SKI BEATZ: Head Of The Dojo
Ski Beatz has long resurrected himself since reconnecting with his Original Flavor manager Dame Dash and joining the latter’s DD172 collective. This is where the dojo was formed and laced with the nickname the “24-Hour Karate School”.
Words: Cola Janneti
Over the years Ski Beatz has evolved from being an MC and DJ into a world renowned producer, who has blessed Mos Def, Lil Kim, Fat Joe and most notably, Jay-Z (for his classic debut album Reasonable Doubt) with a few of his tracks. Sure, one can say that Ski has achieved a certain level of mastery in his art form, which was made more visible by some of his DD172 comrades, like Mos, Jay Elect, Jean Grae and Curren$y.
But if you ask Ski, he who teaches based on the wisdom that he’s gained from age and experience is the true master. And with his latest release, 24 Hour Karate School Part 2, which is out now, Ski reveals that he’s sharpened his weapons before hitting the mat and showing the newbies the ropes. The greatest lesson he’s learned so far in his career? “Is to be patient with and let things unfold. Life has a funny way of figuring things out for you and if you work hard, have fun and stay consistent, you will reach your dream. The process is a build up over time. You have to work in order to see the fruits of your artistic labor.”
When it comes to describing how the 24 Hour Karate School series came into fruition, Ski says, “I was in the dojo before it was called “The Dojo” with Mos Def, Curren$y and Dame Dash. Curren$y jokingly said ‘Aw man, it’s like a 24 hour karate school in here. We don’t ever sleep.’ Mos Def thought it was dope and before you know it, we made a song called ’24 Hour Karate School’. It eventually started out as a mixtape, [but] people took it so well with all the imagery we threw up on the web with Creative Control. It went from [a] 24 Hour Karate School mixtape to the studio, which is now The Dojo and my band which are now The Senseis [Ski Beatz, Masters of Ceremony & Drum Machine; Brady Watt, Bass; John Cave, Guitar; Harold O’Neal, Keys; Daru Jones, Drummer; and Joe Blaxx, Sub Drummer].”
But for those already familiar with the 24HKS franchise, expect Part 2 to be just as melodic and base gripping as Part 1. “There is really no difference. They both came about the same thing. It wasn’t like I planned to have certain artists in the studio, it just happened,” Ski explains about the process for making both parts of the series. He elaborates further on why his favored DD172 affiliate Curren$y is MIA on this installment. “At the time when I was working on the album, Curren$y’s career was blooming. He started doing his thing, as far as more shows. He got the situation with Warner. It was hard for me to see him.”
But the tag-teaming collaborative efforts between Ski and Curren$y are far from dead. Ski is currently producing a couple of tracks for the N.O. rapper’s Pilot Talk 2, which is coming soon and a few other special projects. “I do have a track from Curren$y that’s coming out on my next project called The Twilight Zone. It’s the kind of album for cats who like [to] smoke and just chill.”
24HKS2 does offer a few newcomers, like the LEP Bogus Boys. “They knew Dame for a minute. Dame knows their manager as well. Dame told me they had a strong independent movement in Chicago and it would be dope to work with them. They came to dojo, I had the track on deck and Terri Walker was in the studio at the time. They told Terri they would love to have her voice on one of their records. And respectively, it turned out [to be] that record that ended on this album.”
And STS… “His manager Riggs [Morales] told him that he had an artist that like loved my work and he wanted me to check him out. I went on YouTube and I heard one of his records. He had mad references of records I did. It was ill how he did it. [So] He came to the studio, we met and did a few songs. “Moonwalker” [featuring STS] was the first official record I started to work on [for] Part 2 of 24 Hour Karate School. I told him of wanting the idea of moonwalking, being spacey. And he took it [to] a another level and made a metaphoric masterpiece,” Ski says.
On whether Part 2 will exceed the notoriety of Part 1, Ski keeps it simple.”My expectations is really not to have any expectations. Just to put it out there and start working on Part 3. Part 2 to me is [already] old.”
But listeners shouldn’t expect only mixtapes to come from Ski’s dojo. The Twilight Zone, his forthcoming project outside of the 24HKS series is definitely not a mixtape. “It’s a compilation of [all the] artists I work with in the dojo and songs I didn’t use on certain projects, but are all dope. They all have the same type of vibe [too]. You can just play it, light up and chill through the whole album. Smoke DZA, Mikey Rocks and TradeMark… Mac Miller. Sam Adams got a cool joint on there.” Ski is also working on a few songs for Jean Grae’s upcoming album Cake or Death, with one song, “Rip”, in particular, that features Styles P and Talib Kweli.
On where to next and the future of Ski’s dojo, “We are definitely working on branding 24 Hour Karate School. The concept touches more than being just about music.” As its headmaster, Ski Beatz leaves us with one final gem to grow on: “I’m always learning and teaching from everything, but the real beauty is that it’s pretty much all relevant. Sharing info, learning, growing. It’s about building your art, a brand, and that comes from both learning and teaching.”