You know Ron Browz, even if you don’t know you know him. Whether or not you were on team Jay-Z or team Nas back in ’01, you definitely knew “Ether.” Yes, your boy Ron Browz was responsible for that beat. Browz has made beats for artists such as 50 Cent to Jae Millz, and now that his song “Pop Champagne” has been catching air time, if you didn’t know you knew him before, you will definitely know now. During a Rucker game, where the crowd got crazy every time his new song came on, Ron took the time to sit down with BallerStatus.com and talk about his career, what it’s like to come out of Harlem, and the music industry.
BallerStatus.com: What are you working on right now?
Ron Browz: Right now I just did two tracks on the G-Unit album, the T.O.S. album. I got a joint on there called “Straight Outta Southside” and another track called “Money Make The World Go Round,” featuring Tony Yayo and Loyd Banks. I currently have Jim Jones’ single right now called “Good Stuff” that’s playing on the radio and three joints on his album. And I got my own record right now that’s bubblin’ in the streets called “Pop Champagne.”
BallerStatus.com: You know when your album is going to drop yet?
Ron Browz: I don’t have an exact date, but I’m working on it now. It’s going to be a classic.
BallerStatus.com: And what genre does “Pop Champagne” fall under?
Ron Browz: Yea, nobody knows how to pinpoint it; what kind of sound it is. I’m thinking it’s like urban-pop. I think I’ma bridge the gap between the pop sound and the urban sound.
BallerStatus.com: And you used the auto-tune, what everyone now refers to as the “T-Pain voice changer.”
Ron Browz: Yea, I used the auto-tune on it. You know, the effect been around for years, but T-Pain happened to bring it back to life. I was bored one day, I said “Let me see if I can do something like a Harlem version of the auto-tune,” and that’s what I did. It’s catching and I’m getting a lot of good feedback.
v BallerStatus.com: Yea and I know you love drums…
Ron Browz: Actually when I was growing up, my mother put me in PAL and I was in drum line and still band, so I’m real familiar with drums and sounds.
BallerStatus.com: Are you familiar with go-go in the DC-Maryland-VA area? Just thought I’d ask since it’s also big on drums.
Ron Browz: Nah.
BallerStatus.com: So what do you think about the music industry right now?
Ron Browz: Things are weird right now. It’s just hard for the new talent to get in right now. If you look at it, every chance a new talent gets in, it opens up a lot of doors. So I think new guys just need to get in. It’s just like school and it’s time for the seniors to [graduate].
BallerStatus.com: I kind of see it as, yea the old school is hating on the newcomers right now, but I think the old school was more associated with violence and drugs, and this new school is more about having fun. You see that as a positive thing right?
Ron Browz: Yea it is a positive thing because the style is more clean, verses back in the day hip-hop was more rugged and baggy, the timberland look. Now it’s a more clean look and more fun records, which is a good thing. They should be happy.
BallerStatus.com: Which is why I asked you. You are someone who is right in the middle of it. You grew up with the old school as your influences, but now you’re here during the transformation to the new school.
Ron Browz: As a producer you have to pay attention to what’s going on and be aware of what’s making the youth move, and what they like and things of that nature. Like, at first when I used the auto-tune for the “Pop Champagne” record, the kids were questioning like, “Why Ron don’t use the auto-tune?” It’s just a coincidence I used the auto-tune and you see what happened.
BallerStatus.com: What about the Lite movement from Harlem? Do you think it will branch out further than New York?
Ron Browz: Certain records branch out, it just depends on what type of record. You know, we seen an Aunt Jackie, we seen a “Chicken Noodle Soup.” Certain records are going to peak and certain records are just going to stay in New York.
BallerStatus.com: Being from Harlem, a place where everything turns into a movement (fashion, music, etc), does it ever feel like a gift and a curse? It seems like artist who come outta Harlem have more of an obligation to stay in Harlem. It kind of sucks them back in, making it harder to blow up outside of New York. Do you ever feel like that?
Ron Browz: I mean to me, I always thought they were very hard on Harlem artists. I think we got a lot to offer, and you see like Mase, he took over the industry in a short amount of time — you know, his charisma, his style, his lyrical concept, the things he was talking about, the fun he was having. They just give us a hard time. But every chance we get, an artist blows up. You know the whole Webstar and Young B situation or the Aunt Jackie situation. As soon as we get a chance, we do big things, so I think it puts a lot of pressure on us.
BallerStatus.com: Yea and in Harlem, everyone is able to still be outside, still hang out on the block.
Ron Browz: That’s what I think helps me too, is because you can walk outside and see everyone walking around.
BallerStatus.com: So if you search Ron Browz on YouTube, you’ll find “Life of a Producer” and “Produce Or Go Home” — D. Cole being the one responsible for “Produce or Go Home” — what made you want to do those?
Ron Browz: “Life of a Producer” was me. I thought, ‘Let me do a reality show about a producer, on a daily basis of what a producer does.’ And D. Cole has his own concept to “Produce Or Go Home,” “Dance Or Go Home,” “Sing or Go Home.” So you know that’s my friend, and I help him out and he helps me out.
BallerStatus.com: And what about when you make a beat, do you have expectations for that beat? Do you critique the artist or tell them what you think should be done with it?
