Q&A With E-A-Ski: Talks Early Works, Ice Cube & 5th of Skithoven (The My Daily Joe Exclusive)

Interview By Chad Kiser


American Journalist Chad Kiser speaks to E-A Ski, a successful music producer who has made a career out of making a career for others. Instrumental in the early success for Spice-1 and Master P, E-A Ski helped to provide the sonic back drop to which the East Bay Gangster rode through the 1990’s chart dominance, as well as being highly influential and active to the beginnings of Master P’s No Limit Records. Whether it was producing classic hits like “East Bay Gangster”, “Dumpin’Em In Ditches”, and “Runnin’ Out Da Crackhouse” for Spice-1, or producing the classic single, “Trigga Gots No Heart”, on the Menace II Society Soundtrack, E-A Ski helped pave the way for several artists coming out of northern California.

In addition to his early work with Spice-1 and Master P, The Oakland, CA producer has also provided several noteworthy productions for artists ranging from the Luniz (“Playa Hater”), Kam (“Pull Ya Hoe Card”), and Ice Cube (“Penitentiary”, “Pros Vs. Joes”) to Jayo Felony (“Finna Shit On Em”), Ice-T (“Where The Shit Goes Down”), and E-40 (“Quarterbackin’”). Solidifying his post as a go-to hit-making producer, E-A Ski has also been showcased on several chart-topping soundtracks like the aforementioned Menace II Society and Ice Cube’s Friday (“Blast If I have To”). Currently, E-A-Ski is prepping the solo debut of MTV and Grind Time battle rap champ Locksmith, championing his new film “No Problems”with Danny Glover (which also won the 2010 Okanagan International Film Festival Award), endorsing the new “Maschine” from Native Instruments, and preparing to release his new solo project titled 5th of Skithoven.
In this My Daily Joe exclusive sit-down with the west coast O.G., Mr. Ski shares his thoughts with Chad Kiser on the current state of music, working with the new Native Instruments groove production studio known as the “Maschine”, prepping his industry takeover with Locksmith and Frank Niddie, among other interesting topics.
MyDJ: I want to open this up with how you got started doing music. Who were your inspirations and influences coming up?
E-A Ski: My inspirations were really Run-DMC. That’s who really sparked me because what they were doing was so creative and it moved me to take music seriously. Their stage show, their music, and speaking real stuff and being able to tell my story from my point of view is what really got me into it. I have other influences but that’s who motivated me to do what I really wanted to do.
MyDJ: When did you realize that music [producing] was what you wanted to do?
E-A Ski: I didn’t really realize it in the beginning until I was rapping over records and couldn’t get what I was looking for and when I finally got my own equipment and started to perfect what I wanted to hear is when I knew what I wanted to do. When I was coming up people were rapping over samples and just making records and I wanted to create my own music and my own sound. Labels eventually started hearing my music and was asking me to do production for some of their artists that were signed to their labels and that’s when my production became valuable.
MyDJ: You were recently named a spokesperson & have become an endorser for the new Native Instruments product called the “Maschine”. What’s different about this piece as compared to the other studio equipment you’ve used?
E-A Ski: Number one, it’s a hardware and it’s a software and it allows you to work within DAW and its USB, meaning that you can plug it right into your laptop and take it on the road and allows you to work faster and it’s portable.
MyDJ: Switching gears, talk to me a little bit about your new project “The 5th of Skithoven”. What can fans of E-A Ski expect with this new material?
E-A Ski: It will be my first debut solo album as an artist. You can expect HEAT. The production and lyrics will be incredible. The subject matter will be on point and it will be on stuff that people aren’t addressing in hip hop. That’s why I’m inspired to put out an album. Groundbreaking is the approach I’m taking going into this project.
MyDJ: What has been your inspiration/motivation for putting together “The 5th of Skithoven”?
E-A Ski:  Real situations are what inspired me to do this project. I wanted to talk about stuff that people aren’t addressing in hip hop. I’m in a zone to put out stuff that inspires me and real situations that I have dealt with. I’m expressing myself as an artist and how an artist should. I named it the 5th of Skithoven because of Beethoven and his influences and will be very musical in a street way.
MyDJ: I assume your artists Locksmith & Frank Niddie will make appearances on the project, but who else can we expect you to work with on this?
E-A Ski: Freeway and Ice Cube just to name a few
MyDJ: Backtracking a bit, tell us about your artists Locksmith and Frank Niddie. What plans do you have in store for them?
E-A Ski: Locksmith and Niddie are two different individuals therefore there are two different plans and you have to understand that Lock has put in a lot of work and has established himself as a lyricist. With Locksmith I’m just making sure his Frank the Rabbit album is put together and leaking songs that will help create a buzz and make people anticipate his project. Frank Niddie is a new artist and we are in the process of developing him and making sure his goals and direction is felt. We must dig deep and find out what you want fans to know about you; just trying to develop artists in a way that they aren’t afraid to attack things and aren’t trying to compete with the commercial market.
