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Potholes Interview: Rob Sonic On Making His Own Beats, His New Solo Album, and Hail Mary Mallon

Potholes Interview: Rob Sonic On Making His Own Beats, His New Solo Album, and Hail Mary Mallon

Potholes: Mr. Sonic… testing, one and two and all that.

Rob Sonic: Yo, yo, what’s good my G?

Oh nothing, just trying to take over the world. What’s cracks with you?

Trying to be on your side when you take over the world, brother.

Solid idea, solid idea. So I have a bit of a quandary: originally I was going to interview as part of a continuing thing on rappers holding down the boards as well. Buuuuut… seeing as how you’re in the promo sprint for Hail Mary Mallon maybe we should focus on things of that nature?

Whatever is clever. I can do the producer/rapper thing, seems like chopping that up would be beneficial to promoting Mallon as well. It’s weird for me right now, haha… every interview people have to holler about two records, so whatever you want to speak, we can, nah mean?

O LES DO IT. Starting off: Has it always been organic beats for you or has sampling playing a part?

I do sample, but never too much of one thing. I do not loop things longer than a few seconds, outside of what I play on my own. I have things like melodies and bass lines already in my head. The samples (of other people) just help me get to that point. Kind of. I have me playing synths mostly but I can do my thing a little on bass and guitar as well. I guess that’s organic, I never knew what that word meant outside of food. I get drums that are sometimes sampled, sometimes me on the drum machines. I do a basic track then I play around with instruments until I have a lead synth line or bass line, then I will go through record or 100 and chop up sounds that work with my parts.

If you can remember: what was the first record you sampled?

The first record I sampled was probably Funky Drummer or Steve Miller, some reggs shit. I didn’t start digging until a little later than most ‘cause I never really aspired to be a producer. I’ve been rapping since I was 12, I didn’t know how to do anything but that for a while.

That answers another question, which came first. So how long were you rapping before you started producing, and why did you start?

I got my first MPC around the year 2000. I just wasn’t able to get what I wanted in my head out or convey properly enough to people what kind of shit I wanted to rap over. <Right here, Rob gets summoned to handle something in his household and I listen to Sonic Sum and get nostalgic about 1999 for a while> Alrighty roo, sorry about that. Some baby fell into a fireplace, had to put it out.

No problems homie. We’re all adults for the most part.

Now now, none of that talk. Rappers don’t grow up, they retire and un-retire until they own basketball teams.

So the production chops came from necessity. What was it like making the transition from group to solo shit?

Well I’d say that I more I less—and I’ll be completely honest—I had to understand what I sounded good over and then understand it wasn’t everything, which was hard for me. And it made me difficult at times to with, kind of. Like I’d hear El’s beats or Mike Ladd’s beats or Alchemist beats and I’d say I want those kinds of beats and I’d sort of be like “Why can’t I make beats like that or something?” It was really just a struggle for me to understand the process so I sort forced my self to learn how, then began to understand it wasn’t really necessary ‘cause everyone I worked with was nice and more than capable. I was just really a brooding guy about not being able to say, “This is why this isn’t better.” So to save my sanity and others’ I learned how, haha.

The process was humbling then?

Completely man. I mean it opened my eyes to many things about finding myself on the mic too. [My albums] are all a snap shot of that struggle. I really love this shit and it’s always been there for me. I never just wanted to make records. I wanted to make life-changing events for people, and many times that’s what it was. But for me.

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One Comment

  1. Rob
    Nov 05, 2014 @ 18:40:00

    Ron Sonic and Aesop Rock working together is such an amazing thing. I wouldn’t know about Rob without Are You Gonna Eat That. He really just keeps getting better, and he started awesome. I can’t wait for this tour.

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