Duo production team, JR & PH7, talked with with Editor-in-Chief Julian about collaborating with hip-hop legends, upcoming album with Chuuwee and more.
Name: JR & PH7
Age(s): 33 and 30
What city are representing: Cologne, Germany
What artists and producers did you grow up listening to?
JR: I mostly listened to a lot of 90s Hip-Hop stuff. Groups like Gangstarr, The Pharcyde, Hieroglyphics… stuff like that. Producer wise, I really liked guys like Jay Dee, Pete Rock, Premo etc. I guess musically I had a very 90s Hip-Hop socialization although I only got into it towards the end of that decade. I was super-heavy into all kind of indie Hip-Hop around 2000.
PH7: For me it was definitely DJ Premier who made me wanna start making music as well. Mostly I was listening to east coast mid 90s rap music and to all that native tongue stuff.
What was your first major placement?
JR: Did we have one yet? To be honest, anything that made it to wax is a big placement to me haha. My first beat We are also not the type of producers who are shopping around beats and such. Honestly most of the requests we get we pass on since we don’t have the time to do music outside of our own projects. I don’t know if we ever had a major placement as JR&PH7. However, Pete has worked with many bigger German artists and also has a few golden records with artists from Poland.
PH7: For me my first official release ever was in the early 2000s with Kool Savas, a German rapper who was at this time one of the biggest selling German artists.
When did you both realize that producing was what you wanted to do?
JR: I was a rapper in a small German group but that never really took off, probably because I wasn’t that good haha. So that’s when I turned more towards making beats since I’ve always had a good ear for samples and enjoyed playing around with loops. But even today I see myself more as a beat maker while Pete is the real producer and musically far more skilled than me.
PH7: When I was young, I always thought I was a good rapper. But after recording myself I figured out that this is not really the case that’s when I focused on making beats.
Favorite tracks you worked on?
JR: For me, that changes and almost always it’s tracks that haven’t been released yet. But off our stuff that people might know some of my favorite tracks are “New High” with St. Joe Louis, “Fastlane Speedin’” with Oddisee and “Lime Lights” off our new album with Chuuwee.
PH7: Puh, there are a lot songs I really like. Off the recent LP with Chuuwee my 2 favorites are “What We Started“ and “DueYuu“.
How did the success of “The Good Life” contribute to gaining some prestige as quality producers?
JR: I think success of “The Good Life” definitely helped us to reach some people that might usually not be exposed to so called underground hip-hop as we make. It’s great to hear feedback from different kind of people who liked this album who are not necessarily your average hip-hop listener. However, for me it still doesn’t feel that we have any kind of great prestige yet. Maybe some people have heard of us and enjoy our music, but that’s about it haha. Nevertheless, I do feel like we are somewhat successful since we definitely enjoy what we are doing. All in all the most important thing in order to see any kind of success is to continuously release quality music and have a good team of people around you that you can rely on. We are thankful that we have that kind of team since making the music is just the beginning.
You guys have had a chance to work with some underground legends like Guilty Simpson, Oddisee, Phonte and more. What are some of your favorite personal collaborations?
JR: I think my favourite collaborations were always the ones where we also had a good chemistry outside of creating music. I really enjoyed working with artists such as Oddisee, Dilated Peoples or Phonte who are just cool and down to earth people. In general, everybody we have worked with was cool and but I can definitely tell you there are more than enough knucklehead artists running around out there lol.
PH7: For me one of the favorite collabos was with Sean Price. He is in my opinion not only a really good artist but also we had always a great time with him and funny recording sessions.
What are the benefits of being a part of the Soulspazm team?
JR: In general working with Soulspazm and Foundation Media, as we have on most of our releases is just great since they really understand our music and do a great job working it. Besides the guys running these companies have become friends over the years. One major benefit is that they have a huge network within the industry and are always helpful with their connection when needed.
Are there any artists would you like to work with you haven’t had a chance to do with yet?
JR: Sure. I mean there are so many great artists out there that would be interesting to work with. For instance, I would love to hear Pharoahe Monch on one of our tracks. But honestly at this point we are not trying to chase anybody for anything. Either something happens naturally or it doesn’t. Also, right now somehow for me it’s more interesting to work with hungry up and comers than with already established artists.
PH7: Like JR said, there are so many great artists out there that’s why there will be always many I want to work with.
What can we expect from “The South Sac Mack” with Chuuwee?
JR: To me this is just a really nice concept album. Chuuwee has always been a dope emcee but I think lyrically he really took it to another level on this one. The whole creative process was really organic and felt natural. We just tried to produce an album that with beats that we think Chuuwee would sound great on and he came up with the whole story about him growing up in South Sacramento which really tied the album together.
PH7: Overall I think the album has a nice, relaxed West Coast kind of feel, definitely the right type of music to bump in spring time. Shout-out to Below System from the Netherlands, the label that will put this out!
Outside of the Chuuwee collab project, what are some of your upcoming releases or placements we should keep an eye out for?
JR: Right now it’s all about the South Sac Mack which drops March 24th. We still have a few videos to come out and we just want to take this record as far as possible.
PH7: Other than that we have an EP called “Noir” which will be next up, probably around summertime. Plus we are also working on a joint project with our homies St. Joe Louis from New Jersey.
Goals for 2015:
JR: One of my goals for 2015 is finding more time for music in my life and making sure our upcoming projects get completed. Other than that I hope we get the opportunity to do some shows with Chuuwee over here and to also come out to the US again for a week or so.
Thank You for Your Time. Do you have anything else on your mind you would like to say?
PH7: Thanks to everybody who ever supported our music, it’s not taken for granted. With so much music out there we truly appreciate if you choose to listen and support what we do. Get in touch and let us know what you think!