Though Scratch Magazine did a Check The Resume piece on Ivan “Doc” Rodriguez in the Will.I.Am/Game/Nas issue a year and change ago, I came across this dope article and interview at Impose Magazine (via Grandgood) with the man. He’s one of the most overlooked and under-credited producers/engineers in hip-hop history.
While the interview is good, I found the parts highlighting Doc’s sonic contributions to both sampling and mixing hip-hop records to be most interesting. Referring to the rise of the 808 sound, the article says:
“[H]e found a way to re-create the kick drum sound by using the mixing console, sampling the sound and tuning the outcome of the sound to bass-lines in songs. This was problem solving by process of deduction and innovating new steps in production. He would also experiment heavily with KRS-1 in what he calls “panning” (as opposed to the normal studio use of the word), where he would bring excitement to a record by making it sound like a storm. Before Ivan’s panning idea, there weren’t that many sources of sound to create effects like his “double bass” sound.
While I’m not exactly sure what “making it sound like a storm” really means (I’m guessing it’s some Phil Spector “Wall Of Sound” type shit for hip-hop, but who knows), I do think that idea of tuning the outcome of the kicks to the bass in beats is something that was picked up by damn near everybody. Because you can listen to records from the late 80s/early 90s and hear that 808 boom, but you’re not going to hear it really conflicting with the bass lines, nor conflicting with other kick drums that exist within the beat. It’s where the 808 actually became more understated, less of an instrument unto itself, and more like a compliment to an already existing beat. Also, these tracks were going to tape, and everything blended better when you pushed the meters on analog. Not like today, when digital clipping makes you want to rip your ears off.
I also thought the following questions and answers were interesting:
SS: I got to ask this question because I know it’s coming soon. There’ll be idiots who’ll say: yeah, DJ Doc was behind those classic albums, but did he make beats? Is he like a Marley Marl or DJ Scratch or a whoever? All DJ Doc did was sit in the studio and play with the sound board.
IR: Some of the greatest records in the history of this industry that carry my name as engineer were actually produced BY ME. Being new to the game I did what I did to survive and to feed my family so therefore there is a lack of credits. I can make “beats” with my eyes closed and they will never be flukes because I actually know how to make a record and not just loop someone else’s ideas!
SS: How much of this producing stuff is overrated? You constantly hear the overnight experts saying so and so did the beats but only co-produced it… etc. PLEASE add something to stop these senseless arguments. Anything. LOL.
IR: Making “beats” is not considered producing a composition. Nuff Said!