Pro Era’s Aaron Rose shared his own version of a mad science experiment with the Elixir EP, a seven-track effort where the Brooklyn rapper weaves his story over a backdrop provided primarily by producer J57. This is Rose’s first project since changing his name from A La $ole, and J has crafted an other-worldly soundscape for his rhymes.

In a DXclusive, J57 shares the Top 5 albums that inspired him on his journey working at legendary Fat Beats record store and creating beats with Brown Bag All Stars.

Stream Aaron Rose’s Elixir EP and view J57’s choices below.

Gang Starr – Moment of Truth

Moment of Truth has always been my favorite Gang Starr album, with Hard to Earn in close second.  There are so many bangers on this album, from “Above the Clouds” to “Work” to “You Know My Steez,” it was almost impossible to pick my favorite. In the end, it’s still the title-track, “Moment of Truth” that takes it. This song reminds me of high school, and it even more so reminds me of New Year’s Eve 1999 going into 2000. I had this album on cassette tape playing on repeat while I traveled on foot to parties with a couple of friends around where I lived at the time on Long Island.   

Blu & Exile – Below the Heavens

I was always aware of Exile but didn’t become a fan until I heard the “Pearly Gates” (featuring 50 Cent), off Mobb Deep’s Blood Money LP.  After that, I immediately became obsessed with his unique style and tried to look up as much music of his as possible. That summer, his producer compilation Dirty Science dropped and I’d play that in heavy rotation at Fat Beats, especially the track “Fly (Song Of Liberation)” featuring a then-unknown MC by the name of Blu. I tried to get some info on Blu for months, tried to find solo projects, etc, but had no luck. A few months later, a customer came into the store who was traveling from LA and schooled me on the fact that Blu and Exile were making a full album together. A solid year later, Below the Heavens dropped, and I immediately loved it. I tried to put a ton of friends and customers on to it but people slept like it was their job. Over the years, working at Fat Beats taught me a lot about customer behavior, and this was a classic case, as the majority of the people that initially passed on coppin’ the album when it first dropped were beating down the door at Fat Beats a year later when word of how incredible the album was started to make the rounds. Fat Beats would often act as my own personal focus group for the six years that I worked there, and this was one of the most memorable occurrences.  

This album is an example of one MC and producer that are both in their absolute prime. You can literally hear how much fun Exile was having with manipulating samples and creating unique drum patters/drum sounds, while Blu showed and proved that he’s one of the best MCs to ever touch a mic. My favorite song was always “No Greater Love” and it still is, till this day. This was the album made me want to produce full albums for one rapper. 

Ghostface Killah – Ironman

Every time this album comes on, it brings me back to middle school, when it first came out. Honestly, I always really liked this album but I didn’t love it till seven years later when I started making beats. I began re-listening to a lot of albums that I grew up on, almost like I was listening to them for the first time, again. In my first couple of years of making beats, I was studying The RZA very heavily, dissecting everything he did on these full albums that he produced, that made them so cohesive and memorable. This album in particular, and this vibe that RZA and Ghost created, taught me a hell of a lot about producing albums, and for that, I’ll be forever grateful. My favorite track has always been a tie between “Daytona 500” and “Iron Maiden,” but today “Daytona 500” wins. 

Common – Be

This album is the most like Elixir in the sense that the majority of the album is produced by one producer, except for two cuts. This album was one of my most-played albums while I was working at Fat Beats. Probably one of the only albums that I can play from front-to-back without skipping even one song. Back when this first came out, ‘’Testify’’ was my favorite song, but now years later, I gotta give it up for “Chi-City.” This album aged extremely well. I feel overwhelmed trying to explain what makes this album great — go put this on right now. 

Madvillain – Madvillainy

This album got better with time. I first heard the instrumental version of this album before hearing the actual album because Stones Throw sent us (Fat Beats) vinyl promo copies of the instrumental album, so I used to listen to that quite a bit.  A few months later, once I stopped sleeping on the album, I found myself absolutely hooked. The Audible Doctor and I would quote Doom on a daily basis while we were at Fat Beats, and try to work those quotes into conversations with customers to entertain ourselves. That “Accordion” beat used to consume the entire store when we’d play that song. Customers would always ask us what was playing and they’d cop the album once we pointed out what it was, just off the strength of that one song being played.  “Figaro” has been my favorite song from the album since day one, and still is.