Ski Beatz, a legendary music producer, got his start back in the 90’s golden era of hip-hop. He has worked on classic albums including Jay Z’s Reasonable Doubt and In My Lifetime Vol 2, as well as Camp Lo’s Uptown Saturday Night. Many records later, Ski went on to work with Dame Dash’s DD172, releasing three studio albums. He has produced for relevant names in today’s game like Curren$y, Sir Michael Rocks, Jim Jones, and a wealth of other artists. Ski Beatz has since then started his own label, The Fresh Air Fund Music Group.
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Mike O’Keefe: You are currently on a World Tour with the legendary Mobb Deep. What city are you currently in? What has been your favorite so far?
Ski Beatz: I’m currently in the states in San Francisco, just got here a couple of hours ago. I’ve got to say that my favorite city so far that I’ve been to with the Mobb was probably Nice, France. It was incredible — felt like the Miami of France. It’s an all beach area — resorts. It was real cool I loved it — fun in the sun.
Photo courtesy | CJ Photos
MO: Leading up to tour, it seems like you would have to get a lot of things in order before you get out there. How is it being away for so long?
SB: Yeah you know, traveling is obviously amazing. Being out on the road man is probably the best thing. We get to travel on some one else’s dime. You know what I mean? You get to see the world. I would have to say the only downside about it, is sometimes we barely get to see the city we are in because the schedule gets kind of hectic. We get in town, soon as we get in town we get like a couple hours of sleep, go to sound check and go right to the venue to do the show. Then the next morning have to be up early to catch a flight.
When we do have those rare occasions, and actually have a day off in the town were in, it’s always exciting. Sightseeing especially when you are in cool places like France, Switzerland, and Australia — somewhere you know you get to walk around to see the wild and the energy. You get to see the culture, the people and how they live — it’s amazing!
A big street art aficionado, Ski enjoys finding underground work in each destination.
MO: What is the first thing you try and do when visiting a new destination?
SB: First thing I like to do is look at the art. I am a big graffiti head. Everywhere you go, there is some street art somewhere. I like to get pictures of the street art. Obviously I like checking out the different food spots. Me being a producer, when I get the chance I like to go to the record shops and see if I can grab some crates or something. It’s great to check out the architecture and, you know, the whole scene — especially when you’re in a real touristy type of town. Everything from the buildings to the landscapes everything is totally different — the scenery is beautiful.
MO: Was being a producer something you always wanted to do or was it an evolutionary process?
SB: For me, being a producer was definitely something I sought out to do because I was an MC — a rapper in [Original Flavor]. What happened was we had a producer for the group but the producer went his own way and the group broke up. Me being an MC, you know I needed a track. Luckily, I was real close with the producer and he basically taught me how to make beats. I took what I learned from him and made my own beats.
I was young, so at the time I didn’t even know that was called producing. I just thought every rapper knew how to create music you know? I just thought that was a part of hip-hop, until I met Clark Kent.
Brazil is one of Ski’s favorite countries and the culture particularly stands out to him.
He asked, “What you are doing with these beats you have laying around?”
I said, “What do you mean?”
He responded, “Yo, I can sell them!”
I gave him the CD, and the next day he sold one of my tracks for like eight-grand to this guy Father MC, who was big back in the day. After that, I kind of put rap on the back burner and started producing. Luckily, I have had a lot of opportunities to produce for a lot of relevant names that are in the game now.
MO: Yeah Absolutely. I definitely always enjoy the beats man.
SB: Thanks bro.
MO: If you were to record a project in another country, where would you choose?
SB: Hmm. If I were to record in another country I think I would record in Brazil. I actually had the chance to record in Jamaica which was dope, but definitely Brazil man. For like a month we would be in the studio in Brazil with pina coladas.
Photo courtesy | Evan Brockett
MO: Lastly, what is the next trip, and what for?
SB: Tomorrow we go to Utah, and then after that we go to Colorado, then Santa Barbara, then we come home. After that, I think we are going out to Germany to do a festival. I know we also have an Asia run coming in soon. I think well be in Tokyo or somewhere like that.
MO: I am looking forward to seeing that and hopefully get to catch you guys on the road. Get myself out to one of these cities.
SB: Oh yeah, that would be crazy. The show is just incredible man. Mobb Deep there following is really incredible.
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For more on Ski Beatz find him on Instagram and listen to his latest work:
Additional photo credits: Evan Brockett