Maleet, formerly Malito, is a talented DJ/producer here in New Jersey. You may know him from his production work with El Da Sensei (Artifacts), or from his newly released CD, 'Papi Chulo Breaks'. I've known Maleet for a little while now, and he is definitely a true hip hop head. For those who haven't heard his work, or don't know about him, he is definitely someone to look out for. Papi Chulo Breaks is a must have, and definitely gets constant spin in the whip. On the way to one of Maleet's secret diggin spots, I took the time to interview him.
DW: What inspired you to start DJing?
Maleet: I used to listen to Red Alert on 98.7 , I think that was my introduction to the game. That was when I was real young, watching Thundercats and shit. What really made me want to make it happen was seeing the movie 'Juice'. When I met Diamond and Grandmixer D.S.T. and all these guys, telling them that Juice inspired me to start DJ was embarassing, but it's not my fault I was born in '81. My father used to get this magazine Pro Sound, I used to flip through it and look at all the equipment, and read all of the product descriptions. I became obsessed with wanting to become a DJ. My father was really into music equipment, and he told my Uncle that I was into this stuff, and my uncle gave me an Eli mixer, which I hooked up to tape decks because it didn't have a phono input that I could hook up to the one turtable we had in the house. After begging my mom dukes to get me a new mixer, we took a trip out to Canal Street (if you were a DJ back then you were hitting up Canal Street for shit) and I got this GemSound mixer for like $180, it had 4 channels, it was one of the long joints. This is around 94/95. I hooked up my tape decks to the inputs and mixed off of tapes from DJ Clue and Kid Kapri, mixing joints they had on their tapes. I bought a couple of 12"s to mix in with that also. I was inspired by Funkmaster Flex cause he was really doing it back then, playing the real shit, back then all that was out was the real shit. Eventually I got a summer job changing tires when I was 14, and every week I would give my father my check until I had ebough to buy two Technic 1210's, and a Gemini Scratchmaster mixer.
DW: When you started DJing out what type of stuff were you playing?
Maleet: I would go to the flea market in Union here in Jersey, and we would get the Les Cole tapes, he had the house tapes, Tony Humphries, DJ Culture, he had some hip hop stuff and reggae blends, Clue tapes, this dude DJ Ekim from Queens. I would know what was dope from listening to these tapes. When I first started DJing I would do house parties and school dances, we brought out the home equipment, house speakers and bullshit amps. We playing a lot of house music, reggae, and hip hop. Listening to those tapes is what helped us get that versaitility in the DJ game. I met Super X at a house party in 1994, and he was playing at a lot of stuff similar to what I was playing. he was the only dude in my town that was doing it like that, and that's how we linked up.
DW: What influenced you to make the transition from DJing to producing?
Maleet: I guess it was evolution, I would always hear records and I'd admire the production. I would understand what the producers were doing, and when I heard my father's records I would think to myself 'man I could do something with this'. I remember I made my father take me out to Sam Ash and we got this Roland MS1 sampler. It didn't have a sequencer, it was just a sampler that looked like a big ass calculator. It had truncation and ways to chop it up, but there was no sequencer, you had to hold the pads down together at the same time to get something dope. That was what I started off with, and Super X had a Casio keyboard, I would do the drums in the Roland and he would play some keys. We decided to put our money together to get a set up to start making beats. Around 1997 we bought a Roland MC-505 Groovebox because the salesperson showed us how easy it was to sequence with it. It didn't have a sampler it had a synth built in, it had 8 tracks and level adjustment, and we bought it to learn how to sequence. A little while after that I got an MPC because I knew that was where it was at, and we got a Roland VS-1680 digital workstation. That was one of the first of its kind, it revolutionized the home studio. This was before Pro Tools was large, people were using Cakewalk and shit like that, but we used the Roland. I would just read the manual and really immerse myself into it, I was really obsessed with it. Noone taught us how to do shit, we learned it all on our own, me and Supe. I had my father's records that I would go through and sample at first.
DW: What's the process that goes on when you are making your beats, do you lay down the drums or the loop first?
Maleet: It all depends, in the early years we just took the loop first, we found the loop and put the drums around it. That formula I still have, but towards my later years of advanced beat making I try to challenge myself by programming the drums first. I would try to see how dope I could get the drums to sound first and then see what I could chop up to fit the drums. When you got a loop all you have to do is find the right drums. But when you start off with the drums it's a little more complicated because then you have to go through more stuff to get the right sounds, like a backwards process.
