Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week or so you’re aware of the drama surrounding Charles Hamilton’s decision to “honor” J-Dilla by naming him Executive Producer of his album. I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to speak with Detroit MC Finale, who released his album A Pipe Dream And A Promise late last year which features one Dilla produced track, “Heat.” Finale recently debuted the single “Paid Homage” in memory of Dilla and had some interesting thoughts on what exactly it means to do just that…
Nodfactor: What is the story behind the track “Paid Homage”?
Finale: “Paid Homage” is a recount of when I first met Dilla. For the record, Dilla and me were not best of friends. I met him a few times when I was picking beats and spoke to him a few times. I had minimal interaction with him. I have always been in the circle with Wajeed and House Shoes. The track was me recognizing one of the biggest influences on a lot of MCS, DJs, and producers that come from this city. I give homage to where it’s due. It is more than just me biggin’ up somebody over and over again.
Who produced “Paid Homage”?
F: Flying Lotus. He did the track back in 07′ as a tribute track and put it on his myspace page. I was getting a bunch of other beats from him. He gave me the beat and I decided to do it. I said the only way I was going to write about this is if I do it about Dilla. If I make some random song over this beat, it would not go over well. It was originally a tribute track from him. He gave it to me, and I just took it a step further.
How did you come across the track for “Heat,” the one that Dilla produced?
F: Yes, Dilla and me did a few Joints together. I was originally working with a certain label in New York and one of the guys at the label wanted to put my first single out. This was a while ago, when I had just started out. He started rattling off names. My first single was supposed to be produced by Wajeed, Lax (torock), and House Shoes on the bonus track. But he was like no, we need a main one. I was not with guessing, so I said whom do you suggest. He said he would shoot names and you say whom you would like to work with. He said 9th Wonder. I did not say no, but my reasoning was I have not even met him. Circles are so small in hip-hop I should have meet you already. Then he said Dilla. He put it on me to connect with Dilla. I wouldn’t run up on a producer and say let’s make a track; I have to know you first. So, I told certain people that he wanted me to do something with Dilla. The people I told that have been in the game for a while went to tell Dilla without me telling them what to do.
My boy was recording tracking with Dilla because he goes way back to the hip hop shop with him and he said this dude Finale is dope and you really need to work with him. Dilla found out I was from Detroit. He always kept a loyal mindset with artists from Detroit, no matter where he was.
So he inquired about it. Him and his manager called the label. Dilla called me and gave me a really good deal on beats. He gave me more than one beat for less than the price of one, and that was an honor. For the record, I paid for my beats. There is no free-be stuff over here. No disrespect but producers have friends that they give their beats to. Most records on my album is from friends of mine that I traded verses with or we go way back. But with Dilla, I didn’t know him at the time. I bought my beats- and I got the receipt to prove it.
I’m not trying to use his name. Every time someone says his name, I make it a point to say that him and I were not best friends. I respect that man. I respect his influence on his city and what him and Proof did. But I’m going to let that man live and I’m going to let his legacy live. And I’m to try and make my own. But I understand my foundation of which one of mine’s is the bricks and what mine is built on.
I’m sure you heard about Charles Hamilton naming Dilla the executive Producer of his album. DJ House Shoes has been doing interviews, saying it was wrong because he didn’t know Dilla. What are your thoughts on this whole situation?
F: Shoes and Hex are like big brothers to me. I actually have a project coming out with House Shoes later. Detroit is family. Detroit looks out for Detroit. And when someone messes with Detroit they get defensive. I put on my Facebook that those 2 guys are playing like Dr. Robotic with Sonic right now. (Laughter) Things are crazy right now and I feel bad for Charles.
See, Hex is like Proof, if you’re good to them- ya’ll will be the best of friends and they look out for you. If you get on their bad side, it’s not a good look for you. If you put Dilla as an executive producer on your album to get money for a foundation, that does not exist, then that’s crazy. But if it’s for Ma Dukes, then I support that. It’s certain things that make me think; what’s in his mode of thinking. Someone was going to catch it. And it’s just crazy that the main people caught it immediately and it got back and it just blew up. And now he is trying to clean it up.
He already can’t go to St. Louis- he is messing up his Midwest territory. I hope when his record gets out, he can successfully maneuver through the Midwest to sell his record. He is is not doing it on purpose. He is just making mistake after mistake, when all he needs to worry about is just making that music and pushing that record.
I don’t have beef with the dude. I respect all sides of hip hop, but what disrespect would it be if I never meet Soujla Boy and he said executive produced by Finale. I never met him. So how would you feel if your name was in big letters across the album, and you were never apart of that? You gotta watch what your name is attached to. Whether Charles is dope or wack is your opinion, but it’s all about you branding yourself. And people are more concerned with the fact that Dillas name is being attached to something.
I only used one of the joints he did on my record. That doesn’t mean that he sat with me and helped me come up with the album as a whole. So I would never put Executive Produced by Dilla. He did give me advice, but I guess that is executive producing by Charles Hamilton standards. (Laughter)
I just executive produced a record with Journalist (a guy that use to be with Proof). I’m on the album. I’m helping with the order of the songs. That’s what executive producing is. That’s what I’m doing. I give my input. Now that if that’s what Dilla did, then it’s validated.
But if you say you don’t know my relationship with the Yancy family, then Ma Dukes hops on Twitter and bosses you up. That’s bad when someone’s mother hops on Twitter and says we don’t know this man and don’t make us get ghetto on him. That’s messed up.
So with the Charles Hamilton situation, I don’t know how many L’s a human can take, but he is taking a lot. And I don’t believe in kicking a man when he down like that and repeatedly kicking him. Because he is getting pumped to the ground left and right. He just got punched in the jaw not to long ago. He is trying to clean that up. His publicist must be working overtime right now.