Interview with Grant Parks
Chi-Town has the talent right in the middle where it blends with the east coast, west and the dirty south hip hop vibe. Chicago’s producer Grant Parks has elevated his craft to the next level and has worked with Grand Puba, Sadat X, General Steele from Smif N Wessun, KRS-1, Masta Ace and many others. Intrigued got the chance to talk to the windy city producer about his craft, how he got into the business, Coal Mine music company, working with Sadat X and expectations for 2013.
1) Joining me, is Chi-Town’s producer Grant Parks. What’s good so how did you get into music production?
I was a fan of hip hop first & had instrument lessons during childhood and it grew from there. I was working on a computer with limited memory and graduated to my first drum machine, an MPC 3000.
2) Chicago got very talented producers like Kayne, No I.D. and The Legendary Traxster. In your opinion what makes Chi-Town’s sound so unique from the east coast, the west coast or the south sound?
Chicago is in the center but we do have a lot of so we do have a lot of sounds from NY. The North side is more underground based and the West side has more of a down south sound and the south side has a combo of it all.
3) You got a lengthy resume under your belt. How do you get the attention of heads outside of the windy city?
Traveling and networking! Going to music & DJ events, promoting and able to make connections. You have to get out of your regular surroundings and build a base. The more you go to different places and attend different events, the more you expand your network. Networking is essential to build your own brand.
4) What was your first beat and who was the first artist you worked with?
My first artist I worked with was an unknown artist from the west side of Chicago. It was a good experience because it helped me build my skills.
5) Talk to us about Coal Mine music and how it got started?
CoalMine Music started as a production company and is ran by Terron (my brother), Joanne (sister-in-law) and myself. Over the years, we have grown into a label, offering four components of the music business - Production, Management, Marketing and Consulting. Working on production with local artists early on, allowed us to learn other aspects of the business, in turn, branding CoalMine
6) I know you hear so many unsigned artists trying to get in the game. Let’s say an unsigned artist gives you a demo or mixtape, what do you look for in an artist that gets your attention and say I want to work with them?
Their presentation is important, if their CD is raggedy, that tells a lot. Then, their skill level. I can tell if they are serious and confident.
7) You also have a production album “Parkstrumentals” in which you produced the project. Was it difficult getting the guest appearances on some of your tracks?
No, not really. The thing that was tripped out was, everyone sent their files in on time, for when we wanted to release it.
8) What’s your arsenal of production equipment when making a beat?
FL Studio, MPC MPK 88, MPC 2000 and a mix of computer programs. I’m a tech head so I stay up with music production and computer programs so I use pretty much everything.
9) How long it does usually takes to make a beat?
It depends on the beat. The fastest I ever made a beat is from five to ten minutes; it doesn’t take much. For a more intricate beat, it takes a while, no specific time.
10) What are the least favorite aspects about producing?
The least favorite aspect about producing is sometimes getting producers block, just like when artists get writers block. It’s a frustrating experience.
11) You were the executive producer of Sadat X’s album “Love Hate or Right” album and produced three tracks. Was it difficult packaging the album together?
No, not really because when I got the files, they were on the same vibe. Sadat came to Chicago to master the album with me at my studio. When we were figuring out what order to put the songs, all of them were in the same lane made the process easier.
12) You produced the track “Hunny” from Grand Puba’s “Radioactive” album. How was it working with Grand Puba?
It was a great experience. Puba was easy to work with. At first, I was surprised about the beat he picked, but after listening to the track I see why he picked it. It was a good vibe and fit him. Great dude to work with!
13) What do you think of Chi-Town’s Chief Keef’s unpredictable success at such a young age?
Chief Keef success is great to be that young. We wish him success, as we do any other artist.
14) Your beat was featured on the MTV’s PUNK’D episode. How that came about?
Joanne was working with Sadat X on the MADE episode and they were looking for music to use on the show. She pitched our production catalog during a meeting and a few months later, we had a licensing deal. This is a great example of what networking is all about. We have a few other placements that are in process of being aired on other networks.
15) What was your reaction when you were nominated for producer of the year in both 2008 and 2009 Chicago Truth Awards?
I was in total shock and it was about time that I got recognized. It was great to be recognized by your city. I wished I won but it felt great to be nominated for those awards.
16) You worked with KRS-1’s stop the violence movement and produced the “Self Destruction 2009 track with numerous artists. How that came about, did KRS-1 reached out to you or you reached out to him?
Joanne and Terron were working with KRS on a few things for the STVM and putting an album together so when we had him out here for a fund raising weekend, we started working on the song.
17) Any artist that you haven’t worked with yet you would like to collaborate with?
A lot of artists; too many to name! I would like to work with Common, Twista (again, he was on the Self-Destruction 2009 song), Jay-Z (of course, who wouldn't (laughs). I also would love to work with some South artists - T.I., Young Jeezy, etc. My production is versatile, although I came up from the underground, which they call “real hip hop”, but definitely willing to expand. I listen to any type of music and can produce any type of beat - trap, R&B, underground, etc.
18) What are Grant Parks’s expectations for 2013?
Making more solid connections and staying relevant in the game. By the end of 2013, I hopefully working with artists I haven’t worked with, as of yet.
19) Will we see another Grant Parks production album in the works?
I'm working on a few other projects right now, but as the year progresses, I will have a GP project ready.
20) What advice would you give to artists and also people that want to pursue in owning a label about the music business?
First and foremost, if they are serious about their craft and the business itself; they have to understand it’s not going to come overnight. You have to give in order to receive. The game doesn't give you anything. You have to put a lot of work in & handle the business behind it all.
21) It was a pleasure interview you Grant Parks, is there anything you will like to add before we wrap it up?
Thank you for the opportunity, much appreciated.