BLOCK: featuring the hottest Hip Hop Producers across the board!
This is the spot where you'll see upcoming producers as well as established
veterans in the game. Alot
of people don't know what
goes into production. This will be the section where we feature the hottest
producers on the scene. Each month we'll bring to you a new producer along with
MONTH'S FEATURE IS: DARREN
Killafornia days were some of the funniest days in the studio, there
were no rules we just said what ever the fuck we wanted and didn't care
what people thought, it was just raw everyday, was like a damn gangsta
party in the studio."
Darren Vegas, raised in Orange County Cali is a multi platinum producer who
started playing the piano at the early age of six. He then in middle school
started playing the drums, and began mixing and scratching on the turntables.
Early in his music career he teamed up with J Rocc of the Beat Junkies and
the two began dee jayin local clubs in Orange County and Los Angeles and started
producing local music acts. Darren decided that producing was where his real
passion was at. After turning down his first record deal offer with Don Cornelius
of Soul Train, he started his own label Killa Cali Records and formed the
group Killafornia Organization with the help of Chill from Compton's Most
After selling over 350 thousand records with their first L.P, the group disbanded
after their distribution company Raging Bull failed to pay any royalties and
later claimed bankruptcy. Soon after, Vegas began workin with fellow producer
Mark Sparks and artist Anthony Hamilton and Sunshine Anderson of Soul Life
Darren's production really got noticed when he cut a track with Snoop
Dog and the L.B.C. Crew entitled Dippen In My Low Low, which was later
released on The Dogfather Album as an intermission track. After failing
to sign with Death Row at the time when his new manager was murdered (Jake
Robles A.K.A. BIG Jake), Darren moved on and soon met up with multi- platinum
recording artist Layzie Bone of Bone Thuggs N Harmony. They instantly
hit it off and after recording several records including Bone Thugs Resurrection,
Layzie Bones solo debut Thug By Nature, Mo Thug Mothership, and Bizzy
Bone's The GIFT. Darren's career was in full motion. It was then when
an M.C. by the name of Crooked I, who Vegas had met through a mutual friend
Big C Style ( the founder of Tha Dog Pound) came into the picture.
After their first record at Virgin failed to come out over a record company
scandal, the two joined forces and began recording Crook's new record "Untouchable
Cali" along with Long Beach producer Jim Gitum. Vegas was the producer
and Executive producer of the album doing what ever he could to get the three
of them in studios throughout Orange County and L.A. It was during this time
that Crooked I, who then signed to a deal with Dog Pound records, hashed a
deal with Death Row and Suge Knight.
After Big C Style, Daz and Suge fell out Crooked I then signed a deal directly
with Death Row. Suge had been hearing about Darren's production in the streets
through fellow Compton associates and after producing two cuts off the Tupac
album Untill The End Of Time, it was at this time that Darren flew to Mule
Creek Penitentary to sign a production deal as the head producer of Tha Row
Records with notorious C.E.O. Suge Knight.
While at Tha Row Darren produced hundreds of tracks with artists such
as Kurupt, Left Eye, Keyshia Cole, Ray J, Crooked I, Roscoe, Spider Loc,
Gangsta Ridd, and Monsta from The Boo Yaa Tribe, KC and JO JO, Too Short,
187, Sisco and many more. After being promised that all the records were
going to be released after their first release Disfunktional Family and
Tupac's New Mixx Classics, Darren realized that all wasn't what it seemed
at Tha Row and he soon left.
After struggling to leave the falling label Darren took a long break from
the music industry and began a career as a professional poker player in high
stake cash games.
He is currently working with many platinum artists and is again dedicating
himself to his music. His latest songs include such artists as: Snoop
Dog, XZIBIT, Too Short, E40, Ras Kass, King T, MC EIHT, Kurupt, Roscoe,
and many more.
Darren is once again excited about the music business and making some
of the best songs of his career. He is also back working with Layzie Bone
again and he expects big things to come. RAPINDUSTRY.COM recently tackled
the talented producer down..
What's poppin? How have you
been real busy back in the studio again
with my new production company the beat mafia we are a full fledged production
company workin with some of the biggest artist in hip hop today.
You been laying low for a minute, What have you been up to?
