The young production duo Da Internz pride themselves on their inability to be boxed in musically. Marcos “Kos” Palacios and Ernest “Tuo” Clark have produced for some of the biggest rappers and pop-stars on the planet and they refuse to be restricted to one genre. Rather than let others label their music, they’ve decided to do it themselves and have come up with their own term for their sound: Gourmet Ratchet.
Gourmet Ratchet stems from the combination of Kos’s extensive classical music background and Tuo’s lifelong study of production greats like Teddy Riley, Rodney Jerkins, and The Neptunes. In their words, the music they make is “Ratchet club shit, but it’s on a whole other level if you appreciate and understand music and have fine taste.” What are some examples of this fine art club music mishmash, you ask? Mega hits like Big Sean’s “Dance (A$$)” and Rihanna’s “Birthday Cake” and more recently the early favorite for the next single off of Sean’s second album, “MILF.”
We got on the horn with Da Internz to see what they’ve been up to recently and what’s coming next. Kos and Tuo talked about working with Kanye in Hawaii, their Chicago roots, and Miley Cyrus’ use of emojis.
Interview by Max Goldberg (@goopygold)
Let’s start by talking about what you guys have been doing most recently, which is working on Big Sean’s album. You guys have two songs on the album, “MILF” and “Mona Lisa.”
Tuo: Let’s go right into the shocker, which is “MILF.” A lot of people have their opinion about the record and call it what they want, but we call it art. It’s a form of expression. Music is all about having fun. I had my kids come out with me and Kos last summer and wanted to get them on a record. Once we had them on the hook, we immediately knew this could only go to one person who could pull it off and that was Sean.
Kos: I had no idea he was going to go that hard. My whole thing was, Beyoncé just had a baby. So, Beyoncé is not just a sexy woman anymore, she is a MILF. Then when Tuo said we should put the boys on the song, it clicked because when there is a MILF there is a kid in the way. So that’s where "Stop messin’ with my momma" came from. I had no idea Big Sean was going to do that on the record and say, "Boy, me and your momma be fucking/Boy you don’t know nothing about that."
It just adds to the shock factor and that’s what we do. You’re bombarded and hit with so many types of records and so much music that what we pride ourselves on is that you’re not going to get songs from us that you can just skip over like they are any other track.
The songs that we do for Sean are always so out of left field that it takes the people to get Sean to buy into it. I was watching an interview with him the other day and he was talking about how Kanye West said that his favorite song on Hall of Fame was “Mona Lisa.” - Kos
What about "Mona Lisa?"
Kos: A lot of beats that we do that end up becoming songs come out of pure competition. We’ve always felt like the underdogs, we’ve always had a chip on our shoulder. The “Mona Lisa” beat came out of us hearing all these turn up beats and feeling like, "Man, why do artists never come and see us for this type of shit. We can do this." So we went in and did this hard ass beat and dropped it off for Sean.
You know you have somebody special when you can give an artist a track and they can take it to a whole other level by themselves, it’s a producer’s dream. A lot of times producers and songwriters have to do the majority of the work. You’re writing all the rhymes, giving the flow patterns, having to coach them in the booth and pull the shit out of them for it to be cool, but every once in awhile you get an artist where you can give them a great track and they turn it into an amazing song. That’s who Sean is.
What is your relationship with Big Sean at this point?
Tuo: We’re a mafia now. We’re stuck together at the hip. We just are a good look for each other. At this point, we’re rocking out with Big Sean, no matter what.
Kos: The songs that we do for Sean are always so out of left field that it takes the people to get Sean to buy into it. I was watching an interview with him the other day and he was talking about how Kanye West said that his favorite song on Hall of Fame was “Mona Lisa.” And in the same interview he said he was hesitant to put it on the album but Kanye convinced him.
It was the same way with “A$$.” When we gave it to him, he said, "I don’t want people to think I'm a joke." But the special thing about Sean is that he’s one of the only rappers who can really ride the cusp between commercial, pop, superstar rapper and the hip-hop respected rapper. So when we create for him, we’re creating songs that can show off the big popular superstar side of him and gain that commercial success. He just wants to be respected as the real artist that he is that sometimes he overlooks that. But thank god for Kanye man, Kanye is going to get that Easter basket from us for being Team Interz.
Speaking of Kanye, you guys went down to Hawaii with him right?
Tou: That was a great experience. We went down there for John Legend’s Love in the Future. We did the “Made to Love” record. We got down there and it was exactly like Motown. Everybody was down there, Hit-Boy, Travis Scott, and us were all in one room. Kanye spoke for a couple of hours so we could get the direction right then it was, ‘Alright…break!’ Everybody went to their appropriate places to get started.
We went down to Hawaii to work on John Legend’s Love in the Future. We got down there and it was exactly like Motown. Everybody was down there, Hit-Boy, Travis Scott, and us were all in one room. Kanye spoke for a couple of hours so we could get the direction right then it was, ‘Alright…break!’ - Tou
Kos: Working with a Kanye in Hawaii was a dream come true. Being in the room with him and he’s looking at you asking questions, it was crazy. When you work with the greats, they always listen so well and they ask questions. All they do is listen to talented people around them. So, to be in that room and have him ask us, "What do you think?" and then ask why? Being able to fuel his greatness by giving some of my knowledge was a dream come true.
