Grammy award-winning hip-hop producer Doc Ish sits down with Akai Pro to talk about is work, his win and his MPCs.
Artist and music producer Doc Ish is relatively new to all of the fame he acquired with his Grammy win for Eminem's "We Made You." That hasn't stopped him from driving even harder for more success.
Akai: Where did you get your name?
Doc Ish: I used to rap so Doc was like the mad scientist who used to formulate all the production and Ish was like the M.C. so it was like two different people put together.
Akai: Tell us about how you got to be involved in music and who were your biggest influences?
Doc Ish: I got into music two different ways. One was I got really sick and had my athletic career stripped from me so I focused on music. I also came from a very musical family. My aunt and uncle are both very active performers to this day. My uncle’s a drummer and my aunt’s a singer and my grandfather’s mother, used to tour way back in the day when they used to have the speakeasy. So I came from a very musical background. When I was younger I lived in my grandmother’s basement and my uncle used to just bang away on the drums so I got so many ideas from that I wanted to make my own music.
Akai: "We Made You" seems to have represented a turning point in your career as a producer. How did you come to work with Eminem on that project?
Doc Ish: I was introduced to Bizarre by T-russell so I made a song that was really left field and I couldn’t really hear too many different people on it and then when he introduced me to Bizarre from D12 it was ljke you know it was the perfect song for him because he’s wild and crazy. So I sent him the song and Charmaign Trick who’s on the hook to this day you know she was already on the hook he sent it back to me the very next day said “Doc, I love this. This is a hit. Mix this down, let’s go.”
The only problem was that it was so vulgar and had so much swearing on it that there’s no way I would have been able to radio edit it, I mean it would have just been a beat with a couple of , “ep…up…ay…” on it. You know what I mean? It wouldn’t have been much of a song at all. So I hit him back and I was like, “This is huge – we gotta get this on the radio. We’ve got to rewrite this.” He agreed so before he could even get back to me he hit me back and I was working in the studio working on another song. When I mix I just go in my own world. Certain engineers can mix down stuff with people around but I don’t. I close off the studio and I don’t let anybody around me. So he kept calling me and calling so when I answered he was talking about, “Marshall wants your song. “ And I was just like, “Yeah right, whatever.” And I hung up on up and he called me back and you know, he always jokes around so much that I thought he was just joking. So he called me back and was like, “Doc, I’m serious.” His cousin, who is an artist, Gambino, I know from growing up in Hartford. So he hops on the phone and is like, “Ish, man this is serious, you know. This isn’t a joke.” So I’m still kinda leery on whether or not it’s true or not you know because I thought Gam might be in on the joke. So, next thing you know I said, “Yeah, sure give management my number.” And within five minutes they called and the rest is history.
Akai: What a great sequence of events. What was it like to hear the announcement that you had won the Grammy? Where were you and how did you react?
Doc Ish: I was home with my family with my kids and I was supposed to go, but there was so much work and family stuff that was going on that I cancelled my trip and stayed home. They didn’t announce the best rap album. There were a lot of parties going on because Charmagne is from Hartford and everyone knew that Eminem was up for a Grammy and people knew that Charmagne and I participated in on the album.
So I was getting a lot of phone calls left and right like, “Did you hear anything? Did you hear anything?” and I’m like, “Nah, nah.” So I didn’t really even find out until somebody texted me the info. I mean, I’m sitting there watching and watching with my mother calling me up, you know all kinds of stuff. They didn’t air that part on the TV so I ended up finding out through a text. That’s when everybody in my household went crazy and everything. It felt good but it really hadn’t hit me yet. It’s kind of crazy and weird because it didn’t sink in on me until later. Recently when I’ve been confronted with a lot of different projects when I got to New York and worked with a lot of people years ago that knew me from before I was a platinum producer or Grammy winner, to hear them say it or see their reaction, that’s when it hit me, “You’re really an award winner now.”
Akai: Has your success brought a lot more people wanting to work with you?
Doc Ish: It’s brought a lot of people knocking on the door. A lot of different hip-hop and rock artists. It’s brought football players, like Tully Banta-Cain from the New England Patriots. It’s brought a lot of different projects from reality shows to movies, it’s just a lot of different stuff. It’s been amazing to see the amount of phone calls and the amount of people coming out of the woodwork to do things. To be honest with you, I’ve been so focused on my project, my treatment, my first debut album that I was working on before this whole Eminem thing happened that I’m trying to get back to that and push it out because it’s my debut album.
Akai: Who are some of the artists you'd like to work with that you haven't worked with yet?
Doc Ish: To be honest with you a lot of people I have wanted to work with are on my compilation that’s coming out. I’m working on a compilation called, The First Treatment. Basically it’s like the first dose to everybody of artist like Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz, Saigon, Ransom, ‘Kwon [Raekwon], KRS One, Kool G Rap, Buckshot, Rockness, Sean Price, Bun B, Terminology, Nipsey Hustle, AC, Crooked-I, Planet Asia, Amil, Uncle Murder, Nature, Odyssey, a lot of people. Like the song that we’ve got coming out, it’s got Jon Bon Jovi on it. It’s like a hip hop kind of song and that’s going to be hot.
Akai: When is it coming out?
Doc Ish: You know how the game is. It’s rush, rush, wait, wait, wait. Supposedly, Telly Basicane’s single is supposed to drop in April. My first single’s supposed to drop any day now. I’ve got a video and everything for it. It’s a choice between Izcalid, Joe Budden, and Bun B all in one song together, called “Is it a Dream?” Then there’s another one called “These Streets” that features Max B, Red Cafe and ‘Kwon. We still have to finish the video for both of them. We’re trying to figure out a concept with Max being locked up and all, we want to keep it hot where even though he’s locked up to where he’s still doing it. That’s going to be interesting. I’m working with his camp right now on that and getting the footage all together for the video. It’s a lot of work with the marketing/PR aspect, singles, sample clearance, sitting down with the companies, lawyers… it’s just non-stop. You know, it’s kind of overwhelming because I’m doing everything a record label would do. It’s a great learning experience and I love it. Everything else I kind of put on hold to get this out. It’s my baby. I’ve been working on it for a long time so everything else is kind of on hold.
Akai: What advice do you have for up and coming producers?
Doc Ish: Grab your MPC and start being as creative as possible. Don’t get stuck in the realm of thinking you can’t do it. If you think it’s a hit, it’s probably is a hit. I have people on my team who are all fired who didn’t think Eminem’s song was a hit and I did. Always believe in yourself and try different stuff and don’t let the game pimp you. Have fun, love music and do it because you’re passionate about it, not because it’s a job or for money because the game is nothing but sharks. Watch your back, cover yourself and have your eyes glued to every piece of paper that comes across your desk. Just never give up on your dreams.
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