Houston has one less problem. Grinding since ’91 as a member of K-Otix, Russell “The ARE” Gonzalez is quickly becoming a name to watch for in ’08. After dropping several EPs of his own beats (Still Climbing and Manipulated Marauders) and a group project with Kay of The Foundation, Together Brothers, the Texas beatsmith linked up with Tone and Poke of the Trackmasters and became an official member of their production team.
“Poke had heard some beats of mine through Punchline(of EMC). He wanted to get me on the new Lil Kim album and so we started passing beats through e-mail,” he explains. “Kim got on one and killed it. After that Poke told me that he wanted to get the production team back together and he wanted me to be a part of it. I soon went to NY and we were in Battery Studios for 3 months.”
The Lil Kim record “Chillin Tonight” has already been buzzing on mixtapes and is slated to appear on her next album. The ARE also has two tracks on the EMC album, “Leak It Out” and “Say Now.”
“I actually linked up with Wordsworth through Marco Polo. He had done things with them in the past and Marco is mad cool. We build from time to time.”
With ghost-production long being a right of passage, it is becoming more common for big names to assemble a crew of producers (a la The Hitmen) to crank out hits under one umbrella. One key difference is that as part of a crew you are more likely to get credited for your work and the important publishing dollars that come with that.
“These dudes are experienced, I learned a lot,” he says of Tone and Poke. ” They know what goes into making a hit record. They’ve done it many times over. Just the process in itself. For example, putting bridges on an R&B record, adding certain instruments. I’m no new jack to all of this but I like raw shit and I like my music to be a bit loose when it comes to drums and sounds. When dealing with major labels you have to tighten things up a bit.”
After toiling for months with The Trackmasters The Are has a track with Shareefa on deck, Wordsworth, Zion I and a beat project called Planet Zero. The rest he’s going to keep under his hat for now.
“I can’t reveal a lot of the major label stuff cause it’s all in the making and things can fall through really fast in this biz.”