Battle 4 Exposure is fast growing into one of the most sought after hip hop music competitions for music producers and recording artists. As a free hip hop music competition, it allows musicians to showcase their talents and provides free music promotion for its winners.
In January, hip hop producer, James Cruz aka Beast Mode, joined the winners circle after his peers in the music producer forum, Future Producers, gave him the nod of approval.
Almost Free Beats: So James, how did you get started in music?
Beast Mode: My father is the one who pushed me when i was younger to play a musical instrument when we were living in The Bronx. He made it seem really easy to play as well as always having instruments available to me. Our living room doubled as a jam area. He had a drum set, keyboard with stand and amp, guitars both electric and acoustic. He would always get me or my brother to play the drums for him while he played the guitar. He made playing a real positive experience. I was always the shy kid so I did not play as much as I should of, but those early days are what really jump started doing music for me. My pops passed when I was 17. That’s when I started to spend more time working on productions than I had in the past. I had been producing 2 years prior to him passing, but I started to take it that much more serious after he died. It kept my mind busy at the time, I suppose… so around that time…16-17… is when it really started for me.
AFB: Wow. It seems like your father had a very significant influence on your music career. How did that inspire your producer name though?
Beast Mode: Beast Mode was just a phrase we used to use in The Bronx when I was 12-13 years old so there’s no big story behind that. I started using the name when i was about 19. My first show name was Eroc when I was 16 just because that’s what the kids that i worked on music with called me. From there, it went to Erocca, then Rocca, then Rocca the squadron till I was sitting down with friends one day and we decided to just do BeastMode. It was simple, to the point, and just sounded nice…stuck with it ever since.
AFB: That’s dope. So what projects are you currently working on?
Beast Mode: To be honest I’m more of a freelance producer. Most of the beats I make I give to friends or people who’s music I’m felling that I would not mind being apart of. There is one kid named Arkade that I have been submitting music to just because a friend showed me his youtube channel and I was feeling his style of music so I’ve been going back and forth with him submitting stuff for his first mixtape. Then there’s J hypnotic , RS-NAL, [and] THEORY. These are people I mess with on the daily basis just cause they are all something different and they all like different beats so they keep me on my toes when it comes to producing. I like seeing what the individual like’s and then see if I can produce for that specific artist. That is something I have been practicing on lately.
AFB: Cool. So switching gears. I want to ask you about the internet and the music industry. How do you think the internet is changing the game in 2012?
Beast Mode: Well, the fact that you have a site like Twitter, which take’s about a minute to sign up to, and you have every A&R in the business at your finger tips is really nothing short of amazing. It has got to the point where the people that hustle and have ok music are beating out the people that have great music and just do not have that hustle in them. It’s really all about networking and about 95% of that is done on the internet nowaday. And with more and more music sites/forums popping up, it’s just going to get easier and easier for the people who really want it. Just in the last five years there has been a real quantum leap in music availability online and being as music is the leading source of entertainment in this country, I can only see the industry relying more and more on the internet to find talent. If you can stick out in the sea of producers, rappers, [and] bands on the internet, you’re doing something right. I believe you’re going to be hard pressed to find any new band, rapper, [or] producer that are going to be signed in 2012 that did not have a pretty big online presence/fan base to begin with. 2012 is going to be a great year for upcoming artists who are really hungry for success.
AFB: I agree with you, wholeheartedly. Nowadays, its more about your hustle than the actual quality of music. Talent, alone, just doesn’t cut it anymore. In the past, you might have been able to slide, but its 2012. A person’s work ethic is what will really drive them forward in the music business.
So we’re going to wrap this interview up with a couple more questions. Who do you feel like has has inspired you musically? Who or what are your influences?
Beast Mode: I was a huge Mobb Deep fan growing up and I was definitely inspired by that real gritty sound that they had. Producers like Q-tip, Havoc, Alchemist were the first producers who’s instrumentals I used to look for to play back to back. Then I started to look at the producers who were widely successful like Timbaland, Swizz, The Neptunes, Just Blaze, Dre…they are the one’s who really crafted the sound for hiphop as a whole from the 90’s to the early 2000’s. Of course, you have to look at their work flow for influence because as a producer that’s eventually where you want to be in the game…but as far as body of work goes I really like Alchemist and the quality he puts out on a yearly basis and his attitude towards his music. He really is a big inspiration to me. Anybody who can make it doing what they love to do are my influences. I read story’s all the time of people working a 9 to 5 then coming up with an idea, following through with it, and becoming successful. That to me is the same drive it takes to make it in music so that’s what I am influenced by.
AFB: No doubt. I love the Alchemist and it makes sense that you liked Mobb Deep because he played a role in helping craft their sound. To me him and Havoc are some of the most under rated producers in the game. You also made a great point about how when a person completely focuses on a goal they can achieve.
So lastly, how can people get hold of you?
Thanks for the opportunity Zee.
AFB: No problem man, Thank you!