Scram Jones Interview
Author: Matt Barone
Now that Kanye West has opened the door for more of his kind, producers that double as MCs are a more excepted breed. One such multi-threat is Scram Jones, a triple talent boasting skills as a producer, MC, and DJ. His name may be slightly unknown as of now, but with the moves he is currently making, Scram Jones is poised to be one of the game's go-to beat-makers.
Hailing from New York, Scram has contributed to two of the bigger releases of 2004, Lloyd Banks' and Terror Squad's albums. On October 5, his mixtape-styled album Loose Cannons will hit shelves. Boasting a roster of MCs covering both the commercially-accepted and underground sides of rap, Loose Cannons is further proof that Scram Jones is one of hip-hop's next big things.
MB: With this "Loose Cannons" project you have coming out, what is the main thing that you are trying to get across with it?
"It's basically just to show the variety of people that I've been
working with, and [...] what I've been up to, like, behind the scenes."
Scram Jones: It's basically just to show the variety of people that I've been working with,
and the variety of beats that I've been making. It's just to show people what I've been up to, like,
behind the scenes. I had been working with different artists, and it got to the point where the songs
were just sitting in my computer. I decided to put them all together on a mixtape, and let people hear
the work that I've been doing.
MB: The line-up of artists on "Loose Cannons" is real diverse, ranging from Jim Jones to Immortal Technique. How did you go about putting this group of MCs together for the album?
Scram Jones: I just lined up all the songs that I had and wanted to put on it. I just try to show the variety. What happened was….that Tragedy Khadafi freestyle, for instance, I've had that for a while. I was going to do this "Loose Cannons" thing like a year and a half, two years ago. I don't want to say that I have old stuff on there, you know, but he was like my main artist. That's why I kept him as the Intro, cause even know I got bigger artists on there, he's been with me from the beginning. That Saigon track is actually the first song I ever recorded with him. We have done like twenty-something songs together, but that was the first one. Working with Nature, I put some of his stuff on there. I grabbed the Jae Millz stuff. I wanted to space it all out, so it could appeal to mainstream people, to some extent, but still have stuff for the underground. I wanted people with skills, and people that I like. Have dudes like Immortal Technique and Saigon, but also have some names on it that can show that I've also been working with cats like Cam'ron and T.I.
MB: The project also features several songs with you rapping, something that you have been doing for a long time. How important is for you to let people know that you aren't just a producer and a DJ, but an MC as well?
"I just want respect as a rapper, cause I've been doing
it all of my life. It's just part of what I do."
Scram Jones: It's important because there are a lot of skeptics, and new listeners, who just know me
for the beats but not for the rapping. I've been doing the MC thing way before I even made beats. To be
honest, a lot of the underground people I just know as a rapper before anything, cause of all the shows and
the bullshit white labels I've done. Now that the beats are taking over, people are forgetting that I
rhyme. Thing is, I don't care from the business side, like I'm not running around trying to get a deal.
At the same time, I just want respect as a rapper, cause I've been doing all of my life. It's just part of
what I do. It helps to show the overall picture to why I'm different, and I think that's what its all about.
MB: Which one of the three things do you prefer: MC, DJ, or producer?
Scram Jones: The rhyming is the most high maintenance, in a way, at least on the business side. That's hard to answer. I look at them all equally. On the business side, though, they aren't equal. On that side, I'm gonna be making beats because that's what is gonna get me the money. So for now, the beats are first, but I still got the passion to write and the passion for the turntables. I love it all. I enjoy them all the same, but right now production is priority cause that's what is gonna make me money.
MB: Who was the first person to use one of your beats, on an official album?
Scram Jones: It was for the Tragedy Khadafi album, "Still Reporting." That was the first time that I
had a real concrete album song. I mean, I had some of my stuff on compilations before that, and the
shit on the Hip Hop Honeys DVD. [Laughs] That Tragedy shit was the first official album I had beats on, though.
MB: You said that you were a rapper before a producer. What were you doing back then, as far as getting your name known as an MC?
"..and for The Source "Unsigned Hype," I was
in a battle in Cali for that. I was one of the finalists in that, and I had to battle for that article."
Scram Jones: In 1999, I came out with this underground record called "Liquid Heat." I had a white label
of that, and it was also on a compilation. In 2000, I came out with the "Jackin' Jackson" record, rhyming
over the "Billie Jean" beat. [Laughs] Then, I did the D&D stuff, and for The Source "Unsigned Hype," I was
in a battle in Cali for that. I was one of the finalists in that, and I had to battle for that article. For
the first three years, it was doing the Open Mic show every week, starting and ending every week with that.
