You mentioned coming up without social media as a young producer. How would having had social media in the same vein of Justin Bieber coming up on YouTube changed your process as an artist?
If I was coming up now, I’d probably be so all over the place. In the 90s there wasn’t an outlet. I grew up in Houston, Texas. In the 90’s in Houston, Texas, to get your music heard was impossible. Now, I can talk to a 17-year-old in Houston, Texas and they can get their music heard. They don’t have to worry about “How am I going to get to Atlanta?” or “How am I going to get to New York?” When I was coming up it was like, “I gotta get to New York, Atlanta and L.A.” Now, the onset of technology, the laptops, all of these people are making music on laptops. I’m talking to you on a laptop, the same laptop I write my songs on, and I mix my songs on this laptop. Now, you can really make records, do your artwork, do your video, do the interview with PR, edit the video, you can do everything with just one thing right now. Back in the day you had to do so much, so many things, so many hands had to pass on to get things done. So I’m like, “If I had this? I’d probably be a billionaire,” because the hustle that I have along with what technology brings, I’d be outta here. It all starts with your person and your desire, your need or want to make it.
There is this argument that those traditional methods that you had to go through separated people who really wanted it versus people who were just doing it as a hobby because there was so much hustle. Now, there is a different kind of hustle, but it is easier for people to get into it. You can post on YouTube free of charge. Does this make the industry harder to break into now?
It’s harder and easier at the same time, which to me is amazing. Someone could be posting something for a year on YouTube and not get one look. That one thing could trigger something with one of those videos and then it blows up. You take the whole Baauer “Harlem Shake” phenomenon. Baauer has been around for how long doing dubstep? Randomly he names this track “Harlem Shake,” and college students got ahold of it and it turns into this phenomenon on YouTube. Now he’s number one on Billboard, he’s making apps just in this past month, and it hasn’t really even been a month. He is incredible, he is awesome, right? Rebecca Black is terrible, right? So for every one of these, on one hand I go, “This is amazing,” and on the other it isn’t, because like anything can get through the door by default. If you are really talented and have some hustle, like Justin Bieber, he is going, he is a phenomenon. Rebecca Black — not so much. You can decipher what is good and what’s not. If something hits and it is good, that person is going to keep going. If something hits and is just like a, you know, Antoine Dodson, then it’s not. I’m just calling names out because I’m thinking of people that I don’t see anymore.
You’ve worked with Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey and Justin Bieber — why turn to Blazetrak to start looking for new talent?
As a creative mind you can’t stay stuck in the same place. Every year there are new writers, producers and creative minds that break through. Shit, everyday, not just every year. I still haven’t done my best work yet, and a lot of that has to do with surrounding myself with young, talented vibrant people. That is what this whole thing is about.
What artist has been your favorite to work with?
Mariah [Carey] is always smooth sailing. She always calls; that is someone I consider a friend because she always calls. Every album, she calls. She is about who is hot too, but she doesn’t really buy that. She won’t say, “Such and such is hot, so I’ll work with him and not call the people I usually work with.” She is one of the most loyal people in the business, her and Monica. Monica is my son’s godmother. I love them all. Usher is incredible, Mary [J. Blige] is incredible to work with, I love them all. Mariah and Monica I have a special place for though.
What are you expecting to get from Blazetrak? What is the endgame for you?
For me, the whole search is to find a new songwriter or singer that is inspiring to me and can inspire the world. I have a new company that I started called Smith Cox Music Group, and we are getting parented up with a label that I can’t talk too much about. But this songwriter will be heavily involved with the acts that we do with that. I’m really in the process of building this company. I want to build a really good artist roster, but I also want to build a really incredible creative roster for a producer-songwriter perspective.
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