Inside of the Beat Box With: Prentis Brown
Inside of the Beat Box With:
By Justin “Ceph” Mathews
What more of a better way to kick off our “Inside of the Beat Box” segment then with someone as talented as producer and sound engineer, Prentis Brown? When asked to give us the rundown of all of his talents, we were more than impressed. “I’m an illustrator, graphic designer, multimedia artist, film editor and director. I’m also a recording artist, song writer, painter, sculptor, and dancer. I used to break battle and everything.” This guy’s wrap sheet is unbelievable, considering the names he’s worked with. Prentis is currently entangled in over 50 other projects so it’s an honor for us to have him take the time out and do this interview.
What grabbed our attention most about Prentis wasn’t only his endless number of talents, but his inspirational story and will to never give up a dream. He’s went from being just another person in Atlanta struggling alone to complete college, to working with some of the biggest names in the industry. He’s proof that one can be whatever they may choose to. Here’s what it is like inside the beat box (producer’s mind) of Prentis Brown.
Q: So, where are you from, raised and where have you lived?
A: “I’m originally from Fayetteville, North Carolina. When I was ten, my fam moved to Japan. I stayed there until I was 14. Then we moved to Florida. I was there for four years then we moved back to North Carolina where I finished my senior year in high school. After graduating I moved to Atlanta and have been in GA since.”
Q: What type of style would you consider your music?
A: “I consider most of my music universal. I can do any genre, but me personally, I like sampling. But basically I can do any type.”
Q: Okay. Who are some of the rappers you listen to most?
A: “Mostly up north rappers like Nas. Jay, and Andre 3000. Today I was bumping the new Cyhi the Prynce. And a host of others, too.”
Q: What are all of the music programs you use?
A: “I can use Logic Pro, Protocols, Reason, Cube Base, FL studios, Acid Pro, and a couple others. But these, for the most part.”
Q: And, what are some of the names you’ve worked with?
A: “I’ve worked with STS, Fonzworth Bentley, PILL. I’ve done CD design covers for Yelawolf. I’ve helped direct videos for Killa Mike, and Jeezy. Man, the list is crazy. Cyhi, J. Cole. Recorded Andre 3000. I’ve directed a lot of studio sessions for 9th Wonder’s artist. It’s too many names. The list goes on and on.”
Q: Prentis, can you tell us how this all started for you?
A: “I mean, it basically started with me finishing college and not being able to find a job. I was struggling to make it day by day. You know, you see all of your homeboys finding jobs and I’m not. I dealt with this for more than a while. Then one day, I was reading a Scrutch magazine and they had an ad for a school opening in ATL. Off of that alone, I just knew I could do something. I applied and fought with financial aid. I took out a loan for $26,000. My pops told me he hope I know what I’m doing, because now I’d have to pay back 50,000 and something odd dollars. I knew in my heart I could do something with this. Tree Sound Records had an intern who was a supervisor at the school who told me they needed someone for art work. I applied, even though I had none of the qualifications, and I beat out 12 people. From there, I was introduced to Groove. And that’s where it started. ”
Q: Wow! And where did you attend school, exactly?
A: “SAE Institute of Atlanta”
Q: Who is your favorite producer?
A: “I would say my favorite of all time would be. . . Timbaland. It kind of varies for different reasons. Just Blaze is my favorite sampler. I like D.J Khalil and Neptunes. Style wise, I like 9th Wonder and definitely J.U.S.T.I.C.E League.”
Q: As a producer, what can be your biggest distractions?
A: “As a producer, honestly, outside everyday problems like a second job, females. Just little stuff like that. If you’re not seriously grounded, other stuff can bother you too. I would say that.”
Q: What exactly do you want out of life?
A: “More so, it has changed over the years. Ask me a few years back and I’d say mansions, cars, b*****s. But now, give me a decent home. No. Give me a nice home, a good wife, and be able to make the kind of music I want to make and live comfortably doing that. That’s all I ask of life.”
Q: I know you’ve heard the term “writer’s block”. As a producer, how do you overcome what I like to call “beater’s block”? Ever get stuck making a track?
A: “Well, the good thing is I sample, and I make tracks from scratch. I love old school music and listen to it regardless. So if I’m stuck, I listen to old records and I always find something from there.”
Q: When did you realize that “this was it”. What point did you realize you were actually living your dream?
A: “I was working my nine to five gig and I received a phone call that STS and Fonzworth Bentley recorded on my beat. Next thing you know, someone told me my music was on Shady 45. I knew that was it. I knew then that I was accomplishing what most dream of.”
Q: Anyone inspired or helped you?
A: Groove Chambers. The cat that produced “Lip Gloss” and a lot of “Nappy Roots” first album. The cat that definitely put me on in the game.
Q: And how does it feel to be living the dream? Living in basically the new Hollywood of hip-hop, and working your way to the top?
A: “Honestly, it’s a good feeling. Indescribable feeling. Sometimes artist get on my nerves. But I have to catch myself and shut up. Most people would take my spot in a minute if given the chance, so, it’s definitely a blessing. I’ve learned to take all the good that comes with the bad. Take it all as is. And be mad humble. You have to give up a lot of time, your social life, girlfriends and all. A lot of people have the perception that once you’re here, you’ve made it. When really, once you’re here, your works just started.”
Q: As a producer, do you prefer to work alone, or with the artist taking their input?
A: “I prefer on my own. A lot of times, the artist doesn’t know what the program can do or what you’re capable of. It can be nerve wrecking at times. Sometimes you got to deal with stuff like that. But I prefer on my own. Plus it speeds things up.”
Q: Where can our audience hear some of your material?
A: ”You can actually hear a lot more stuff at 3LittleDigs.com. But you can just google my name, Prentis Brown, and all my work will come up.
Q: What is the next big project for you?
A: “The 3 Little Digs mix tape. I’m also about to start a solo project. Not sure exactly what it’ll be yet, but whatever it is, it will be the outcome of everything I’ve been through in my life.”
Q: One more for you. What advice would you give to anyone out there trying to pursue a dream of being a producer?
A: “I would tell them to honestly, stay on your game. Make sure your tracks are tight. Don’t’ cut no corners. If you need a live bass player, get it. Sometimes you got to pay the money. Basically do what you have to do.”