So you were DJing at a lot of parties?
I DJ’d a lot of house parties. I DJ’d at skating rinks, night clubs, some of the bigger clubs from Boca to Palm Beach. You know, college nights, I did a lot of that just to get by.
What were some of your favorite clubs to play?
I played at Club Boca [7000 West Palmetto Park Road # 102, Boca Raton] for years, a club called Weekends.
What made a club stand out to you then?
How many chicks were there. How many people that would come out. We’d do everything from the Cameo Theater [1445 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach] to Club Boca college night, and I even did Dirty Moe’s, a pub, playing classic rock through half the night then the other half of the night back there bartending, you know. I was into whatever. Wherever the vibe was good.
Do you still see much live music now? Do you go out a lot?
My wife and I try to go out as much as possible. We’ll go down to Miami and do Cameo. We’ll go to Liv [4441 Collins Ave, Miami Beach] for the nightclub thing, but I’m not really into nightclubs; I’m into bars. But we’ll do that to entertain our friends, you know. We’ll do Hard Rock [401 Biscayne Blvd # R200 Miami] and just hit up whatever clubs are in there. Passions [5701 Seminole Way, Fort Lauderdale]. I’ll go to Blue Martini [6000 Glades Road, Suite C-1380, Boca Raton] in Boca and kick back and have some drinks or the local Irish pubs or whatever. And I’m also into going to the occasional strip club and listening to the music, watching chicks dance and shit. So I’m into that too, as long as my wife doesn’t trip. She let’s me get out there.
We actually just put together a list of the 50 best strip clubs in America and our number 2 is King of Diamonds in Miami. Have you ever been there?
Yup. My number one is Tootsie’s [150 Northwest 183rd St.] in Miami. Kills King of Diamonds.
What’s Tootsie’s like?
Tootsie’s is way better. Tootsie’s is like every type of flavor of women: white, Spanish, black, every type of women in there is beautiful. King of Diamonds is more one type of woman. So I like to mix it up. I go to both, too. I used to go to Diamonds when it was Diamonds. Trick Daddy’s father used to run it. I think he runs King of Diamonds if I’m not mistaken. Me and Big D used to go out there and he would take me to all of the black strip clubs with Rolex’s and all that shit and I would take him to the white diver bars. So we’d kind of mix it up.
I’ve talked to some artists, producers who have said the strip club is a good place to go find out what records are really hot and what people are really into it. Would you say that that’s true?
“Motivation” is popular because it has sex appeal and the chicks in the strip club love to dance to it. But I’m not as into going as I used to. You know, I’m married now and have kids. If my wife was going out to the strip club every week I’d think I’d start bugging. You know, I invite her out whenever we go. But you know, friends of mine like Yelawolf stop by every once in awhile and we’ll hit the club. When certain people come into town we’ll do King of Diamond or Tootsie’s, Cheetah 3 [497 NW 31 Ave.]. That’s in Pompano, they have one in Atlanta, too. It’s like a mix club, you know.
King of Diamonds is massive, right?
Massive. It’s like a damn Costco or something. So is Tootsie’s. I think it literally was like a BJ’s or Costco. It looks like Vegas. 300 chicks or something. Wait, let’s make this story less about strip clubs because you’re going to get me fired. [Laughs.]
You mentioned some dive joints. What’ a good one?
Take One [333 NE 79th St., Miami]. Trick Daddy took me there one time. It’s fun; they have a good time in there.
They tend to be smaller, less…
They’re just a little more aggressive, a little more vulgar. They’re strippers, straight up. Them girls get it done.
What’s the music like in those places usually?
Well, it depends on the place. If you go to Cheetah’s, you’re going to hear AC/DC and Lady Gaga. Same in Tootsie’s—you’re going to hear Lil Wayne and Lady Gaga. It’s like a rhythmic radio station. In King of Diamonds, it's soul music and just good, ghetto anthems. Those type of things. And that’s what I love. That influences me when I’m making records. If I’m making an R&B record, I’m making a ghetto R&B record.
You would make something that you would hear in the strip club.
Yeah, something that’s hard.
So that was the idea behind “Motivation”?
So we’re doing “Motivation,” and Fat Joe is a friend of ours and he mentions that Kelly needs one of them bangers, something hard. And they need help with some of the direction and we went there. Rico and I are good at getting there.
Yeah, Rico actually wrote the song and I wrote the music. He’s amazing.
Actually, I talked to him a couple of weeks ago and he was one of the guys that were telling me that those are the places to go to find out which records are getting played.
Yeah, he does that. He’s good with that. He listens to rock, too. He gets influenced by a lot of stuff, but I was really happy to do that record for Kelly. I thought it was going to be dope for her and it did turn out to be great. Its #1 six weeks now.
I hear it all the time in my neighborhood. I always hear it coming out of people’s cars.
Oh, that’s great. It’s got that thing, huh? Every once in a while you do one of those records, like a “Lollipop” like that, starts as urban and then it crosses over.
Yeah, “Lollipop” once it really broke you heard it everywhere. People that had never listened to Lil Wayne before we're listening “Lollipop.” It was accesible. Do you do much digging? Do you have record stores that you go to?
No, I just use the Internet for that, but I do get influenced by old records all of the time. But I don’t dig deep into the crates, I look for the hits. I just want to make big popular records. I think my favorite records have always been the hits. Some of the records you dig for in the crates can be really interesting but I tend to just…Let’s say its Kansas—I want to find their biggest record. I want to find what was it about that record that made it so huge and infectious. So I try to do that rather than digging deep in crates, you know. Whereas somebody like Timbaland collects records and goes in; I respect that. I did that for many, many years as a DJ and as a sample-based producer. My big first record was an Ozzy Osbourne sample.
What was the sample?
Trick Daddy “Let’s Go.” That was that “Crazy Train,” Sabbath, you know.
That’s a pretty recognizable sample.
But still it’s a big…why not take that one?
Are you still into sampling these days?
You know, I still get it in sometimes.
If something catches your ear?
Me and LL might be doing something that we just flipped. I actually did it in ’06. Reached back into my catalog and he heard it and we’re flipping it today. Yeah, so it’s going to be great.
Who else are you working with these days?
I’m working with Yelawolf, Eminem. Me and Eminem are collaborating on Yelawolf’s project. I’m working with Justin Beiber in July. B.o.B’s new album. I’m working with Gwen Stefani. I think we’re going to work with Kanye. Who else? Just a few other people I’m scheduled to work with that I’m psyched about. I just actually just had a session with Mark Anthony and J. Lo and this artist we just signed from Spain, Leroy, got to sing a song for them. Prince came by and he sang for Prince. And I was fucking shocked, I was like, “Wow.” Like, who sees Prince? And who gets to sing for him? It was really incredible. And he played guitar for one of the records I did for Idol, which was crazy.