When you come up under the watchful eye of Teddy Riley is it any wonder you go on to be a perfectionist? Linking with Riley in the early ’90s, Queens producer Ty Fyffe secured lessons from the master of New Jack Swing that today would be deemed priceless.
With a discography bursting at the seams with A-Listers, icons, platinum selling album and the ‘92 Wreckx-N-Effect classic “Rump Shaker,” Ty Fyffe took heed of all the knowledge Riley and fellow EPMD hit-maker Erick Sermon had to offer. Now it appears to by Ty’s time to shine.
Recently launching his own online competition having paid close attention to the demise of quality product, Ty has linked with some big names to encourage a plethora of new torches to be lit. Wanting to encourage those who might not get a chance, this production mastermind is pretty much doing what labels used to do, providing decent production, more than adequate marketing and promotions and taking a chance on the up and coming icons and A-listers of the new millennium.
HipHopDX: How influential was growing up in Queens on you when it came to music?
Ty Fyffe: It was very influential, as all the greats came from Queens: Run DMC, LL Cool J to 50 [Cent]. All kinds of people came from here. A lot of people look out for each other here, but like everywhere else they have their rivals in the heart of Queens, which it shouldn’t be like, but most people stick together like they should.
DX: You came up under Teddy Riley, how did that association come about?
Ty Fyffe: I got plugged in through a man called Franklin Grant. I was actually going to Virginia for all the wrong reasons and I had my demo with me and I played him some music. He set up a meeting with Teddy Riley, I played him some of my music and as I left, before I even got out of the parking lot, Teddy said he wanted to sign me as a producer.
DX: What did you learn from that experience as Teddy who I had the pleasure of interviewing before is a pioneer?
Ty Fyffe: A whole lot. It was the transition for me from going from being a beat-maker to an actual producer. Learning how to produce a vocal, how to arrange records and make music sound professional for presentation; basically making it sound like it was a hit.
DX: Are those things you listed just factors incorporated into music today?
Ty Fyffe: It is just such a rush job now and people don’t get taught. I mean I was in a production camp under Teddy Riley; I had a learning experience with a hit-maker. I was also under Erick Sermon’s production camp so I have learned from people who have made continuous hit records for decades. We are talking about longevity. I don’t feel like it should be an overnight thing.
DX: You put the hours in…
Ty Fyffe: Absolutely.
DX: Something that is lacking today…
Ty Fyffe: Yeah, I mean it is so watered down, people are just not getting to that. Things are taken for granted and it becomes more about the single or the ringtone. There is no sequence, no structure of albums; front to back you would play a whole album where as now there might be one single on there, explaining why sales are down.
DX: You had six tracks on Cam’ron’s Come Home With Me album which was his debut on Roc-A-Fella, how was that experience?
Ty Fyffe: I actually got with Cam’ron before he got to the Roc. He was with Sony at the time, and they loved the records so much he kept them and they wound up on the Roc album [Come Here With Me]. That was his only platinum album and it went to #1. It was a big thing for him and a big thing for me.
DX: Will we see you two working again together?
Ty Fyffe: I doubt it, man, seriously. I can say that I was a big part of him going platinum.
DX: Out of all your albums, do you have a favorite?
Ty Fyffe: All of them. My biggest was probably [Wreckx-N-Effect’s] “Rump Shaker” as that single did 2.5 million.
DX: You have worked with icons such as LL Cool J, MC Lyte, Rakim and you have also worked with the stars of today. Are there a lot of differences between the two?
Ty Fyffe: It’s all pretty much the same; it was different back then as people appreciated the culture more. But at the end of the day, it is still music and I just take it into my stride, if it is brand new artists, established artists or legends; to me it is all the same thing.
DX: Is there still the same understanding in the studio?
Ty Fyffe: People don’t look at making classic albums. That is a career move as it makes an impact and it’s hard when your first album isn’t a classic and you are coming into your sophomore, as you have to get that impact first. I don’t think some artists even look at this.
