Silkky Johnson is one of the up-and-coming hip-hop producers rolling with the cloud rap popularity of Main Attrakionz, The BasedGod, Clams Casino, and Friendzone.
Silkky has been all over the place recently, even landing the opening track on the recent A$AP MOB album, Lord$ Never Worry, and his newest release, the perplexing Debauched Legend, we are given a glimpse, a slight change of direction, into the future possibilities of the Harvard graduate beatsmith.
neonpajamas: What was the reasoning behind the name change? Dave Chappelle (International Player Hater of the Year episode, it was the name of a character)?
SILKKY: Yeah, I wanted to differentiate myself from the the Chappelle’s Show character. I also wanted people to be able to search for me on the Internet and not have to wade through a bunch of pages that are about Dave Chappelle.
What can we expect Debauched Legend to sound like?
SILKKY: It sounds much harder and more aggressive than my earlier material. My old beats didn’t have much bass and sounded kind of lo-fi because I had just started to produce and didn’t know anything about mixing or mastering or what things were supposed to sound like. For this album, I made an effort to upgrade my sound and make it hit harder. I also tried to give it an abstract psychedelic feel. I wanted to make something you could zone out to, and I also wanted it to sound good in the car.
HATER OF THE YEAR was strictly instrumental while your newest album either contains new verses or new remixes. What was your reasoning behind this? How did you choose the rappers?
SILKKY: It was important to me to have vocals on all the tracks because I didn’t want to just make another beat tape. I rarely listen to beat tapes and I wanted to make something that would keep people’s attention. I wanted to make it like a rap album. The guest rappers were all people I got in touch with through the Internet.
They’re from all over the place. One is from Spain, one is from Japan. I tried to make it so the whole album flows smoothly and you don’t really notice whether it’s an original or a remix. But I do plan on putting out an instrumental version of the album so people can use the beats for freestyles or remixes or whatever. I’m also going to put out a chopped and screwed version.
Your album contains quite a bit of Latin hip-hop and Spanish, from Daddy Yankee to Himself the Majestic (“On the Spot” is the shit). How did this process come about?
SILKKY: I’ve always been a reggaeton fan. My original plan was for the album to be exactly half Spanish and half English, but it didn’t end up that way. There’s also a song in Japanese (“PA¥PER” by Sneeeze). I just wanted to give it a unique twist that would make it not sound like a typical rap album. There is a lot of variety in the vocals, but the music ties it all together.
In what ways have you grown as an artist since starting only a couple of years ago?
SILKKY: I’m just learning more about music and production every day. Now that more people have heard of me and I have an opportunity to produce for major label artists, I’ve been putting a lot of work into making my beats sound more polished. My ultimate goal is to make songs that could be on the radio like The Neptunes and Timbaland.
Did you listen to them a bunch before you started making beats?
SILKKY: Yeah, they’ve definitely made some classics. But, I also listened to a lot of Southern rap, artists like Three 6 Mafia and Pimp C and DJ Toomp. Those are the people who influenced me the most.
In an interview you did with Mishka last year, we learned that you are a student at Harvard. Any update on that?
SILKKY: I graduated and I live in LA now.
Is the music in LA influencing you at all? How is it different to what you were around prior?
SILKKY: I love the music scene out here. There are so many creative people. When I was in Boston, no one knew about anything I was doing. In LA, people appreciate it more. LA also has a big electronic music scene which has rubbed off on me a bit. I have friends who are EDM DJ’s and I want to start doing my own DJ shows.
What did you been listen to heavily while creating Debauched Legend?
SILKKY: I made most of these beats in like April and May. I don’t even remember what I was listening to back then. But I’ve been listening to the new Freddie Gibbs mixtape a lot lately. And I always listen to a lot of R. Kelly and Jay-Z. They both have such extensive bodies of work that you never get bored.
Any future projects besides your newest release?
SILKKY: In addition to continuing to produce for other artists, my next solo project will probably be an instrumental album. Me and Skywlkr have been talking about doing a collaborative EP. I produced a whole tape for Western Tink, but I don’t know when he’s planning on putting that out. I might make an R&B album if I have time. And I’m also working on learning to DJ so I can start doing more live shows. I did a show in LA recently opening for Star Slinger and I had a great time. DJ’ing is fun, it’s basically like getting paid to party.
SILKKY: I said in my last Mishka interview that my goal was to work with Rick Ross, and that’s still my goal. I’d also love to work with Rihanna someday.
What sentiments were felt when you saw your song as the start off for Lord$ Never Worry? Did you feel like it took you to the next level as a producer?
SILKKY: It was cool to finally be able to tell my friends that I had produced for a rapper they’d actually heard of. I had known they were using that beat for a long time, but I never actually heard the finished song until it came out. So I was definitely stoked to see it as the first track.
What is the track that you are most proud of?
SILKKY: Probably the “Los Maté Remix” (with Tego Calderon). That’s one of the more complicated beats I’ve done. I even threw some guitar on there.
Are you teaching yourself some instruments as you continue making beats?
SILKKY: I don’t really see the point in learning instruments anymore because there are so many more possibilities on the computer. Learning to make electronic music is like learning to 1,000 different instruments at once. I just don’t think there’s much creativity left in music that’s made with no electronic aspects. You can only come up with so many combinations of guitar and bass and drums before you run out of ideas. On the computer, the potential for experimentation is endless.
What is your favorite album of 2012?
SILKKY: Gotta be (Rick Ross’) God Fogives, I Don’t.
Rap line that is in your head at the moment?
SILKKY: “Young and I’m gettin’ it.”
What album did you listen to before you went to bed last night?
SILKKY: Kendrick Lamar’s new album (good kid, m.A.A.d city).
Any additional comments/shout-outs/words of wisdom?
SILKKY: I just wanna thank all of the artists that sent me features for the album. And follow me on twitter @Silkkyjohnson. Oh, and I have to thank The BasedGod for being the first rapper to rap over one of my beats and making this all possible.- neonpajamas