Producer Spotlight: Roper Williams
Roper Williams Interview:
RD: Jersey has a rich history in hip hop, but sometimes we get overlooked. Who were some local favorites of yours growing up?
RW: Albee Al was someone everyone listened to growing up around here. Of course Ms. Lauryn Hill, I think the Mystery of Iniquity verse might be the greatest verse of all time.
RD: One thing that stands out among your earlier work is a placement on The Underachiever’s Renaissance album. How did that come about?
RW: AK is a cool dude. Giani was talking to YL about how AK was working on his solo tape, Blessings in the Grey 2, so I told him I had beats for him, even though I probably didn’t at the time. I always feel I can make something for anyone, with any style. Giani got us in the studio together and we made some songs on the spot we’ve been cool since then. AK is one of the most talented MCs I’ve worked with to this day.
RD: You have a long-standing working relationship with YL, and a good amount of work together. From your perspective, what makes it work so well?
RW: Y is a great collaborator. At this point we’ve done so many songs I already know what he’s gonna like when I’m playing him beats. We abide by similar codes. Most importantly there’s a certain type of respect between us, and when you have that it makes communicating much simpler.
RD: Juices features a few vocal guests alongside a bed of instrumentals, including Pink Siifu and Wiardon. Were the guests able to select from a pack, or did you have those specific beats in mind for them?
RW: Some of the songs from Juices are from sessions with people where we made a lot of songs in-person and they let me keep some. With Siifu and Wiardon, every time we get up it seems like it’s at least 5 songs getting made. I love every single person that’s on Juices, by the way.
RD: Do you actively shop your work, or collab organically?
RW: I only push my music to artists I really want to work with, like I just hit Navy Blue up and sent him a bunch of beats, hopefully he uses some. I have a decent amount of beats out now so the music shops itself at this point, and I let people hit me up. I’m always open to working with new people.
RD: What can listeners look for this year?
RW: Gandhi Loves Children with Fatboi Sharif. It’s a different sound than what people are used to hearing from me but I think it’s a sound that’s very true to who I am as a human, and to where I was mentally while making it. I think my production discography for 2020 will reflect the year 2020 and everything that’s happened better than any other producer out. Also working on the Roper album, it’s a straight up rap album, not a beat tape. A couple other projects I can’t even comment on right now too. We’re not rushing anything though.
RD: In your opinion, who is the next great rapper out of NJ?
RW: Pootie and Fatboi Sharif for sure, but there’s a lot of great artists coming up in Jersey.
RD: If you could add any piece of gear to your setup, what would it be?
RW: I’d get that robot with a soul from iRobot, he can engineer the sessions too. That or I’d want some type of synth like a Moog Voyager.
RD: A lot of your work gives a relaxing, soothing feeling, do you feel that while making it? Do you need to be in a certain mindset to create?
RW: I always make music based off how I feel in the moment. I wasn’t gonna make dance songs after Kobe just died, I made some sad ass music cause that’s how I felt. The relaxing sounding stuff just tends to be the stuff that gets released a lot of the times, for whatever reason. GLC shows the whole other side though.
RD: Do you have any Shouts?
RW: Shout out to Boog, GianiNYC, Seicho Blossom, Derek Balarezo, Ben Hixon, BSTFRND, Driveby and let us also take a moment to appreciate Whoopi Goldberg.
Since Fatboi Sharif and Roper’s collaborative album Gandhi Loves Children just dropped, we thought we would tap in with Sharif as well.
Fatboi Sharif Interview:
RD: For anyone unfamiliar with your work what could you share about yourself ?
FS: Peace world, I go by Fatboi Sharif, lyricist, visionary and lover of chinese food. Of all things creative, my love of the written word has always pushed me since a kid. In 2nd grade I began doing poetry, and by 4th I had won numerous competitions. With time it transitioned over to writing rhymes. Luckily I’ve always took what I felt was the power of word placement and always layered meanings to pull the observer in many directions. I worked on FM radio for some years with Strangers With Hip Hop at Kean University on 90.3 in Union, NJ. Which gave me skills that I’ll forever use. When it comes to being a musician such as structure of content and setting a tone of conscious transferred thought to keep the listener involved, SOME OF THE BEST TIMES OF MY LIFE.
RD: Walk us through the making of GLC.
FS: The making of Gandhi Loves Children was a experience unlike any other I’ve had recording. It was a 3+ year journey that myself and Roper both knew we had a lot riding on. We went into making the best possible product we could. It was also a project we started two times before. We would come back to the drawing board to push boundaries until we finally got it where we knew we had something that was truly special. The creation was ill because there was lots of reflection. We had conversations about happenings in the world and the overall state of craziness that we all surviving in day-to-day. We call it a timepiece project of the last few years of chaos, undertones from greedy political power structure, as well as this generations fear of filth as I call it. The majority of everything was created with us together from going to record store, going thru samples, and building on ideas. Personally my favorite part of the process was taking real life situations with a sick twist that in our minds make complete sense.
RD: There are a number of Jersey acts making waves right now, how strong do you feel the scene is in our state?
FS: Right now the state of the scene in NJ is super strong and in a wonderful place. There’s lots of creativity running rapid right now from musicians, clothing brands and all different areas of the arts. We’ve been an area where we started a lot of different things, but I feel at the moment we have a huge spotlight shinning that will continue to bring opportunities.
RD: Your style is unorthodox and unique, how did you get to this point stylistically?
FS: Honestly my brain has always been altered. Style wise I always wanted to push boundaries for the listener. I never wanted to be the artist that you hear his music and all the questions are answered, what fun is that? To me a true artists work is never fully understood by the masses as a whole. It should always be a level of mystery that intrigues conversations and different perspectives. My favorite sort of entertainment has always been off kilter content that you will either love or hate, but in hindsight will be celebrated for it’s individuality. That’s how I’ve always approached my style of making music. I want you to hear me and instantly get drawn in for more. Much love to inspirations Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, Stephen King, William Cooper, Prince Paul.
RD: Thoughts on Roper as a musical talent and collaborator.
FS: Roper to me is my favorite and one of the greatest producers of this generation. His style and work ethnic is top notch. Just watching him work in the studio, from records he chooses to samples and the way he does it with such a attention to detail is always captivating to see. Whenever we collab we shock each other with the direction we go. It’s always fun experience pushing the limit of what we’ve done before. We both know that when it’s time for us to bring a whole new perspective to what each other has created there’s no second guessing. We have complete confidence that when the final picture is revealed it will make all the dots connect.
RD: Shouts, message to the supporters?
FS: Just wanna end it off by saying much love to Respect Due for always supporting us and showing that love, keep being amazing. Shout out everybody who’s been showing love to GLC thus far, the feedback, reviews and all the love we’ve been getting has been nothing short of amazing. We knew we had something special in all aspects of it and we just blessed that it’s connecting, couldn’t ask for anything more. Stay tuned for everything coming down the pipeline as well from me and Roper Williams. I’ll tell you this, THE NEW PROJECT WE’RE COOKING UP RIGHT NOW IS FUCKING INCREDIBLE, SHOUT OUT MY FAMILY BOOG, POOTIE AND DRIVE BY. PEACE LOVE AND GENERAL TSO’S CHICKEN.
Support GLC here https://fatboisharif.bandcamp.com