Featured in Freestyle Volume 03 2007. Interview by Jason Jaram.
P-Money is one busy dude. DJ/Producer/label owner, he’s taking multitasking to new levels. Nah scratch that. He’s taking hip hop to new levels. Architect behind such massive hip hop bangers as ‘Not Many’ and ‘Stop the Music’ he’s like our own version of Timbaland. Minus the swollen upper body of course. Freestyle had a chance to talk ‘Dirty’ with Mr. Peter Wadams on the eve of Scribes highly anticipated sophomore album release.
How did you get the name P-Money? Is it a New Jack City reference?
(Laughs). It probably is on a subconscious level. I watched that movie like 100 times when I was a kid. It’s not a specific reference to ‘G-Money’ at all but it’s in keeping with that hip-hop tradition of people like DJ Cash Money, T-Money, Code Money, Sauce Money... you get the picture.
How did you get into being a DJ?
I started DJing seriously about 10 years ago. I always liked beats and the sound of scratching since I was a kid. Ever since I saw video of DJ’s like Jam Master Jay, Cash Money & Roc Raida doing their thing it’s I all I ever wanted to do.
How did you then go from being a DJ to a producer?
As a teenager I was totally into musical equipment. Stereos, amps, speakers, turntables and shit like that. So when I was 16 my dad got me a little Drum Machine for Christmas. I loved that thing so much man. I read the manual and learnt how to program beats with it around the same time as I was learning to scratch. So for me DJing and Producing went hand in hand. I was developing both skills at the same time but its just that DJing is much more public so everybody knew I could do that. The producing was something that stayed in the bedroom until I got good enough to record songs with people.
Do you think DJ battles helped you find a way to get your beats out there and promote that side of your work?
Definitely. I had a lot of success with DJ Battles & competitions early in my career which helped to boost my profile tremendously. In fact I don’t think anybody would know my name now if it wasn’t for me winning those titles at the DMC and ITF. I got a lot of TV coverage and tons more bookings for shows off the back of those titles. Developing that profile is how I got to meet people in the music industry and I was able to approach other artists about working together on music.
10accious provided the beats for the first two singles on Scribes new album, did you decide to take a backseat with production and let the young cats shine on this one?
It’s Scribes album and that was his decision. He didn’t want people to always associate him with my music so this time around he’s using all different producers. I would have loved to have some tracks on the album but it hasn’t turned out that way.
Was there a particular reason behind why there is an Australian single (F.R.E.S.H) and NZ single (My Shit)?
Once again this was Scribes decision and I back him on it. I think it’s working out okay. And it was cool to have two new Scribe songs available after such a long break.
Apart from 10accious and Fire & Ice who are some other up and comers we need to be looking out for on the production scene?
Apart from them I have to say 41 (from Frontline). He’s not exactly a newcomer but he’s still the man. As far as new blood, Fire & Ice are my dudes.
What projects are you working on now and who are you collaborating with?
Lately I’ve been making beats working towards a new P-Money album. I also did a remix for an Australian pop artist who I won’t name just yet incase I jinx it and it doesn’t come out (laughs). (Also) I’ve been helping my friend Shelton produce some tracks for a little side project we’re working on. That’s a really interesting one, very different sounding but good.
Your production style is primarily sample based is it getting harder to make your beats with all the sample clearance issues these days?
Not really man. I just do what I do. I mean if you’re using obvious parts of well known records then you’re gonna have to clear it. But for me it’s about being creative and digging.
With the prominence of the synth heavy Dirty South sound, what are your thoughts on the style from a production perspective and can you see this becoming a feature in your music?
I like a lot of the sounds coming out of the south like DJ Toomp and Three Six Mafia. I like that bounce they have. I might take influence from the feel and tempo but I do my own thing with it. I use the 808’s and stuff but that’s been a hip-hop standard since the 80’s. It’s nothing new.
Would you say there is an identifiable Aotearoa (NZ) hip hop sound? If so how would you describe it?
