Producer Spotlight: Cuns (Tuff Kong Records)


There are a number of incredibly dope independent record labels that have sprouted up in the underground market within the past few years. One of our favorites is Tuff Kong, a business operated in Rome, Italy and spearheaded by Cunsino. Using a variety of colorful vinyl and incredible artwork, the label focuses on quality music. One thing that sets him apart is he produces quite a bit of the content he presses. He caught everyone’s attention with ‘Tommy DeVito’s Breakfast’ an EP collaboration with Griselda Records’ artist Benny the Butcher. He had released many dope singles featuring Meyhem Lauren, Big Twins, Guilty Simpson and the Winners’ SageInfinite.

The man is not letting up, having just teamed with CRIMEAPPLE for the 4 track EP ‘Salud Y Plata’. This features a more relaxed CRIME, floating over Cunsino’s groovy and melodic backdrops. The vinyl is a light blue birthday cake-themed colorway, with a pocket square included in the packaging. As stated, Cuns does not cut corners in his music or packaging and presentation of Tuff Kong releases. Here’s what he had to say:

RD: How long have you been producing?

Cuns: Around 2003, I was doing some electronic music a bit before that with a tracker on my PC. I first started to see myself as a real producer in 2007. When I landed some placements on some Italian albums.

RD: Aside from producing, you also run Tuff Kong Records. What are some challenges running an indy label? And on the flip side, what are some of the returns?

Cuns: About a year and half ago I founded it with my man Dom, without him Tuff Kong would just be a name in my mind. The challenge is for me to bring some tasty, classic music. Still be alive and strong to keeping working on it. The reward is the appreciation of the people, respect earned from cats I consider to be the most skilled. It gives me an opportunity to work with some amazing talent people whose work I have admired.

RD: Despite being a young company, Tuff Kong has quite a few releases under its belt. What is your favorite thus far?

Cuns: Answering with all my heart, I have to say ‘Torch’ featuring Conway the Machine. That song was the first release (TK001) and it helped give us an identity as a label, about the mood of the music and the overall aesthetic as well. As far as full projects, it might be V-Don and Eto’s ‘Omerta’ EP. We put out music we would buy anyway for ourselves, no following trends or being politically correct.

RD: You have worked with members of Griselda Records regularly, are they your favorite crew at the moment?

Cuns: They’re definitely one of the best crews around nowadays, they have already inspired many younger emcees in a short period of time. There is a a lot of stunning talent out there; Roc Marciano (a godfather of this movement) Eto, Daniel Son, CRIMEAPPLE, Willie the Kid, Smoovth, Hus Kingpin, Pounds, SageInfinite and Recognize Ali are favorites.

RD: What about fellow producers?

Cuns: DirtyDiggs, V-Don, Big Ghost LTD, Chup and Billy Loman come to mind. Giallo Point is another one for sure. Fellow Italians Sunday and J.O.D. come to mind as well.

RD: What inspires you to create? Do you sit down and dedicate a certain amount of time, or work as inspiration comes?

Cuns: Usually I go to my work station randomly, when inspiration hits. I believe my personal emotions in that moment inspire, just follow the wave of my mind and see where that takes me.

RD: Who are some artists you aspire to work with?

Cuns: There’s so many, so I’ll keep it short with 2 names. One is a dream and the other more of a hope. (hahaha) Ghostface Killah and Roc Marciano. I am working on a project with a legend, in my opinion one of the illest ever, but that a surprise at this time.

RD: What can we expect from Tuff Kong and you personally for the rest of 2018? Any future projects you can talk about?

 Cuns: Working on a very cool project with the talented John Jiggs, the rest I have to keep secret. We want a TK release to be like a Christmas present, to be a bit of a surprise when announced.

We’ll be keeping tabs on Mr. Cuns as time goes on, as you should.

Salud Y Plata can be purchased here.

Tuff Kong bandcamp

Follow Cuns @cunsino (Twitter) cuns_music (IG)

Producer Spotlight Interviews: Marc ‘M.W.P.’ Petersen


Producer albums are the most under appreciated project in all of hip hop. Often treated as afterthoughts by casual listeners, they tend to be some of my favorite releases of any given year. Marley Marl set the standard with his In Control series in the late 80’s, and the bar was forever raised in 1998 with Pete Rock’s classic Soul Survivor. Some would argue that DJ Muggs’ Soul Assassins Vol. 1 is up there, and we’d take no issue with that opinion.

