Willie Green

Blake Gillespie

willie green

Photo by Candace Camuglia

Willie Green took a break from mixing a few projects on a
Sunday afternoon to talk with Impose about his involvement with the Super Chron Flight Bros' Cape Verde record, his Dirty Jordans beat tape and the burden
of hip hop classified as “post-Dilla”.

Listening to the Dirty
Jordans tape, you’re able to sample very liberally, being that you’re still an
underground producer. I take it as of right now, you don’t have many concerns
regarding sample clearance?

Dirty Jordans is old, like two years old. It is what it is.
It’s more under the radar, since it’s coming out on my site. I’ve had a lot of
sample issues recently with the new Super Chron Flight Bros album. It’s crazy.
The level people are going to to protect a sample is outrageous. You can’t
print CDs. If you send an album to a CD company they will scan your disc
through a computer to see what samples they can find and then they require you
to provide clearance information.

This is new even in the past year. Before you’d sign a form,
signing off on all the samples being cleared –whether they were or not – and
the duplicator would make the copies with any kind of feedback from that going
toward the artist or the label. But there’s actually a commission monitoring
the duplicators to make sure they are checking on the artists now. We went to
four different companies before we found one that would actually press the
disc.

So they’ve got a guy
with the Shazam App, checking your samples?

Pretty much. Yes. I’m not going to get into the conversation
of so-and-so needs to chop the sample this much. If it works it works. On that
album the entire thing was tied together on TV and movie samples so a lot of
the flags came from that. It comes down to no other genre having issues with
sample clearance except, particularly, indie rap.

If you’re mainstream there’s probably enough money on your
project to either get the sample cleared or it won’t be on the record. Other
genres don’t even deal with it. It’s specifically targeting indie rap and we
don’t have any fucking money anyway. We’re printing up a thousand copies of
this disc. We’re not talking about something that’s generating real money.

If you put in an order for 10 thousand or 100 thousand, then
we’re talking about real money. But, a thousand copies? The artist we’re
sampling off the movie or off some album, they’re not hunting for that little
bit of money.

You think given a
rising profile as a producer, that with this issue of sample clearance, you might
adjust your style. Or will you take a stance on this being the format your music
takes?

It’s hard. I would hate to say that ‘I’ve got to change my
style because of X,Y, and Z’. I don’t really think about that when I’m making
tracks. I’ll sit down, put on a record and I’ll find a little piece I want a
sample, maybe not even with full intent to use it, but just put it aside.

If you’re trying to sell tracks to make money and eat, a lot
of people are shying away from sample based tracks because of the legal issues.
I have to keep that in mind. I might spend a little more time chopping
something and rearrange something. My chops are pretty detailed anyway, but
unfortunately it’s part of the process to think about that, rather than just
flat out making music.

You’ve got the Law & Order tape with NASA. Does
this mean you’re a Law & Order junkie?

Yes. A lot of Law & Order at my house. My girlfriend is
an enormous SVU fan, so it’s usually more SVU. The concept from that album
actually started on Twitter. Me and NASA started talking about a project after
we got drunk one night. I was like “fuck you, NASA I’m gonna battle you,” which
led to two producers battling on the album. We put the concept up on Twitter
looking for suggestions for the album name and someone came up with Law &
Order.

It was a wrap. We called my home girl Candace who does my
photography, went to downtown Brooklyn to the courthouse there and that’s how
it came together.

It’s easily one of
the funniest album covers I’ve seen in a while.

It was actually one of the last photos we took. I had no
idea it was going to get that kind of response, but that’s the first thing everybody
mentions is that cover.

Recently I’ve noticed
critics have coined the term “post-Dilla” and I cringe at it. I wanted to hear
a producer’s perspective on the term and has anyone used it to describe your
music?

I’m probably going to get some people mad at me on this one
(laughs). I’ll put it like this. No one has said that about my music, not to me
personally, but if they did I’d take it as a compliment. I’m a big Dilla fan.
He was an incredibly talented man.

But people need to stop acting like hip hop begins and ends
with Dilla. Dilla was definitely an influence on me, but I can say just as much
Pete Rock was an influence or Madlib. When you limit music to just discussions about
one man, it marginalizes everything else that’s going on.

It’s starting to feel
detrimental.

Hip hop is the one genre intent on limiting itself. You don’t
hear people calling styles of rock “Stones Rock” or “Hendrix Rock”. People don’t
do that. They pay homage, but they want to be on their own and create their own
shit. With hip hop if you go too far out, people want to say you’re not hip hop
or put you in some obscure category. Why limit the shit so much? That’s why
people don’t respect hip hop because hip hop doesn’t respect itself.

You called your tape Dirty Jordans. Are you a big fan of
Jordans?

I’m actually not interestingly enough. I haven’t owned a
pair of Jordans in a long time. I became a Celtics fan, but I grew up a Knicks
fan. My father was a Knicks fan, my cousins were Knicks fan, so I grew up a fan.
Because Jordan averaged like 45 points in the Garden… I am not a Michael Jordan
fan. I respect him, I respect his game, but I am not a fan. I’m also not a fan
of paying $150 for pair of sneakers. I make hip hop for a living so that shit is not possible, regardless of what
people in the music videos say.

To me, it’s about contrast. The idea of Dirty Jordans – there’s a real contrasting because everybody wants
to keep their Jordans clean.

Given the opportunity
would you rather play one on one against Michael Jordan or hit on country club
hoes with MJ?

[Laughs.] Jordan’s got a lot of money so hitting up a
country club with Jordan sounds nice, but I’m far too old and close to getting
married to be thinking about country club hoes. I admit I’ve not played ball in
a long time, but I’d rather play him one on one. Maybe, I’d get lucky since he’s
old too and he might let me win. That’s probably not the case though.

He’s far too
competitive for that.

Exactly.

Since you don’t rock
Jordans what shoes do you sport?

I wear a lot of shell top Adidas. I have no idea how many
pairs I’ve had, especially being from Boston. Specifically that or Timberlands.

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