DX: What about timing, and how much time you take on a project?
Ty Fyffe: That depends on you as you don’t want to rush your product but you don’t want to take too much time either. People forget!
DX: You have just recently launched your own online competition, is this something you are doing to try and make a difference?
Ty Fyffe: Yeah, this is the first of many and it is “Ty Fyffe Presents Raw n Uncut.” It will be hosted by DJ Kay Slay, and is open to the world virally. I am looking for the best artists to go over my tracks.
DX: Will opportunities such as this benefit the state of music?
Ty Fyffe: It will benefit the people who want to get themselves out there because at the end of the day you are always going to need the deejay to play stuff, a real deejay, to get noticed. You are also going to need a radio promoter to get your stuff into the right deejay’s hands or to the right radio station. For that aspect we have Digiwaxx involved, and they have a database of over 45,000 deejays. We have a video director on board that has quality videos to his credit that look like they have budgets of 200,000 spent on them; the single off the project will also get a video. Also this album will be on all major websites for free download, so people are getting exposed to all this traffic.
I think it is helping. There will be street promotion, van wrapping and all of that but most of all, they are getting my production. I am putting my foot in this. It is me trying to find the best, make the best product to keep my name where it is supposed to be.
DX: With the lack of general promotions nowadays from labels, do you see this being a wake up call?
Ty Fyffe: I look at it like this; I am my own A&R. I critique my own music and they need something like this, as it will make people wake up. It is something new and it is a chance for new blood to surface. There’s a lot of artists out there right now that aren’t being heard because they are giving that garbage and it’s their own fault. If you don’t have the right hook, the right sound, the right look, the right swag…basically if you don’t have X, Y and Z you are only going to last so long.
DX: Being that you are hands on in developing this project, the fact that you are giving the album away for free, doesn’t that devalue the music?
Ty Fyffe: That is part of the game, you have to be out there and I need to put my music out there. Everything may not be for free, but you have to get your audience. If this is what it is going to take for me to get my audience for Ty Fyffe Presents Raw n Uncut, then that is what it is.
DX: Do you see the idea being picked up by a corporate organization or a label in some way?
Ty Fyffe: I definitely see it, but if they don’t I’m going to become my own digital label regardless. I’m not depending on a label, trying to get them to play my music in front of an A&R that just got the job. I feel that no one can tell me how to make a record.
DX: I have always thought that producers have the potential to make the best A&Rs, what do you think?
Ty Fyffe: Back at a time when people were milking the game and just putting their people on to give them a job, there were producers that are just that: producers and don’t really have that A&R aspect to them. I feel like Irv Gotti was the last super A&R. For him to be a producer and to bring Jay-Z to Def Jam, he brought DMX to Def Jam, he brought Ja Rule to Def Jam and if that ain’t an ear, then I don’t know what an ear is.
It’s about who can see the vision and make an artist be an artist. Certain people get it and certain people don’t, just like certain people might only be producers; they can make music for an artist but they may not know what direction the artist should go in. They could be in their own musical zone. You have to be the kind of guy who listens to music and be able to fit this producer with that artist and being an A&R is part of that puzzle.
DX: You have your own studio, which is available to folks as a business, how do you handle the business versus the creative?
Ty Fyffe: I keep digging. I keep my ears to the streets, to the clubs; I watch TV. You have to be 24-7 into what you are doing to be the best at what you do.
DX: Do you find yourself more aggressive today than what you were when you first started out?
Ty Fyffe: I am way more aggressive that I ever was. Over the last couple of years people are starting to recognize me a little bit more and it is getting greater. The technology of the future has got it so I am able to transition perfectly, from YouTube to social networking to the blogs. This is the ay of being an entrepreneur.
DX: Some people do find it difficult to move with the times, this doesn’t bother you then?
Ty Fyffe: That is because they are not studying enough. What I do is study everything from the Top 10, what’s at number one; I study drum patterns and speed. If you are not a studier you are not ready for this music shit. If you don’t get it down to a science you won’t be ready for real.