In today’s market you see a lot more freedom among artists, labels are dead in the underground allowing guys to work with whom they please. And while producer albums still take a ton of effort, follow-up and skill, there’s still some guys willing to make that leap and have a project they can call their own.

Today’s subject Marc Petersen is one of those, not only enlisting some of the finest MC’s the scene has to offer but using DJ’s from all over the globe to provide high-quality scratches to compliment his thick boom-bap driven production. Here’s what Marc had to say about his career up to this point, and what to look forward to on his 2nd album ‘Afterglow’ due July 31st.

RD: How long have you been producing?

MWP: Around 2010, I had been messing with various software before, but that was when I really started to study music and see how everything comes together.

RD: What inspires you to create?

MWP: Everything can inspire, but the main source are the people around me. My crew ‘Goodwill Gang’ which includes Shiraz/Mark Live and myself. I’m a competitive person by nature, so I’m always striving to improve my sound, especially when I hear my crew improving theirs all the time. I’m not getting left behind! Haha, its all love between us so its a passion-based competition.

RD: You worked with some legendary MC’s on your 2015 debut ‘New Horizon’, take us thru the selection process.

MWP: That album was all about showcasing my abilities, I had the beats made and started mapping out the features once they were ready. I wanted it to play out like a movie, taking you thru different emotions and characters. Hand-picked the emcees that fit on each track, everything from serenades to more street-driven material. I wanted it to sound different, but still reflect me.

RD: You’ve worked with a number of members of the Winners crew, what brought those connections about?

MWP: Hooked up with Smoovth first, he had checked out my Soundcloud and was interested in doing some work. He later introduced me to Hus, and we built the relationship up. They paint such vivid pictures with their rhymes, it was a complete match for what I’m looking for for the type of music that I make. They later introduced me to some other members of the crew, and we’ve created some great songs together.

RD: What are some favorites from New Horizon?

MWP: ‘The Genetics’ with Ill Conscious is one, Ill is like a brother to me. We connected over some old remixes, at first I thought he was another standard guy trying to do some business but when I heard him rhyme he blew me away. We are in a 2-man group called that, so it was only right I named a track that. He’s all over the album, I wanted to feature him as much as possible.

‘Blood Diamonds’ feat. Oh No and Smoovth. I always loved Oh No long before I got into production, it was a honor to get him on the album. Added Smoovth for the 2nd half and it came out great. The mood of the beat and the cinematic rhymes make that one stand out

RD: You use many different DJ’s, a different twist for a producer album, what goes into selection for them?

MWP: Grasshoppa is my main guy, he constantly finds ways to amaze me, very thankful hes been down to rock on so many of my tracks. DJ Modesty out of France was one of the first to play my music and get my name out there, so it was only right to get him on the record.

RD: Baltimore seems to be home away from home for you, you work with a ton of guys from there. Why BMore?

MWP: There’s something about hip hop from Baltimore, its very genuine and has a lot of passion. The love goes both ways with Ill, Don and everyone, so its very easy to collab with them.

RD: Who are some guys you’d love to get a record that you have not been able to? You secured Roc Marciano for Afterglow, who is left?

MWP: Ghostface, DOOM, Action Bronson. I just did a remix album for Mos, im a longtime fan so he would certainly be on that list. Who doesn’t want to work with Hov? That would be amazing.

RD: What can fans expect from ‘Afterglow’ sonically?

MWP: Afterglow is much more 90’s influenced than New Horizon was. The sound is darker overall, I’m not trying to touch on as many bases as I did on NH. Getting back to the sound that got me started in the first place, and continues to inspire me. Finding my own lane, continuing to develop my sound. This will be much more rare for the vinyl collectors as well, with only 100 copies being pressed

RD: Any other plans for ’18? What does the future hold for you

MWP: Main focus is Afterglow, so I’ve taken a step back working on other projects, but I do have some other things in the works, laced Knowledge the Pirate with some heat. I’m hoping to finish the album I’ve been working on with Ill Conscious. In the works is a 2nd album with Seneca The Misfit, a 90s inspired heavyweight.

