T-Nyce: Next Up [Interview]
Toronto, ON – T-Nyce exudes success. He’s outspoken and energetic, multi-tasking at all times. On the drive to the studio I mention that I first interviewed another well-known local producer a few years ago. “So you interview the guys that are about to blow up” he shoots back. On that 15 minute journey he fields multiple phone calls, instructs his artist Gina Lee in the passenger seat on how to manipulate her voice when recording, switches lanes with the quickness, kicks up a fuss about his misplaced wallet, and relates the story of how he was making a pitch to Gucci Mane in an ATL studio days earlier (before Gucci was led stray by groupies).
“I really think as far as rappers, we’re not a lot. But I think producers, we’re next. I’d probably say we’re now, I think we’re now.”
There’s a sense of mission about him. When he lost 2008’s Battle of the Beatmakers he popped up in Atlanta a week later, winning a beat contest there and earning a four-month internship with J.U.S.T.I.C.E league. He’s self-aware of this ascent (“I’ve really found my craft this year”). He’s brash about his talents but is quick to catch himself and thank God in the next sentence. He doesn’t feel Toronto matches his hustle so he spends a considerable amount of time down south (“They sleep on the floor in the studio. On the floor!”). You get the sense that this Ghanaian native is equally businessman as he is producer. An entrepreneur; he’s putting himself in the best position to make it.
Lounging in his engineer Tiger’s studio, Nyce entertains the room as we touch on his come up, his roots, the ATL grind, and getting snubbed at this years Battle of the Beatmakers.
HipHopCanada: So where’d you move to when you came to Toronto?
T-Nyce: Jane and Woolner.
HipHopCanada: ‘Cause on your bio it says you grew up around “crime, violence and a society that never had any remorse for a young black man with dreams of a better life.” Speak on that.
T-Nyce: Jane and Woolner, just the whole – actually you know what it helped me though. So I’m not going to say it was a bad environment, but it helped me because it was just peer pressure. When we all got to around grade 11, it was either you had to sell drugs – like, you have to – or you’re shooting people. Like you have to do something, right? So I chose the basketball route, and I think that’s how I got out. Certain people that were even in basketball and stuff with me still kind of fell into it but that was the main thing. You had to do something at that 11th grade, and a lot of my friends got shot, but they made it. Some of them died. You know, it was peer pressure. You step outside you could feel it [snaps fingers].
HipHopCanada: So how’d you get started [producing] in the first place?
T-Nyce: I started playing music going to church, but I took it for granted with the music thing ‘cause I didn’t really care, I’d just go to church for girls. [Laughs] Nah I’m playing I actually went to church to listen.
HipHopCanada: ‘Cause you play drums, piano and bass.
T-Nyce: I play all those. I didn’t really go to school for it, just played it by ear just pick it up and play.
We always used to listen to music obviously, but my homie KB was like “yo I got this new program Fruityloops. You go to church you know how to play this stuff. Try it out.” So he gave me the program, put it on my computer, started trying to make beats. I was making some garbage beats [laughs], just bad. My homies H and Kofi, man, they broke me down. They just told me “yo this is garbage. Don’t ever [produce]” Put me in the spot where I almost cried. So I went back and thought maybe I could do this thing, I mean I can play them I just can’t do it on a computer. From there, even while I was playing ball I was doing it.
HipHopCanada: So what’s your creative process, how do you go about making a beat?
T-Nyce: I don’t really have any specific way of going about doing anything; I just got to be inspired to make a beat. If I’m not inspired, we’re not making a beat. So if I’m not inspired for a month, you’re not going to hear nothing new. I get inspired by my colleagues. Anybody that’s doing it just like me, those people inspire me. So if I see my engineer Tiger (link to website) traveling around making some big moves [snaps fingers] I have to get up. Like if he’s doing it I can do it too.
HipHopCanada: Cool. So who are your biggest influences and why? You can talk about the different stages of your life, not necessarily right now.
T-Nyce: I’d say Timbaland. Timbaland has always been an influence as far as music. I thought he was just weird ‘cause his sounds were so different. He was using some baby – remember the song he did with Aaliyah [“Are you that Somebody”]? Man, that baby tripped me out man [laughs]. I don’t know how he does that stuff.
My pops would play certain music or my mom would play them. It was this guy; I think his name was Kwajo Antwi. He was like the R. Kelly in Ghana. He had some crazy tunes. They have the smooth melodies and stuff, so that’s what I’m really used to hearing. Oh and there’s Reggie Rockstone. He started rap in Ghana by the way, Reggie Rockstone he’s like the godfather of the whole thing. Yeah he’s dope.
HipHopCanada: Another thing I noticed, I don’t think you sample. I think I only caught an OJ da Juiceman vocal drop, which is not really a sample. How come?
T-Nyce: The reason why I don’t sample is ‘cause my lawyer told me that if you want to get a record placed, don’t sample because they have to go through all these people. The lawyers and paper signing and obviously the publishing is going to be split in two. I don’t want that, I don’t people messing with my money. So I’d rather play.
