Thursday, December 11th, 2008 at 7:04 pm
As a producer, you’re only as good as your last beat—so when your last beat(s) fall into the hands of artists/groups like 50 Cent, Foxy Brown, Jae Millz, Joe Budden, Talib Kweli, Jim Jones, Fabolous, Danity Kane, Cam’ron, Cheri Dennis, Marques Houston, Paul Wall, and Freeway just to name a few; you must be pretty good.
There lies the dilemma (if you can call it that) of Bronx-born beat technician, Antwan “Amadeus” Thompson. The sound behind some of Hip-Hop’s well-recognized voices has racked up a discography that can’t be denied, along with contributing his talents to projects such as videogame soundtracks for EA Sports, Burger King commercial ads, music for ESPN’s SportCenter, and creating the score for VH1’s Who Wants to Work For Diddy (which happened to be one of this writer’s favorite shows when it first aired a few months back).
With his craft being identified as one of the game’s elite, the head Bad Boy himself Mr. Sean Combs extended an invitation for the classically trained percussionist to join his stable of Hitmen producers, which also houses some of the most accomplished boards men in Hip-Hop.
Now with the patented logo of a baby in a diaper, wearing a pair of Timberlands, pumping his right fist, with is hat turned to the side officially stamped on his resume from here on out; you can count on the New York native bringing his own twist to the “Amadeus” name more to the forefront.
iHipHop.com: What triggered you to want to get into producing? Did a particular track really catch your ear one day and made you get into it?
Amadeus: Actually it was the complete opposite. I was a rapper at first, and following the path of becoming an artist.
I had a few cats that I knew who were sort of in the music business, and they were telling me that it wasn’t good to be an artist, because in order to really get that paper, I would have to sell millions and millions of records. So they kind of persuaded me not to be an artist, and they were telling me to get more behind the scenes.
They were telling me to get into production, and at the time I didn’t know what that was, so they said it was the guy who makes the beats. So I said, “I have to make beats from scratch?!” and they said yeah. Then I gave it a shot, because I was already a drummer. That started when I was 16, and I stayed trying to perfect the craft, and I’m here today.
iHipHop.com: What was one of the first records you did that really got you a lot of recognition?
Amadeus: Um, I would say three records because two of them weren’t really released out on CD or in stores. Those would be ‘Get Off Me’ which was the diss record of Foxy Brown getting at Eve, after that I had the title track to Cradle 2 The Grave soundtrack with Foxy Brown and that was actually my first release.
That was the first major placement, and following that was ‘Take ‘Em Church’ which was the diss record of Cam’ron getting at Mase. So I would definitely have to say that those were the joints that put my name on the map, and got me out there, and had people starting to reach out to me to get tracks from.
iHipHop.com: Speaking of getting placements, I read something where it said other producers were taking credit for your work. What was that all about?
Amadeus: When you’re first coming up, cats try to take advantage of the fact that you’re a young blood coming up in the game, and not knowing everything that needs to be known on the business side of things in regards to paperwork. So coming up, I been through a few situations where that took place, and to be specific it was the ‘My Life’ song with Foxy Brown that was on the Cradle 2 The Grave soundtrack.
When I went to the studio and played the joint, she loved the track and she ended up doing two joints. One was the ‘Get Off Me’ track, and the other was the song for Cradle 2 The Grave soundtrack. I wasn’t present at the studio, so they didn’t know what was going for what, and I didn’t have management at the time. So one of the people there decided to give himself credit, when I did the track totally on my own, we never discussed sharing credit, or sharing the production fee.
At the end of the day, with me coming up, that’s something I would have done anyway just to get my name out there, but it was never discussed, and that’s how it went down man. Thankfully I was able to get the other half of the payment, and I ended up getting the good out of it. That was my first gold plaque, first major placement, and it was featured in a movie so it was a good look at the end of the day.
iHipHop.com: How did you manage to keep a smile on your face during all that time?
Amadeus: It was definitely a very trying and difficult time, because at that time she [Foxy Brown] was real major in the game, and she was really hot in the streets. So from hearing ‘Get Off Me’ back-to-back on the radio, then the movie coming out and doing well; it was like, “Damn, that’s my track and my song.” It definitely didn’t feel good to be taken advantage of, and I wanted to go to war man, real talk. But I just had to take that, I had to sit there and deal with that.
I stayed creative though because I had to, and at the end of the day this is something I love, and I wasn’t going to let a person or situation stop me from what I love to do. It was really hard though, I had my days where I didn’t want to do anything, and I wanted to make sure that the situation got taken care of accordingly which was me calling Def Jam back-to-back-to-back-to-back to prove to them that I was the producer of the track. It was a nightmare, but I got paid and I made it out of it, so it is what it is.
iHipHop.com: Right now you have your own imprint, Platinum Boy Records. What’s the whole idea behind it?
Amadeus: It’s not so much of a label at the moment; it’s more of a production team. It started off with myself, and I consider myself to be the “Platinum Boy.” We branched out and now I have an artist by the name of Tiffany Mynon who we consider as the angel of R&B.
