Representing the Bay to LA, west coast legends Da Problem Children are continuing to put their city on the map with the consistent release of music to hip hop purists’ delight. The group comprises of super producer Mark V, who has handled the task of mix Engineer for artists like Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Run-DMC, and Andre Nickatina among others, and Stylie Ray, who is known for his genius behind the hooks. Every track from Da Problem Children, comes with critical acclaim. This has been the reason for the group being enlisted by artists and musicians the like, from Grammy-nominees and touring musicians, to classic artists.
Today we had an exclusive chance to interview them.
Raptology: Talk me through your creative process.
Mark V: I start the process of songwriting by coming up with an idea for a track. This decision is based open the style that Da Problem Children conceptualize. This is fairly simple in that we do what we like. We dont follow any formulas or styles. We are both feeling and living West Coast. I would label our music as West Coast Alternative. I usually start with a bangin’ beat and fill in the melodic parts as i go. Typically I develop A and B sections. With one of those sections turned into a hook by Style Ray or one of our feature artists. I get the tracks to about 80% and once the vocals are laced I fill out the track. Sometimes using live guitar and bass or even flute. Whatever I feel. I write my beats in Pro tools using a Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol midi controller and I have a huge library of sounds to choose from. I’ve personally collected samples from the late 80’s and on. I also own copywriter free sample libraries and more virtual instruments at my disposal then I can possibly use in a lifetime. That’s how I roll. I find a sound and move the fuck on. Once the vocals are laced and the track filled out I produce and mix the arrangement because that’s a skill set that I’ve done for 30 years. Ive mixed for many people. Bone-thugs-N-Harmony, Run DMC, Gang Starr, Charlie Wilson and many others.
Stylie Ray: Usually when I get the track, I go somewhere in a dark setting and lite up some sticky green and let the spirit take over me. What eva’ comes to my mind first is usually the final verse. If I have a hook I’m writing, nine times out of ten my brain is scattered all over the place until I get deeply in my zone and I’m able to say the hook just like I’m talking to myself looking in the mirror. LOL
Raptology: Where and how do you work best?
Mark V: I’m fortunate that I own a recording studio in Arcata, CA called Chat Lunatique Recording. It’s about 5 miles from where I live. I have access at any time. I prefer to work days and I’ve created an environment that is conducive to my creative process. Typically Ive got the lights low and the ambience peaceful. I don’t have people hangin’ around and I can work at my own pace. I use to work all night with a crew runnin’ around. Now that I’m older, married with a family I don’t have that need anymore.
Stylie Ray: I work best under pressure period. I neva understand that, but usually when I’m goin thru everyday life and got the weight of the world on my shoulders, the process becomes a piece of cake…
Raptology: Where are you from?
Mark V: I’m originally from Palo Alto. I moved to Humboldt County when I was 18. I stayed there for 4 years. I moved to San Francisco to the Fillmore district where I lived for 15 years. I owned 2 recording studios in town. I moved to Hollywood in 1995 and have been here in the LA area since then.
Stylie Ray: I was born in Gardena and raised in Compton California by a single Grandmother.
Raptology: Why did you first start making music?
Mark V: My life was complicated as a youngster and I turned to music as a emotional escape. I started playing drums when I was 13 and moved into production when I was 24. I played in many bands in the San Francisco Bay Area. The feeling I get from playing and working on music is one of being in the present moment and not trippin’ on the future or the past. I forget time and I’m in the moment. It’s a type of spiritual meditation and I need it to survive.
Stylie Ray: I started making music after I first heard Grandmaster Flash hit single: The Message. Being from the ghetto the song blew my mind and that’s when I fell in love with hip hop. I believe I was 7 years old then. The crack era and gangbanging was ravishing thru my community.
Raptology: What’s your latest release?
Da Problem Children: The latest single is called “Half The Distance” the track was released about 3 weeks ago and is already at 75k streams, a respectful number for us. We have 2 more singles in the pipeline and these will be released in the next couple of months at the appropriate time.
Raptology: What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your music?
Da Problem Children: The music sounds original. It’s more musical without samples. Makes you wanna go se them live. We combined the influences we love and have no fear. Of course the usual adjectives get used from some people: Slappin’ Bangin” Good production, etc etc. blah blah blah.
Raptology: Do you have a Mantra?
Da Problem Children: “That’s what I’m talking about”, “it is what it is”.
Raptology: What’s your best advice for handling criticism?
Da Problem Children: “Fuck ‘em,they all talk and no walk We doing the damn thing”.
Raptology: Who would you say inspired you the most as an artist?
Da Problem Children: People who have struggled to overcome trials and tribulations and get back up no matter how hard the door slams in their face.
Raptology: What surprising lessons have you learned along the way?
Da Problem Children: Dont follow the money… follow your heart. Be true to yourself.
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