‘Pilot Talk 1 and 2 are like the Reasonable Doubts of this time,’ producer tells Mixtape Daily.
By Rob Markman
Behind the Beats: Ski Beatz
Ski Beatz knows talent when he sees it. Early in his career, the platinum producer from North Carolina also doubled as an MC in the 1990s group Original Flavor, but after meeting a young, fast-rapping Jay-Z, he decided to put down the mic and pick up producing full time. He hasn’t looked back, crafting fan-favorite tracks for the likes of Hov, Camp Lo, Talib Kweli, Lil Kim and Curren$y.
These days, it’s the New Orleans spitta who has him most excited. “I feel like the albums I did with Curren$y — Pilot Talk 1 and 2 — are like the Reasonable Doubts of this time,” Ski told Mixtape Daily.
Comparing Curren$y to Jay might seem like a stretch, but having produced four tracks on Jigga’s classic debut, Ski has enough experience with both artists to draw the educated parallel. “The music that I chose and gave Curren$y is timeless music; it’s gonna be around,” Ski explained. “Older people listen to Curren$y because the beats — it kinda takes them back. But younger cats listen to it because of the lyrical content and the flows; because they are able to relate to what Curren$y is talking about.
“That’s how it was with Jay: The music that we chose was kinda older-sounding music, but the lyrics was now.”
For Ski, meeting Jay was life-changing. It was Brooklyn’s DJ Clark Kent who introduced the two when he brought Jay to an Original Flavor video shoot. Dame Dash, who managed Ski and Original Flavor at the time, also was impressed by the up-and-coming Jigga. Together with Kareem “Biggs” Burke, Dame and Jay would go on to start Roc-A-Fella Records. Ski just wanted to make their beats.
“Jay rhymed, and at the moment when I heard him rhyme, I was like, ‘This dude gotta get on one of our songs,’ ” Ski remembered. “He was dope! He was the best rapper I’ve ever heard in my life.
“He got on [Original Flavor's] ‘Can I Get Open,’ and after that, me, personally, I decided to stop rapping and just start producing him solely.”
Ski eventually would move on from working with Roc-A-Fella. According to the producer, he wanted to build his own Roc-A-Blok production company. Ski would build his discography with Camp Lo, Sporty Thievz and Pittsburgh Slim.
He has recently hooked up with Dame Dash again, and put out his 24 Hour Karate School compilation in 2010 and its sequel, 24 Hour Karate School Part 2, in August. The new volume features Freddie Gibbs, L.E.P. Bogus Boys and Maybach Music Group signee Stalley. The previous album boasted features from Jay Electronica, the Cool Kids, Wiz Khalifa, Curren$y and Smoke Dza.
While nothing can top working with Jay-Z, for Ski, these days it’s about discovering what’s new. “I love being able to still be relevant and being able to work with these cats: the Wiz Khalifas, the Smoke Dzas, the Dom Kennedys,” he said.
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