Through that and a bunch of shows, I was doing all of that.
MB: Now, you did the beat for Lloyd Banks' "Work Magic," off of his album. That must be a crazy feeling, having a beat on a multi-platinum album. How did you go about getting that beat on his record?
Scram Jones: I actually had a friend in Cali who had my music, and she passed it off to the G-Unit manager, Sha Money. She had passed it off awhile before they called us back. it was probably somewhere between like six to eight months. That was an old beat that they were feeling. Sha called us, and said, "Send the invoice. We want one of the beats." I was like, "Oh man!" I wasn't even in the studio with them. They had already done it, and they wanted the Pro Tools to mix the record. Now, I've met them, though.
MB: Is it true that you are working with Mariah Carey?
"I got to my like sixth beat,
and [Mariah Carey] was like, 'What beat is that?! What beat is that?!'"
Scram Jones: Yeah, well I did a song on her album. Basically, I met her at N.O.R.E.'s studio. I was there
working the boards, and she walked in with Damon Dash. As you could imagine, the whole studio was focused
on them. Everybody is socializing, drinking, and whipping out the video cameras, and I'm just sitting there
in front the computer. [Laughs] I had my beat CD right there, so I figured it was too good of an opportunity
to miss. I popped in my beat CD, and started going through it in the background. I got to my like sixth beat,
and she was like, "What beat is that?! What beat is that?!" [Laughs]
MB: So that beat, is it more of an R&B type track, or is more street?
Scram Jones: It's got a real melodic feel, but the drums are still hard, so its still got the definite hip-hop feel. It wasn't even a beat that she like din the studio, but those beats she heard got her to call on me for other ones. She wound up picking one out, and actually putting N.O.R.E. on it. it actually worked out for both of them, cause N.O.R.E. ended up getting a hook from Mariah for his album, too.
MB: Damn, so that was a good look for everybody then.
Scram Jones: Hell yeah.
MB: It's crazy that you can go from working with an Immortal Technique to a Mariah Carey. Those are such opposite ends of the spectrum. Not many producers can touch both sides of the game like that. Why do you think you have the opportunities to work with such diverse people?
"You can't just dwell in one sound. It's really a
bout just trying to make as many different sounds for different people."
Scram Jones: Me, I like all spectrums of the music. Whether it called underground, you know, like
I like guys such as Immortal Technique. That Mariah Carey thing basically happened by being at the
right place at the right time, but at the same time, just having a variety of beats. You can't just
dwell in one sound. It's really about just trying to make as many different sounds for different people.
So, if somebody like Mariah comes along, you can pull a rabbit out of the hat. Just to be able to be
like a chameleon, and have something for everybody. That's what I try to do. If I make a certain beat
a few times in a row, then I'm trying to go somewhere else next time. Variety is definitely the key word.
MB: Besides "Loose Cannons" and the Mariah Carey project, what other things are you working on that people can check for?
Scram Jones: I got something on the N.O.R.E. album, like I said. N.O.R.E and Beanie Sigel together for his album. Those two are like the concrete ones. I also got a beat on the new Freeway album. The rest of the things that I have going aren't concrete, so I have my fingers crossed. I've been doing so much running around, that a lot of people have my stuff. Now, I just gotta play the waiting game. like I said, the Lloyd Banks thing took like six months to come about. So I don't know if I'm even gonna know what I have coming for a couple of months. I know I have stuff for Saigon's album, though.
MB: Now what is Saigon's situation? Is he signed yet, or is he just working?
Scram Jones: He isn't technically signed, you know, but Atlantic Records put the deal on the table. So now, he is just doing the lawyer stuff, and working out the contract.
MB: So, out of everything that you have done so far at this stage of your career, what is the one accomplishment that you are most proud of?
"I was real happy to land [Lloyd Banks] for two
reasons. Being out of that camp, they really can choose out of every damn producer in the industry."
Scram Jones: I'd say the Lloyd Banks beat. I was real happy to land that for two reasons. Being out of
that camp, they really can choose out of every damn producer in the industry. So to be chosen is crazy,
but not only that, it's also that the first two major beats I landed were Jae Millz "No No No," and
Terror Squad's "Yeah Yeah Yeah." Both of those records were huge samples, and people thought that samples
were what I was depending on. So, to land a beat that was no samples that I just played out was an
accomplishment for me. Especially to be used by that caliber of an artist. So I was real happy about that.
Check for "Loose Cannons" at your local hip-hop shop or
an underground internet retailer like Sandbox Automatic.
You can also find more information at ScramJones.com.
Originally posted: September 21, 2004