Two Beats on Three Albums: DJ Rek’s Strange Journey

Feb 8 2017

Unless your name is Seven, it’s very rare to have production credits on three different Strange Music albums, let alone consecutive Strange Music releases. Be it black magic or great beats — or maybe both? –California producer DJ Rek manged the feat.

After producing MURS’ “Colossus” which appeared on Tech N9ne’s The Storm,  and will appear on Murs’ Captain California, DJ Rek showed up again in the credits for Ces Cru’s Catastrophic Event Specialists, with”Rock Out.” If that wasn’t enough, “Rock Out” just so happened to host the one and only verse from Tech N9ne on Ces Cru’s entire album; that’s like putting a cherry on top of a sundae that already had two other cherries. To get an idea of how he managed three album placements, how “Colossus” and “Rock Out” came together, and what similarities they may have, we grabbed DJ Rek for an exclusive interview.

You produced “Colossus” and Ces Cru’s “Rock Out” off their upcoming album. Can you tell me how that came about? H Did those happen at the same time?

I’ve known MURS for a while. He had called when he and CES Cru were in L.A. and  working on a project. He wanted to get all the producers from my camp to come through and link up with them.

I was kinda familiar with CES Cru, but I wasn’t all-the-way familiar. So, the day before, I listened to a bunch of their records and I was a little stressed out, because I was like, “Damn, they really, really spit!” I was listening to the sound of their beats and I was like, “Man, I don’t even know if I got any records that they might like!” ’cause I do a lot more melodic stuff. So then I tried to create some stuff directly for them. That didn’t end up working and I didn’t get a chance to finish before I ended up having to go to the studio session, so I just came through with a folder full of beats.

Obviously, MURS was in there, and both Ubi and Godemis, were in the room. We were quick going through a bunch of beats. They liked pretty much every beat I played. They narrowed it down to 8 beats, then they narrowed it down to 4 beats. Then they took 4, and ended up actually recording to 2 of them. Int hat session, MURS   heard the beat for “Colossus” and asked me if I could e-mail that to him so I e-mailed it to him while I was in the session with all of them.

So you got two out of the way at once. That’s pretty dope!  When did you find out Tech was gonna be on “Rock Out”?

I didn’t find out until a couple days ago! [laughs] When the tracklist got posted.

What was your reaction to seeing that?

I was like, “Wow!” To me, that’s like the highest thing that could’ve possibly happened in the situation, besides the fact that I actually got records on their projects. There’s nothing else that could’ve happened [that would have been] greater than that – the fact that it’s their record and it actually has Tech on it.

You’ve worked with MURS before, but this was your first time working with CES Cru. What was it like collaborating with them?

Well, in the studio, it was a really good vibe. We were all just in there hanging out, having a good time, playing through beats. I mainly talked to Ubi on the phone the majority of the time, and he’s just like, all the way on point with the business. Every time I’ve called him, if I haven’t gotten him right on the phone right then, he hits me back pretty fast. We went back and forth about the two records for weeks trying to get them all the way right. The communication was open and everything was good, the whole process.

“Colossus” was on The Storm, so fans have heard it and know it well, but “Rock Out” has yet to be released. What can fans expect? Does “Rock Out” have a similar vibe and style?

No, it’s completely, completely different. The crazy thing is they actually named the song what I named the beat. When I saw the tracklisting, I already knew that had to be my record. Yeah, it’s been completely different kind-of vibe. It’s like a crazy-sounding, almost rock, heavy metal loop, like someone is going bananas on the drums. Then I used a distortion guitar and a guitar rig and made it sound real dark. It’s real dark and heavy drums and horns and stuff like that.

The life of a producer is so fascinating. You go from playing beats, hoping they’ll like one, to sending one to another artist which ends up on two different albums. Then you have to wait for the tracklist of the other album–the one you were aiming to get on in the first place–to see if you made it. Then you find out, not only did you make it, but Tech N9ne blessed the beat. If it makes your head spin as curious observer, just imagine being the producer!

Now that you know how it came about, be sure to pay close attention to “Rock Out” when Catastrophic Event Specialists drops this Friday. Not that Tech N9ne rocking out didn’t grab it already…