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Alterbeats accuses: 'Whether Paris or New York: we're losing the soul of the city.' With his new album 'Class Struggle', French producer Alterbeats focuses on the current global economic crisis. Whether rich or poor, you can be a fan of hip-hop. But being rich or poor from a socio-economic point-of-view makes a big difference. 'Paris is really similar to NYC. If you don't have big money, it's really tough to live out here.' Alterbeats knows, because he lives in the Paris suburbs. The beatmaker sees the same evolution on the other side of the Ocean: 'In a few years from now, only the wealthy will be able to afford to live in Brooklyn. We're losing the soul of the city.' Alterbeats knows, because most of his guests on the new album live in New York: Tragedy Khadafi, Rockness, Shabaam Sahdeeq, Skeezo,...

In the burbs

What socio-economic class would you say is most closely related with hip-hop?

Good question (laughs). In my opinion, you can be rich or poor, and be a fan of hip-hop. It's a culture. You don't need to be a part of a specific economic class to necessarily relate.

Overall, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Do you feel that this sentiment applies to the current living conditions in Paris?

Hell yeah, it definitely applies to the current living conditions out here. But not just Paris. It's the same everywhere: Spain, Italia, Greece, United States, etc. The economic crisis is everywhere in Europe. A lot of people can't find a job, even after years of school. Personally, I got a job so I'm a lucky man.

However, I'm not living in Paris, it's just too expensive for me. I'm in the 'burbs out here. Paris is really similar to NYC. If you don't have big money, it's really tough to live out here. For example, a borough like Brooklyn is totally different nowadays than ten years back, and in a few years from now, only the wealthy will be able to afford to live there. We're losing the soul of the city.

Despite having a socialist president…

This president is a joke, man.

What class do you consider yourself?

I'm part of the middle class. I'm not rich, but I'm not poor.

French Lil Wayne

When did you get in contact with hip-hop?

That was around '98. I started to listen to some French hip-hop. Then I got into that grimy NYC movement: Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, Mobb Deep, Gang Starr, etc. I fell in love with the music and I'm still in love with it to this day.

Which French artists did you listen to?

When I was younger, I used to listen to a lot of French rap like Lunatic, X Men, ATK, Oxmo Puccino and others. For the past few years, I haven't been listening to much French rap at all. Actually French hip-hop is really similar to mainstream American hip-hop you know. We have a French version of Rick Ross, and a French Lil Wayne.

You're part of a bigger collective, called ALTERPROD. Tell us more about the crew and how you guys got started?

It's a crew of three people. There's Max who handles graphic design. Bobby Six who shoots and edits all of our videos, and then there's myself. We met a few years ago through the Internet. We decided to work all together to build a collective. First thing we did was build a studio in Paris, to work with French artists. But we stopped after two years because the artists weren't taking it seriously. And we were losing money. Most of the artists were broke and hung around to drink and smoke instead of making music.

In fact, you once said "The problem with the rap game is that it's difficult to find serious people.'

Most of those rappers claim that they're hustling and making money in the streets but when you ask them for money for a beat, or for some promotion, they don't want to pay. We're looking for artists who are ready to invest money with us. If you don't want to invest your own money on your own music, then who will? It just really frustrates me when artists are claiming that they're doing big things, when in truth, they're not. In this game, we have to pay for everything from artist features, mixing/mastering, production, videos, design, promotion, etc.

Wild West

French producer Terem told us that he likes to work with English artists, primarily because English is more readily spoken than any other language. Do you feel the same?

We work with English speaking artists because most of the music we listen to is from American artists, so it's a natural process. Also, most of the artists we work with are based out of New York, home of the hustlers and grinders that put in work night and day. I feel like we share that work ethic, and that's the type of people we need in the industry, to make shit happen.

Through which media source do you usually network with artists?

Facebook is really a dope networking tool. I made a lot of good connections by Facebook. It's a great way for me to build with artists directly, on both the creative and business side of things. I like Skype too but most of the time, I use Skype with close fam to talk and joke. Twitter is good for promoting our content and to contact bloggers and websites. I don't like to expose my life so much, so most of the time I use it for promotion.

How do you communicate the theme of a given song, or project to the featured artists that you work with?

It really depends; hip-hop's the Wild West: there are no rules. However, we do try to talk to the featured artist of a given track and see what direction they'd like to go in for the song. Sometimes we can build on a theme together. Other times, the artist already has an idea in mind, and we're usually cool to just let 'em run with it.

Both of your compilation albums The French Revolution and Class Struggle have featured several guest features. What advantages do you find with working with a multitude of artists?

It's interesting to work with a multitude of artists because you can try different things. I like it, but I'll be working with fewer artists for our next project.

So what's next for Alterbeats?

We have an EP already complete with Skeezo and Shabaam Sahdeeq. Sh*t is crazy.. we're gonna drop that next year. I'm also working on an LP with Bekay, among other artists through our and ALTERUNIT team. I've also making beats for other artists and projects outside of ALTERPROD.


POSTED 10|21|2013
conducted by cpf

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