MyDJ: I recently saw the YouTube video for “Mad World” with Locksmith, that was crazy!
E-A Ski: Mad world video is incredible and it goes back to the question as far as development in what we do. We put out records that will trigger emotion and cause people to think more. The music that’s out now you just dance to it, you don’t listen to the words. Like with locksmith he speaks on stuff he’s going through. What artist need to do is organically let the music come to you versus force feeding it. A hit record isn’t contrived it’s developed. WE try to make records and if it’s hot I put it out on my YouTube channel and show people how serious he is about his music. No silly shit here, we aren’t going to be silly to fit into the market place.
MyDJ: Now, you’ve had a few projects like “Earthquake” & “Apply Pressure” that haven’t seen the light of day. Can you speak on why those projects never came to fruition?
E-A Ski: Basically when the Earthquake album was in process and while I was with one of the labels they got bought out so that left me with leaving that situation and after leaving that situation I got inspired by something else and I tucked Earthquake away. Then I went
to the next label and worked on Apply Pressure and then that label got bought out. So, as time goes on the A&R gets fired and then you end up leaving the label. Music and interviews need to reflect who I am and as time goes on some of your views may change
and so does your view of the industry. Those records (Earthquake and Apply Pressure) still exist and they will come out and people can say, “Wow! That was an incredible piece of work.”
MyDJ: Will we ever get to hear “Earthquake” & “Apply Pressure” in it’s proper form, with proper releases?
E-A Ski: Eventually after I drop my debut album finally I will do a back track and then I will release an unreleased album and do my stuff backwards.
MyDJ: I noticed that you recently had a digital release with “The Resume”, what prompted you to want to do that? And why not do that with “Earthquake” & “Apply Pressure”, respectively?
E-A Ski: The Resume were records that I had out that got big in the Bay Area and I had a buddy who was putting out digital releases and asked me to put out the digital release even though they were late and old. And I was going to wait to put those out but he asked me to do it. Earthquake and Apply Pressure are different because they are full length albums so we just put out the singles for digital release.
MyDJ: A couple songs stand out to me that came out around the time of the “Apply Pressure” era. One is “Manuscript”, can you explain how and why that record came together, and elaborate a little bit on the meaning of that particular record?
E-A Ski: Just a record at the time that was based on how I was feeling and how the East Coast is real biased and how we supported a lot of artists heavily and when we go to the East Coast you get the back lash and you don’t hear West Coast artists on big radio stations like Hot97 and at the same time they’re stealing our culture, our style, our sound etc. and that was my perspective on how I looked at things at that time.
MyDJ: The other record that stands out to me is one that I never heard, called “Rock The Mic”, which was set to feature Ice Cube & MC Ren. What happened to that record, and what can you tell us about the concept?
E-A Ski: “Rock The Mic” is an incomplete record and a lot of people heard about it and it got out to the press that we were in the studio working on that record. [Ice] Cube and [Mc] Ren are the homies and being former members of NWA we just got in the studio and vibed out and “Rock The Mic” was just a way of expressing ourselves on how we got down on a record.
MyDJ: Getting in the studio with both [Mc] Ren & [Ice] Cube must have been a great experience, considering the two former NWA members don’t record much together these days. What was it like getting both those guys on a record together?
E-A Ski: The respect that Cube and Ren has for me and mutually that I have for them it was off the hook and it felt like homies in the session doing what we do well. No egos, no pressure and just working to re-establish the West Coast and trying to put the record out through the label but it’s still in the vault and you’ll eventually get to hear the record.
MyDJ: In speaking about Cube, and more specifically his comments about the “New West” artists, what are your thoughts on some of the west coast’s newer talents like Jay Rock, who just signed to Tech9ne’s label, Nipsey Hussle and Glasses Malone?
E-A Ski: It’s good these are artists that are out here trying to establish themselves and trying to put the West Coast back on the map. I’m never, ever out there against other artists. As a veteran artist and producer I hope they don’t follow the things that are going on in the industry, and allow the industry to paint a picture for them versus painting the picture themselves. We’re either trying to fit in or bypass others but I like artists who create their own lane and are intelligent about it. It’s about being able to go in there and do your thing and that’s what I think is going to create a new West Coast movement.