For “Studios Sessions,” we delve into the stories behind the long hours in the studio and all that goes into making an album by talking with artists, producers, engineers, photographers, and more who are intimately connected to the recording process with some of the biggest artists in the world. These are the stories that rarely leave the booth.
Peter Rosenberg has probably worked with or has met any rapper you can think of over the last 15 plus years as a radio personality. Over that time, he’s been able to be in the studio with today’s biggest artists before they blew up.
“I was in the studio with PRO ERA at Rubber Tracks for the ‘Rosie At The Rubber Tracks’ song they did. They were just a bunch of kids at that time. They were just figuring out the process,” Rosenberg told REVOLT.
How long have you worked on this album?
It really started during the pandemic; late Summer/early fall I got really serious about it. I’ve been working on music prior to that and it ended up coming off a little bit more commercial and didn’t really seem to fit with me. Sometime during the pandemic, I decided to lean into it myself and really put the work in with the artists I’ve been excited about. I sent out the first couple of records. Shout out to 2nd Generation Wu, Stove God Cooks, and Flee Lord, who got stuff done for me really quickly. That put the battery in my back that it can actually happen. Then, it was over in the spring. I put the finishing touches on it three weeks ago. There’s an art to getting all the pieces and putting a puzzle together.
What was the hardest song to make happen for this album?
I would say that would be “Snake Eyes” with Ghostface Killah, Crimeapple, and Jim Jones. That was a beat I sent to Ghostface on Jan. 25, which was produced by my friend Disco Vietnam, who did three songs on the album. I sent it to Ghost and forgot about it because I hadn’t heard back. I moved on, did 11 songs and I felt good to wrap it up. Then Shawn Wigs, who works closely with Ghostface and Theodore Unit, sent me a message saying, “Yo, what’s your email?” When you get that text, that’s when you know something good’s happening (laughs). I checked my email and Ghostface laid this verse down. It sounded like vintage Ghostface. He did 14 bars and stopped short as if there was another line to do, but he was busy. He actually sent it to me the week of Ghostface/Raekwon Verzuz. I was like, “What am I going to do? Maybe I’ll get the last few bars, maybe I won’t.”
In the meantime, I sent Ghost a few artist options on who might be a feature. Crimeapple is a kid who has a really strong reputation in the underground these days. He’s sort of built his own lane. He’s a unique artist who has his own fanbase. I hit Crimeapple and he was like, “Yo, just say ‘go’ and you’ll have a verse from me in two seconds.” Then, Disco Vietnam was like, “Jim Jones would sound crazy on this.” Jim Jones is doing the best work of his career right now, so I reached out to Jones and he was pretty responsive. I sent him the song, he heard it was Ghostface and was like, “OK, let’s knock this out. This has to happen.” I got the record back and done March 15. So, it took a few months. It wasn’t that bad.
For Jones’ verse, how did you work with him virtually in Quarantine Studios?
I was with Jim Jones doing his virtual studio thing when he did his verse. I didn’t really understand how Quarantine Studios worked until we did it. When we did it, I was like, “Oh, this really is ill technology. He really has potentially changed the game.” I know people are going to go back to studios more, but regardless this makes the ability to work together so much better. You can really record with a producer in two different ways. Jones was at home with his mic setup. His engineer was in the studio playing the beat. I was at home watching and able to communicate. He was able to rap on the beat even though the beat wasn’t with him, it was in the studio. That’s how small the latency is. The way we connected, he was able to play the audio to me, so it didn’t sound like shitty Zoom audio. It sounded like audio coming from my computer speakers properly.
Westside Gunn doesn’t do many features. How did you get one?
There are two songs on the album I didn’t pick the beats for: The intro with Vel The Wonder and Westside Gunn’s record “Stain.” I had been sending Gunn messages about me working on a project and loving to do a song with him. He was spotty in his responses, as artists are. I’d hit him about wrestling, he’d hit me right back. I’d hit him about the album, it was quiet. I released the “Marcus Smart” single and that day, or the next day, I had a track texted to me. I responded, “What’s this?” He said, “Your next single.” I said, “Say less,” and it was my next single.
The first project I remember hearing from you was the 2013 mixtape New York Renaissance with artists like Joey Bada$$, A$AP Ferg, and Action Bronson. What sessions do you remember from that time?
I was in the studio with PRO ERA at Rubber Tracks for the [“Rosie at Rubber Track] song they did. They were just a bunch of kids at that time. They were just figuring out the process. I was also new to doing this. So, I sort of laid back, made minor suggestions, and let Oddisee take the lead because he knew what he was doing better than I did. They were just great kids. The Joey solo record came in the night before I was dropping the tape. Jonny Shipes sent it to me and was like, “I got something for you.” I also was in the studio for the record I did with CJ Fly, Nitty Scott, and Troy Ave, which is a random connection.
Did they work together on it in the studio?
They were all there on different nights. I think they said what’s up to each other, but there wasn’t any great camaraderie between them… Troy Ave came through and hung out for a minute. In retrospect, it was a random record. Oddisee killed that shit.
What’s the most impressive thing you’ve seen done in the studio?
The first couple projects I put out were with Oddisee called A Rosenberg Oddisee. I would bring Oddisee to the studio and artists would come through. In one day, he completed songs with Buckshot, Saigon with Lil Fame, Nikki Jean, Skyzoo, and Torae. We did that twice. The second one was Royce Da 5’9,” Homeboy Sandman, and Charles Hamilton. Oddisee blew me away with how quickly he was able to get shit done with people. He also had so many beats for people to pick from. The biggest bummer for me was I love the Charles Hamilton record I had (“Headed To The Top”). I still would figure a way to put that record out because it’s a really unique record.
Now that the pandemic is less intense as it was last year, what artists are you looking to get in the studio with?
I would like to be able to be more hands-on with the next project. My schedule is such that there is so much stress around studio nights. If you have a studio session booked, dealing with the timing of artists and the way they operate versus someone who has two or three jobs and has to get a certain amount of sleep, there’s a certain level of stress that comes with that that I’m good on. The people who are hard to get stuff from and are established, I already have relationships with, so that’s how I’m getting them. The new people are just excited about the look. I have a system in place that works. I’d like to set up my house where people can come here, spend time on the weekend, and we can work. But, the days of renting studios and waiting for people to show up? I don’t know about that.