Tuo: For me, the biggest part was that on the hook, that sample is a Chicago deep house sample. It was featured in a big Chevy commercial during the NBA finals, so being able to have the world hear that and introduce the world to Chicago deep house on a gigantic platform was amazing. That’s a big accomplishment for us being from Chicago.
How much do you guys try to incorporate the Chicago sounds?
Kos: That is our signature. If you listen to different songs, our whole bounce stems from Chicago sounds. Our latest songs, the John Legend single “Made to Love” and our own artist KAPTN’s “Ricky Ricardo,” those songs in particular are straight Chicago deep house. So when it comes on and the world hears something they think is fresh and new, we get calls from our DJs in Chicago saying, "You motherfuckers. How are you gonna put that there!" in a good way. It’s stuff that we grew up on, it’s our subtle shoutout to Chicago in our music.
Chicago is a music factory right now, do you guys work with anyone coming up out of Chicago right now?
Tuo: We are definitely totally into the Chicago culture right now. We have been engaging and reaching back to up-and-coming artists.
Kos: Lil Herb is the latest guy we worked with. We worked with him, NO I.D., and Mickey Halsted.
Tuo: I always call my little cousin and ask her what’s hot in the streets in Chicago. So then we get on the phone and go through YouTube seeing what’s hot in Chicago while I'm in the studio in L.A.. I’ve been loving Katie Got Bandz for a minute.
Have you gotten the chance to work with any other legends?
Kos: We actually got to work with Timbaland for something on our new artist’s KAPTN’s project. We were with our mixing engineer Jason Joshua and this is when nobody knew that Timbaland was working on Justin Timberlake’s album, it was a secret. I had my eyes closed trying to tell Jason what to do to the record and I was listening so intently. Then, I heard a voice that said, "Oh, so he’s an alien like me." And I opened my eyes and looked at him and I think he took my look as a look of disrespect so he immediately apologized.
He said, "Sorry, not trying to mess up your mix session or anything, but I can always tell by how people talk if they really know what they are talking about. And by how you talk I can hear that you are an alien like me." I looked at him like, "Fuck my session!" From that moment we hit it off. He then played us Justin’s whole album right there on the spot.
Then we played him some of our beats. He was familiar but not super familiar, and then so we showed him KAPTN and told us we were trying to get him a deal in a second. He was said, "Y’all ain’t leaving me off of that." He went and played us beats for KAPTN. It happened right there and it was just so amazing. We never thought we would meet Timbaland like that. He’s got a song on KAPTN’s project called “God Bless You” and it’s incredible.
I always call my little cousin and ask her what’s hot in the streets in Chicago. So then we get on the phone and go through YouTube seeing what’s hot in Chicago while I'm in the studio in L.A.. I’ve been loving Katie Got Bandz for a minute. - Tou
You guys have worked with Miley Cyrus, what’s your relationship with her?
Kos: Working with Miley, first off, was crazy because we started her project. Our management came to us saying, "Miley is done trying to be a Disney girl, she ready to turn up. 'A$$' is her favorite song and she wants you to come to her house and meet her. It’s time to turn up." We went to her crib, and she literally greeted us by saying, "Awww whatup! I love y’all, oh my God oh my God oh my God." And we said, “What the fuck?" She was just so cool, it was unreal.
The thing about it is, I somewhat regret how we went about working with her. We were still trying to maintain a little bit of "old Miley" and turn her up just a little bit, but we had no idea she really just wanted to twerk! She was really trying to go all the way there. So for us to be on the beginning of the project, it was incredible working with her. Our song is going to go towards something but it isn’t on the new album coming out, it’s going to be on something else.
You guys built a relationship with her, right? Is that relationship still ongoing?
Kos: For sure. When I got Jay-Z’s new album, I instantly texted her saying, "Twerk Miley twerk!" She responded back crazy with a bunch of hearts, she was so excited. That’s 1000% the homie. I’m excited for her new album and I'm excited for when we go back in to take that to a new level.
The thing about Miley is that she had to make that big transition and that transition is always kind of tricky. It was just cool to be a part of helping her find where she is at with it now. She’s the homie man, how can you not love Miley Cyrus right now?
I agree, but some people don’t. She’s catching a lot of hate for the VMA performance. What would you say to the people that are being super critical of her to defend her because you guys are obviously pretty tight.
Kos: My thing is that the people hating have no idea. It’s same thing people did to Michael Jackson. These kids grow up in entertainment and they’re under a microscope their whole lives.
Music and performances are expressions, so how can you mistake how you feel? That’s how she felt at that moment. That’s what we're doing everyday that we go to the studios and make songs, we’re saying how we feel. So you might not have loved how we felt in that moment, but does that mean it was a mistake? That’s how she felt in that moment.
It might not appease you the way you want, but what do you want her to do? This world would be so boring if we all felt the same all the time. At the end of the day, look at the moments where she speaks from her heart, she’s a great person. She’s got great energy so fuck them.
RELATED: No I.D. Talks Big Sean's "Control," Comparisions to Rick Rubin, and Learning From Jermaine Dupri
RELATED: Meet Crystal Cains, the Female Producer who Worked on A$AP Ferg's "Trap Lord" Slbum.
RELATED: Illangelo Talks About "History of Man," Working with The Weeknd & Elijah Blake