- Written by DeVon Hyman
Hip Hop is a lot of things, but at the very essence it is Beats and Rhymes, your favorite artist would undoubtedly agree. The right production does wonders for any song. That's where experts such as Red Army Productions come in, a full service contemporary music production firm based in New York City since 2007.
The brainchild of founding members Michael Enriquez, Alberto Burgos, and Daniel Williams- Red Army Productions specializes in the Hip-Hop and R & B genre. Its catalog includes work with major and independent artists alike such as Cyssero, MIMS, Bang Bang Boogie, Cuban Link, and Charlie Clips to name a few.
Quick success was found as the i- house production team for 50 Cent backed Bang Bang Boogie. Shortly after the buzz was created internal disagreements and conflict over visions and decision making with Red Army caused the original structure to dismantle.
Michael Enriquez, one of the original founders felt compelled to resurrect the brand--Red Army Productions. "After taking nearly 2 years off I realized how vital music was to me, the relaxation it provided," he explained. Enriquez's sentiments, he later found out, were not shared among his brethren. Discouraged momentarily, Enriquez felt as though there was something to fight for and throwing in the towel in was not an option. His faith and work ethic has served to be exactly what the doctor ordered, as Red Army Productions is back in full stride. The first quarter of 2011 has seen Red Army crank out hits for MIMS and Charlie Clips, as well as garner play on many media sites.
There are many styles and approaches to production commonly known as beat-making, but Red Army seeks to create a unique sound, one influenced by legendary styles such as Dr. Dre's which incorporates live instruments. In addition Red Army has taken a page out of Bad Boy in-house team "The Hitmen's" page. As a whole, the objective of Red Army is to bring Hip-Hop back to its roots, "the grimey drums, funky bass lines, etc" as Enriquez puts it. Those things which have become a rarity in today's rotation. Its a slow and steady process but Enirquez and Red Army have already exemplified that they are up for the challenge, persevearance is the key to the doors of the future. With more hits on the way and a grind that is second to none, you can pencil in Red Army as a staple in the Hip-Hop game for a long time to come. The following session will help you understand why:
Parlé Magazine: Give the people a little background on yourself, how long have you been producing?
Red Army: My name is Michael Enriquez I previously went by the pseudonym of Blaze but I intend to maintain a high degree of professionalism and seriousness in this industry hence the reason for the stage name hitting the chopping block. I am the founder of The Red Army Productions LLC. I've been producing for approximately 4 years but my musical experience can be extended to about 7 years of playing the guitar and related instruments.
Parlé: What was the first machine you used, and the first beat you created?
Red Army: When I first started producing I was only using software (FL Studio) due to budget constraint and oh man, lets not even get into the first beat I ever made LOL, I remember like it was yesterday, FL was new to me so there was a learning curve, and you could really tell I didn’t know what I was doing I was trying to make rap beats but I knew nothing of swing and what was the right tempo etc…lets just say it was a hot mess! As for my first piece of hardware I remember after I sold my first beat to an independent group in Philadelphia I RAN to guitar center and picked up a first generation M-Audio Axiom25, later that year I went on to purchase some studio monitors to get rid of the desktop sony speakers my close uncle gave me, from there on it was just a matter of perfecting my craft, which I will be the first to humbly say is a work in progress. Each day provides a unique learning experience.
Parlé: What drew you to production? Any background as a DJ?
Red Army: Surprisingly I have no experience as a DJ, while I was in high school during, my freshman year (2003) I was actually in a rock band as a guitarist. After completely messing up our first live performance we disbanded. At that point, Delio “Jip” Schmidt a para-professional at the school suggested that I try making beats. I agreed, and the next day he brought me a copy of FL Studio 5 (then known as Fruity Loops) and the rest was history.
Parlé: Besides Dr. Dre and the Hitmen what other producers work have you admired and incorporated into your style?
Red Army: Hmmm, I would have to say first and foremost, Tupac’s producer Johnny J (RIP to both) following that it would be wrong of me to not pay homage and credit Just Blaze and the Heatmakerz as producers I really admire. They were really influential when my production technique was heavily sample based a couple years ago. I would also like to say that as of recent I really admire the work of veteran producers Havoc, The J.U.S.T.I.C.E League, DJ Khalil, Hi-Tek, Focus and fellow up and coming producers Cardiak, Max Dollas and my former production partners; B.Skillz and Klarity Tracks.
Parlé: What did you learn from the tribulations that your company went through with the disassembly in 2009?
Red Army: I am not going to sit here and say that the disassembly was a negative experience because everything in life happens for a reason during this period I was able to re-invent my sound and slowly update my production equipment and software.
Parlé: Where are you originally from?
Red Army: I was born and raised in New York City, I grew up in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan but I have since moved around the city quite a few times.
Parlé: When you were away from music, what was the one thing you missed the most that called you back?
Red Army: I must say it was the self satisfaction of saying to myself “wow, I made this” and the thrill of placing tracks with artist with a well renowned reputation.
Parlé: Do you and the other founding members of Red Army maintain good relations?
Red Army: Of course, myself, Klarity and Skillz talk very frequently, we just had a conversation on facebook.
Parlé: Is it harder doing The Red Army as a solo venture?
