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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist w/ over a decade of experience. Lover of good music, fringe movies, day baseball & chicken shawarma. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Artist Of The Week – 100dbs
Monday, December 24, 2007

100dbs and Ryan O’Neil

Hip-Hop has always been a place where duos have shined brightly. From DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince to UGK (RIP Pimp C) to Outkast, Hip-Hop’s foundation has been built in no small part by powerful pairings. With one major project already completed, The Adventures of The One Hand Bandit and The Slum Computer Wizard, New York City’s 100dbs and Ryan O’Neil are looking to add their names to the list of significant two-man tandems. Since 100dbs and Ryan O’Neil are of equal importance to each other’s work I’m going to do something special with them, the first ever Artist Of The Week double feature. This week, in part one of the double feature, I’m sitting down with the production side of the duo, 100dbs, to get his thoughts on why he and O’Neil work so well together, as well as the qualities he sees as being most important in a producer, and why he feels image should be meaningless.

Adam Bernard: Before we get to speaking about the dynamic duo of you and Ryan O’Neil, you have an interesting story as to how you got your moniker. Hit me with the details.
100dbs: Actually, my boy Pat just started calling me that when I was throwing basement parties in College Park, MD. Our neighbors hated us so much because we would always push the system so much you could hear it down the street. So he started calling me 100 decibels, 100dBs for short. I just went with it.

Adam Bernard: I have the 100dbs and Ryan O’Neil album, The Adventures of The One Hand Bandit and The Slum Computer Wizard, right here in front of me. Who’s who and what’s what with this combination? Give me the history of 100dbs and Ryan O’Neil.
100dbs: Well, 100dBs is me, Dan Brenner. I make beats, spin at bars and clubs in NYC, and dig for records when I have time. Ryan is the rapper I worked with to make The Adventures. We met through a mutual friend and started messing around back when I was still working on Brenner's Breaks. I threw him on the mixtape, shit sounded dope, and we decided to do a whole album.

Adam Bernard: Why do you feel you work so well as a duo?
100dbs: The thing with me and Ryan is we're both musicians. I didn't go to school for music but I started learning theory around age 10. Ryan actually majored in music, so his theory is on point for real, but I think the real advantages come from the way we complement each other - Ryan's not really a technical dude and I can't rap, so when we go digging, or we hear something that we both think we can flip, I'll get to work with it while he's already hearing the flow he's gonna use in his head. It goes from there, but it's a slow process and you can't rush it.

Adam Bernard: We all know not to judge a book by its cover, but let’s do it anyways! When people look at you what do you think they think? Do you think “Hip-Hop Producer” is the first thing that comes to their mind?
100dbs: Probably not. Fuck it. When it comes down to it we're all more complex than we look. In this age of marketing people are trying really hard to make caricatures of themselves. I guess I'm that euro looking short white dude with s-medium clothing on. The whole "wigger" thing kills me, the whole "I get offended if you call me a wigger" thing kills me even more. For the record, you can call me whatever you want. I know for a fact that what I look like has absolutely nothing to do with how hard you shake your ass once the beat drops.

Adam Bernard: Other than getting people to shake their asses, what are the qualities that you feel makes a producer great and how do you feel you exemplify those qualities?
100dbs: Patience is key. I like to marinate on things and not rush it. If you want to make something great, you won't release it until you are convinced it's great, so that's what I do. I throw away more than half of my beats. The way I see it, if you're not practicing and being productive all the time you won't reach the level you want. The other thing you need is an open mind and willingness to work with a vocalist. I know a lot of people who can make beats but very few who can realize their vision in combination with an MC or singer.

Adam Bernard: Overall, what do you hope to accomplish with your work?
100dbs: To eradicate the kind of question you asked earlier about appearance and expectations! I love it when I flip a sample no one has ever heard before and they want to know more about the original. We're all biters anyway, let's just admit it and promote dialogue about who influenced what. Every single one of us, whether we sample or not, is taking an idea from someone else. Let's stop calling everything that's weird "wack" and start listening to different types of music. Let's stop sampling the same breaks over and over again. If Kanye is allowed to sample Can on a pop release like Graduation and get away with it why can't indie producers stop sampling shit off Ultimate Breaks and Beats compilations? I want to show kids who aren't into rap that Hip-Hop is great and show thuggish ruggish dudes that I can flip anything into boom bap.

Related Links

Website: 100dbs.com
MySpace: myspace.com/100dbs
MySpace: myspace.com/ryanoneilmusic
Adam’s World: Artist Of The Week – Ryan O’Neil

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