It was almost damn near three months ago that we alluded to a joint collaboration effort with Redefinition Records, Al Lindstrom and Lost Tapes to put together a "Best Of" compilation of Jersey producer K-Def's greatest work. When we decided to put this all together, the first thing we agreed on was to take our time and make sure it was 100% quality, and it's definitely been a labor of love working on this. K-Def certainly has an extensive and quite the unique discography; add to that a complex but interesting back story to go along with it. With production credits for heavy weights like Ghostface, Diddy, Lords of the Underground, Tragedy Khadafi and more under his belt, plus an instrumental featured on Entourage, Kevin Hansford is definitely a force to be reckoned with. The brother Chris Moss from Al Lindstrom sat down with K-Def to talk story and give a little background on the songs chosen in this compilation, which you can find down bottom. Without further ado, we present the most underrated producer in the game.

K-Def, The Most Underrated

Intro & Interview by Chris Moss
Photos by Dan Love
Compilation produced by 2dopeboyz, Al Lindstrom, Lost Tapes & Redefinition Records

For a producer -or any artist for that matter- to articulate their vision and have it manifested sonically for the masses to hear is no simple task. Equally difficult is having that same artist verbally detail the creative processes that went into the creation of that work of art. Be it painting, writing, rapping, or beat making, describing the intricacies of creation is a difficult undertaking.

I had a chance to talk with K-Def the other day and he is one cat who can put his words down in a similarly poignant fashion as one of his signature drum patterns. To borrow the title to his latest release on Redefinition Records, he’s adapted quite well as “Times Change.” K walks us through a sampling of some of his discography and several releases you may or may not be familiar with. Quite candidly, this selection was chosen not only to illustrate his rightfully earned place in Hip Hop, but also to show the breadth of his catalog and talent. For a producer to have worked with Diddy and UGK and Ghostface and Ol’ Dirty Bastard is quite an accomplishment. K-Def gives readers –and listeners- a chance to hear a little insight from the producer himself and some never before shared knowledge into the origins of some of his records. Pay attention.

01. "Introducing the Magnificent" 
K-Def: “That was done in ’95 and I had just gotten the MPC 3000 hooked up with various sound modules.” This was really the first time I had started playing keys on my beats. “The drums came right from a clean-ass, Akai factory drum disk, no sampled drums!” I was looking to move my production game away from what I had previously been doing and started incorporating more technology into my equipment setup.

02. "Real Live Shit Remix" f. Real Live, Ghostface, Lord Tariq, Killa Sin & Cappadonna 
K-Def: “It was a methodical hypnosis beat. I had programmed the drums and hooked the sample up with the strings and the hard timpani hits. Everyone wanted to rhyme on this beat and Wu and others were really down to get on this record. I also have this session on videotape, too. It was the original version that helped us get a deal with Big Beat/Atlantic.”

03. "How Nice I Am" f. World Renown
 K-Def: “This was another methodical hypnosis joint. I was working on this around the same time as I did Da Youngsta’s song ‘Reality’ and it derived from the same sampled record. I actually had Illmatic a year before it got released and ‘The World is Yours’ inspired me to do this record. I won’t reveal the exact song, but I will say it was a Chick Corea sample and I’ll leave it at that.”

04. "Axel's Replay" K-Def: “I was a big David Axelrod fan. The more and more I study these guys in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s the more I understand I like to use the same instruments they used. I found a record of his that had open drums on it and that was rare itself. I programmed that and played the live sounds over it to emulate the original record without just sampling it.”


05. "Funk Mode" f. Tragedy Khadafi 
K-Def: “We did a bunch of records together around this time. We were at Power Play Studios listening to the beat with the break. I mentioned to him that Brand Nubian just came out with it and he was like, ‘I don’t give a fuck, let’s use it.’ I was just a sample maniac being around Marley a lot. Trag, once he was done with a record, he was done! (laughs)"

06. "Rather Uneke" f. De' 
K-Def: “He wanted to do it as a DJ record after I had laid the cuts down on this record. This was the record that set me up to do the ‘Lord Jazz Hit Me One Time’ record afterwards. Marley saw that I was ready to make that kind of record now."

07. "Trunk Interlude"
 K-Def: “When I came across the sample (mimics the sounds), I was like ‘what the fuck is that. I pulled the part of the output plug out to separate the frequencies and was able to remove the big kick from the sample. I wanted to get Red vocals on there, Mobb Deep’s on there, too, all the main dudes that were rockin’ at the time. I had to argue a little with Big Beat to get this one done. They weren’t going to clear everything, but I got those two samples on there.”

08. "It's Getting Hot Remix" f. The Artifacts K-Def: “Me and Larry had our shit out and I was feeling the Buckwild remix the Artifacts did with Busta (Ed. Note: Artifacts were label mates with Real Live around this time). Pete (Rock) had this first and I loved ‘In The Flesh’ as I used to ride around to this in my car all the time. I thought I could change the drums and add a little bit more of the original record with the Akai S3000 since I had more sample time than the SP-1200. The record never came out, but cats were really feeling this one.” 


