Shuko, one of the most famous German rap producers, just dropped his impressive new album For the Love of It featuring some The BackPackerz regulars like Blu, 20Syl, CL Smooth or Masta Ace. We sat down with the Jakarta Records beatmaker to discuss his very interesting global vision of Hip-Hop, his numerous collaborations and his thoughts on the new beat scene.
The BackPackerz: A lot of people heard your name through the emcees you produced for. Today we would like to know more about the man behind the beats. Can you start by introducing yourself in a more personal way?
Shuko: I am a music producer from Germany. I love making beats, getting people together and releasing great music.
What was the first (hip-hop) record you ever listened to ? Which one made you want to become a producer ?
My first hip-hop LP was Pete Rock's “Soul Survivor" from I think 1998 ! I was listening to all types of music but this album changed everything! In my opinion one of the best produced albums ! Later it was the Hi-Tek record which brought me to genres like Neo Soul, Gospel, etc.
The number and quality of rappers you produced for is impressing though. What was your favorite collaboration ? How did you make it happen?
I really enjoyed working with Vinnie Paz and everybody from AOTP - collaborating with these guys was always a lot of fun ! The entire work for my album was fun too. I loved being locked in the studio with Bubba Sparxxx back in 2007 because he’s just such a nice person! Loved the work with Tyga before he got famous! Really loved the work with Nekfeu and 20syl, they are really dope artists i look up to - especially 20syl because of his crazy beats.
Is there an emcee you still dream to produce for?
Of course ! Eminem would be amazing.
For The Love Of It includes cross-border collaborations between French and American rappers. Did you give this record an international dimension on purpose?
It’s the music I grew up with ! The Boom Bap sound from the US and the French rap ! French rap has always been so close (especially in the 90s) to US music so it was not that much of a difference for me. I have all the IAM and NTM albums, Passi, Busta Flex, Shurik’n etc.
Today, beatmaking seems to emancipate from rap and become more instrumental. Yet every track on For The Love Of It features emcees. Do you prefer to work with rappers ?
Mhhhh good question...I love making tracks and sometimes you just don't need rappers to have a good track. I am already working on my next instrumental album which is much easier to finish...It took me many years to work on For the Love of It so I would say I prefer working as a solo artist.
Do you think the role of producers is changing? According to you, are they gaining ground inside the music business?
Definitely. Today you need to have passion for graphics, video, and social media. Otherwise nobody will listen to your music because everybody is making it. Since streaming and stuff established itself, it’s not as easy to live off publishing, so you need to do shows or try to get music on TV and films or try to get in commercials.
What is the beatmaking scene like in Germany? Do you feel being german gives you a particular insight on hip-hop?
The Beat scene is crazy. You have many dope producers like Suff Daddy, Dexter, iamnobodi, Abaz, Reaf, X-Plosive and GEE who are all doing crazy stuff. I don’t think that my nationality has any impact on my music. Lately I especially get inspired by music from L.A.
How do you relate with French hip-hop ? Can you spot any differences between the French, German and American hip-hop scenes ?
Like I said, I grew up with French music and did a lot of productions for French acts like Soprano, Sexion d'Assaut, Ol Kainry, Oxmo Puccino etc. I would say the french music is very close to the US market, thanks to the internet nowadays there are no real differences between the two any more. There are dope producers in every country but the mentality in France is different: you have a great music culture that Germany doesn’t (or not to that extent). We have a few good songwriters from the past but you have guys like Charles Aznavour etc..So there's a big plus on your side.
You also follow “future beat” artist such as Ta-Ku and Esta. What are your biggest influences at the moment?
Sure, me and Ta-Ku talk from time to time, I love Esta, Kayanatra, and the whole Soulection crew. People from Jakarta Records are also dropping dope music. It’s a lot of good people out there.