A native of Minneapolis, Cheap Cologne has been in the Minnesota music scene for years. Music was in his blood from the start, as a kid too young to stay up late to listen to the hip-hop radio show on sunday nights, he would tape songs off the radio while he was asleep and then make mixtapes on cassette. Then he got some turntables and started DJ'ing for various artists in the Twin Cities and eventually he evolved into a producer. He has played shows at venues like First Avenue, The Quest, The Cabooze, and The Red Sea with artists Atmosphere, Heiruspecs, The Shapeshifters, Oddjobs, and Dosh & Sole of Anticon. Cheap Cologne has been compared musically to RJD2, his debut album Just A Little Sample features guests: Slug from Atmosphere, Awol One & Circus of the Shapeshifters, Elias, Gentle Jones, DJ T-Rock of the 1200 Hobos, Unsung, and LA Symphonys' Pigeon John.

• click here to listen to Believe Me by Cheap Cologne


interview by Brian Kayser

What got you into Hip Hop?

What got me into hip hop? Hmmm... thats kinda tough, I just love the music, it was the Grandmaster Flash and the Chaka Kahn I guess, the BDP and Big Daddy Kane, then came RUN DMC and the Beastie Boys and Eric B. and Rakim... man I was hooked from day one. I started breakdancing back in 1984 and had the parachute pants and the Converse All Stars. I remember setting the tapedeck up and recording the radio on Sunday nights before I went to bed because I was only 13 and mom was not having me staying up late listening to the radio. They had a little hip-hop show on a smaller station here that started at 10pm. I would record it as I fell asleep then wake up and start rockin it in my headphones and boombox, breakin' to it till next weeks show. Then I started making mixtapes from the tracks I recorded on the radio, which then led to buying wax and then getting into dj'ing and then producing.

Who are your influences?

My influences... man, there is really no possibly way for me to mention everyone. I would say some of the people that I "look up to" in the business are people like DJ Krush, Shadow, Prince Paul... but ALOT of music influences me... not just hip hop. I like Bob Marley and Erykah Badu, Nine Inch Nails, The Deftones, Radiohead.... tons of different stuff. I am feeling alot of underground cats like RJD2, Rhymesayers, Tonedeff, Josh Martinez, Pigeon John, Alias and Jel from Anticon, but I still to mainstream stuff like Timberland and Dre. I like the new Missy Elliott. I will listen to just about anything except this "new country" crap, but I'm cool with old school country like Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson - but this new stuff is garbage.

How do you make a beat?

Usually when I sit down to make a beat... it doesn't start out as me making a beat, it evolves from me listening to records and hearing something I like. I start by finding a sample that I want to work with and build drums around it and go from there.

Do you go for a certain mood?

Definately not... I don't sit down with the idea in mind that "this is going to be a happy song" or "I want to freak people out". Most of my stuff has leaned towards the darker side... not for any particular reason, like I said, it just kind of comes out and evolves into something.

What equipment to you use?

Most of what I have done to date has been done using a Roland R8 drum machine and a Yamaha SU700 sampler/sequencer and recording into Pro Tools, but I recently went midi in my home studio and added a couple sound modules and am using a keyboard to control the sampler, the sound modules and the Roland then record into Digital Performer.

Who was your favorite artist to work with?

My favorite artist to work with was Pigeon John. I have been a fan of his for few years and I jumped at the opportunity to record with him when he came thru town. He was very professional, came in and left them mic smoking.

What's the favorite beat you made?

My favorite beat that I made? If I had to pick one I would say it is "Believe Me" the second song on my album "Just A Little Sample". It features vocal samples from Charles Manson, its kind of a dark song, but I think it has a message that needs to be heard. I even wrote to him in prison to try and get sample clearance. I never got a response, so shhhhhh.

Whats good in Hip Hop today?

The fact that there is hip hop EVERYWHERE is good... all over the radio, all over the TV, videos, shows, commercials now are even having some hot beats in them. Hip Hop is now a major force in the music industry. That is great because it hopefully means jobs for broke-ass people like me.

How'd you get your name?

Cheap Cologne is an old basketball nickname, my defense sticks to you like cheap cologne.

What's the strangest thing to happen when you're in the studio?

I don't know if I really have anything "strange" that has happened. I have a somewhat amusing story about a session that I did with Slug from Atmosphere and Circus and Awol One from The Shapeshifters for the song "Stitches". The Shapeshifters came thru Minneapolis for a few shows they were doing but Daddy Kev was unable to make it, so they had no DJ. I filled in for a few shows here and in Wisconsin, but one of the shows was with Atmosphere... so we planned to meet up the next day to do a song. The next day everyone comes over to my house, we started recording and notice a mad buzz on the vocals, even with Daddy Kev on the phone in Cali doing tech support. We couldn't get to the bottom of it. Since they were leaving town the next day, we had to move the session to one of my buddies who was running pro tools apartment at like 10:30 pm on a Sunday night. Everything ended up working fine and we completed the song. Its cool to hear Slug and The Shapeshifters rapping over a metal beat I did. It was absolutely hilarious listening to Circus shouting his overdubs in a completely silent apartment complex at 1:00 am. The elderly people upstairs must have wondered what was going on when he was yelling "I'm not Jesus and you're not Elvis".

Any advice to up and coming producers?

Advice??? man... give me some. The only thing I can say is be persistant and keep doing your thing. You need to be everywhere. Stay tuned for my album featuring Slug, Circus, Awol One, Elias, Gentle Jones, Pigeon John, T-Rock and Paul-Z. It comes out on October 21st through Bomb Hip-Hop.


Track Listing

01. Operation 3:43
02. Believe Me 4:11
03. Seventy One 3:09
04. Floating Away featuring Elias 2:06
05. Faustus Diary (remix) featuring Gentle Jones 3:50
06. Dreality featuring DJ T-Rock 3:07
07. City vs. Soil featuring Gentle Jones & Unsung 4:49
08. Barry Manilow Is Alive And Well featuring Pigeon John 3:06
09. Poke @ The Art 3:54
10. Ravers Suck 4:06
11. Sobercab featuring Paul-Z 3:16
12. Sound Familiar? 2:19
13. Wheezing 2:20
14. Stitches featuring Slug, Circus and Awol One 3:58
15. I Am Not A DJ 2:25
16. Mission Statement :07

"Cheap Cologne's bombastic beats are the treat. Wear your helmet and your dancin' pants at the same time because this beat warfare will put your body into submission". - Barry Braun KVSC St Cloud