I don’t know if I can identify one Aotearoa sound ‘cos to me everybody is so different. I couldn’t describe it; I struggle to describe my own music let alone other peoples (laughs).
What’s the Hip Hop scene like in New Zealand compared to Australia?
One thing that a lot of my Aussie mates always mention is a lack of unity and support amongst the different crews in Australia. It’s more of an ‘every man for himself’ mentality over there. Whereas in NZ most times people are a bit more supportive and the scene is viewed as more of a community. Of course things are not always sweet but as a general rule I’d say everybody supports each other for the common good. Besides that I’d say there’s a pretty big difference between the musical heritage and culture of both lands and that shows through in the music too.
Having grown up in South Auckland can you tell us a little bit about the area and why it is you think that it has produced so much music talent?
South Auckland has a high concentration of Maori and Pacific Island people so culturally it’s a lot different to other parts of the country. Also unfortunately there are a lot of low income households and it can be a tough place to live for many people. Growing up I developed a natural understanding and love for the different cultures in my community. Growing up there exposes you to rich and diverse cultures and music is a huge part of it. Black music in particular has always been adopted here as part of our musical landscape and its especially relevant in South Auckland. That’s why you get a lot of hip-hop artists from the Southside.
How was it that you came to hook up with Akon on “Keep on Calling” and was the “remix” that Joell Ortiz did official?
I linked up with Akon through an industry friend back in October 2003 in New York. He was just starting to promote his music; his first album wasn’t even out yet. My mate suggested we should work together and he (Akon) was down. It was about 6 months later that Akon recorded that song for me over a beat that I had sent him. The Joell mix was official. Joell was familiar with the track and got in touch with me and Akon about using it for his street album. We approved it and he went and did his thing. I like that version too.
Has it been hard trying to strike a balance between label head and artist?
The only hard thing has been with allocating time to my own musical projects. I feel an obligation to my artists so I often prioritise their projects ahead of my own. But at the core of it I’m a musician and I need to make music. I created the label to provide an opportunity for other acts to do their thing, not so I could be some big CEO/industry figure. I couldn't give a f**k about that.
What is the hip hop scene in NZ like right now (in a commercial sense)? Dawnraid folded, album sales are down, can hip hop be resurrected? And if so how do you think it can be achieved?
Well for one Dawnraid is back in business. Those dudes will always find a way. Good on them. Album sales are down across the board it’s certainly not just a hip-hop thing. The record industry as a whole needs a new business model. They can’t rely on CD album sales to prop up their businesses any longer. People will always want music, just not always on CD and in a traditional album format anymore. You gotta think creatively and earn your money from other areas. Those who make great music will prevail.
What music inspires you?
Great music inspires me. I’m a huge Timbaland fan. I think he’s the best producer of our generation. Classic funk, pop and soul inspires me. Isaac Hayes, Nile Rodgers, Quincy Jones, George Clinton, Marley Marl, Pete Rock, DJ Premier, the RZA, those guys are all inspirations.
What advice have you got for anyone thinking of getting into producing music?
Study music. Listen closely. Learn as much as you can and trust your instincts.
Who would you like to work with on future projects and productions?
Kanye West, Annie Lennox, Ghostface Killah, Lil Wayne, Connie, Fantasia & Nicole Scherzinger.
Freestyle Magazine is all about the Automotive lifestyle, what would be your ultimate ride?
Whatever the latest Benz is. With cream leather interior and a mean stereo system.
Top 3 beats you wish you made?
We Need A Resolution - Aaliyah (Produced by Timbaland).
We Gon’ Make It - Jadakiss (Produced by Alchemist).
Oh Boy - Cam’ron (Produced by Just Blaze).
Finally with the whole producer/rapper phenomenon going on these days (e.g Polow da Don, Kanye etc) are there any plans in the near future to start spitting on your tracks?
No plans as yet. I haven’t written a rhyme since I was like 18 or something. If I did do it I would probably be on the Swizz Beatz tip. Getting’ hype, doin’ the hooks and spittin’ other peoples raps (laughs).
To find out more about P-Money, visit www.myspace.com/pmoneymusic
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