This story is over 5 years old.


Space Juugin' with Brodinski

The French producer speaks on working with Atlanta's finest street rappers and helping out on a little album called 'Yeezus.'

Images courtesy of Life or Death PR

Except maybe “confusing and angering adults,” nothing is more fundamentally hip-hop than repurposing whatever you have at your disposal to make something new and dope. The entire genre grew out of a generation of kids in the Bronx with musical inclinations going to public schools whose arts programs had been gutted by budget cuts. So they learned to make new music out of old music.


Brodinski’s path to rap lacks the socioeconomic subtext, but it is structurally similar. He was a French techno wunderkind, beloved as a DJ and producer. He got into southern rap and set about reconstructing the sound with techno’s yowling synths and precise industrial percussion. This is obviously nowhere near the first meeting of techno and hip-hop—Kraftwerk are probably more important to the roots of rap than the Sugar Hill Gang—but Brodinski’s sound is unique and his beats bang hard.

Even if you haven’t heard of Brodinski, you have heard his sound on a little album called Yeezus: he helped craft “Send It Up” and “Black Skinhead.” On Brava (out March 3 on Bromance, his label), he fully explores his personal sonic landscape, with the help of a forward-thinking array of rappers. This is your chance to hear Peewee Longway juug in space and Bloody Jay finesse the Autobahn.

With Brava on the way, I spoke to Brodinski about getting into hip-hop, working with Kanye, and why nobody sips barre in France.

Continued below:

Noisey: I’m interested in your relationship with hip-hop, especially as a French person who started out in techno. How did you first get into it?
Brodinski: I first got into hip-hop with Three 6 Mafia through [Bromance A&R and associate] Guillerme Berg. I feel like I was a proper techno head and I was only listening to techno music, six or seven years ago. I came to hip-hop with the same passion as I came into techno. I got into it and started downloading every album that ever existed from every artist I loved and every artist they collabed with. I started with Memphis, Three 6 Mafia, Project Pat, Tommy Wright III, Gangsta Pat, and all those guys. Then I discovered DJ Screw and the whole Screwed Up Click, and the whole Houston movement.


What drew you to it?
I got into the similar sound I could find between what Three 6 was doing in like ‘91 and what electronic music was, especially like the Detroit Electro… from Drexciya to Three 6 there wasn't so much difference to me in the mood. And what Chief Keef is making today as a beatmaker feels like electronic music.

It’s interesting because what I know of French hip-hop as a stupid American is like… MC Solaar. European hip-hop in general tends to focus more on New York golden era rap.

But you were never into that? You went straight from techno to Three 6 Mafia.
Yeah… I think the internet gave us another way around. Coming from France, I don't feel like I respected any of what was going on at the time when I was like 16. The music I discovered wasn't from the radio or TV, it was directly from the computer. I feel like everyone today can say they're from a post-internet era, everybody grew up on it, but 10 years ago it wasn't that big. It was difficult to use it right, it was difficult to find the information. I guess today's it's too much.

Do you think maybe if you were ten or even five years older, you might have never gotten into hip-hop or if you did it would have been more boom-bap?
It would have been different. I think French rap music would have been a big influence anyways because it was for everyone that was older than me. But I got interested into something else because nothing was in front of me.


Is this just your perspective or do you feel like French hip-hop in general has diversified its influence?
Yeah I feel like nowadays young rappers are watching overseas a lot more and it's a good thing, especially because so much work is done the USA. Everybody's working so hard and so much to make it happen… I feel like I didn't see this energy in France. But recently it's coming back with artists like Joke and Gardur. They are influenced by Future, French Montana, Max B even… Gucci Mane. I always feel respectful for all of those artists trying to make it different.

There's a cultural gap between hip-hop and the dance community in the US… is there a similar gap in France?
I feel like France is too small to have a gap like the one in the USA. People respect what anyone is doing because at least you're making something. There's always been a good energy between artists in France, in every genre. For example, like, doing an album like I'm making right now… it makes people feel good about doing something different and coming from France.

How did you decide who to work with on Brava?
I pretty much worked with artists I was already a fan of, especially Peewee Longway, Bloody Jay, Young Scooter … but [Bricc Baby] Shitro, when I met him I only heard like four songs by him. But I liked those four songs and I was like if we have a chance to get in the studio let's do it.

Anyone you tried to work with where it didn't work out?
Yeah—most of the time it was a matter of time, you know? I wanted to be in the studio with them and most of the time I made it happen. Some of them, like Slim Thug I couldn't… but I'm happy I made it happen. I wanted to work with King Louie, I wanted to work with Johnny Cinco … I still want to work with those people and I hope it will happen.


You recorded most of the album in America?
I was LA for a minute, in Santa Monica. Red Bull helped us, gave us the studio for like three weeks. We invited rappers and singers … Maluca was there, Shitro was there, Freddie Gibbs came by to listen to some music. I remember that was the first time we traveled for making the album. After this time in LA I remember thinking “I know what I want to do now!” And that was a year and a half ago.

How long have you been working on the album?
Two years.

Did you collaborate in person with Kanye or was that all done remotely?
We spent some time in the studio together. It was another time when I realized I wanted to spend more time in the studio. I wasn't around him for that much time, but spending three weeks in the studio, having the chance to exchange ideas and talk about music… it was a great time.

What was the process like? Was it like five of you with Kanye directing the action?
Well, the first time he came by, he was interested in playing us stuff and us being honest about it. He played "On Sight"… and I remember being like… OK, we got something now! This is crazy! It's like proper acid music… this is gonna change everything. To me at least. So anyways then he played us another track, we gave him some remarks and he was like, "You know what, just take the track do what you want to do." We freaked out… he just gave us the music! I'd never worked with anybody else like that.


How do you mean?
He doesn't care about the ego, it's just about exchanging ideas. Every time I was with him, he always wanted to know more and it was a great feeling. He was always very open-minded.

Your production is a departure for the rappers you worked with. Did you have to sell them on what you were doing?
I used a little trick… all the beats you hear on the album were rap beats first. But I would show them what we were doing. For example, the SD song (“I Can’t Help Myself”), I played them the original and then I played what we did with it and said that's what we're going to do with your song. So they would rap on a beat and then we would change it. But I remember playing Bloody Jay the song with Louisahhh!!! (“Need For Speed”) and I told him I'm going to make this a rap beat so you can put a hook on it. But they were up for it… we kept a good energy in the studio, that's really important.

Does anybody in France sip lean?
The medications in America are powerful… you don't have people taking medication that is so powerful in France. And I don't think we can even find promethazine and codeine… you can't buy it in France.

What's Bromance's next move in the rap world?
We're working on several side projects. Bloody Jay and I are going to release an EP on Bromance called Ghetto. I'm also working the new Shitro mixtape called Nasty Dealer which is coming on March 31. A lot of producers from France are working with Shitro … he came to Paris for seven days and we recorded a lot.

Who else has come to see you guys in France?
For now, just Shitro. But I hope more of them will come!

Skinny Friedman is on Twitter.