88-Keys Talks Accidental Technique, Aiming For Life-Changing Beats (Video Premiere)

The last in the four-part “Learn From Legends” video series (which all premiered on Ambrosia For Heads), producer Rodney Hazard sat in with Harlem-based producer/MC 88-Keys. With work back to the late 1990s, 88-Keys’ story surrounds luminaries in every pocket of Hip-Hop, from Kanye West and Jay Z, to J-Live and Braille. Along the way, 88 made a breakthrough impression in his own 2008 conceptual gem, The Death Of Adam.

88 speaks with Rodney in his own Manhattan pre-production studio overlooking the bustling blocks of the city, explaining how he took a mere three-word piece of advice from Q-Tip amidst the A Tribe Called Quest era, and mined a lasting career. The former record store clerk from NYC applied his passion for music and soon got to work with a rarely-boasted specific piece of equipment. 88 explains how it was his own naivety that would ultimately prompt him to hone a specific style that was all his own.

Heads can see that 88-Keys’ turntable shows its age and wear, and the self-described “sampler” surrounds himself with sonic sources (the records that stack up from the floor). Shopping beats to Jay (care of Beanie Sigel) in the growing years of Roc-A-Fella Records, 88 explains how Jay Z works so efficiently that two vocal takes is often not necessary. The “No Church In The Wild” producer compares that against his longtime friend Kanye West, who has methods that demand “extreme amount of concentrated thought in every aspect of the song that you’re working on.” The world that the producer uses to describe the Watch The Throne results (or respective solo catalogs): “flawless.”

Just as he alluded to in the recent Cipher Show interview, the man born Charles Njapa recalls trading equipment tips with J Dilla, especially surrounding the then-newly-released Akai MPC 3000. Those reportedly secrets remain integral to Keys’ work today.

Once a beat tape-shopper, 88-Keys explains pushing boundaries into today, now creating compositions that he says, “change lives” if they work. A Head to the fullest, music certainly changed 88-Keys life, and as the series shows, Rodney’s too.

As Rodney Hazard has done with each previous installment (see: Da Beatminerz, M.O.P.’s Lil Fame and J-Zone), he applies the lessons from these legends into a fresh mix of his own. Teaming with Atlanta, Georgia-based sensation Rome Fortune (a relative of Cannonball Adderley and co.) and Jon Waltz. “It’s Mine” (included on Victim Volunteer) definitely has the full-bodied, aim-for-heavens approach heard in 88-Keys. The lessons were definitely received.

Rodney Hazard’s Victim Volunteer releases tomorrow (March 31).

Related: Lil Fame Talks Production Techniques, M.O.P. Beginnings and Biggie Smalls (Video Premiere)