Today anybody with a computer and Fruity Loops can call themselves a producer it seems. Anybody who knows music however knows thereís a lot more to it. Midi Mafia, made up of Dirty Swift and Bruce Waynne are the personification of that. Put on the map by the number one single they produced for 50 Cent, '21 Questions', Midi Mafia has consistently been dropping hits ever since.
From R&B to hip-hop they do it all and have garnered hit records with artists such as Fantasia, The Bravehearts, NORE, G-Unit, Talib Kweli, Jean Grae, Miri Ben-Ari, Young Buck, Nelly, Mack 10, and thatís just to name a few.
Besides providing hit singles for already established artists, Midi Mafia through their Family Ties imprint are busy developing their own artists. Midi Mafia are definitely ones to watch for as they canít go anywhere but up. Sixshot.com caught up with the production duo to discuss meeting Quincy Jones, producing for 50 Cent, and what we can expect to see from them in the future.
You guys produced ď21 QuestionsĒ off of 50 Centís Get Rich Or Die Tryiní album which was a huge hit. Would you say that song kind of put you on the map?
Swift: I mean that was the first we did together as
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G>Midi Mafia and I would say it was a great start for us. It was number one for like 7 weeks I think. What that did for us really was connected a lot of dots. We had been hustling for years on our own but when we came together and pooled our resources that was when '21 Questions' came about. People were able to see that Midi Mafia was official. We took off from that point and we got our label deal and everything like that.
Bruce: Everything that he said.
Fantasiaís joint was also hot. Did you guys think it was going to blow up the way it did?
Bruce: Honestly I knew it was a hit from day one. When you have the right artist and the right song itís like magic and something just happens. Fantasia is the type of person that if sheís feeling a record she plays it over and over and over and over. (Laughs) We knew that if it connected with her like that then it would connect with other people.
Youíre real diverse. You do hip-hop and R&B and have a very unique sound. Is there one that you prefer?
Bruce: We just love music man and we donít dissect it like everybody else does. Swift might do something then I might have written something that goes with it. It happens real naturally for us. It just comes together. We make good music for the right artists and we just try and keep it real simple.
Does each of you bring something different to the table in terms of the creative process?
Swift: Definitely and I would say thatís why it works. I never really wanted a partner but things happen for a reason. Bruce and me do the same things but differently. He does a lot more songwriting. I do a lot of mixing and engineering. He might do something and then bring it to me to mix down. I like to say that he starts it and I finish it. Weíre definitely both capable but we each have our own strengths.
Music is down across the board. Are you guys feeling the slump financially?
Swift: People are buying more music than ever but theyíre just doing it in different ways. Theyíre buying ringtones and stuff. For 50 years the music business has been designed to sell a physical product but that doesnít work anymore. Now you just download it so itís like itís coming out of thin air. The days of big budgets and producers getting paid up front and million-dollar deal are pretty much going down at this point. There are new opportunities out there and you just have to capitalize off of them. I feel a hit to the bottom line but I feel that there is always a place for a hit record and we just have to find a way to get compensated for that. There are new ways to make dough.
What does Midi Mafia look for in an artist they want to sign one?
Bruce: I think we just look for somebody who has it all. Itís not about having one hit record anymore. Itís a lifestyle, a brand, and you need to be able to sell yourself so people will want to be you. The internet is important so if you have an amazing online presence itís like you won half the battle. Thatís just the way the business is going right now. Labels are giving out 360 deals right now where they are able to generate money off of the artists touring and merchandising as well as music sales. Itís all about the brand and you have to be able to sell that.
Do you feel like there are a lot of artists like that out there?
Bruce: Honestly, no but we have faith.
Swift: The internet is so big now that there is so much more stuff to look through before you find what youíre actually looking for so itís harder.
Bruce: Lil Wayne is a perfect example. People always thought he was dope or whatever but now heís a brand. Heís selling a brand and all the work heís put in shows. People know that if you buy his album youíre gonna get some good shit because he has a track record. If you have a hit record people might download the record but they might not buy the album. You have to give music away and promote yourself and really get out there.
Is there anybody you guys want to work with that you havenít yet?
Swift: Jay-Z, we always say Jay and Snoop. Bruce werenít you with Quincy Jones a couple of nights ago?
Bruce: I was with Quincy Jones man! It was amazing! I was hoping we could work together and bring Michael Jackson back. We have a knack for developing talent and a lot of people are saying rap is dead but itís just different from how it was. I think the work ethic is more visual now, which is real important because people can see what youíre putting into an album. If youíre lazy people are going to wondering why they should give you their money?
Speaking of artist development how do you guys go about developing an artist?
Bruce: Letís take our artist Shire for example who we have a deal with over at SRC. Itís just bare bones and talent. She has just an incredible voice. As far as substance goes, she has a lot. She was in a group formed by Sisqo called LuvHer and she was the lead singer. She had a deal then lost it and sheís made a lot of mistakes. This is her second go round and sheís still young enough to make it happen but sheís coming at it like a vet. She has what it takes so we just assess the situation. For example she doesnít have a presence online so she needs to get more visual and get her name out there.
Thatís how were going to develop her. If we meet a rapper who has no experience but has a sick flow we would just keep him in the studio recording and getting his chops up. Itís really on a case-by-case basis. We donít follower the cookie cutter way of doing things.
As far as producers go, who are some that Midi Mafia is feeling?
Bruce: Timbaland, Kanye but Kanye has kind of transitioned into just being Kanye. Heís not really even producing for anybody else right now; heís just doing him. Dre is always amazing. We respect guys that were always able to reinvent themselves and have longevity. Even Swizz, we love Swizz man. Heís done Ruff Ryder and made a lot of hits. Quincy Jones too, those are the guys we blueprint ourselves after.
Swift: The word producer is kind of diluted at this point. Making a beat on Fruity Loops and walking way isnít producing, itís programming. Producing is finding the music, the artist, the studio, setting up what time everybody is coming in, mixing, guiding the music, etc. Thereís a lot that goes into it. A producer develops talent and puts it out.
A lot of producers nowadays love the limelight. You guys seem to stay out of that, is that intentional?
Bruce: Real talk, we wanna do that because we wanna be artists in our own right. We donít want to do it so people can put a face with the music because weíre a brand ourselves. Weíve been nominated for a Grammy and an ASCAP award so itís natural for you to see us in a video. We donít believe in shameless promotion but we do believe in building our brand.
Alright guys, what do you have coming up that we can check for?
Swift: Weíre been working very close with Fantasia on this new album. It looks like weíll be doing the majority of it. Weíre doing some stuff with Brandy, G.Malone, Christina Milian, weíre wrapping up Shireís album, and weíre working with Elliot Yamin from American Idol as well. Everybody can check us out at www.themidimafia.com. Weíre also on myspace at www.myspace.com/midimafia.
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