There are only a few producers in the hip-hop circuit that boast a vast and diverse resume as Virginia's very own Nottz. Having worked with acclaimed artists such as Dr. Dre, J Dilla, 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg, the renowned beatsmith can look back on a rich and successful career within one of the most difficult industries: the music business. However, this doesn't stop him bringing out new music in a regular level. With his recently released In My Mind EP and his Asher Roth-assisted Rawth project, Dominick Lamb is still as hungry and inspired as in the first day. While crafting some beats late at night for his upcoming project Rawth(er), which features with an extensive contribution by Travis Barker, we spoke to him about his work, ambition, friendship with Asher, J Dilla's advise to always remain loyal to your own sound, and much more.
It appears that being a nocturnal person is a somewhat mandatory characteristic for modern-day producers, as a lot of them seem to be most productive during their nighttime. Would you agree?
Most certainly. Obviously, it is the time of day where there are the least distractions. During daytime, there are usually other things going that keep your mind away from the music. Naturally, the nighttime is the time where I feel most relaxed and chilled and most capable to work on my music.
Agreed. What does your daily routine look like?
There is no strict routine as this business is a non-stop affair. I usually try to be at the studio around 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. and I stay there until 4 a.m. There's also a constant lack of sleep as it often happens that I don't get more than four hours of sleep. Never not working basically.
This 24/7 involvement is certainly noticeable through the constant flow of your releases. Back in June, you released the In My Mind EP, and now you are already back in the studio working on Rawth(er), the second installment of your collaborative project series with Asher Roth. How does the second part differ from the first installment?
This time around, the drums are a lot more energetic, making the overall atmosphere and tone of the record more transparent. I try to make this one a more rock project. Travis Barker played on the intro of my album, and the way he treated the drums is exactly the way I want them to be played on Rawth(er), trying to keep it in that lane. The sound is way more amped up, but it still sounds like me.
What made you produce a second Rawth project and where did this rock influence come from?
My manager first pitched the idea to me. When we dropped the first Rawth, we really missed out on the post-promotional side of things. We did not tour like we should have. But we realized that the people responded to that record in a major way, so we started playing with the idea of doing another one.
I'm a lover and connoisseur of music and I always wanted to experiment with various genres. So the first thing that came to mind was to ask Travis Barker, who I am good friends with, if he would like to be involved. He was down. So we banged out a few joints, send them to Travis, who put the drums on top, send them back to us, and we mixed it, making him contributing him to the entire project.
How did you guys meet each other initially?
We were supposed to work together on Game's "Dope Boys" record, but it never happened. One night, Asher [Roth], Blink-182 and Fall Out Boy had a show out in Virginia Beach. Asher hit me up, "Come, check out Travis and his drum solo." I was impressed by his set and wanted to work with him right away. I heard that he was also down to work on projects together. However, it wasn't until two months later when we actually first met. He hit me up when he had another show in Virginia. We clicked right away and decided to join forces. He's a really humble cat, a really good dude.
I'm really curious on what this clash of creative forces will actually sound like.
Oh man, you have no idea. You gon' see it.
Personally, the beat for Pusha's "Alone In Vegas," was one of my favorite instrumentals last year. The organs, the menacing tone along with the mafia theme, plus the video and all that was a great marriage.
You know what though? The record has never become as big as it was supposed to be man. MTV was set to premiere that record, but some lame got his hands on it and put it out. It messed up our relationship with MTV. But yea, it certainly was big record for me as well. I didn't use no sample, I played everything on that record. It was special too, so the whole drama around it really pissed me off.
With The Dark Knight Rises being in the cinema, and being some sort of conclusion to Chris Nolan's take on Batman, trilogies seem to be in high demand these days. In that respect, do you think we will see a third installment of Rawth?
I'm definitely down to do it. I'm positive that people want even more after hearing this record. So we should get the third one lined up real soon.
Any guest contributions on Rawth(er) lined up?
It's still in the process. But I'm trying to get Blink-182 for one joint. I've also talked to fun., who recently did this great record with Janelle Monáe. I am also reaching out to Tyler, the Creator. We are basically trying to branch out to a lot of folks, making it a bigger record than the previous.
What is your personal relationship with Asher Roth? He just renamed his upcoming album in respect to Frank Ocean's channel ORANGE. He seems to be a really considerate individual. What is the chemistry between you guys?
It is fun, we just be ourselves. There would be a lot of cats coming to me and they would have anything. And once they got a record deal, they would return with some shades on, popping champagne bottles in the club. And I would just be like, "Calm that down, man." And you know, Asher is always being Asher. He is the only one I know that can take off his shoes on the stage and still rock the show like it ain't a thing. (Laughs) He's that type of artist that can come straight out of the bed and immediately rock a show. Don't let his laid back appearance fool you. This man has some crazy stage energy.
Definitely. If you have a look at your discography, you have worked with virtually every big name in the industry. Any unknown, unsigned talent you are working with right now?
Too many cats. I still have my group D.M.P., which stands for "Durte Muzik Prahdukshun." We got R&B artist Shateish on the come up. I am also working Woll, who is from Los Angeles. I must have LA being down with me, AWAR who worked with Alchemist on "Tunnelvision," and many other projects in the works. It's good music for sure. All of them sound diverse.
You've been in the industry since 1997. What has changed for producers nowadays compared to the golden '90s?
One thing that is disturbing to me is, they made programs for everybody to make music. It shouldn't be that way. I might shall not say it, because everyone should be able to do what they want to do, right? But honestly, not everyone is made for making music. You know what I mean? They put these programs into people's hands and they come back with some trash. And some people seem to be embracing it.
Internet. Blessing or curse?
Definitely curse! I mean, as we all know, people are not buying records anymore. We are investing in our art and we do have to see some sort of return. People can philosophize about the benefit of the internet all day, but if you don't have a decent return on your investment, you have a problem. As simple as that.
No doubt. In the past 15 years, would you say your production style has changed?
You know what? I had a long talk with the late and great talk J Dilla one time. And he said one thing to me, "Don't change your sound for no one. Never." But one day I did. And I realized that this change has slowed down my whole work flow. So when I went back to what I was doing and it starting to speed up again, I understood what he was talking about. So I am not compromising for anything, anybody, anymore. When I meet people who are telling me how much they love and know my art, and follow me on Twitter and all that, they often ask me to do a beat for them. Then, all of a sudden, they ask me for those 808 kickdrum beat. Really? If you supposedly know my music, how can you make such a request? Get outta here. I will always be me.