A Q&A with maticulous

The Confluence EP, which was released by Fat Beats Records on September 26th, is the Brooklyn-based (by way of the Pittsburgh, PA area) producer maticulous’s latest album, and the follow up to his debut effort, The maticulous EP. Confluence may well may be aptly named as the heart of Pittsburgh lies at the confluence of the Three Rivers – the Allegheny, the Ohio, and the Monongahela Rivers. But the album thematically works as the confluence between Pittsburgh’s hip hop scene and that of New York’s hip hop scene, as maticulous works with some of his old hometown’s hottest and most talented emcees, as well as the confluence between hip hop’s golden age and current underground scene. For some of us jaded New Yorkers who think we’ve seen it all, it says that we should be paying attention to the Steel City. 

As a producer, maticulous has worked with Doom, RA the Rugged Man, Ruste Juxx, and is a member of Audimatic, with the fantastic Audible Doctor of the Brown Bag AllStars crew. He’s also released a couple of interesting instrumental projects, all of show his production style. Similar to that of the great J. Dilla, and Pete Rock his has an incredibly organic and cinematic quality.  

After the release of The Confluence EP, I got a chance to speak to maticulous about the new album, the state of hip hop and a number of other things in this Q&A – the first done here in quite some time. 


WRH: How did you get into music? And when did you know that music was the only thing that you wanted to do? 

m: I’ve been into music since I was very young… My mom exposed me to a lot of Motown stuff, Stevie Wonder, etc.  My uncle also played in bands and really got me into rock, groups like Rush. He’d give me drums sticks and have me mimmick Neil Peart on the dashboard of his car while we drove. I had an idea I wanted to make music in high school but didn’t fully realize it until I was a junior in college. 

WRH: You’re originally from the Pittsburgh area (Ebensburg, PA) and you moved to Brooklyn about eight years ago. What exactly inspired the move to Brooklyn? As an artist have you noticed anything different between the pittsburgh scene and that of Brooklyn (or of NYC)? 

m: I moved for the music, started as an intern with DJ Honda, then went to Fat Beats interning for college credit, and moved up the ranks from intern, store manager/buyer, then sales/A&R, all while honing my skills as a beat maker. Honestly, I missed a lot of the big hip hop movement the past 4-5 years in Pittsburgh while being in Brooklyn.  But I’d definitely say other areas are more open to different styles than NYC. It’s difficult to get love here, period, which is understandable. NYC is the birthplace of this music, so it’s seen it all, which is why I wanted to be here to create.

WRH: How would you describe your sound?

That’s a good question, man… I’d say traditional with my own modern twists. Sampling records, drum breaks, the dustiness of classic hip hop but usually my tracks come out very clean in the end.

WRH: Who are your influences? Who are you listening to right now? Who do you think is the hottest rapper right now? 

m: My two favorite producers are J Dilla and DJ Quik. I have been heavily influenced by many producers/emcees along the way…Hi-Tek, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, Beatminerz, Dr. Dre…the list could go on, not limited to just hip hop.
Right now I’m really feeling the new Oddisee record, and stay playing the last Common album. I really appreciated that joint. Also, been bumpin my homie Beedie’s newest CD. Hottest rapper…hmmm…was glad to hear Nas spit on his latest, I like The Audible Doctor glad to be working with him. We have a group together called Audimatic. The Doppelgangaz are really dope too. Also, this dude named Hubbs from Pittsburgh really inspires me to make some beats. (He’s on tracks 2 & 7 of my newest EP.) Anyone that commands your attention to the track stylistically and or lyrically I can appreciate.

WRH: In your opinion who’s the greatest rapper ever? And the greatest album (any genre) ever? 

m: No way I can answer that question haha. So difficult b/c I’ve been influenced by certain people at different times. I’d list Rakim, Nas, Andre 3000 as a few of my top and Kool G. Rap. I think Slum Village changed the game as far as a stylistic approach. Fantastic vol. 2 was a life changer for me.
My favorite album is Like Water For Chocolate, by Common produced mostly by Dilla. I usually get weird reactions because it’s not one of the classics that a lot of people mention. That was the record that solidified to me that I wanted to make music. The production, emceeing, interludes, the fluidity of that album was perfect.

WRH: Audible doctor, and the Brown Bag AllStars recently released a single, “406” and in the song the entire crew lovingly describes working at Fat Beats as being a formative experience for them as artists, as it was someplace where they cut their teeth and got in touch with fans, and so on.  I understand that you also worked at Fat Beats as the store’s manager. Did you find your time at Fat Beats inspiring how you did things as a producer? If so, how?
m: That was a great video, you can catch me gettin’ my cameo on! It was the most important time for me personally and as an artist in developing my sound and direction. I really wasn’t making beats heavily during my time at the store, which was unfortunate because I connected with so many people and learned a lot. I could’ve built better artistic relationships…but wasn’t ready to shop beats at that time. You can’t not be inspired by Fat Beats, if you love the culture. I’ll be forever grateful for my time there and the relationships I’ve made.

WRH: Your newest album, The Confluence EP just came out the other day, and it features some of the best emcees from your old hometown. How does this project differ from your first release? And how did this project come about? How did you decide which emcees you were going to work with?

m: I’d say my new project is brighter sounding than The maticulous EP. Not as aggressive, but keeps the same continuity as the last one. It came about after I visited Pittsburgh over a year ago and met Beedie. We worked on a few joints and I got the idea to do a whole EP with various emcees from the area. I’m really pleased how it all came together, it was dope to get to do tracks with them.

WRH: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 

m: I’ll definitely be making hip hop music. It’s part of who I am. I hope to do shows DJ’ing for artists that I produce records for…expanding my audience, make it easier for people to put a face with the music. My goal is to produce whole albums for people, not just getting placements.

WRH: As a producer, who’s also had a stint at a&r (at Fat Beats Records), what advice would you give to up-and-coming young artists and producers out there?

m: Get to the point where the music you share with the world is of the highest quality possible, and have honest people around you. It’s very easy to release music today, and the quality has suffered. Make music with respect to those that came before you. Part of the reason I don’t do the A&R thing anymore is because I’m an artist myself…who am I to tell someone how to create, but bring the “A” game if you decide to release it.

WRH: A lot of hip hop heads have bitterly complained about the state of hip hop – usually the complaints are about how hip hop is dead, irrelevant or that they find themselves listening to it a lot less often. I often suspect that most of these complaints are directed at the mainstream labels and mainstream media outlets more than anything else. As a producer who has worked in A&R and who has managed a record store, what is the state of hip hop? what can be done better? 
m: It’s not dead,  just more difficult than ever to find quality music which leads people to give up, even though there’s more hip hop being made than ever before… It’s understandable but frustrating. I think there is too much of the same style of hip hop in the mainstream. If you aren’t making that style there’s little to no chance in broadening your audience in today’s market. I think there is room for every style and if that was accepted commercially as it was before attitudes would change for the better.
Thank you for the interview & thank you to everyone who’s supported my music the last 2 years!