Hailing from Papakura, New Zealand, P Money has definitely earned his stripes as one of the most gifted producers of this generation. Playing pivotal roles in turning local emcees Scribe and David Dallas to international names and most recently knocking out an entire album with New York legend Buck Shot – P Money’s longevity in the game is not an accident. Cutting his teeth at the DMC World DJ Championships (coming in 3rd place in 2001) to cutting tracks with some of the biggest and respected – from dusty fingers to dirty records, P Money’s potent product has been on the Heisenberg level for over a decade now. Beat Dust caught up with P to wax poetics about a handful of audio highlights from his thriving career.
Victoria Harbour [David Dallas]
With 2014’s ‘Victoria Harbour’, P Money throws up a rich canvas of music for David Dallas to paint mental pictures over. The track envelops the listener with sounds and textures that seem so familiar, that they could almost be memories. A moody, shifting analogue sounding synth full of Asian melancholy and rare beauty concentrates on releasing quiet, persistent melodies that weave in and out of the foreground – giving D.Dot enough time and space to take the prison approach in regards to his bars.
The drums are light but complex with the high hats seemingly taking place as the focal point in the percussion. The snare rolls work as a sublime transition tool between the synth sequences and add to the dreamy, ethereal quality of the work.
While it comes across as an deeply throughout and planned instrumental – it is in fact the result of chance and almost improv in design. “I put this together in the studio with Dave” explains P. “He had written the rhymes to a different beat but by the time he came to record it the producer had sold the track to somebody else. So he needed a new track. He played me the original and I started putting this one together right there on the spot [using the NI Maschine and Logic Pro, his main arsenal since 2009]. He re-recorded the rhyme to my beat and we finished it that same day. The end result came out dope”. No hooks, no commercial appeal – this is hip hop for hip hoppers.
Stronger [Scribe & Tyna]
Although it is constantly debated, the idea of an unique MPC ‘sound and compression’ is so ingrained in hip hop music folklore that it’s considered almost heretical to question it – samples just sound better coming out of an Akai and this beat is the evidence. While Heatmakers and Just Blaze were dropping gems like dumb thieves at the start of the millenium with sped up soul samples – P Money was in the lab getting his chipmunk chops on and crafted out a diamond in this 2003 classic.
‘Stronger’ is montage music – that Apollo and Rocky on the beach type steeze. P Money notes “this was the last beat I made for Scribe’s debut album The Crusader (released on P Money’s Dirty Records). I think Cam’ron’s Come Home With Me album had just come out and I was strongly influenced by that sound”. Much like the classic Dipset sound – P Money builds things up, make the instrumentation swell and then lets the beat drop heavily with crisp, clean, pitched samples from his MPC2000XL and a bass so chumpy – you could carve it. P adds “I remember the sample chop being kinda tricky and confusing for me to sequence but the end result came out good”. Like most montages, hard work pays off and ‘Stronger’ is structurally impressive and captivating – laying the perfect foundation from Scribe and Tyna to get their Stallone and Carl Weathers on.
Killa Kombo – [Askew Instrumental]
Coming across as a small series of musical sketches – the ‘Killa Kombo’ works almost hypnotically, pulling you into a musical landscape with insistent, skittering, layered beats and riffs. Beautifully intricate in its simplicity, P Money proves he doesn’t need a emcee to get the attention of your audio auditory.
Much like ‘Victoria Harbour’ – the spontaneity of the creation process adds a very organic feel to this kaleidoscopic track. P points out “Killa Kombo was a promotion for a Spray Paint company that my friend the graffiti artist Askew One was doing. He needed a soundtrack for it so I gave him these 3 beats. The beats were all made in one day after a record digging trip with my friend (UK producer) Ben Grymm at a market in London”.
Taking us behind the beat, P Money continues “I picked up a few pieces at the market, took them home and chopped them up on Logic. I wasn’t at my own studio so there was no MPC or Maschine for this one. I just recorded the audio and edited everything together inside Logic. Even the ‘scratches’ aren’t real DJ scratches. I just edited the acappellas to make it sound like real scratching”. Minimal in approach and execution – the ‘Kombo’ beats play out like small cinematic trailers.The washed out nostalgia of the first beat, the mesmerizing madness of the second or the retro funk of the third all draw the listener in before disappearing as fast as they arrived – leaving the listener yearning.
Coming full circle in his sound development – its refreshing to see P Money go back to his boom – bap inspired roots and see how much he has grown and improved as an artist. Working with his Duckdown labelmate and New York legend Buckshot – P has the empire state of mind in regards to this beat – chopped up samples looped over crisply punched drums, and accented with a Premo inspired scratch chorus. A staunch fundamentalist who in this case stayed within the genre’s self-imposed constraints, P uses them to test his own inventiveness. “This is one of my favourite beats I have done” notes P. “I learned to make beats using a Roland MS-1 sampler. Its a very small old box with severe limitations but you can still chop shit up with it and it has a certain sound if you dial back the sample rate on the internal settings.I decided for fun to dust that machine off and use it one day. The result was this beat. It has a very authentic 90’s kind of sound. I get props from producers for this beat. I remember Mark Ronson tweeting me about ‘Killuminati’ when the Gratitude album dropped. That was dope. ”Much like NY hip hop itself, its clear that P Money is creepin on a come up.