I'm currently workin with 40 Glocc
on his album NWA. I recently produced a cut "Spin tha Globe"
on his last mix tape album. Latest cut I did has some of the West's heaviest
hitters, it's called Welcome to Cali .. We have about 4 different versions
of this cut with diff. west coast artists featured on each. The first
one i just finished features SNOOP, E-40, TOO SHORT, XZIBIT, AND BIG 40
GLOCC. IT'S DEFINITELY A WEST COAST BANGER! Something we need over here
which is a liitle untity so we can put this shit back together, should
be hittin radio next couple weeks.
Lets talk about how you got into music.. What was your inspiration for
getting into hip hop?
Who inspired you to do it, at what point did you say,, " This is
what I want to do"..?
I got into hip hop at an early age, I had played piano
and drums as a young kid and then around 15 got into dee jaying, that's
when hip hop was really fresh and raw. My partner was the famous J Rocc
from the Beat Junkies. We use to sit in his crib all day drinkin big gulps
scratchin and mixin and I got my first sampler and we started loopin and
i was adding keyboards to the cuts then we would play live parties and
my man Boodro from KIllafornia would rock the mic. I was inspired alot
by producers like Pete Rock, Dr. Dre, DJ Quik, Run Dmc, and Rakim were
some of my favorite Mc's.. also Cube/ NWA. There was alot of raw talent
in those days.
Tell us about the Killafornia days.. There was a some nice music coming
from that camp.. What happened with the whole Killa Cali label? That album
still gets alot of attention from hardcore westcoast hip hop fans.. Any
chances of a reunion album or Killafornia 2? You still stay in touch with
any of the fellas?
The Killafornia days were some of the funniest days
in the studio, there were no rules we just said what ever the fuck we
wanted and didn't care what people thought, it was just raw everyday,
was like a damn gangsta party in the studio. I still stay in contact with
all the guys and we have recently been talkin bout cuttin some new tracks..
should be fun. I would love to have a reunion. We sold alot of records
with that album.. Independent with no video.. strictly street with no
co op from the label.. They pretty much ripped us off!! We never got a
cent from that record and it's still selling. That kind of tore everyone
apart at that time but we all cool now, it's all love.
Tell us a little about your brief stint as head producer of Death Row..
What was the atmosphere like? What was it like working under Suge's roof?
Did you have free-reign? or was everything under a tight grip like legend
has it? Working with Kurupt, Crooked I , Ray J, Danny Boy, etc.. any memorable
stories you'd like to share that stuck out that the readers might be interested
I was head producer for Death Row from about 2001 to 2003 or so.. it's
all pretty much a blur. I used to spend 6 days a week in the studio doin
12 hour sessions. I had 3 albums on Billboards Top 10 so I was already
platinum when I went there... with groups like Bone Thugz n Harmony. The
first record I cut at Tha Row was Pac ( Till the End of Time ) I did songs
"Happy Home" and "Why U Want 2 Turn On Me", then Dogg
Pound 2002. After that it was alot of Crooked I, Kurupt, Left Eye aka
Nina, Keyshia Cole was there, Ray J, Eastwood, Danny Boy, Spider Loc,
Gangsta Rid from Booyaa and on any day u didn't know who would slide through..
Too Short, KC. JOJO, Murder Inc camp, Jada Kiss, and tons of other shit
was dope and they was all rappin on my beats.. lot of shit that should
have been released. I still have some of that unreleased material. Some
of the hottest shit was the Crooked I Untouchable Cali album produced
by Jim Gitum and myself. Hutch did a cut as well. We had alot of fun makin
that album with Crook cuz no one was there tryin to tell us how to make
our music unlike some other times. The Crook album "Hoodstar"..
I just got word is gonna be released on june 15th which I produced almost
the entire album. My man Monsta from Booyaa laced alot of guitar. Hutch
was there at the mixing boards for some of it and Jim Gitum was there
for some as well. I'm glad it's gonna finally have a real release.. I
think Crook may have sold his rights to the album when he got released
from Tha Row but I think people should still hear what we were working
on. I think the album should have had tracks from Untouchable Cali and
Say Hi to the Bad Guy... combined shit would have been a Westcoast classic
but i didn't have no control over that.
Do you still stay in touch with Crooked I? Any chance of working together
again on anything?
I haven't talked to Crooked
I in years since i introduced him to Treacherous Records and then got
cut out the deal.. Bad decision on his part, I don't think they ever released
a solo record on him.
