It's hard to interview seasoned hip-hop producers - they tend to act like making a club banger is as easy as turning on the sampler. So when we went searching for hip-hop production tips for our Music Technology issue, we decided to ask artists for whom the struggle was fresh in their mind. Here we introduce you to five young producers from around the US - all of whom have just released new albums - and deliver you their advise for making beats that don't suck.


Famed tattoo artist-cum-beatsmith Carlos Ransom (a.k.a Sleeper) descries his music as "creepy… and nerdy." Mixing turntablism with sounds culled from his collection of homemade circuit-bent toys, he creates an eerie, crunchy, IDM-meets-hip-hop horror backdrop for stream-of-consciousness rap from partner-in-crime iD. Ransom also records solo as MadAwkward, owns the Ransom Notes label and has a throaty laugh.

Location: Lawrence, Kansas

Gear: A Dr. Sample, an MPC2000, turntables, an SP-12. A computer and lots of circuit-bent keyboards and toys that makes himself.

Most unusual thing in his studio: A nice purple lamp from the '50s.

Working on: Another album with iD where every sample is taken from his circuit-bent gear.

What album made you want to produce hip-hop?

Probably Dr. Octagon, but I always liked Public Enemy's albums because they had that rock edge to them.

What's the most innovative hip-hop track you've heard recently?

"11th Ave. Freakout Pt. 2" on Odd Nosdam's 'Burner' with Mike Patton and why?. I've always loved Odd Nosdam and the drums are great. It wouldn't sound good with somebody rapping over it but it fits perfectly with the vocals it has.

What's the best thing going on in hip-hop right now?

Honestly. I don't listen to a whole lot of hip-hop. I'm really into circuit-bending stuff and I'm really into doom metal and stoner rock right now.

How did you get into circuit bending?

I heard one of this guy Waterhead's CDs; he runs a website called www.bentinstruments.com. I started talking to him online and he gave me a couple tips; then I started finding stuff at flea markets and thrift stores. I get a keyboard and bend it and keep it if I really like it; otherwise I'll sample all the sounds and then sell it to a friend.


Mush Records