She’s been blessed to able to tour with people like Kelis, Talib Kweli, Jay-Z, Mos Def, and the list goes on. I have producers in the camp that are doing their thing, I have writers that are doing their thing, and it’s just a movement right now man. So we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing, and you’ll definitely be hearing from us soon.
iHipHop.com: With you landing most of your placements on your own, do you have any type of methods in order to get your material heard?
Amadeus: When I first was coming up, I pretty much had to deal with the whole A&R movement, and what I came to realize is that there were only a few who actually made sure my music got to the artist, and really got me on a project. So what I try to do is figure out a way to get to the artist myself, because a lot of time you give your music to the A&R’s, and your music doesn’t get heard. That was proven when I got to Cam’ron, and a lot of other cats, because they never heard my joints.
I was giving their A&R’s CD after CD, after CD. I’d be like, “You ain’t hear these?!” and they would say no. So it’s a crazy experience man, and I’m thankful for the whole Myspace thing and stuff like that coming up, because it’s making a lot of the A&R’s irrelevant. They definitely have a hard job when it comes to budgeting and all that, but as far as the creative stuff—Myspace took that over.
iHipHop.com: Plus you’re going to be working on Diddy’s new album. Was that a case of him reaching out to you?
Amadeus: Yeah, I’m the newest member of the Bad Boy Hitmen production squad, and I’m sure you’re very familiar with them. D-Dot, Mario Winans, and Bink! are all a part of the team, and I’m definitely grateful for that. So all of the projects under the Bad Boy umbrella, I’m going to be working towards, including his album and the new Cassie album.
iHipHop.com: I had a chance to speak with Sean C who’s also part the Hitmen not too long ago, and we talked about his situation. As for yourself, are you only going to be confined to Bad Boy projects? Are you still going to be able to pitch things to other artists outside of Bad Boy?
Amadeus: Not at all… The Hitmen are the producers that are managed by Bad Boy, and that’s pretty much what they are. I don’t know about everybody else’s situation, but my situation is very unique and Harve Pierre is also a co-manager in my personal situation. But it has nothing to do with what I do outside, Puff has a million things going on, and music is something that he loves, but he has his hands on so many other different ventures, so he doesn’t have his hands on any of the outside projects I’m doing.
Unless I come to him and I’m like, “Hey, I have something that I want to get to Jay-Z, and something I want to get to T.I.” I know that he has the relationships with various people that I might want to give music to, so I reach out to him to see if he can make it happen, and it does happen nine times out of ten. So it’s a great look for the situation that I’m in.
iHipHop.com: With that said, meaning that you might have something for Jay or T.I., is that how you create? Do you make a track for a specific artist in mind?
Amadeus: Not really… It’s not really my thing to say I need joints for “so-and-so.” I’m the type of person that creates totally off of feeling. Whatever I’m feeling that day, is the type of vibe that you’re going to get. The bottom line is when I create; I want people to really feel it and really appreciate it.
iHipHop.com: Have you found it hard to keep your name in circulation with more and more producers coming out?
Amadeus: Not really, because there are so many ways to stay out there, and one of them is to stay hungry and stay working. Whoever knows me knows that I’m one of the hardest working producers out, period. I don’t know how other producers work, because I can only speak for myself. I go in, and I literally don’t sleep. I’m sure a lot of other producers say the same thing, but if you Google my name you’ll see what it is, as far as what I’ve done and what I’m doing.
I just try to keep my face out there… I’m always in the face of managers, artists, and building good relationships. Even if an artist isn’t working on a project, I stay connected with them so when they do get it in, I’m one of the first ones they reach out to. So that’s one of the keys to being successful in the game, and that’s why I’m still around and doing what I’m doing.
iHipHop.com: After a while most producers release compilation albums of their material with artists just going in. Any chance the world might hear an “Amadeus” album?
Amadeus: Oh yeah, I thought of that a year or two ago. But the game isn’t in a great place right now, and it’s hard to go into a label and be like, “I got what it takes, give me a budget, and I’m going to make it do what it do.” It is something that I would love to do, and I have so many relationships with various artists that I’ve been blessed to work with. I just want to get it done the right way, so it can be major.
iHipHop.com: With the exception of a few, most of the artists you’ve worked with have been East Coast-based. Do you plan on branching out to more regions, or are you content with your situation now?
Amadeus: Um, not at all, and I’m glad you asked that, that’s a great question… Right now, I have a very universal sound that the world hasn’t been able to tap into yet. But my Southern tracks “B” are in a whole ‘nother lane, and I’m definitely heavy and building up the presents. I got a joint on Bow Wow’s new album, some joints on Trina’s new album, and a joint with Paul Wall. So once them joints are heard and cats can really respect what I’m doing with the whole Southern style—it’s going to take off from there.
iHipHop.com: When you first started experimenting with the Southern sound, did you feel a little out of your element?
Amadeus: Not at all, because at the end of the day me growing up and receiving professional lessons in regards to music made it easy—it’s all music, man. Just the sound of it makes it different, and where you’re from. I didn’t feel out of my element, I just felt like cats were going to give me slack because I’m from New York, and I did get that.
A lot of A&R’s in the South found it offensive that a cat from New York was making Southern tracks, but that’s just ignorance. Music is music, and music is universal, and that’s the way it is…