American-based artist Cartel is an underground producer whose extraordinary hip hop music shouldn't be missed. His three albums that are currently posted to Jamendo – Prepare for Glory, The Lost Tracks and Tha Throwback – showcase captivating beats that make you want to listen all day long. Read on to hear Cartel describe himself as an artist and his exciting upcoming projects in the works.
- Tell us a little about your background – where did you grow up and when did you realize you wanted to be a music producer? Where are you currently residing?
Let's see...I grew up in Queens, New York during hip hop's heyday. I think I was in 5th grade when “Rapper's Delight” came out... so yeah, I've been into the music for a while. I think the real reason that I got into producing was because I sucked at DJing. LOL. I currently reside in the Poconos, Pennsylvania (a suburb 90 minutes from Manhattan) but because of my music...I'm constantly bouncing back and forth between the two states.
- How has your music evolved over the years? What project are you most proud of?
I'm using less samples of old records in my music now and it's less boom bap and more along the lines of something Drake or B.O.B. might use. I'm even starting to produce some dance tracks as well. I guess I'm trying to a little more universal. We'll see how that goes...LOL.
The project that I'm most proud of is my Prepare For Glory project that first appeared on Jamendo. That project opened a lot of doors for me and the artists featured on that project that we're just now starting to take advantage of. I personally thought my second album Tha Throwback was better but obviously the people feel different. While it gets a great response... it's still nothing compared to that of the first. I am really excited by my new Cartel - The Motown Years album though.
What is the process you go through when producing a new track? What helps you tap into your creativity?
I don't know if there's a real process to what it is I do. The tracks that I create are based on how I feel at the moment. So if I'm in a foul mood you might get a really hard track where as if I'm content or in love...you'll get a track that reflects that.
What kind of music do you love to listen to, other than hip hop? Is your music inspired by any other genre?
Oh heck yes. I don't really listen to that much hip hop anymore. At least mainstream stuff just because it all sounds the same now. My tastes vary as I love current rock, easy listening, doo wop, classical and older stuff like the Beatles, etc. Good music is good music whatever the genre. I'm also listening to more dance music now and have even produced a dance track for an upcoming project which will appear here. I am looking for a talented female along the lines of Gaga or Kesha to work with. Any Jamendo artist out there want to collab?
Who do you credit for your music ability? Is there other musical talent in your family or was there a particular person or artist in your life that encouraged/inspired you?
No real musical ability in my family that I know of. I grew up around the time when hip hop was first starting and there was a FEEL to the whole thing. You felt as if you belonged to a movement of some sort. Parents hated it. Musicians from other genres hated it and thought that it was just a fad that would soon die (with the exception of the punk rockers who embraced it's rowdiness from the beginning). It felt like something that was only for you and that only you understood. Since there wasn't a ton of money involved in those days...it came more from the heart as opposed to just creating something for a paycheck. I still get that feeling when I see hip hop in other parts of the world, especially Europe.
I was drawn into it. I tried DJing - I sucked on the turntables and scratched up more than a few records. I tried rapping and after a few years realized that I wasn't that great at it. I started producing and had finally found my calling. Being around people like Large Professor and Chyskillz help me hone my craft. A lot of producers don't get to work in huge studios and learn from seasoned engineers. I'm lucky to have had that experience.
What project are you currently working on?
Well I've just finished my Motown Years album which will be the first of my albums not to appear on Jamendo because of the vocal samples I used. That's fine as I wouldn't want Jamendo to not be here anymore... especially because of something that I did. It's just too valuable a resource to lose. With that said, those who want to pick up the album will be able to do so for free at my site http://www.universalindie.com in a few weeks.
I started a Kickstarter project in order to raise money to press a vinyl single off the Motown album as a collectors item. I could use the support there.
I'm also releasing a project by an artist named Marcii which will appear on the Jamendo site. I think you guys will really like that project.
How do you see hip hop changing in the future or what changes do you hope to see?
I'd have to say that I'm not the best predicting the trends in hip hop because I was totally blindsided by it's current phase. I'd like to see more diversity and realistic themes in the music. I won't mind listening to a track about sex if I can also listen to one about love. I won't mind listening to someone talking about how much money they have and spend if by the same token I can also hear from the guy who doesn't have anything and is struggling like the rest of us to make a living. Hip hop needs the balance back.
Describe yourself in five words.
Father, creative, humble, arrogant, loving
What do you love to do when you're not producing tracks?
Well, my day job is as a graphic designer/web developer so I do a lot freelance work to help pay the bills. I also have my hip hop magazine site http://www.hoodgrownonline.com and I'm in the process of launching the first hip hop tablet based magazine through my other company http://www.tablazines.com
What is one think you would like your Jamendo fans to know about you?
You mean besides that the fact I have a huge foot fetish? LMAO. Seriously though... I'd want them to know that I truly appreciate the support you guys have shown to me. I'm overwhelmed. Every time I read a review or someone sends me an email telling me how much they love my work or uses my songs in their own works...that's what inspires me to create more. Just knowing that there's an international community that loves what I'm doing drives me to do more. Believe it or not I've never left the United States...I would love the opportunity to tour the world and work with other artists.
Be sure to follow Cartel on Twitter: twitter.com/universalindie
Also, make sure to follow Jamendo - you can find us at: twitter.com/jamendo