Afterglow is available July 31st on Marc’s Bandcamp, you can pre-order it here


twitter and IG:  marc_mwp



Producer Spotlight Interview: Klever Skemes



\When we first started the podcast, our vision was to interview nothing but producers to get behind the scenes looks at their projects, and stories behind some great records. We quickly realized that would be putting a cap on ourselves, and added some great MC’s who wanted to be on as well.

I’m a beat head first and foremost, while I like nothing more than some incredible pen work, its the beat that draws me in first. Masta Killa once famously said the dumb are mostly intrigued by the drum. I guess you can fit me for a dunce cap, because I’ve always been fascinated by production credits and process.

I say all that to say we are starting a print series of interviews with some of my favorite up-and-coming producer talents. From Italy to Denmark and back to the US, I’ve got some heavy hitters lined up. Klever Skemes is up first. He exploded onto the scene with his ‘Gold Rush’ EP with Willie the Kid, and has recently debuted another single ‘Paramount’ featuring Daniel Son/Asun Eastwood and Eto. Here is what the Denver native had to say.

RD: What’s your musical background, did you play an instrument growing up?

KS:  My parents were always playing great music when I was younger from Miles Davis to Soundgarden , Earth Wind & Fire so naturally I developed a good ear. My pops has always played guitar so I eventually picked that up as well and we still jam every now and then.

RD: Can you give a peak into the process behind making a Klever beat?

KS: TOP SECRET. Why you think they call me, Klever Skemes?

RD: How would you describe your sound?

KS: I make what I like to listen to, really. I try to emulate cats like Alchemist and Premier and then put my own flavor on it.

RD: You crashed onto the scene with the excellent ‘Gold Rush’ EP with Willie the Kid. Take us behind the scenes for that project. Why WTK? How long did the EP take to put together? How has the feedback been thus far?

KS:  I appreciate that Bro! Couple years ago we reached out to Will for a feature on my cousin, Manic’s, upcoming album which features some heavy hitters so Will knew we were serious about our craft. As you know he’s a very methodical and selective artist and for me, Masterpiece Theatre is top 5 albums of all time so the fact he agreed told me he dug the sound.  Couple months later and we shot him the idea of an EP and the rest is history. Gotta say Will is stand up dude, it’s like I’ve known him for years. He’s a truly humble cat. Feedback has been pretty wild. I’ve had a few childhood rap hero’s reach out which is crazy. I’m just blessed to have people around me that believe in the process. Stay tuned though the Rush isn’t quite over.

RD: You just premiered ‘Paramount’ with Daniel Son, Eto and Asun Eastwood. Is that a loose single drop, or leading to something else?

KS: Paramount originally was just featuring Eto and was going to drop on my solo project but that’s been pushed back a while due to some unexpected opportunities. Still I knew I had to get that joint out since ETO is on a whole different level. So I hit up Daniel Son and Asun for the assist and dropped it as a stand alone single.

RD: What are some of your goals for the rest of ’18 and beyond?

KS: My goal really is to just keep enjoying this ride. And somehow repay my parents for all they have done for me.

RD: If you could contract any 5 MC’s for a KS production album, who would they be?

KS: Damn that’s a tough one. Cats I listen to daily as of right now would be, Benny the Butcher, DOOM, Vinnie Paz, ILL BILL, Hus Kingpin

We thank Klev for his time, and wish him well. It appears Gold Rush 2 is on the way, who knows what else he has up his sleeve. Whatever it may be we’ll be there with ears wide open




El Ay

For Episode 6 we chatted with multi-talented UK artist El Ay. She wears many hats in the studio, including singing, rapping and producing. She is currently in the midst of releasing a series of beat tapes simply titled ‘Ten’, with Volume 2 having just dropped and Volume 3 right around the corner.

She has collaborated with Winners’ captains Hus Kingpin and Smoovth, Recognize Ali, as well as many respected names in the UK underground. We feel her best music is yet to come, and that’s saying something considering her resume’. Topics include her musical roots, favorite producers, favorite personal works and her upcoming debut album due later this year.


You can find her music on the following platforms



Follow her on Twitter El_Ay_UK

IG: Elaymusic