Rsonist Breaks Down The Reggae Roots Of The Heatmakerz’ Crack Music
Gregory Green aka Rsonist was born in Mandeville, Jamaica and moved to NYC as a youth. He was fascinated by music all his life, and grew up to establish The Heatmakerz production team in the early 2000s. They made their name working with Cam’Ron and The Diplomats, as well as other big name rappers like Lil Wayne and Fat Joe. The Heatmakerz production style features lots of high-energy beats, sped-up soul loops, and reggae samples galore—a sound that came to be known as “Crack Music.” After shooting an episode of Rhythm Roulette for our peoples at Mass Appeal, Rsonist spoke with Boomshots and broke down the inspiration behind some of his best-known reggae flips. Interview After The Jump & Countdown Above In The Gallery
BOOMSHOTS: We all know you’ve flipped a lot of reggae records. Let’s talk about your Jamaican background. You grew up in Jamaica or New York?
Rsonist: I grew up in New York. I was born in Jamaica. I stayed there till I was six and then I came here.
Were you born in Kingston?
No, no. Mandeville.
Was reggae around you all the time growing up?
Yeah. I didn’t start listening to rap music until junior high school. I didn’t even know anything about rap until junior high school. I’m really not one of those producers who have a long, extensive knowledge of the history of hip hop. I know more about reggae music because growing up Sunday morning or Saturday morning, my mother’s playing Beres or Garnet Silk or whoever was out at the time. Or from her time it was Bob Marley or if it was Peter Tosh, it was some form of reggae when she was cleaning. Because that’s what i grew up listening to. Even when I started making beats, even though I was familiar with hip-hop, a lot of my drum programming sounded like reggae cause that’s what I grew up listening to.
Were your partners at the time also from a Caribbean background?
Yeah, one of my partners was from Trinidad. My partner Thrilla at the time, he was from Trinidad. So we both had Caribbean backgrounds. And we were influenced by a lot of things that was going on in the reggae community, because we listening to do half hip-hop, half reggae. Like even to this day, in my CD changer in my car, it’s a 6 CD changer and I have three hip-hop albums and three reggae albums.
That’s why you would sample a tune like Ken Boothe “Is It Because I’m Black.”
Exactly, cause I just remember some of the hits in reggae. A lot of older school records had good hits in them. I just remember a lot of Leroy Smart records and stuff of that nature. I don’t know, I think I gravitate faster toward reggae music than I do hip hop. It’s more familiar to me. And even though I’m 37 now—it might sound weird, but reggae music is more familiar to me.
Because you grew up with it. But how was someone like Lil Flip when you suggest “Let’s rap over some reggae beats”?
Well, he actually picked that beat. We played him a bunch of stuff… That might have been like the second or third beat I played him, and he was like “I need that.” I don’t even think he made the correlation. He knew it was reggae but I don’t think he cared where it came from. It was almost the same thing with Dipset. When we did “Dipset Anthem” they didn’t know who that was at the time. They were just kinda like, “I need that.” They just felt that shit.
I notice you never gave Lil Wayne a reggae beat. Weezy fucks with reggae.
I don’t think we ever gave him one. I know if we gave him one, it would definitely be on fire. We did a joint for Khaled, about two years ago, called “Gangsta.” That was Vado, Mavado, and Ace Hood. It was a Terror Fabulous sample that we used in there. Khaled would appreciate that cause he has a heavy reggae background.
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