HipHopCanada: So what’s your take on people that do sample?
T-Nyce: I have no problem with them. I mean, shoot, if they love sharing their money, that’s good for them. But me? I don’t want to do that. Especially when I could play? Uh huh.
HipHopCanada: So you were just in ATL.
T-Nyce: I was just in ATL man [sighs]. I love ATL. They appreciate music. Forget major artists, the independent market is bananas. They support. I have never been anywhere where they feel like they’re already a star. Independent people are like majors basically. They’re driving the same cars majors are driving. They get paid 5000 a show, or 10,000.
HipHopCanada: Is that the local guys?
T-Nyce: That’s local independent people. That’s how crazy it is over there. The market is crazy, crazy. So if you’re a producer and you’re there and they put you in a room with all these independent artists, you go “wow”. They’re just like the majors it’s just that they’re no signed to a label. They got the money, they got the funds, they got the fans. Oh boy.
HipHopCanada: So what’s going on out there what were you doing exactly?
T-Nyce: I was there actually to get a lawyer, that was the main thing. But in the process of that I was hooked up with writers. So I worked with Rock City, shout out to Irv, he’s Rock City’s management. Rock City is signed with Konvict by the way. So they’re already majors they’ve been on all the album from shit, Justin Bieber to Usher to everyone’s. I worked with them. I worked with Galaxy Girls. They did “How Low Can You Go”. They’re managed by Kevin Shine from Jive Records. And I worked with Sean Garrett. Those are the main three people I was constantly in the studio with just working.
HipHopCanada: So you just booked a flight to Atlanta to find a lawyer?
T-Nyce: Yeah, I just took off. But I been going to Atlanta for like three years now, so I build relationships. When I initially went down there I didn’t know nobody. I went there for a beat battle. That was like ’08. When I lost in Toronto’s beat battle [Battle of the Beatmakers 2008], the next week I took a flight to Atlanta for a next beat battle and I won over there.
HipHopCanada: So talk about this years Battle of the Beatmakers.
T-Nyce: [Laughs]. Yo! This year’s beat battle was ok. Actually I had a lot of people probably rooting for me to win. I think I could have won.
HipHopCanada: You were the favorite?
T-Nyce: I was the favorite. Everybody was like T-Nyce is in? He’s going to win. But you have other producers I’m friends with like MegaMan, who’s a heavy producer, T-Minus, all of them. I was going to win, I would have won but I think I took myself out by playing “While You Were Sleepin’”, which is a Page beat. I think that’s why I took myself out.
HipHopCanada: Why would that take you out?
T-Nyce: I knew I wasn’t going to the next round ‘cause [Boi] 1Da wouldn’t let me go in the next round. What happened was he actually put [his vote] up for number two, I was number two, but then he’s like “I change my mind”. Then he gave it to number one.
HipHopCanada: Did people react to that?
T-Nyce: People reacted to that, at the same time people were like “whoa”, just shocked. Nobody thought I was going to play that beat. Only my people knew. I told my engineer Tiger “should I play it?” He’s like “yo play that!” So I just did.
HipHopCanada: So obviously 1Da felt pressured, ‘cause those are his peoples.
T-Nyce: You know what, I’m not mad at 1Da, but I watched the video last night and I saw all the behind the scenes. The time the beat started he already told the judges I’m out. He did this [gestures a “no” with hands]. After the beat he talked to Bishop.
T-Nyce: Yeah, 1Da wasn’t happy with it. But I loved his face. The expression on his face – priceless. When he heard the beat he was just like “Are you going to play that?” I don’t regret it though I’d do it any day. Because a lot of people were like “Why would you play that, you forgot 1Da’s the judge?” Luu Breeze was saying that, everybody was saying that. But I didn’t really care about the battle it’s not going to get me a deal or anything.
HipHopCanada: You’ve worked with Sosa, Camo, Page, P-Reign, Luu Breeze and Roxx of-course. Who are your favorites to work with and why? Describe the creative process with that person.
T-Nyce: With these guys the person I’ve probably been in the studio a lot with is Johnny Roxx. He goes straight to the point there’s no delays. It’s boom boom boom, get the thing, get in there, have a technique, do the chorus. Boom, records done. I think he’s a professional in that way. Page is dope too in the sense he has to be inspired. He know how I have to be inspired to make a beat? He has to be inspired [too]. When he feels good we can knock out like five tracks.
HipHopCanada: What’s your favorite song that you’ve so far?
T-Nyce: Damn! But I have songs that are not even out. My favorite song right now that’s coming out is “Bottles of Wateva”, [by] Page. We recorded in Miami, and then we took it to this dude’s crib. I thought it was a club, but it was a house. We played it there, from there we were like “Yo!” I think we got something. That’s how big it is. The beat was made here. Tiger mixed it and sent it to Page. Page started recording over here but he didn’t finish it. So he went in Miami, Page was feeling good. We were in the studio for 24 hours. Banged that track out, we played it in the guy’s crib and we’re like “Oh shit”.
