If the music is timeless, when the world hears it is inconsequential. For more than 30 years, Da Beatminerz have been the forefathers of a gritty NYC sound that lived through the decades in songs with KRS-One, Nas, Ghostface Killah, and most notably, Black Sheep. With Stifled Creativity — their first album in 20 years — coming out in 2024, the duo reflected on one of the biggest LPs that never came to be.
“We went to the studio. Nas picked a whole bunch of beats. And we last heard from him a long time ago. Then, the next thing you know, he came out with the Kanye album,” Mr. Walt told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the 30-year-plus production legends explain the lost A Tribe Called Quest song they produced for Beats, Rhymes and Life, making their first album in 20 years, and the one ‘90s Hip Hop heavy hitter they still haven’t worked with.
Check out the exclusive conversation below.
Who was the first artist you two got in the studio with that made you feel like you made it?
Mr Walt: I think I did a record with Doug E. Fresh. We worked with Bernard Wright. I look at Doug as a mentor. Bernard Wright is another one who taught me a lot. He played keys on the record I did with Doug.
You’ve worked with everyone from A Tribe Called Quest to Eminem. What are some other memorable sessions that stick out?
Mr. Walt: I remember I went to A Tribe Called Quest session, and Raphael Saadiq was there. He was playing bass on the Midnight Marauders title song. He told me, “I got this kid I’m developing. This kid is dope. You have to come hear this kid.” He played me some stuff from him. That kid was D’Angelo. He played “Brown Sugar” and “S**t, Damn, Motherf**ker.” I was blown away.
One artist you’ve worked with quite a bit was KRS-ONE. He’s on your latest single, “Seckle.” What have you learned about his habits in the booth?
Evil Dee: He loves that raw dog Hip Hop. He wants that boom bap. He just wants to rhyme. We did that “Seckle” song a long time ago; we just found the right time to put it out. It’s the record we always wanted to make with him. It goes back to Return Of The Boom Bap and Criminal Minded. That’s why I love that record so much. We’ve had that record since 2009.
Since you have 15-year-old records that still sound fresh, what are some unreleased joints in your vault?
Mr. Walt: We have a few KRS-One songs that haven’t come out yet. We did a remix to this Ziggy Marley record that never came out. It’s a record with Ziggy Marley and Buckshot. We did an A Tribe Called Quest record that never came out. We did the title song for their Beats, Rhymes and Life. They scrapped it at the last minute. It had more of a Tribe sound than a Beatminerz sound because it was just a bouncy loop and hard snares. If anyone has a copy of that song, it’s Q-Tip.
Stifled Creativity will be your first album in 20 years. Why the long wait?
Evil Dee: We were busy working (laughs).
Mr. Walt: We also wanted to make sure that it was going in the right direction, so we took our time.
For Eminem stans, how was his underground classic “Any Man” created?
Mr. Walt: We walked into D&D [Studios], and I saw a young white kid with blonde hair on the couch. I met his manager, Paul Rosenberg, that day, too. Paul said, “It’s an honor to be here.” I told him, “The honor is all mine.” I played the beat for Em, and he took the beat. He got in the booth. We’re behind the boards, and our engineer was with us. Em said, “Hi” in that high-pitched voice. I looked at our engineer and E, and I said, “What the f**k did we get ourselves into?” (laughs). It turned out to be a great song. He went into the lounge, wrote his rhymes, and then did the song.
Evil Dee: It was fast. It only took him half an hour.
Is there anyone you two still want to work with?
Mr. Walt: I say it all the time, but I want to do a song with Redman. We’ve done records with Ghostface Killah, Kurupt, KRS, Nas, and Styles P. But Redman is the only one we haven’t worked with yet.
What did you do with Nas?
Mr. Walt: What happened with Nas was we were working on that movie 40-Year-Old Version for Netflix. We sent the beat to Nas; he rhymed on it, sent it back, and then we had to send it to Dave East and Styles P.
What were some close-call opportunities that almost happened for you?
Mr. Walt: We were supposed to do the He Got Game soundtrack for Public Enemy. It was supposed to be us, Rockwilder, and OG. And the deal fell through. Also, that Nas/Kanye album, [NASIR], was supposed to be a Beatminerz album. We went to the studio. Nas picked a whole bunch of beats. And we last heard from him a long time ago. Then, the next thing you know, he came out with the Kanye album.
Evil Dee: The funny thing about that is when we had the meeting, we said we wouldn’t say anything to anybody about this. Two weeks later, Nas was on DJ Khaled’s Apple Music show and said, “I’m working on a new album produced by Large Professor and Da Beatminerz.”
What were some of the most star-studded sessions you remember being a part of?
Mr. Walt: You must remember, we were in room A at D&D. Preemo was in room B, and everybody came to see Preem. One thing about D&D is that you always saw somebody there. One day, you see JAY-Z. The next day, you see Biggie. Then, you’d see Nas. The next day, you’ll [see] Snoop. I remember we were there working the day B.I.G and JAY-Z recorded “Brooklyn’s Finest.” It was crowded, but it was nice.
What are your plans for 2024?
Mr. Walt: We’re going to continue to put out good music still. Our big concern is not letting the fans down. The fans are the ones who supported us from day one. We want to keep them happy. That’s why we can still do what we’ve been doing. We are here for the fans. Those are the main people we don’t want to let down.