09. "For Tha Family f. Mic Geronimo" K-Def: “That song started off good, although I didn’t make it for the final mix. It was a hot record and I was competing with Pete Rock’s ‘Unstoppable’ and Diddy’s record and they went with Diddy’s record. Mic Geronimo and I were cool: he came through and played basketball. However, at this point, I was an artist now and focused a little more on Real Live at this point.”

10. "What I'm After Remix" f. Lords of the Underground & Keith Murray 
K-Def: “That shit was crazy; Keith was amped. Everyone was yelling loud as hell and Keith was louder than everyone and he said, ‘I want to be heard, Def, I want to be heard!’ Keith was a beast on there. That break is rare and I haven’t told anybody about it either. I looped it, filtered it and left it like that.”

11. "In This Cold World” (Instrumental Version) K-Def: “This is a Lord Tariq record called ‘In This Cold World’ on a white label promo. He and DJ Enuff came by Sugar Hill Studios at the time and I was playing the beat. As soon as he heard it, he wanted it! Tariq is one of the coolest and most fun cats I’ve been in the studio with. We went to go clear the samples and we couldn’t get them cleared. The joint did come out on a white label 12” though.” 


12. "Come to Me Remix" f. Diddy & Biggie 
K-Def: “Basically, I got the vocals, put my beat to it and put it to their original video by the next day! Who was doing that sort of thing? Diddy and everyone loved it to the point where I heard every office at Bad Boy listening to this joint while I was up there. Unfortunately, the artist I sampled it from wanted 100% of the copyright. Diddy wasn’t going for that."

13. "Have A Clue" 
K-Def: “This is on Willie Boo Boo ‘The Fool.’ My man, 45 King, hipped me to this as I was by his house one day and went crazy for it. I got the soundtrack and I know no one knows what that is because the part I used is not from the record; it’s from the movie score to that movie and I played every note over. By the way, it’s from a John Wayne movie and that’s all I can tell you (laughs)."

14. "Reality" f. Da Youngsta's K-Def: “As I said before, this was the same record that I used for ‘How Nice I Am,’ just a different section. I wanted to make something melodical for them and have them make something that had substance to it for cats coming of age during that time. They were getting a little serious with this joint. Once again, this is in the same vibe as the ‘How Nice I Am.’”

15. "High in the Clouds" f. ODB & Black Rob K-Def: “I had the vocals first and I looped up the beat. I knew if another producer/dj/whatever ever confronts me and he starts poppin’ shit, I’d have to pull out a break that is rough, rugged and funky, all at the same time. It will automatically get your attention and it’s a gem as far as I’m concerned. Everything is in the sample, just a loop (laughs), down right and dirty.”

16. "Time Changes" 
K-Def: “I haven’t heard a lot of people where someone could take different records and keep it at the same tempo all the way through. Let me try to put 10 different loops or chop ups together over the drums and see how it turns out. No one has used those drums and made them sound as loud as I have. I restored them, got rid of the hiss and put transients on them, too. I got a copy from the master tape. Dr. Dre gave me the insight when he put together the Doggystyle album to get the best kick and snare possible when making a track.”

17. "Monty" K-Def: 
“That joint was done the same time as ‘Crime is Money’ and I used the same drums, too. The original drums came from a Cash Money & Marvelous Marv record. Whew, the drums were open and, oh yeah, it was over!”

18. "It's Over" f. Ghostface Killah
 K-Def: “Seven Shawn and this girl, Wahkena, did the hook to that shit. There were three singers on the original song and Wahkena was able to sing each part over. Basically, Ghost’s budget for this album was spent. I came in knowing I could not just use the original sample because the clearance fee was too high. I replayed everything on this joint-piano, drums, everything!"

19. "Supa Nigg Outro" 
K-Def: “King Tee used that originally for one of his 12” joints and I was a fan of his. I liked the sample from Carmen McRae and hooked it up. At first, I didn’t know where the sample originated; but, a record collector from Connecticut came to the Big Beat offices one day and I bought some records from him. I got home and played them. Turns out, I had just found the original record that King Tee used for his joint! This was one of the first beats I did in Cubase around ’97.”

20. "Next Up" f. UGK, Big Daddy Kane & Kool G Rap [*] K-Def: “Marley said he was working with UGK and I think Primo had done the joint originally. I gave Marley the beat because it was basically done. I had reprogrammed the drums; I did the whistle and replayed the piano. This beat was originally called ‘The Symph’ that was released two years earlier on my Willie Boo Boo ‘The Fool’ album. My drums are crackin’ on that!”

