Hot 97 MIX-Clusive: 'Pretty Flacko II' Producers Nez & Rio Look To Make 2015 The Year Of The 'Slam!'
Hailing from Chicago, Illinois, Nez and Rio has made an impact in the music game in the past year with beats on some hit singles such as Schoolboy Q's "Man of the Year," and recently A$AP Rocky's "Pretty Flacko Jodye II."
The two are looking to have a big year this year, as they build off Schoolboy Q's Grammy nomination for Oxymoron, and try to bring "Slam" culture into the mainstream in 2015.
During our conversation, we spoke about everything from their experience producing for Kendrick Lamar, and Schoolboy Q, to hoping one day to collaborate with Madonna.
They are also looking to step from behind the scenes, to turn into their own artists this year, with Adult Audio due sometime this year.
They came to visit Hot 97, to turn up the "Slam" as they introduce the world who they are.
Hot 97: For those who don’t know you yet who is Nez & Rio:
Nez & Rio: Super dope, Super talented. Super cool. Super wavy. Turn up team for sure. Great music, a lot of fun, good energy. Good vibes
Name some people you have worked with in the past:
Chance The Rapper, King Louie, Schoolboy Q, Tinashe, A$AP Rocky, Ab Soul.
Work with Kendrick [Lamar] at all?
In the studio. Those songs haven’t come out. They’re tucked in the vault.
Do you think any of the tracks will make it on his next album?
We don’t really know yet. We’ve heard a little bit, worked with him in the studio, but as much as what’s going to be on the album its hard to really say.
Have you heard any of Kendricks album yet?
Very small fragments.
Can you tell us anything about it?
Super dope…SUPER dope. I wouldn’t count him out for a second. He’s dope.
What do you think about his first single “I”?
I think it was dope because Kendrick is an artist that doesn’t necessarily go for what is expected, as opposed to what he feels he should put out creatively. So he doesn’t feel he should forfeit his own creative integrity to appease society. I think it was dope. I think the single grew on a lot of people too. At first it was a little bit of “what is this?” but then after you sit down and listen to it, it’s like it’s dope.
So you guys are originally from Chicago?
What do you think about the Chicago scene right now?
It’s great. People are coming together. It’s cool because at this stage the nation and parts of this world are really getting a chance to see what Chicago has to offer as a whole.
Previous to this period, we’ve had very niche views of what Chicago stands for. It might have been like a Common or a Kanye. Or like a Twista, which are probably artists that are very specific to their neighborhood, or just kind of like a freak of nature. There’s just not a lot of people like Kanye in the world, you can’t really say he’s just like everybody in Chicago. So now you’re really getting a taste of what the rest of this city has to offer.
Do you think in some ways people look at Kanye too much as a symbol of the Chicago scene?
We’re right smack in the middle of the country, so we take influences from everything musically. We listen to New York music, LA music, Miami music, Atlanta music, we’re just listening to everything. I just think it comes from being right in the center of what’s going on.
Other than artists such as Chief Keef and King Louie which have already had their shine, who do you see from Chicago that has not gotten their shine yet?
Good question. Dreezy is a good artist that can really do some damage. She’s a really dope artist.
For sure Tink. That’s a great one too.
Mick Jenkins is another rapper on the come up. There’s so much talent honestly in Chicago.
And even artists like Chance the rapper. He’s a dope artist because he’s not signed to a major, so he hasn’t had that super radio appeal yet. So he’s one of those artists that is yet to be a household name, but his famous is blowing up everyday.
How were your sessions built around an artist like Chance the Rapper?
It’s pretty natural and organic. Chance is like our bro.
Just hanging out and kicking it. We worked with him a lot in the earlier part of his career and it was just like the little homie coming through and making some music.
We go from artists such as Chance the Rapper, King Louie, Chance the Rapper to somebody else you wanted to work with, which is Madonna. What intrigues you about working with her? What did you think about her collaboration with Nas?
I think it was dope. Madonna is always somebody who is tune with what’s going on, she always has her finger on the pulse as far as culture over the years. The collaboration with Nas, and I heard the one with Chance the Rapper the other day is super dope.
If you had to give one track to Madonna for a single what do you think it would sound like?
Some fresh shit. Some high energy shit.
