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FSD Feature: Nez & Rio: Westward Expansion

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Words by Charne Graham (@88nae88)

Chicago is known for breeding some exceptional producers, and two beatsmiths at the forefront of the new sound emerging from the city are the duo of Nez & Rio. The two friends met at Kenwood Academy High School and have since been making music together as a team. Nez and Rio have quite an impressive discography having worked with some of Chicago’s finest (King Louie, Treated Crew and SaveMoney), to TDE’s Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul.  In January of this year, the duo packed their bags and took their talents to the City of Angels — but ain’t a damn thang changed.

We caught up with the duo to discuss the move, crafting music for different genres, their upcoming work with Schoolboy Q and much more…

FSD: How do you two feel you’ve progressed as producers since moving to LA?

Rio: We are at a point now where we are just trying to perfect our sound a bit more. We are a lot more particular with what we add to beats and what gets released. Other than that, it’s basically that any artist shows growth with time so we’ve just gotten better. We feel like our best beats are our new shit.

Nez: I agree with that. We have definitely gotten more confident with our sound and I think that’s really the wave.

FSD: If you had to describe Nez and Rio’s sound with three words, what would they be?

Nez: Slam, slam and slam. [laughs]

Rio: I mean it’s something new really. [laughs] That’s three words.

FSD: What is a day of the creative process like, what do you guys do to get in your mode?

Nez: We just chill really, nothing special.

Rio: Yea I don’t think it’s anything specific we have to do, but the main thing we care about is our focus. The main thing that I know I worry about is trying to create a mood and a feeling where I’m not concerned about whatever else is going on and try to focus on the music. Then there are sometimes when things on your mind flow into it. For example, if you’re frustrated you might come out with a beat that’s angry. If we’re in a good mood we might make some R&B shit. I guess it’s all a reflection of whatever kind of day we’re having.

Nez: True, what mogs just said. [laughs]

FSD: Are you guys making beats with certain artists in mind or does the artist come after the beat?

Nez: It depends; sometimes we work on a certain sound when we know we have a particular artist to put us in that mode. Usually, we figure out who to send it to after we make the beat. We just need to find out who it fits best.

Rio: Yeah it happens both ways. We had situations in Chicago and in LA, where sometimes the beat is made while we’re in the studio with the artists. Other times it happens after we make something and think “You know what, this would be perfect for that person.” Sometimes the artist will surprise us and pick an unexpected beat from a batch we send them.

FSD: So how do you guys feel about all the great attention Chicago has been getting musically?

Nez: It’s pretty dope that more and more people are getting the recognition they deserve.

Rio: It’s important for Chicago to make dope shit because it’s a lot to be said about the city good and bad. There are a lot of different perspectives. Just like there’s a King Louie, there is a Chance the Rapper. Those are two different styles of Chicago rap but yet they could still work together and make something cold. So it just says a lot about the city. The more artists who break out of Chicago on national basis will give people who live in other cities more of an understanding of what really happens in Chicago. For me, moving to LA has given me a better perspective of which artists are actually making noise outside of the city. It’s kind of funny because we never realize how famous someone is outside the city because we’re just used to kicking it with them at parties and shit in Chicago. These artists are huge and it’s dope. The more artists to come up the better.

FSD: Do you feel like leaving Chicago is what it takes to realize how big of an artist you can really be?

Rio: Not always.

Nez: It’s just specific to that individual. With the internet and how easy it is to digest music these days, you don’t necessarily need to leave. Of course you need to travel but we’re not saying you need to leave the city to blow.

Rio: I think that if your stuff is dope to Chicago, then it’s probably going to be dope to other major cities. With us being producers, it helps to know what people are listening to outside of your city. A core following is also important so we still keep in touch and continue work with all the dope people who are from Chicago. As producers, it’s easier for us to work with everyone who comes through LA now.

FSD: What are you two the most proud of now?

Nez: Schoolboy Q’s Oxymoron.

Rio: Yeah, easily Oxymoron.

Nez: This is a dope look for us and I think it’s going to surprise a lot of people.

Rio: That’s our first major placement. It’s like you work so hard to get to a point where you can buy your shit off the shelves — and to the point where it’s going to be released to the masses for sale. That feeling is what I’m proud about. To have your friends, your mother, and your grandma see what you’ve been doing and buy your work out of a store. It just says a lot. It’s just one of the goals on the list that’s about to be checked off.

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The post FSD Feature: Nez & Rio: Westward Expansion appeared first on Fake Shore Drive.

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