21. “Chief Rocka” (Lords of the Underground) {*} K-Def: “I had just seen Marley two weeks prior and I was at his house. I was thinking that I had no more beats after I gave like 25 joints to him, so I knew I had to get more beats done. After I had got back to my crib, I went home, vibed, and I pulled out some breaks from here and there and pieced it together with the drums. Afterwards, I put the beat on and everyone went crazy. This was at time when everyone was focused and Mr. Funke went in! Even with the rhymes, it set us apart at a time when originality meant everything. Listen how he sets off the record (mimics the first couple words). Ten years later when I went to rehook the beat up for an R&B group; I forgot how I originally programmed it. It was the only beat that I couldn’t figure how to reprogram. Just a few years later though, I figured it out. So, we’re good (laughs)."

DOWNLOAD: K-Def - Most Underrated (Mixtape) | Alt. Link

ENTER RATING

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  • Thasickness

    as far as well rounded...this dude is one of the illest in the game..I'm still clamoring around trying to find De'1 album on a regular basis...anybody got this album PLEASE hit a nigga up...Real Live had some of the dopest beats when the album dropped..freestyled for days over Real live Shit...both versions. Real Hip hop right here...rewind button breaking shit.

  • BricksInMyCity

    this shit is type ill! Jerz in da building. great mixtape , real hip hop!!! and that ll cool j snippet is bugged with the ufo sample!

  • BeyondDope

    2dope!

  • Dorian

    Who's bouta read all that though?

  • chronwell

    Rap nerds gonna read it HAHAHA! Who u think?!
    Thats wild how Its over form Pretty Tony is all live instruments and vocals. K Def is a genius!Also Lost Tapes is winnin!

  • JBmbeatz

    Nice Compilation!! K-Def is truly a beast when it comes to music production & DJing.
    Yo K-Def keep bringing the heat Bro.

  • Crimealdi

    I had no idea this dude produced Chief Rocka, certified classic dope shit

  • Bankster

    Bought Real Live The Turnaround when it was released. Dope album. K Def also remixed Jay's American Gangster album. Check that out if you haven't.

  • Kika117

    Great list, but "Mad Props" is K-Def's best beat ever imo!

  • chronwell

    How ya like me now? Im gettin Busier!

  • Whiterthanmost

    Oooooooh! REAL LIVE SHIT!! That's the way to kick off a mixtape. That song was the first of five "oh shit. He produced THAT!" tracks on this tape. Props to a guy who clearly did it his way.

  • http://www.claaa7.blogspot.com claaa7

    great to see y'all loving this tape as much as i myself and i think the article / interview is a perfect piece to read while you're listening to these songs (or like me, if you already know them). i love trivia like this, i read Pete Rock's and DJ Premier's 50 favorite productions breakdowns on Complex, etc but i never seen an interview like this with K-Def, who's been one of my absolute favorites for years. and it's great we did this compilation, partly because 'Def is coming with new material and it's quite obvious that alot of people have been sleeping hard on him or didn't know he produced loads of classics. i'm a fan of Chic Corea too so i must find that record that he used to sample for both World Renown and Da Youngsta's tracks we put on here. i was also mad suprised that he replayed everything on "It's Over" - that's just amazing. for those who don't know Def also produced the Pretty Toney "mini-tracks", "Last Night" and "Keisha's House" although he remained uncredited. he also produced "Paychecks" for that album but they couldn't get the sample cleared in time so it appeared on the Theodore Unit LP instead together with two other K-Def beats.

    Justice, we did it man and we killed it!!

  • badabang

    Ha! Chick Korea 'Tones For Joan's Bones'

  • http://www.claaa7.blogspot.com claaa7

    haha, is it "Tones For Joan's Bones"?
    i think i have that record at home, i need to check that out when i get back home on Wednesday. thx man

  • @peoples21

    This niga is the reason I do what I do...even now his samples r fucking killing tye air waves ...pay homage...passaic k_def my inspiration

  • SPank (Divided Souls Ent)

    Great work and thanks for the feedback! It's nice to see people reading this and appreciating the work we put in on this project. Thanks and great work Justice, Jacob and John.

  • huggy bear

    y´all really hooked me up to k-def, i really slept on this guy´s work, simply amazing stuff, thnx

  • DEVIOUS

    ONE OF THE HOTTEST PRODUCER/DJ EVER IN MY BOOK .......THEY DONT MAKE'EM LIKE THIS ANY MORE......K DEF A LIVING LEGEND....

  • dawho

    instrumentals or full tracks

  • el jefe

    Excellent read.g/l

  • DONNIE THOMAS

    K-DEF KEEP DOING YOUR THING

  • http://www.720promusic.blogspot.com DjSane720

    like i said b4 ..not to many producers can DNA a sample and still keep it soulful just like the sample or sometimes better like Kdef.........i learned alot from him....def a one of the last mohigans of producers left in the Eastcoast............kbooogie