Terrace Martin has been in the music industry for a long time, and as a seasoned, well-respected veteran, he’s experienced the full spectrum of everything the biz has to offer. From coming up as a producer for Snoop Dogg, all the way to being one of the musical masterminds behind Top Dawg Entertainment’s takeover, the man has seen things that most haven’t, and consequentially, he knows exactly how to navigate through the often unpredictable tides that flow through Hip-Hop.
He sat down for Talking Points to talk about a myriad of subjects including the impact of race/ethnicity in the music business, the way Top Dawg and company changed the game for independent artists, on the qualities that make a producer great, and of course a couple hints on what’s to come from Kendrick Lamar. Highlights are here, and the entire episode is below.
On the difference between being a White artist and a Black artist
“White artists get treated a little differently, like contractually and everything. And it’s okay. These aren’t secrets. These aren’t racist things. This is just what it is. And I say these things on these recordings and whatnot because it’s the truth, and my music is the truth. And my music is the soundtrack to that too. It’s like being in prison when you’re an artist in a situation where you’re not happy business-wise but you gave your all to your situation.
Like everybody’s all mad at Iggy Azalea. I’m not on that. With her, she’s an artist, that’s what she does. It’s her lane. I like her music here and there. I like dancing to it, it’s cool. As much people think everyone loves Hip-Hop, society hates Hip-Hop. Let me tell you something. It’s hard for White America to deal with this music getting into their kids’ veins. It’s hard. It’s hard for these parents to cope with that. It’s hard for Black people to cope with Iggy getting all these awards. But, we’re all a society. That’s the vibe.”
On how TDE redefined independent music
“I think indie has always had a sound until TDE. I think we brought albums to the game. I think brought making these indie albums rise to a whole different thing. Sonically, shit wasn’t sounding right. But when you heard Section.80 or OD, it was energy, it was the whole thing.
Indie has always been cool, but for me personally, most indie has always sounded indie to me. And I don’t believe in that. Whether indie or not, I believe a record should sound a certain kind of way.
But I grew up in a record household. And I was able to take that to TDE and we came with all that shit just to make it to a whole different level to where we are now. Now cats are starting pay for cats to mix their records. Cats want the files. People want that Ali. They gotta have that right ticket boy. That shit ain’t cheap. You heard that YG album and that Kendrick album. We brought that to the game though. Sonically sounding correct. There’s no room for opinion. It should either sound good, or it don’t sound good. So sonically, we cared about these elements.
We don’t do a project a month, we don’t do a project a week. We take time because music is real life. And we want to give you real life. I don’t believe in cookie cutter, fast-ass music. I don’t believe in putting out an album a month. No. No. Most people that put an album a month, it sounds like shit. Nine times out of ten, a cat putting out an album a month can’t be in love with the motherfucking music. Period.
But what do I know. I’m not putting out records once a month. Neither did Quincy, neither is Kendrick, neither is Snoop, and neither did Dr. Dre. So we’re in good company.”
On being a true producer versus a beatmaker
“Beatmakers sit at home making beats and bob their heads real hard and go to beat competitions. They play a million beats all day and that’s dope because I come from that and that’s amazing. That’s what beat guys do.
I believe you got to start there first. Me, personally, I want to be a producer, so I stopped making as many beats and started focusing on the concept of the whole song. From the idea, to the high hat, to how the rapper saying it or the singer singing it, to the hook, to the subject matter, to the mix, to the drops, to the instrumentation, all the way down to the mixing, and to the mastering. I produced the record. I’m there every step of the way. Taking a seed and making it into a flower is to produce a record.
If you email a beat to a rapper, he chops it up himself, raps on it, adds the hook, does the drops. You’re no longer the fucking producer. You’re the beatmaker. Now it’s his song. Because you didn’t produce it. You wasn’t there.”
Hosted by our main man Raj, Talking Points is a bi-monthly podcast series featuring in-depth, personal interviews with various influencers within the Hip-Hop landscape. New episodes are released on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month