DW: What type of music to do you like to sample?
Maleet: I don't care what the hell I'm sampling, if its dope its dope. I don't fuck with country records or classical records too much, I used to try and fuck with classical records a little. In the beginning I used to just fuck with dollar records, like Andy Williams, Englebird Humperdink, Henry Mancini, old soundtracks, shit like that. In time after learning more about diggin we started getting into the funk, the jazz, I was always into the Latin stuff because of my parents and family. I always knew that the Latin records had the illest shit on them, and I knew the Beatnuts were sampling the Latin stuff. As far as sampling, anything, if any producer was to tell you they only sample one kind of music, that to me is like putting handcuffs on yourself. Hip Hop to me is the final frontier. You can take any kind of music and turn it into hip hop. It's all about how you flip it
DW: How did you link up with EL Da Sensei?
Maleet: I met El through DJ Kaos, and I met Kaos through this other dude, Champ C FU. He intoduced me to Kaos. Kaos had a lot to do with my schooling in diggin and turntablism. I used to buy the DMC videos and stuff like that, but Kaos was the best DJ in front of my face at the time, and I learned a lot from him. Then I met Diamond from EL, and it was a snowball effect. It's a small industry in the real hip hop game.
DW: What was the first record you produced that was pressed on Vinyl?
Maleet: The first joint I did that was pressed on wax was 'Summertime Blues' for El Da Sensei (featuring Twizz) that came out on 7 heads. That was around 2004 on El Da Sensei's 'Relax, Relate' LP. I also did another joint for that album called 'So Easily'. After that I did this track for Princess Superstar, she was on a label called K7 Rapster which was an affiliate of BBE, a UK label. The track we did was called 'Qutting Smoking song' and I also did an interlude on her joint called 'Dolly's Duplicants', it was like a theme album called 'My Machine'. The checks weren't much, but for someone coming up, it was something. I feel blessed to have had that happen, and there's more on the way.
DW: So let's talk a little bit about the 'Papi Chulo Breaks' CD, how it came about, the response, and if/when there will be a part 2
Maleet: I used to have 'King of Diggin' with DJ Muro and Lord Finesse, Soulman tapes, Kon and Amir tapes; I used to listen to those all the time and they would throw in a few latin joints here and there. I said to myself that 'I never heard a whole CD of just Latin joints, the way I hear them'. I have tons of Latin records, and I decided to put something together. I went through every Latin record I had, with a notebook and a pen, and whatever song was dope I'd write it down, and I made the track list. This was dope because I narrowed my Latin collection down, seperating what was good fom what was nonsense. It took me only a few days to put it together, working off and on, on the Roland. When it was done I was really proud of it, but I sat on it for like 2 years. It was on ice for a minute. I let a couple of people hear it and I got good responses. When I dropped it, I put it out in stores, record spots, and online, and people really started talking about it. They were giving it good reviews, writing about it on blogs, and I'm happy about that. I'm proud to bring the Latin stuff forward, because Latin stuff is really dope, it's a different sound, and I'm glad to be able to share that with people. It was put out under the Secret Society thing. I came up with the Secret Society idea because the diggin community is a secret society. We know breaks and we know records, what came from what, stuff that regular people who listen to hip hop don't know. That's why when you see the Art of Diggin Series and the Papi Chulo Breaks, you see 'Secret Society Presents...' Secret Society is basically the whole diggin community. If your a digger and you know the roots, you know about breaks, you know about samples, dope records, then you are part of the Secret Society. Part 2 is coming man, probably in November this year just in time for the holiday season, so you can look out for that.
DW: What's this I hear about someone trying to take a sample off that CD?
Maleet: My man at one of the record spots in Manhattan, where the CD is sold, called me up one day and told me these producers sampled a song from the CD and sold it to a major label artist. They have done other major label work. He told me they want to get at me so they could get the artist's name, clear the sample, and get the credits. I'm thinking to myself 'Who does that? who samples from break CD's?'. Do you know how many times I would have loved to sample something from Amir and Kon and all these awesome break CD's that these guys do? I would never do something like that because that is some fraud bullshit. Those guys went out and dug for that, found it, and shared it with you so that you could experience it. I'm not gonna jack that shit for my own beat, you're setting yourself up for failure, you just don't do that. I called the dudes up, we were on the phone for a little bit, but he didn't want to get into details. The conversation didn't go anywhere. Basically, if they want that information, it's kinda like I co-produced that mother fucker so they're gonna have to pay me for that shit. Without me finding that record they would have never been able to make that beat. If the record drops and I hear it out there, then I'm gonna put them on blast, I'm gonna put out names and everything, right now I'm saving it because there is a possibility they might break me off.
