Rappin Ass Thursdays #55

Posted on Nov 10th, 2011 in Downloads > Rappin Ass Thursdays by admin


Photo by Mel D Cole

R.A.T. returns! With Wale’s new album clocking a robust 164,000 copies sold this past week to become the #2 album in the country (curse you Bieber!) Nick Catchdubs reflects on the three mixtapes he put together with the DC spitter.

In 2007 I went down to DC to write an article about rappers, became friends with one of them, and then we made some mixtapes. It’s a pretty simple story. But the process of putting together Wale’s 100 Miles And Running tape will always stand out as one of the more enjoyable and creative moments in my career as a DJ.

It was right as Fool’s Gold was starting up – if you’re throwback and have a physical copy, you’ll see the FG logo on the back cover with the tracklist – and there was definitely a sense that a changing of the guard was happening. And keep it 100, our tape created a new, much-bitten aesthetic for the modern day blog rapper XXL Freshman internet mixtape. But the important thing to remember – it was just fun to make! It wasn’t your typical mixtape-via-email. We would get up at Mark Ronson’s Allido studio in Soho (I’m still jealous of the D’Angelo Voodoo platinum plaque) and kick ideas back and forth, re-record verses, all that. When Wale mentioned writing to Q-Tip and Dilla’s “Let’s Ride,” I remembered an unused cover of the original from Ronson’s Version sessions; Derek the engineer (still an engineer on Ambition, BTW) pulled it up from the studio hard drive, I did some accapella ProTooling, and the tape’s intro was born. Save for a handful of existing tracks and stuff recorded in DC, every song came about that way. From ripping instrumentals off white label 12″s (what you know about “Thought At Work” with the uncleared “Hey Bulldog” sample?) right down to telling Geechi Suede of Camp Lo it would be weird if he also had a verse on “W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E.” (I was right). Shit, I just remembered URB did a whole cover based on that mixtape freestyle.

After the tape dropped, we did some shows together but I couldn’t leave to be a full-time tour DJ. We both got more and more busy, so Mixtape About Nothing was a different process just one year later. The vast majority of it was recorded out of town, and we just got up to record a handful of tracks together (memorably “The Manipulation” at Allido, with Wale’s cousin Gbenga – aka Chris Partlow from The Wire – hanging out while we debated tones of voice for the two “characters” on the track) and then some interlude bits at the end. To be honest, I thought the concept was going to go over people’s heads, but clearly I was proved waaaay wrong.

Back To The Feature was even more of a long distance project – I can vividly remember uploading the final edits on some shitty US Airways layover internet. I just came in at the finish line to connect the dots, but it was still fun to put together. All mixtapes are fun to put together! Sequencing, pacing – it’s crazy to me how many people think “Mixed by Nick Catchdubs” means mix engineer, not mix DJ. I should yell on my shit more. (Relatedly, should have made my name bigger on the front, I’m the one Photoshopping em.) I remember the State Property song being really, really good on this one.

I’m psyched to see Wale and his new record doing so well right now under the auspices (bawse-pices?) of Maybach Music. The Diplo song on Ambition is crazy, the Toomp record is crazy, and I even like the R&Bish stuff (Miguel! That boy good! He just needs to stop shopping for clothes with Taboo from BEP.) I love this new quote from Fader: “Is this going to be the day they call a music snob aficionado emergency meeting and are like, Holy shit, I fucking love Wale again?” I hope commercial success / validation lets him feel comfortable enough to go left once more. Personally, I think an afrobeat inspired project would be crazy, some of my favorite Wale tracks are his uptempo, shuffle-y joints. That mixed with the old go-go vibe… whooo! Just call it Drum Music or something. Make it a M-m-m-maybach/ Fool’s Gold EP. I’m an idea man!