Bronx, New York’s own Produkt is more than just a product of his environment. The highly respected underground rapper, songwriter, businessman has knocked down walls to steadily build his legacy. Breaking through into the industry in 2011, it was in 2014 that he made his official mark with hit singles “Hold It Down” and “Freak Affair”. Setting records, Produkt caught the attention of prominent industry heads, grossing over 1M YouTube views, receiving 11K plays a day, to later becoming nominated for 10-single Underground Music Awards – a single-year max achievement, winning three of the ten for “Hold It Down”, not to mention, charting on the Billboard Hot Single Sales (#9).
Authentically constructing his brand & his indie label X Records, Produkt reached even more feats in 2015 after becoming the fastest artist to breach the LiveMixtapes top 50 most streamed Indy mixtapes with over 308,000 streams, surpassing the debut project’s of Hip Hop notables by the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Logic, Kevin Gates, and many more. The quiet rumbles of the storm generally lead to the biggest clash, a tornado, a massive lightning monsoon; one to leave a stain, an aftermath of remembrance and revelation.
Involved in the notorious street lifestyle of New York City, Produkt saw the necessity of his reality being shifted after the birth of his daughter, taking on music full time. With much of his influence coming from the late Big Pun, the Hispanic rapper has since received rave reviews from publications like World Star Hip Hop, Yo! Raps, Hip Hop Lead, The Hip Hop Times, & more.
Growing up in the Castle Hill area of his borough, the 80s baby with the ‘deep soul’ discovered music at 11 years old, raised in a Puerto Rican household, his mother would play all the classics; music, always blaring throughout his home, from Michael Jackson, to Celine Dion, to everything, the Beatles, it was very much an influence to whom he is today.
Hanging #InTheStu with Produkt, we learned much about the man behind the music, the views and the plays.
“I was involved with Chorus when I was in Junior High School; if y’all know of anybody from the Soundview Area, I.S. 131 Talent Contests at the end of the year’s was lit, craziness – if you ever been to them sh–‘s!
Music has always played a big part of the thread in who and what I am.
It’s something I took to immediately.”
Two years since dropping his last mixtape in.con.SPIC.u.ous (June 2015), Produkt had undergone an interesting couple of years. But, in between it all, the music has never stopped. Reminiscent of the voice in Hip Hop that has been somewhat dormant in a millennial era of mumble rap & flagrant duplicators, his cadence which brings listeners that real thought-provoking substance-filled material is what keeps his engine going. Leading up to the drop of his latest EP Change of Frequency, Produkt has kept the work coming. “I’ve been putting out singles; I dropped “New York Summers”, I dropped “Feathers”, “Greatest Story Ever Told”, I dropped a lot of music videos- a lot of visual content.” And after overcoming some personal health issues, Produkt is back, in his newly made lab, and says he just getting started.
“You know, once you got the tools, you can start the craft.”
In adjacent to making the music and its wonders, Produkt also runs the show, developing his indie record label Legacy Records back in 2006, to the new incorporated label X Records, the importance to stay independent was a valiant one.
“You know what it is, honestly, it’s like this: at the end of the day I love to write music, but this is a business like anything else and I’m good at business. I got a mind for this sh–, I got a knack for this sh–. And that’s just kind of how I operate with it.
But ultimately, it was control. You know, it was being in charge of my marketing, being in charge of my royalties and what I create, and how & where it’s distributed. It’s got to make sense. And I believe that if you put it out, you’ll get it back. So, it’s just a constant grind of building & building, and growing & growing.
I keep the same people around me since I was a little kid, and they still around me, getting in where they fit it in; this is what we are doing. So, indie was important for me to maintain. Don’t get me wrong, again, I’m a businessman; if something presented itself where it made sense for me to proceed, we’re always looking forward to strategic partnerships, things like that. But you know, it’ just how we move; and it’s working.”
With the people incessantly gravitating to the music, everything else is sure to follow once that shift happens on a bigger scale. Like any form of grinding, a true hustler knows his product and its worth. Nothing rushed nor overly-cooked can ever be of any good. “I never expected to happen overnight, like I said, I’ve been writing music since I was 11 year’s old; and this is just a grind I continue to do.” The understanding of his position in the industry comes from that panorama, and his lens are explicitly clear.
Excited for what’s to come, Produkt discusses his latest project Change of Frequency, which dropped in August and the differences encountered when compared to his prior heater in.con.spic u.ous.
“You know what, I love them both equally. What you got to understand is, with this sh–(Change of Frequency) compared to in.con.SPIC.u.ous, it was like a block of time of my life. It was what I was going through, and those blocks of time are frozen in those projects for me. So, Change of Frequency is this block of time that I’m never going to forget. In the past 5 years of my life, everything has changed.
This take, with Change of Frequency is ‘change that channel’.
From traveling, having the opportunity to go out to California and work in Cali, to just being out there and be able to shoot out there. You know, I direct all of my projects; I work in conjunction with a lot of production teams, but I’m very hands-on with every bit of what I’m doing.”
And because most deep souls go far into their cognitive and memory for particular material to be noted and played over melodies, the creative process is always going to be an experience for a guy like Produkt. Unless we’re gabbing of a kind of music that doesn’t require any real logic, you cannot be speaking about Produkt.
“You got to live life in order to write about life. You’re not going to be attached to it unless it’s something that is really personal, so what I always try to do is, I try to be honest whenever I’m in here (the studio) and I’m vibing. I’m just true to myself and what’s going on. I kind of grab anything and anything of what’s around me and I try to put it into this (the music). And this is the gumbo of what I’m saying – my perspective.
I just made music freely, like f— it. This is what’s inside of me; this is what I’m going to put out.”
Opposite of what the latter of many emerging artists are about today, busy trying to sound like someone that has already made it, lying about their way of life to sell records, the persona of a true artist is one to be deciphered. One who has lived a significant life, survived strife and was able to make paramount shifts, gone through the ringer, but still can come with something fresher regardless of the times. Although, it can be honed and mirrored, in it’s most organic state, it’s a gift.
“At the end of the day, I respect this as a business, but the creative process and delivering music is always why I do this.
I just really try to work with different people; I write majority of everything, but every single word, every hook, every thing is a collaboration; my hands are never off, I don’t believe in working like that, from every aspect of it. Writing, recording, mixing and mastering is all in-house. Not only do I take the writing process serious and try to push myself, I take the next process more serious, you know. It’s a technical aspect to this sh–, especially with kids throwing out music 100 miles an hour that sound like sh– but it’s blowing up. So it’s important for my sh– to bang, and when you hear me, you hear me!
I’m fighting through all that noise.”
Something nostalgic, a special feeling. Almost like going back to school, but this time to the school of real Hip Hop. Through the fuzz and the little high moments, the idea is to give you something that you can learn from; whether it’s the process, or failures – let’s be better.
“I’m going to be here to push culture in someway, in my way, no matter what.”
A declaration only a few can make.
Change the Channel.
Change of Frequency OUT NOW.