Ron Browz: Actually to the A-list artist, no. You give them the beat and they do whatever the hell they feel like doing at that present moment. But local artists I can kind of guide them.
BallerStatus.com: What happened to Money Ave Entertainment?
Ron Browz: No more Money Ave Entertainment. I’ve been going hard with them for a lot of years, but when 2008 came, me and the artists weren’t seeing eye to eye on a lot of things, so I started Ether Boy Records, which is me, the first artist.
BallerStatus.com: Do you have any of the equipment that you first started out with?
Ron Browz: Yea I still have the keyboard I made “Ether” on, the drum machine; everything.
BallerStatus.com: Being that you are one of the producers who still work with the original beat making instruments, how do you feel about technology changing the production side of things?
Ron Browz: I came up like that, hands on, like how you feeling, and that’s how a lot of emotional tracks come out. The computer makes just computer feel, and I don’t knock it because people have came up with hot ideas on the computer, but as far as feelings and things that hit you, you gotta be hands on. You know, from history: guys playing the keyboards, playing live drums, so if you want the feeling part I would say use the outboard gear. If you’re interested in just making a hot joint, then bang on the computer.
BallerStatus.com: What genres of music do you get inspiration for your beats from?
Ron Browz: I listen to everything. I listen to pop music, Spanish music, reggae, everything. African, Arab, I take all that in and in a sense, put it all in like one big gumbo.
BallerStatus.com: How does it feel to know that people outside of New York, like let’s say, Ludacris, seek you out for a beat.
Ron Browz: That’s hot. I don’t pigeonhole my sound, so I’m able to manipulate being a producer and the whole sound because I can create southern beats, I can create LA sounding beats, Midwest sounding beats. I’m able to create stuff like that. That’s why I was able to work with Snoop, I was able to work with Luda, or Killer Mike, because I know the sound.
BallerStatus.com: Have you ever made a beat and thought it would be perfect for a specific artist?
Ron Browz: It never works out like that. Every time I be like, “Yes this is hot for 50 Cent,” he never picks that. He’ll pick something else that I probably thought was hot for someone else. Except for one, Lloyd Banks, I always can kind of predict what he’s going to like.
BallerStatus.com: So since you started doing your thing rapping, have people started to, if anything, notice you more for what you’ve already done?
Ron Browz: Yes and no. Some people don’t know. Some records I have out now they’re like, “I didn’t know you did that.” So I gotta constantly keep reminding people, like “Yea that’s me, I have Jim Jones’ single on the radio right now, the ‘Straight Outta Southside’ that plays on the radio and my record.” I think people now are noticing, “Oh he really is a workhorse.”
BallerStatus.com: Yea when someone reads about you, you seem real laid back, not too worried about if everyone knows who you are, but some interviews you have a little bit of that Harlem cocky-ness.
Ron Browz: (laughs) Actually people think I need to let more people know what I do, but I think that’s cocky. If the situation presents itself that I need to let somebody know, like in an interview or DVD, then I’ll let it be known. But if you just meet me randomly, then I’m not going to be like, “Yo I’m this that and the third,” people think I need to be more outspoken about that, that’s just how my persona is.
BallerStatus.com: Does it happen a lot where someone hears one of the songs you did and they keep talking about how hot it is, not knowing they are telling it to the person who made it?
Ron Browz: Oh yea. I’ve been getting that now. “Yo that G-Unit joint is crazy,” I be like, “I did that.” “For real, you did that, you know what else is hot, that Jim Jones record.” “I did that too.” So yea that happens all the time.
BallerStatus.com: Are you good with helping out a rapper who lets say, has really good things to say, but not really good at riding the beat?
Ron Browz: Yea that’s how I came up. That’s why it was easy to make hot beats for A-list artists because growing up, when I was just starting off, I would make somebody from across the hallway sound like they got a record deal. I can make anybody sound hot — your cousin. your aunt, your uncle. So me getting to the big dogs was a piece of cake because I can make somebody sound crazy.
BallerStatus.com: And how can you help them?
Ron Browz: With song structure. The ones who listen are the ones who prosper. But the ones who are stuck in their ways like, “This is hot how I’m doing it,” they end up rhyming on the corner for the rest of their lives. You gotta do a lot of homework with hip-hop, listen and find your niche. I’m not a punch line rapper, a battle rapper, but I’m able to make a nice song that people are liking right now. That’s from me doing so much homework. You just gotta find that song structure and once you get that you can execute it.
BallerStatus.com: With all of the changes in hip-hop, do you feel like the producer is finally getting more of the spotlight he deserves? The rapper was once just the hype man, and people knew the DJ, then rappers progressed. But recently with people accusing rappers of talking about nothing, it’s more about the beat. Do you feel the spotlight going back to the people behind the music?
Ron Browz: Yea because the guys that are creating the music, they know what should be on it, what people want to hear. Some rappers are so arrogant and so dumb, they don’t wanna listen to the producer, and the producer is the one who created the beat! If I tell you “Yo you should do this, this is going to sound hot,” you should do that. That’s why Pete Rock was able to manipulate a lot of his songs because he know who he wants to hear on there … Pharell, Timberland, Kanye, and now me.