth. So I didn’t know, I didn’t know Nas didn’t like it, so I’m like what? This is incredible. To this day I still get chills when I hear the song and the honesty. It’s just so well written. The composition of the story is well written, its one of my favorite hip-hop songs ever. 

P31: Any word on if Nas got a chance to hear that one yet?

E: Yeah, I’ll let Cole tell that story and I’m sure he can tell it a lot better because he was there. There is a really cool story behind that one and I’m sure he’ll tell it at some point.

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P31: Every time the creation of Crooked Smile TLC collaboration come up I hear either you or Cole saying it’s a complex story of how it came together. Was there a lot of hoops and hurdles to put this together?

 Not really hoops and hurdles, more just we put a lot of time in. It was just an epic production and an epic story. It was just long. It was weird, it was one of those songs were every time we worked on it, it significantly improved. Sometimes when you work on songs and you touch it, it can take a step back but this one was just like gigantic steps forward every time. We worked on it for months. 

P31: The anticipation for the J Cole showdown with Kanye has reached a peak and unfortunately the album sprung a leak last night. What’s the reaction amongst Dreamville been like?

E: I haven’t spoke to Cole about it yet but I’m sure he knows, my thing is that every album leaks. You can’t stop it. You have to expect it to happen, it’s a matter of when. At the end of the day my opinion on it, is if the music is good, it’s not a bad thing it’s just spreading word. These days people are buying albums out of—you don’t need to, it’s like a donation. If it’s quality music and it leaks, it just builds a buzz, and if people want to support they can pre-order it.

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P31: You mentioned Bas a little while ago. He has a dope mixtape out called Quarter Water II. Did you spend time working with him on that project?

E: Uhh, not really. Bas works hard man, that’s one thing I really respect about him. He hasn’t been rapping long, like 2-3 years maybe. He was a natural and just one of those dudes that was around us so much that he picked up a lot and worked very fast. I worked with him a bunch of times; we have songs that haven’t come out yet. We did the song Teterboro that was going to be on the mixtape but didn’t end up fitting but still came out, it’s one of my favorite songs and we might shoot a video for it.

P31: What else have you been working on outside ofBorn Sinner?

E: I’ve been working on my 2nd mixtape as an artist, and I also have an artist named Sean McVerry that I'm signing to my production company. I’m working on his project now.

P31: What kind of records can we expect from Elite?

E: My record is, kinda emotional. My last one was emotional but there’s more of a theme to it. There’s kind of not love songs but songs about relationships.

P31: Now are we talking Joe Budden emotional or Drake emotional?

E: (laughs) I don’t know about Joe Budden emotion. it’s unique, it’s different. You gotta hear it. It’s just me.

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