With Kanye West and Just Blaze, Virginia producer Bink! formed the Holy Trinity of the Roc-A-Fella sound in the early 2000's. Strangely, neither his crispy drums, nor his sense of empty spaces made him as successful as his peers. He explains why in this in-depth interview - guess a certain super-producer won't be too pleased to read it...
Abcdr du Son: How can you introduce yourself to the readers who might don’t know you?
Bink!: I guess you can call me, one of Virginia’s finest. I’m Bink!. Known for most of my work on the Roc-A-Fella with Jay and with Mr Cheeks. I’ve started in 93 with Teddy Riley. I guess I’m an OG now. I’ve been doing this thing since 16 years. I feel old.
A: What was your musical education growing up?
B: Oh man, you know, the transition from Church to the streets. I started playing drums in Church from 8 years old to 14 years old. Then I thought that I was too cool to go to church. Through the course of the year in high school, I always had a little drum machine and I started to make that transition from just doing it as a hobby to really liking it. So I really started to make music after I graduated from High School.
A: What made you want to be a producer instead of a rapper or a deejay?
B: I mean, actually, I used to rhyme back in the day. I was a die-hard hip-hop fan since the early 80’s. From me playing drums in church, I used to get paid every Sunday and the first record I bought was Run DMC’s '30 Days'. Every since then I had love for the whole culture of it. Friends of mine and myself used to have a break-dance crew and we went from the break-dance crew to the rap crew, doing the beats and doing the cypher on the corner. I really lived it.
A: Do you still have some tapes where you are spitting on them?
B: Nah…you know what? I used to do some mixtapes back in the days and I rhymed on the intro of them or stuff like that. That’s how I really built my name in Virginia. We were just selling mixtapes back in the day.
A: How was the Virginia scene back then?
B: Some people call Virginia “Little New York” because of when the whole crack/drugs thing came in to play, a whole lot of people from New York migrated down here plus Virginia is a real military place so we have people from all over the place. There were a lot of New York cats who came through there. And fortunately, a cousin of mine who is from Brooklyn, his name is Dion, he would bring me Chuck Chillout and Red Alert’s tapes because he used to spend every summer at my godmother’s house. I was just sitting and listen to them for hours. Every place you go, everybody got their own classics. I used to learn about a lot of artists they didn’t play in Virginia just because of the demographic of it. New York is where it started so you had a lot of exclusive underground hip-hop that I was exposed to early.
A: Who were some of your earliest influences on the production tip?
B: Rick Rubin, Teddy Riley, Buckwild, Pete Rock, Lord Finesse, NoID, Dre and a lot more. My favourite was Tribe Called Quest. I was a die-hard Tribe Called Quest fan. Ali Shaheed and Q-Tip, I still love their productions until this day. I learned a lot from those cats.
A: Is there someone in Virginia who inspired you back then?
B: Yeah, because actually Missy Elliott and Timbaland were two of the first to really make it on to the music scene from Virginia. It was definitely inspiring to see them do their thing with Jodeci back in the days. Watching their growth gave me a lot of hope to pursue my dreams as well.
A: You said earlier that you were working with Teddy Riley right?
B: Yeah! The first record I’ve ever done in the music business was 'Don’t Leave' by Blackstreet in 93.
A: How did you hook up with him?
B: Teddy Riley had a studio on Virginia Beach. I was in a barbershop called Triple Play. He was getting a haircut and I was in the studio upstairs from the Barbershop. I just happened to be upstairs banging out one day and he heard me. He came upstairs and he asked me to play him a bunch of beats. I played that 'Don’t Leave' beat and the rest is history.
A: What have you learned working with him?
B: He’s a perfectionist and one of the most talented producers I’ve ever witnessed or known in my life. He’s like a keyboard-god. A lot of people don’t know the stuff he did earlier in hip hop: Doug E Fresh’s 'The Show' or Heavy D. A lot of stuff he did was just epic and big. His mixing skills are just incredible.
A: Is this because he was “the keyboard-god” that you have decided to rely your work on sample?
B: No, no, no. Sample is just a part of the hip-hop culture. This is how it started. If you can play keyboard, that’s a beautiful situation, which Teddy could do, but I don’t play like him. So I was like the Lord Finesse type of guy, D.I.T.C., Buckwild and all those cats, just digging in the crates.