Mahogany interview - superstar producer
Like most creative people Mahogany, moves at a moderate pace of his own and still manages
a way to write music with superstar songwriter Mariah Carey for her 2005 Japanese LP.
With songs entitled "Sprung" and "I Feel It", look forward to a dynamite outcome. Expect
to hear more from Mahogany as he works closely with EMI music publishing executive, Big
Jon Platt to maximize the innate potential of this remarkable producer songwriter he
signed in 2002.
Why the name Mahogany?
It's a name that stuck once I came back from a summer vacation in Honduras. Someone said
I had a mahogany complexion from the sun tan and I thought that was a hot stage name that
could reflect me and my musical sound. My sound is the 1970's soul sample sound. After
researching it I noticed that one of Diana Ross's biggest movies was called "Mahogany"
and it was about a famous model in the fashion industry, who had an interesting life.
How did you get into producing?
I started producing in 1998 professionally but one of my closest friends named Sonny
Cheeba from the group Camp Lo had just been signed to Profile Records so I would hang out
with their producer Ski and he showed me the ropes and invited me to the studio sessions
and I began to network and that's when I hooked up with Roc-A-Fella. I met Dame Dash and
Jay-Z and after all of these encounters, I knew I had to apply these networks for
something so I began practicing making beats until I felt they were good enough to play
for people and then one day Jay-Z walked into the office and heard one of my beats which
was labelled Celebration. He ended up buying the track right on the spot with a personal
cheque. I wish I held on to that check stub! The song then was also called Celebration
which was on The Streets Is Watching movie soundtrack. It went multi platinum so that was
Have you always been a producer or do you have other talents as well?
Basketball was my first love but once I got bitten by the music bug that was it for me.
No more hoop dreams.
How did you become a producer for EMI?
A month after I produced the single for Dr.Dre for his movie debut "The Wash" featuring
Snoop Dogg, EMI apporached me becuase I was a free agent. They had already bought out my
first publishing company which was Windswept Pacific publishing so the transition was a
Tell me about the song contest you're holding.
It's a chance for songwriters to showcase their writing and song style and get heard by
the EMI A&R department directly through me. Everyone is going to have the same track to
write to. This way we can concentrate on the first 30 seconds of the song to see if they
can write a hit. Writing a hit is a technique. The track is just 50 percent of the hit.
That's the start, so when the song writer applies a creative concept to a track and
brings it to life it's the sign of a great songwriter.
Everyone wants to know about the song "I Feel It" that you produced for Mariah Carey's
last album, The Emancipation Of Mimi. Why didn't it make the final line up of songs on
I have no idea to be honest. Everyone asked that. I think that the song is great and it
just would have stood out on the album which is a good thing but when you're making an
album, you want it to flow a certain way. There are a lot of great songs on her album
that I feel the record company wanted the audience to pay attention to. The tracks I
produce had more of a soulful element and the album turned out to be a clean and polished
album. "Sprung" was very energetic, there is no other song on the album that sounds like
that, and the same with "I Feel It". It's so soulful, you would want the whole album to
be like that. That's just my take on it.
How did you get into contact with MC?
A friend of mine, namef Roxstarr (on Myspace as "The Anti Corp"), came to me and told me
that his friend just got the job as Mariah's day to day manager A&R. I was camped out at
Sony Studios in New York making tracks everyday, and her A&R Mark Sudack came by to pick
up a CD from me and I had just created "Sprung" so I passed the CD over to him. A week
or two later he called and said Mariah loved the track, and the rest is history.
What was it like being in the studio with MC?
Super cool. She's very creative. We listened to records I had with me, took pictures and
just enjoyed the moment. Me and Mariah sat down and made like 10 beats together in 3 days
with hardly any sleep. The vibe was powerful. When that happens you really dont want to
go to sleep 'cause you'll feel like you missed some music magic in the studio.
Did you both talk about much with each other?
Plans on how we want to work together on more songs. Mariah is very down to earth and it
was like I knew her already. She has a good spirit.
Are there plans for you to work with her on the album she's doing now?
I'm submitting tracks right now bouncing ideas around.
Who else have you produced for?
Jay-Z, Dr,Dre, DMX, Jada Kiss, Styles P, Big Pun, Queen Latifah, M.O.P, AZ, Cassidy,
Shaunta, Knocturnal, Nas...
How much do you charge per beat on average?
Major artists pay me between 15k-20k. Independent artists pay $1000-$3000. Jay-Z was an
independent artist when he bought a track from me and he gave me an advance of $3000.
His album went on to sell 5 million records. I would say that's a wise investment for Mr.
What are your plans for the rest of this year?
To keep making Hip Hop history and make the South Bronx proud of me.
(Xtaster - Rashmi Shastri)