DX: For someone coming into the game right now, your advice for him or her would be to study?
Ty Fyffe: Work hard as they are not getting what I got. I learned from Teddy Riley, the best producer in the game and Erick Sermon, how many number ones has he done? He brought Keith Murray into the world and remixed Marvin Gaye to make him sound brand new. These guys are timeless; you could hear a record from them tomorrow and be like, “Whoa, who did that?” don’t be surprised, as that is what it really is. Teddy Riley did [Michael Jackson’s] Dangerous, who could ever top that but Quincy Jones [by producing Michael Jackson’s] Thriller, but folks forget about that.
DX: This is similar to a conversation I had with Sha Money XL about “mastering your craft”…
Ty Fyffe: He’s another one; he is one of the best. He founded the best artist that ever came out in 50 Cent and no one has done it better than 50. Who sells over 10 million records on their first album? I consider [Get Rich Or Die Tryin’] his first album and not the Power of A Dollar, as it didn’t get released. Who does that?
DX: Unfortunately success turns to hate so fast nowadays.
Ty Fyffe: Well you are not successful if you don’t have haters. I love to see people successful, but there are a lot of people who deal with jealousy, and that makes them insecure. You just have to shake the jealousy and envy off.
DX: In terms of projects you are working on right now, what can we expect coming up?
Ty Fyffe: I am working with Jim Jones, I should have a placement on Drake’s [Thank Me Later] album. Plus I am submitting for Ludacris’ album [Battle Of The Sexes], Tony Yayo and Lloyd Banks.
DX: So if you are from Queens, do you get preferential treatment?
Ty Fyffe: Queens till I die. I don’t know, I grew up in the same neighborhood [G-Unit] did and they seen me come up just like I seen them come up and I respect those dudes. That’s what it is all about, respect. First and foremost, I’m a businessman, but I am still from the street. I am corporate but I still got an edge. I grew up when drug dealing was serious. The hustle was totally different.
DX: You said earlier that people are becoming more aware of you now, why is that when you have been around and done so much?
Ty Fyffe: I think there was a lot of bad management for one, and there was a lot of people not giving it up. It got cliquey in the music business. If you are not down with a certain clique, they are not going to co-sign you the way they should. I mean I did those songs on Cam’s album, but [The Diplomats] didn’t really co-sign me. If they didn’t like my product they wouldn’t have given me six songs, they could have just taken them off the album.
DX: You just stepped over that?
Ty Fyffe: You have to; you keep it moving. What Lyor Cohen told me; him and Kevin Liles, Russell Simmons I really admire them; Lyor told me, “You’re as good as your last record.” If you can’t love by that as an artist or as a music producer you don’t know what the business is all about. You can’t live in the past you have to be current. Every year, it might not be the biggest record, but you are going to hear a record that I did.
DX: In regards to bad management, how did you rectify that or was it a case of taking matters into your own hands?
Ty Fyffe: I had to eventually. This business is tough and you can’t just trust anyone and put anybody on. You have to have people who you can trust. You don’t always want to go with someone who is big time as they might not show you the attention and be looking out for your best interests. I have management now, Gail Hanson manages me, but I feel like I also manage myself as I get a lot of my own placements and build my own relationships. There are probably a lot of people out there who don’t like me, just as there are thousands of people who love me, but I always keep it 100. Even if it is an up and coming artist I would rather put my product out and have the artist buzzing like crazy and shout me out, as people can recognize that I am the dude from ’92 who did the “Rumpshaker” track and here I am still making music.
DX: Do you see yourself taking any other direction?
Ty Fyffe: I am building connects and relationships right now with people who do movies, as I would love to score a movie, RZA is someone I really admire. Video games and movies are other things I want to get into too.
For more information and to enter the Ty Fyffe Presents Raw n Uncut contest, visit TyFyffe.com.