- Tell us a bit about your background. Where are you originally from and what got you into the production game?
Well, I’m originally from Virginia Beach, VA, and what got me hipped into the production game was a few things… For starters, seeing my fellow Virginia natives—Pharrell, Chad, and Shae—experimenting with musicianship, mashing hip-hop with rock or hip-hop with pop, et cetera; trying out different sounds that people are afraid of mashing; creating an idea, um, let’s say [taking] a boom-bap drum loop and mixing it with melodic major 7th chords… you know, that fly -ish (laughs). I’m just grateful to have been around them at a time to witness some stuff at the old Master Sound Studios back home in Virginia.
- And how did you get involved with P.M. Dawn?
A few years back I sent a tweet to a colleague to see if the group I was in before I joined was looking for beats. Luckily, my DM was replied to with an email… sent some joints and presto the rest is history (laughs). You create one song, then two, then ten, then, “Hey, you know what? You’re dope. Wanna join P.M. Dawn?” Now, mind you, I’m so pinching myself like, “No, no, this cant be real!” (laughs) But, man, it’s real. So, I’m totally grateful to the universe for bringing me into this situation. I went from being curious to how Eric B. & Rakim’s “Paid in Full” drum loop gets mashed with “True” by Spandau Ballet, in order to create this life-changing groove of P.M. Dawn’s “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss.” Like, dude… You couldn’t tell me shit, that song changed my life at a young age. Just a kid from Virginia Beach, bro, who had a flat top and some weird two-piece jogging suit with bright ass colors on it, singing: “La-da-da-da-da… Baby, you send meee!” (laughs) Yeah, memories man. Shout out to Prince Be… I love you, G. I know you’re here in the universe guiding my manifestations right now. The unknown blisstaic theories…
- That’s powerful stuff, man. So what are the “blisstaic theories”?
Bliss is something that my group and I use with our fans and our people. It signifies a connection of infinite love, peace, and unity.
- I dig it. And where did that come from?
From meditation! (laughs) Wherever your mind decides to travel is where peace decides to meet your higher vibrations, halfway upon the universe…
- Wow, that’s epic. So, I’m curious, how did your experiences with a legendary hip-hop group prepare you for your subsequent career endeavors in the music industry?
Dude, really, it humbled me first off, because I learned a few things. You’re never, ever, ever better than another. We are all one people. One unity. What is color? Color is just a word, man; a word that divides people. We are energy driven. P.M. Dawn pushes love; it spreads love; it has no barriers. We love our fans and, actually, we call them family—because we are one. The last thing I can say, how my group prepared me, is just do right by people because you never know when you’ll need a solid favor or help. So, if someone is genuine to me, I will help. If someone had not-so-good vibes, I keep my distance and pray, “Peace be upon thy soul until God brighten thy mind.”
- That’s good stuff, man. So, who are some of your favorite artists that you’ve worked with along the way?
Myself… (laughs) Nah, seriously though, it’s so many… Gosh, I hope no one’s mad at me, but I really enjoyed Method Man’s work ethic. Like, man, it’s a lot. I’m kinda shy on this question… (laughs)
- Now, on a similar-but-separate note, I always like to ask my interviewees about their favorite emcees. Do you have a ‘Top Five’ favorite rappers list?
Yes! Umm… Method Man, again… (laughs) Then my brotha-from-anotha, Redman—Gilla House! (laughs) I like Rakim, 50 Cent, and Papoose. And if I can put an honorable mention, Roscoe P. Coldchain… (starts laughing and singing the lyrics to “Cot Damn” from 2002’s Lord Willin’)
- Awesome, that’s a solid list. Can we expect to see anything from you on the other end of the mic? Or do you strictly work behind the board?
(looks side-to-side) No comment… (laughs) just kidding! Yes, I’m both behind the mic and the boards. Soon, my friend, soon… Until then, I’m in my cave.
- So, if you were to treat listeners to a solo record in the future, what could they expect to hear on a K-R.O.K project?
Ahh, nice trick question after the previous question… (laughs) But I’ll say this, it will indeed be a mixture of boom-bap with pop, rock, R&B… man, everything bro—even classical and bossa nova music. People really sleep on bossa nova… a.k.a. “elevator music” (laughs again)
- I totally agree, man, latin jazz is a sleeping giant to this day… I’m also interested to know if you have any other influences, whether in the world of music, art, or life in general?
Yes, a few… Prince Be, L.A. Reid, The Neptunes… and this dope dope guy named K-R.O.K (laughs)
- Solid, solid ? Alright, so, let’s mix things up a bit. Can you give me a ‘Top Five’ favorite producers list?
Ahh, man, this is so unfair… Why are u doing this to me? (laughs loudly) Okay, okay, okay—fuck, man, this is isn’t cool, but it’s cool (laughs)—Okay, so: The Neptunes, Teddy Riley, L.A. Reid / Babyface, J Dilla, and Mathematics from Wu-Tang. That’s my brother, right there; that’s family. Yeah, there’s so many more, but man… tough question. You got me. You got me.
- I know, it’s damn near impossible, but it’s one of those desert-island, gun-to-your-head kinda questions. Now, I like to close my interviews by asking if there’s any advice you can give to upcoming artists in the game. Since you’re both an artist and a producer, can you give us some tidbits in both of these areas?
Yeah, man, no doubt. I can. So, look… The key to success is being you and not being afraid to be different. When one or a few says “no” to you… down the road, twenty other doors are open for you—which means you cannot give up. You cannot be afraid of the unknown. You just have to trust your gut and trust your higher energy, to whom you feel open to worship. Learn the music business, study the greats before you, so you can take that and become greater. The world is yours, man, for the taking… whom should be afraid?
- Beautiful. And, lastly, where can One West readers find you online?
You can find me on Twitter and Instagram at @Nevesslu47krok or my official website: www.kroktheproducer.com