With so much influence on the album how did It feel when you heard the Schoolboy Q’s album was nominated for a Grammy?
First think I thought was damn, I gotta f*** some bi***es. (Laughs). Nah the second thought was that I was very appreciative. It’s super exciting. For your first huge placements to be Grammy nominated it means a lot. It means you’re doing something right.
I think all three of us are focused on his next project and how to turn up even more.
So what’s the Slam House?
It’s a cool, nice, huge house in L.A. We call it the Slam House because that’s where we make our slam. And that’s where we incorporate the slam lifestyle. This is not for the kids, but you know a lot of drugs, a lot of women, a lot of pornography, a lot of stripping. A lot of adult activity, but it’s all positive vibes.
So it’s all under the Slam tent. It’s the music first. Then it’s the bitches, then it’s the bitches, then it’s the music, then it’s the bitches. Then it’s the music, then it’s the bitches again.
The sample of Schoolboy Q’s Man of the Year is probably one of the sickest sample of last year. One was one of the craziest sample you guys have flipped?
I don’t know man that’s a toughie. As a producer man, you listen to everything. The amount of sample we go through is so ridiculous, whether it’s a drum sample or some ridiculous chant, or something crazy.
As a producer, the newest shit is like your favorite shit. If you ask us what our best stuff is we’re always going to say the one we made yesterday because of that.
Pretty Flacko 2 has New York buzzing right now. What was the process behind making that track?
We were about to go out to go to a club. It makes sense if you think about. The mood you’re about to get when you go to the club and do something crazy.
Nez and I were in the house, shots going back and forth, halfway drunk. Just making a crazy beat. We know each other really well. I added to it, flipped it from there, and it just became crazy from there. It was a monster on its own. From the very beginning we knew we had a beat that was a big record.
Should we expect more beats with that kind of energy in the future?
For us, it’s still art. So we’re not trying to attack it with a specific style in mind. We just want to make great music. As long as it’s something we’ll be proud of, you know?
With someone like DJ Mustard who took his style and made it one of the most popular sounds today, do you guys see yourselves travelling towards that lane as well?
That money lane? Hell yeah! As far as bigger records, we’re always trying to make bigger records.
One of the coolest parts of your story is that you grew up together, and are like brothers. How does that chemistry translate into the studio?
We don’t really talk much. It’s one of those scenarios, that if you watch us make a beat you wont have to mic us because we don’t talk very much.
During the Pretty Flacko beat he had headphones on the whole time and I knew he had something dope. It’s like when one of us starts up something kind of dope, you want to hear it. Then its like a ping-pong kind of process until the beat is done.
You guys are trying to step out as artists too. How does your sound change as artists than when you’re producers?
As producers its your job to make the artist sound as dope as possible. When your producing yourself your job is to make yourself sound as dope as possible, But you have to keep in mind that as an artist your job is to pinpoint what your trying to make, and have an aim. For us as artists we have to pick a lane. It’s pretty challenging just because you balance between both jobs when working on your project.
It’s a much more difficult job than I think either of two. For our project is knowing hat you want to make and then figuring out the best way to make it hot.
And 100% completely not give a fuck. I think that’s the best thing about us. Because we can do our producer thing sometimes as producer you might have to challenge a different energy for somebody. Even though we still make music freely, its just different.
As artists I think our whole objective is to do completely what we feel, and what you want to listen to.
What is missing in the game right now that you want to bring to the table?
New Millennium, New Age, Porno music.
It’s difficult for words because its not out there. It’s not a lot you can compare it too. It’s pulling from a lot of different elements, its probably still hip-hop based. But its about blurring those lines of what people in hip hop are listening to, in, pop, or rock that people are listening to and making something dope that people haven’t really seen before.
You guys have continued working regular jobs at retail stores throughout this journey although you had just worked with a Grammy nominating artist. Is there any advice for all of thse up and coming producers and artists who think you can just come into this game and live the good life and get all of this money?
You got to work hard man. It’s really about working hard until the end for real for real. For us, when you talk about a Grammy nomination or a couple songs on radio it’s really about doing more after that point. Our conversation after that was ‘alright now the real work begins.’
If you work hard and you’re talented then everything will come together.
Biggest thing I think I learned from this whole shit is that it’s a marathon and not a sprint.