Red Army: I must admit that it is indeed a challenge doing The Red Army from a production standpoint as a solo venture but the payoff is so much more rewarding knowing that I have been able to carry on this legacy in spite of everyone mentioning the fact that its not an “army” if there is only one person. However, I must state that when marketing new releases I will not take the credit for all the work I have a slew of individuals who make it possible such as: Kathy, hiphopdx media director and childhood friend Raymond founder of RayTV.
Parlé: How did you hook up with Charlie Clips?
Red Army: Before getting back into the art of production in late 2010 I had actually set up a brief business plan compiled of various artists I wished to work with. Included on that list was Harlem heavyweight Charlie Clips. I had done some research and found myself obtaining a contact e-mail address from his twitter. It’s funny because after reaching out and sending numerous samples of my work, I didn’t get a response for like two weeks within that time frame I figured that maybe my production style wasn’t what he favored being that at one point he was apart of Cam’Ron’s UN maybe there were restrictions as to what kind of material could be put out, however, sooner than later I received a text message stating that he felt my production was album worthy and that we needed to get in the studio to work ASAP, from there we have met up on various occasions and have an album in the works, there is no current set distributor for the project at the moment as we are focused on putting together a well rounded final product that not only we, but our fans will appreciate and be proud of.
Parlé: What about MIMS?
I primarily dealt with Erik Mendelson.
Parlé: What is the root of Hip Hop that you would like to help reincarnate?
Red Army: It seems as though today’s music lacks the intuition and meticulous detail that was once popular in the 70’s soul era, I would have to say that the top producers of that era, The Funk Brothers (Motown) and Gamble and Huff (Philadelphia International) did an amazing job on keeping everyone on their toes. Their production techniques have yielded numerous gold and platinum releases and that is something I strive to achieve, we need to realize that the root of great classic music begins with the work ethic and chemistry formulated between the artist and the producer. In hip-hop we have this bad habit of producers just submitting beats to the A&R and getting a completed track sent back to them. In my opinion it’s imperative for the artist and the producer to be on the same page and actually sit and work on completing a full SONG. If it is one thing that I would like to reincarnate in hip-hop it would be the re-establishment of the artist and producer relationship.
Parlé: In light of the tragedy of Japan there has been a wealth of humanitarian efforts, to my knowledge you as well have sought to pitch in and help, how so?
Red Army: That is correct, I have recently produced a remix track “Ghetto Like a Motherf***er” by 50 cent, for every listen the track generates on www.youtube.com I have pledged to donate 10 cents ($50 max a week) to the Japanese Red Cross Society in support of the relief efforts after the detrimental earthquake in Japan. What’s great about it is that there is NO financial commitment required from the listener this is coming completely from the funds of the company, all I ask is that those who support the cause just log on to youtube and listen to the track. I will also like to acknowledge that I will be posting pictures on both twitter and facebook proving that the donations have been made on a regular basis.
Parlé: And where can people go to join in your effort?
Red Army: Those interested in listening to the track may log on to: www.youtube.com/redarmymusic it is the featured video on my channel. And for updates you may also log on to: www.facebook.com/theredarmymusic
Parlé: Can you share some of the other outlets to which people can obtain and hear your work.
Red Army: Content produced by The Red Army Productions LLC has been featured on various popular media channels such as: www.hiphopgame.com, www.hiphopdx.com, Hot97, Power105 and much more. If interested in listening to a collection of our production feel free to log on to www.youtube.com/redarmymusic a full user interactive website is currently in development.
Parlé: Name some of the more notable artists that you have worked with.
Red Army: In addition to those mentioned some notable artists that I have worked with in the past include: Cuban Link, Cyssero, Bang Bang Boogie, St. Laz and Arcangel Y De La Ghetto.
Parlé: What is your instrumental arsenal comprised of?
Red Army: Sequencer-FL Studio 9-Pro Tools 9 Hardware-Avid Mbox3-Akai MPK61-M-Audio Bx5a Studio Monitors-AKG K240 Studio Headphones VST/RTAS Plugins-Native Instruments Komplete7-Native Instruments Alicia’s Keys-Steinberg Hypersonic2-Steinberg MiniGrand-Arturia Mini-Moog-XLN Audio Addictive Drums-ReFX Vanguard-Spectrasonics Trillian Bass Module-Izotope Vinyl-Waves Musician Bundle Instruments-Fender Fretless Jazz Bass-Ibanaz P/J pick-up configuration Precision Bass.
Parlé: Is there anything that you would like to leave the people with?
Red Army: I would just like to express my most sincere gratitude and vast appreciation for the hardworking staff of Parlé Magazine; it truly has been a pleasure working with you. I would also like to take the time and thank all of you who have helped me reach this point; I assure you the journey has just begun and promise to always remain humble: Anna, Charlie Clips, Raymond, Juan, my parents and 3 beautiful sisters, B.Skillz, Klarity Tracks, Max Dollas and the entire Dramatiks production camp, Jip, Louis, Deshawn “Sos” Rivera, Jovan, DJ Quiz and DJ Enuff (both for showing Charlie Clips tremendous support!)
For Inquiries, features, and more Contact:
The Red Army Productions LLC
422 Fifth Avenue, Suite E265
New York, NY 10001 646.427.6810
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