P Money sample chops like a surgeon. Vintage piano stabs are dripped over a pitched up funk bassline and hotbed of tense strings with a vocal cut from The Showboys 1986 jam ‘Drag Rap’ to complete the tracks foundation. The drums are tight with plenty of 90’s bounce that is emphasized by a snare that is more smacked out than Sick Boy in Trainspotting. Taking chops from a vast and varied collection of sources, BeatDust how he plays the field in terms of his sample game. He explains “ I have a record collection and most of my best shit has been lifted from vinyl but I will honestly sample from anything. So long as it sounds good to my ears. Even a somewhat crappy MP3 can be cleaned up and enhanced if you know what you’re doing”. When asked about sample clearance issues he simply responded “I’ve been fortunate man. We’ve had to clear some things of course but so far I haven’t had much trouble with being denied or anything like that”.
Another major element of ‘Killuminati’s listenability is the intuitive chemistry between Buckshot and P Money, two artists who understand and appreciate eachothers craft and can play off each other’s strengths. There is a strong correlation between P Money’s raw, soulful construction in juxtaposition to Buckshots free-flowing wordology;neither voice nor music has to fight for attention and can be embraced as a whole product. As well as having a good artist relationship, there is also a strong kinship from a business perspective between the two. Looking back on how he got on Buckshot’s label, P explains “it was the team at Frequency Media who helped me get the deal with Duck Down to do my two albums Gratitude and Backpack Travels with Buckshot. Dru Ha had the idea for me to produce a whole album with Buckshot. It was a great experience and a privilege to work with those Hip-Hop veterans. Duck Down have also done a lot of great work with David Dallas (one of my original signings at Dirty Records) so the relationship between all of us is very productive”.
Not Many – The Remix [Scribe, Savage & David Dallas]
Intimidation is the sincerest form of battery and with Not Many P Money drops one of the most raw and relentless beats ever placed on wax. The warning shot before The Crusader that introduced Aotearoa emcee Scribe to the mainstream, Not Many was more than just a lead single – it was the start of a movement.
Looking back at a career defining period in his life, P notes “at the time when we recorded Not Many there was a growing buzz about Scribe in the NZ Hip-Hop scene. People knew he was dope but it remained to be seen if he could come out with hit songs and a hit album. We felt positive about the music and confident he was making the best rap music that New Zealand had ever produced BUT we never imagined the cross-over success and the international reach it would have”. What Not Many had going for it was the simple fact the beat was a vulgar display of power.
‘Not Many’ became the kind of perfect, galvanizing track that instantly becomes a calling card for both the rapper and the producer. Brutally effortless, the menacing horns (reminiscent to Pharoahe Monch’s ‘Simon Says’) monster the audibles. Beefed up by Chip Matthew’s bass, the low end has an impressive and infectious flow and logic that loop throughout the track. The drums are clean and straightforward with a subtle threatening undertone that makes the neck snap. “The ‘Not Many Remix!’ is one of my trademark songs” explains P Money. “Its still a favourite in all my DJ sets to this day (over a decade since it first dropped!). The beat has very simple elements by todays standards but it still goes hard. This would be track one on my CV if I ever needed to show people what it is that I do”.
Scribe’s contribution (as well as Dawn Raid’s Savage & David Dallas) should also not be underestimated to the success of the track. Punchlines such as Dallas’s (then known as Con Psy) “I treat tracks like kicks – cause I’m clean when I lace mine” and the hook itself carries a timeless swagger to it that will always be fresh on the ears.
When asked about the legacy of the track and Scribe’s follow up full length, P Money notes with a sense well earned pride “The Crusader was the number one POP album in the country, it sold 4x Platinum and the singles ‘Stand Up’, ‘Not Many’ and ‘Dreaming’ were all smash hits. The album also reached Platinum in Australia. We knocked Black Eyed Peas, R-Kelly and 50 Cent out of the charts in New Zealand. None of us expected it to reach THAT level. His music is still regarded as classic material here and in Australia too. I’m proud of that work and very grateful for the success that we found as a result of the music we made together”.
But with father time casting his long shadow and David Dallas and P Money both recruited to New York’s Duck Down Music at the turn of the decade, Beat Dust was keen to check on the health of New Zealand’s premier hip hop label. “Dirty Records is still the brand I put on my releases but times have certainly changed for the label” explains P. At one point we had offices and staff and a number of artists signed, but the game has changed and income for indie labels is not what it was. Nowadays my business partner (and co-founder of Dirty Records) Callum August looks after the label as part of a larger roster over at Frequency Media Group. The Dirty Records catalogue is in safe hands there”.
Peace to P Money for helping out with this piece. Keep up to date with P Money on his Twitter & Facebook page. Pick up his latest works Gratitude & Backpack Travels [with Buckshot] or check them out at Duckdown Records.