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Tall Black Guy

The '80s baby talks about what's coming up in '09.
Tuesday Apr 14, 2009.     By Jeff D. Min
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

Tall Black Guy

Terrel Wallace (aka Tall Black Guy) is a producer that has worked on projects for the '80s Babies, Pathfinders, The Primeridian, Pugs Atomz, Rashid Hadee and Kenny Keys. His style of production is rich in "golden-era" compositions, but still finds itself miles beyond mediocrity thanks to a taste in sampling that reaches back several generations. Stylistically, Tall Black Guy has a Madlib-esque quality about him, but it's his drum samples that give him a distinct Chicago flavor reminiscent of old-school NO I.D. He's performed in numerous beat competitions including Dance to the Drummer's Beat and the Red Bull Beat Competition, where he took home first prize.

In recent months TBG has displayed his beatmaking talents live and has helped turn the reclusive art of beatmaking into a full-fledged showcase. Centerstage caught up with TBG to talk about hip-hop and where his music will take him in 2009.

I know you've mentioned that your father listened to a lot of jazz and funk. Which artists in particular stood out as significant to you?
Man, the one jazz artist that had a big impact on me was Lonnie Liston Smith. I always liked the different layers he used to put in his compositions. Also he has a distinct sound of notes and tones.

Now when you're constructing a beat, do you stick to the traditional way (MPC) or do you stay up on the technology (Pro Tools, Reason, Acid, etc.)?
I started making beats in February 2001. I always wanted an MPC but I couldn’t afford it. So I went to the next best thing, Sonic Foundry 2.0, then advanced each time the software updated. Currently I use Sony Acid 5.0.

I'm an '80s baby myself and it's interesting because I think our generation missed out on the righteousness of the '70s, and got thrown into the world of globalization. It's an odd conundrum socially, so why don't you tell me how you and Dee Jackson (his cohort in '80s Babies) interpret the '80s.
Well I would say that even though we are from the '80s, we had a lot of older siblings that kind of influenced the way we look at music and life in general. So I think we grew up when the essence of music was still at its best: the '80s and early and mid-'90s.

Ts a lot of nostalgic rap out there, and if you couple that with some of the shallow shit coming out, hip-hop looks a little troubled. What's your take on hip-hop as a whole?
Boo, to a lot of the hip-hop right now. There are only a handful of hip-hop acts that are getting the shine they deserve like De la Soul, Q-Tip, Blu, etc.

Tell me a bit about your album, Moments in Time?
Moments in Time...a very long process to complete, about 4 years to be exact, but we completed it and put it out so that's always good. I think it's just an all-around feel-good album. Just dope beats and rhymes. That was the formula from back in the day when hip-hop was still good so I wanted to stick to that.

What do you have coming up for 2009?
There are a lot of goals I want to set for myself: making the new '80s Babies album, an instrumental album, put out a house record with Radius, work with this great singer Nina Rae, collaborate with the talented Produktionix, collaborate with Barak Records, collaborate with the talented sistas Allegra Dolores, and put out the remix album of The Primeridian's Da Mornin' Afta. Is that enough?


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