In terms of production, what is your process..? Do you use live instruments,
In terms of production i had always rocked the MPC with a bunch of keyboard
racks making beats from scratch or sometimes doin remixes. I pride myself
on being able to play the instruments.. but i also Dj and can scratch
and sample and all that shit. I feel u have to be well rounded to be able
to make it in the game for as long as i have. I recently switched over
to Reasons and am lovin it... havin all the racks at my disposal. The
Beat Mafia also makes and designs our own drum sounds and loops. should
be releasing a new cd shortly.
Take us through a typical studio session with you..
As far as creating i usually start out with a keyboard riff and take it from
there adding what ever else comes to mind. I don't know where all the songs
come from it just happens. It still amazes me sometimes but i still love it
as much as the day I first started. I also dabble on the guitar and live percussion..
pretty much whatever i can get my hands on. I'm always writing lyrics. Alot
of people don't know that i started out rappin too.. i spit verses on a few
of the Killafornia cuts and often rap or write hooks for alot of the artists
i work with.
What producers do you respect and look up to?
As far as producers i respect, i would have to say Dr.
Dre. He knows how to make people and his production sounds really good and
bottom line he makes stars. I also love Timbaland's music. The cats that produce
Sade are some of my favorite, others would be Storch, Premier, and Outkasts'
What artists do you listen to?
I bump alot of Jay Z's shit, 50 Cent.. love Scarface and
many more and i think the West bout do do some nice things again. I think
people really miss the genre of music right now. I'm feelin alot of kanye's
production and Young Money is a talented cat as well.
What's your take on the current state of Hip-Hop?
I think the current state of hip hop is in a transition. I feel people are
gettin sick of alot of the gimmick bullshit raps and just solo dance songs.
I think it's time for some new artists to break out and show some substance.
I think the net has changed the music so drastic in hip hop that alot of artists
don't make quality albums. People's attention span has shrunk to the point
where they want instant gratification and just to download alot of singles
but you know the hip hop industry has to try and make a concious effort to
change that.. maybe we gotta take it back to basics.
Looking ahead.. say, 5, or even
10 years down the road, where do you see yourself?
Biggest career moment has been
Two moments stick out to me in my career the first time i met with Bone
Thugs and Bizzy, Layzie and Flesh started goin crazy when they first heard
my tracks and Bizzy's crazy ass was jumpin on tables rappin to them and
i know we where about to make some dope shit together, and the other was
when i was flown to Mule Creek State prison in Northern Cali to meet SUGE
KNIGHT where he told me he wanted to make me the next biggest producer
in rap music...
Tell us about the recent
remix you did with E-40, Xzibit, 40 Glocc (
AKA BIG BAD 40'), and
Snoop.. How did that song come about? Is this song being featured on an
cut i did with 40 Glocc and a slew of other west coast artist came about
by 40 ( AKA BIG BAD 40') bringin me an instrumental that he wanted me
to remix, then he took it to Too Short, E-40 Snoop, Xzibit and a few other
superstar mc's from the West and had them lay there verses. My man C Sick,
one of my engineers who makin a big name for himself right now mixed the
cut and then myself and the Beat Mafia did another remix to it. It's an
ongoing song that we bout to make alot of noise with. 40 Glocc connectin
the West and we about to do big thangs. I thank him for that.. he a cool
mothafucka. We gonna do alot of big things together.
What else can we expect from
you? What else you working on?
im workin on right now is my solo project wit the Beat Mafia where i will
be puttin together a bunch of new and already famous artists on one album
featuring my production. I jus started DarrenVegas.com and the BeatMafia.com.
I been in the studio makin beats everyday, some of the best music of my
life. I'm really grindin and feel i have had a rebirth.
Any last words?
I want fans to go cop the new release from Death Row june 15th "Hoodstar".
I am currently in talks with them and will see if they take care of me.
I will be letting the fans know for the record.. I produced over 11 tracks
on that project..couple of my favorites I did..'Fuck em' and 'Cali Love'
. Three though i think they got the credits wrong on. Shout out to Big
Monsta from Booyaa, The Jons and Mr P from the Beat Mafia. I wanna thank
all the fans and friends that have shown me support over the years...
Oh yeah, Layzie and i are back in contact and on the verge of doin some
big things again, Peace!!!!