DW: How do you feel about the hip hop sound right now?
Maleet: I look at it and think hip hop now is like hair band rock in the 80's. Everything always comes full circle, everybody says that, but it has to. People can only be misled for so long. It's not just an underground movement anymore, everyone wants to hear hip hop music, it's really mainstream now. They want to hear 50 Cent, or T.I., or Ludacris, whatever is popular on the top 100. The South stuff, I don't knock any of those guys, because that's their music, that's what the relate to down there, my culture is boom bap, east coast. They got their dances going on and that's winning, because if people want to hear a song in the club, that's what's going to make it popular. To me that's not hip hop because hip hop has to embody a lot of elements. Diggin is a big part of hip hop, if you don't dig shit up, to me your going to lose the hip hop sound. What they have from hip hop is the rap. Hip hop now is breaking into catagories like rock did, like contemporary rock, heavy metal, alternative rock, it broke into all types of genres within rock, and hip hop is doing the same thing. You have underground stuff, you have Hip Pop, which is the bullshit you hear on the radio, one hit wonder shit. You have snap music, like snapping and dancing. That's cool because I DJ and play that shit in the club, and that's fun, it gets people dancing. I'm all about letting people have a good time, that's the DJ side of me. My personal side is totally different. Real hip hop to me is a soul movement, it's in the soul. You got the chops, the drums, it gives you that feeling, that sound, and cats ain't talking that bullshit, they're talking about stuff that's relevant. In the 90's MC's were a lot more lyrical, and that's what is missing now. I'm older now, I got two kids, before I was younger I didn't understand. We have to be responsible. We have to be responsible for not only the progress of our culture, but the progress of us as human beings.
DW: Who are some of your favorite MC's and producers?
Maleet: Common is my favorite MC of all time. I love his poetry and his message, and the way he puts his words together. I like Nas, so many different people for different reasons. Rakim, everyone thinks Rakim is number 1, and for good reason. As far as producers, first and foremost Pete Rock, because he stepped up the production game, his chops, taking all types of different records and making one record. With Pete Rock everything was so beautiful, his music, his horns, everything. Dilla, Jay Dee. I like Jay Dee more than Dilla, the stuf he was doing was insane. Jay Dee and Pete Rock might be the most influential producers of all time. Also Large Professor, No I.D., a lot of people don't give No I.D. the respect he deserves, he's incredible. I really like Salaam Remi, playing things live, making instruments sound like a sample. New Producers, I like Just Blaze, I like Kanye. Sometimes Kanye does stuff I don't like, but I don't like everything that Pete Rock and Dilla do, it's just like everything else. I think Kanye is dope and people need to respect him as a producer, even though you might not respect him personally, you always have to respect someone's talent. I like Black Milk, Illmind, Gensu Dean. As far as house music goes, Todd Terry, Tony Humphries, Kenny Dope, Lil Louie Vega, Joey Negro. Those guys are the ultimate when it comes to house production. People don't undersatnd house and hip hop go hand in hand. If you grew up in the early 90's, especially in Jersey, or Chicago, or Baltimore, you know that house and hip hop are like brothers.
DW: What projects your working on now.
Maleet: I'm working on the new EL Da Sensei album, which is gonna be incredible. I did a lot of joints on this one. I had one joint on the last one, it was called 'The East', but it didn't make the album becasue it got kind of late to submit it, and there was a lot of back and forth with the contract. It didn't have anything to do with EL, it was just the business side. This time around I got a lot of joints, I'm doing a majority of this album. Also I'm working with my man Rasheed Chapell, this dude is very, very official. We're almost done with his joint, that's another 2008 record to look out for. I also got some house music stuff coming out with my man Kenny Dope, masters at work. I'm not gonna disclose any names on that yet because nothing is confirmed but it's in the works. I'm working on a couple other projects, my man Joe Ice from DigiWax. Check out my website or the myspace, you can check that and get the lowdown, see what I'm working on, hear some beats, read the bio, learn more about me.