HipHopCanada: If you had to compare it to “Ballin’ Is My Hobby”?
T-Nyce: This record is going to blow that shit out. “Ballin’ Is My Hobby” is a classic. “I’m Still Fly” too. You see Page always brings classics. First, second, so you can only imagine the third one.
HipHopCanada: This might be a redundant question ‘cause I ask everybody I interview, but with success in Toronto with the K’naan’s and the Drakes where do you think the city’s going as a music community?
T-Nyce: I think we’re next; we’re next to blow. Pause. I really think as far as rappers, we’re not a lot. But I think producers, we’re next. I’d probably say we’re now, I think we’re now. ‘Cause producers in the city are insane. We got mad producers. The Rich Kidds and the rest. You could go anywhere and they’d be like “Toronto got some heat.” So definitely we’re in good hands as far as production and stuff. And rappers are coming along, just got to be more creative.
HipHopCanada: As far MCs, who’s next? Who do you feel personally is that guy?
T-Nyce: I feel like Page is the guy. I just think that guy is going to blow no matter what. I really believe that, even when I didn’t work with him. But I know who’s really putting in work right now is Luu Breeze. He’s going crazy right now.
HipHopCanada: You produced “While You Were Sleepin’”. What’s your take on that situation if anything?
T-Nyce: To be honest man, that record was the first time me and Page actually worked together. ‘Cause I knew Page a couple years ago, I met him in Atlanta, but we never did any music. We’d just chill, make fun of people and crack jokes. But he called me and said “I need a record”. I was like “For what?” I was driving. ‘Cause I didn’t know what the hell was going on. That was when P-Reign released his thing. I was like “when I get home I’ma send you something”. I gave [him] like 25 beats already, so I don’t know why you need a record. So I sent something and he called me back he’s like “that’s it I got it”. But see when he did the record I wasn’t there. I didn’t even know when he was going to put it out. I just got a call from my homie Joe Gunna he’s like “Yo Nyce, don’t tell me you’re in the beef”. Then I went on Youtube and I seen it and everybody was talking about it. I didn’t even know it was a beef thing. He just said, “Give me some heat”.
HipHopCanada: [The song] is like 6 minutes.
T-Nyce: That shit was like 9 minutes, and that shit was crazy.
HipHopCanada: But you have a song coming out with P. Reign on it.
T-Nyce: Yeah. “Reality”, that’s the name of the song, with Belly, Jahvon and JD Era. If P. Reign called me like “yo, I need a record”, we gon’ get it poppin’. You know it’s business right? It’s not personal stuff. You see it’s not me feeling like that, I think they feel like it’s personal. But you know what P. Reign still went on my beat.
HipHopCanada: You feel like that ‘cause of the Battle of the Beatmakers situation.
T-Nyce: Yeah, I think 1Da didn’t let me go to the next round because he feels like I basically kind of disrespected him by playing that record. That’s how he feels, but it was just a beat. It’s Battle of the Beatmakers, you play your best beats right? That was one of my beats.
HipHopCanada: Let’s talk about ghost producing. You mentioned you had some offers.
T-Nyce: Yeah, I had offers but I didn’t take it. My name is ringing in Atlanta, but I think I could get better. I mean Danja Hands did it, Topcat, a lot of people did it, but what’s the rush right? I have a good lawyer and I’m already working with people in the industry so I felt I’m ok in the position I am. I just feel like there’s no rush ‘cause I’m doing ok. If I wasn’t getting to these places, I’d probably sign. But if someone asked me let’s do a deal 60/40, you get your whole publishing and your credit, I’d do it.
HipHopCanada: What’s in the works with your collabs with the American artists you’re working with? From Omarion to Travis Porter…
T-Nyce: Omarion right now is missing. Travis Porter always brings mixtapes so when I was there [ATL] I did some stuff with him too. Everybody on Def Jam right now they need a single. So Rock City is my people I work with specifically to get that done. They always want to put the new producers up so I got called in. Jeezy needs a single, Rhiannon needs a single, T.I. needs a single.
HipHopCanada: So what projects do you have coming out, what should people look forward to?
T-Nyce: Look forward to me being on a lot of albums. There’s a lot of things I can’t really say ‘till it’s done, a lot of things that’s almost done but it’s not done done, so I won’t jinx it. As far as Toronto I’m on Luu Breeze’s project, I’m on Page’s T.Y.P.D (Things Young People Do) project. I’m on Show Steven’s project, he’s an R&B singer. Johnny Roxx project I did the whole thing. Camo. I did Strizzy Castro’s second single. And there’s more people.
Shout outs to Tiger my engineer, Jeff my other engineer, Strizzy Castro holding down the east for me, Sunny Diamonds my other engineer – that’s the studio I work out of when I’m in the east, SP that my main dude, Chris management, shout out to everybody.
Written by Atkilt Geleta for HipHopCanada