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Producer Jimmy Beats Interview Part Two (photo, video)

Producer Jimmy Beats of Dark Beats Music has teamed up with emerging dancehall artist Mosiah to release the highly anticipated album, Trip to JA, which was officially released on June 28. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing them in the studio of Dark Beats. In part one of my interview, we discussed Beats’ early career as a musician in his native Orlando and his subsequent move to Jacksonville.

Jimmy Beats of Dark Beats Music with artist Mosiah in the studio
Alana J. Tutwiler

After working successfully as a hip-hop producer in the River City, Beats began the transition to producing reggae music. This was a natural change for the self-described reggage enthusiast. Even while working in the hip-hop genre, reggae “always had me captivated…it was the music I listened to to relax, to feel good, and even sometimes make you think deep”.

Beats always made sure to include a reggae inspired track on the beat cds that he produced during this time period. Gradually, he took it further by doing reggae covers of classic rock songs. At the same time, he was putting out feelers in the community to find an artist who could perform the songs.

A stroke of luck came for the producer when he got in touch with Ivory Orr, CEO of Point Blank Entertainment, one of the best known producers/promoters in Jacksonville. Orr is the voice commonly heard on the city’s urban radio station commercials promoting events throughout the city. He had just produced a new mixtape, Black Diamonds, for a local hip-hop group, The Prolegend Movement. One of the tracks, “Oh Yes (AYO Teaser)”, featured a hook done by Mosiah. Beats listened to the cd and knew that he could work with Mosiah. The two met at a function promoted by Point Blank and went into the studio and started working shortly after.

The result was Trip to JA, 15 tracks designed to take the listener on a virtual trip to Mosiah’s native Jamaica. The concept was originally a dancehall only feel, but that soon changed to include culturally relevant, roots music as well. Beats noted that the “lyrics reflected a lot of the things that are happening, so it became like a tour of the island country.

The great working relationship between producer and artist allowed for the project to be completed in only a few months. Sometimes Beats would already have a beat worked up and would then bring Mosiah in to vibe on it. Other times, he would take a break and just loop eight bars and experiment. Producing music works off of “a creative vibe of people working together. You can get great writers together and get nothing. It’s about the vibe”.

I had a chance to see this collaboration firsthand when Beats took one of the guitars down off the wall and started strumming the tune to “Cry”, one of the album’s singles. Mosiah joined in with the verses for an impromptu, unplugged studio jam session, and then told the story behind the song, which I will share on my album review of Trip to JA.

Mosiah summed up his experience working with Beats as “really great. I learned a whole bunch of new things. I learned that when you feel like you know it all, you don’t know it all, there’s always someone else who knows more than you. I learned how to be humble, how to open up the mind to new things…stay focused…teamwork”.

The producer had equally positive things to say about his artist. “I see Mosiah becoming an influential artist, I see his creativity and his talents getting better every year. I see him and I producing other artists and eventually I see Mosiah possibly developing and producing artists on his own.”

Beats had very practical advice for aspiring producers: “Its more than just typical, keep believing, keep doing it. The passion has to stay with it. Even if you take time away from it…doesn’t mean you give up the music if you don’t give up the passion. I can grab one of those guitars right there and do a piece unplugged without any equipment. And that comes from the passion.”

He went on to say, “The thing about producers, there’s something about them that has an artist in them. Sometimes the artists they work with are like an extension of themselves. They sort of channel their energy through the artist. Though the artist is the focal point, there’s gotta be that right combination”.

Jimmy Beats and Mosiah seem to be the right combination indeed. Stay tuned for my album review of Trip to JA and make sure to subscribe to my column.

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