A game-changing song requires game-changing production, and that’s exactly what CES Cru got from producer Leonard Dstroy for “Sound Bite”, the lead single from CES Cru’s upcoming Codename: Ego Stripper.
With its pulsating bass, inventive drum programming and atmospheric sonar accents, “Sound Bite” pushes the envelope and combines creativity and groove to form one of hip hop’s best productions in 2014.
We decided to talk to one of the emcees who spit on the track (the U-B-I) and one of Leonard Dstroy’s most esteemed peers (he goes by the name of Seven, you might have heard of him) to get their perspective on Dstroy’s incredible contribution to Codename: Ego Stripper.
From a producer’s standpoint, what are some things to admire and respect about this production?
It’s a Lenny D beat. Lenny D is one of the few producers that I work with and around that I really respect on that level. He’s really, really, really good. I listen to his shit and get inspired. He’s just such a different producer than me, but I love it. He’s so good. If you’re familiar with Lenny D beats like I am from the shit that he’s done with CES Cru in the past, the shit he’s done with Mac Lethal then you can hear that beat and that’s a Lenny D beat. That’s what he does. There’s certain ways that he uses effects within a track and things have a certain kind of swing. The way that that echo is slightly out of time and nothing’s quantized. That’s all him.
I really admire the track because I think that kind of sound is an important part of what CES Cru is. You’re gettin an authentic, true CES Cru track with that song. It really fits the album and it’s super unique at the same time. It fits, but it’s just so different. It’s one of those tracks that there’s enough room where Ubi and Godemis can really go in on it. There’s so much space for them to breathe and everything. You can get super bar for bar on that shit. That’s what they did. It just sounds like an authentic Lenny D/CES Cru track and we have to have one of those on the album. It’d be incomplete without it.
As far as the instrumental aspects of the recording go, what do you like about it?
I love that he can do something that I normally have a problem with doing, which is making something that’s simple but still sounds complete. I always get too hung up all the time on making things too…like too much. But the thing about Lenny D is that he understands textures. Not a lot of producers really understand textures. I’m like a texture producer so if you listen to my shit, if you really listen you can hear all the textures. You could take away the drums and some of the melodic stuff and it would sound like an atmospheric crazy movie soundtrack or whatever. Lenny D understands that. He understands the textures. He understands the little blips and sound effects and the way things can be placed in between a kick and a snare, off beat, and it creates this rhythm. He understands that things don’t need to be quantized and shouldn’t be quantized in order to make it move in a certain way. He did it with that track in a minimal way and it sounds complete. He killed it. He did what I can’t do.
What was the first thing you felt when you heard this beat?
Dstroy kicked me the beat. He was like “Here, check this out,” and he put that shit on and as soon as he put it on I was like “Wowww.” When I met with Dstroy I met with him by myself so I took that beat back to Godemis and was like “Bro, check this out,” and put it on like “This shit’s crazy,” or whatever. Of course he vibed with it too and then we kind of wrote in separation immediately. Not in that moment but like the next day we had some writing to share with each other. We kind of wrote blind. He wrote what he wrote and I wrote what I wrote and we each had a verse. We’re like “Oh okay, this is kind of dope. This is where I was going, this is where you were going.” Once we just had those verses we were like “Damn, what if we did this?” and we started to figure out this way to weave it together and how we were going to play off each other and kind of get involved in each other’s verses. From there the rest wrote itself. We had a lot of fun with it. I think part of the fun of “Sound Bite” is that we were finding a new format to rap to. Sort of a unwritten and unpredictable format. Very unorthodox. No chorus. Short exchanges but long verses still. It’s different.
There’s certain change ups in the beat too that you guys tailored the flows to as well.
Songs happen in a lot of different ways but on this particular song Lenny had the beat structured in some type of way and rather than trying to mess with that structure and bend it to us we bent to his structure. We wrote to his beat structure and we didn’t want to change the beat at all. If the beats going (imitates deep drum pattern) I made my flow bounce on that shit “Came in the game with cosignage, game Kobe Bryant” and accenting those beats. It’s fun like that.
What do you think about Lenny D as a producer?
Phenomenal man. He produced our classic The Playground a lot of people – and I take this with a grain of salt and as a compliment more than anything – but a lot of people tell me that that’s our best album. That was made five years ago so he’s a crazy producer that’s giving everybody a run for their money. If anybody had the time that I have had to sit in Lenny D’s laboratory and listen to the whole wealth of shit that he makes beyond beats that CES Cru raps to you would have your jaw on the floor. This guy makes so many different genres of music. He’s got his hand in all kinds of different projects, working with live musicians and bands and instruments and reggae bands with all kinds of people all across the world. Trap DJs. He’s got so many groups that he’s in. Deep Thinkers, CES Cru, Innate Sounds Crew and a couple of guys like Reggie B making R&B music. His Lenny Slitz series he made with Kutty Slitz is super dope. He’s made music with Stik Figa. He makes music with all kinds of people man. He’s just a very, very talented and seasoned producer. I love working with him.
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What do you think of the beat on Sound Bite?
What’s your favorite Lenny D production?