Filed under: Counter Strike - The Unkut Mixtape,Features,Interviews,Killa Queens,Not Your Average,Steady Bootleggin'
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Queens-bred production duo Thorotracks (Sam & Jay) have been putting it down as a crew since 2002, and have delivered dope beats for everyone from Sean Price to NYG’z, Casual to Killah Priest, Krumbsnatcha to Skyzoo. With two compilations under their belt (The Saga Begins and The Saga Continues) and the dope new mixtape from their group The Closers (not to mention that exclusive joint for the Unkut Counter Strike tape) doing the rounds right now, you can count on these dudes to deliver the goods again and again. Here are some of the highlights from a conversation I had with Sam Thoro a couple of months back.
Robbie: How long have you and Jay been a crew?
Sam Thoro: We’ve been together as a group eight, nine years. He’s from Lefrak, and I’m from Woodside. When we started working together we just never stopped. I do a lot more of the sampling and he does a lot more of drums – now – ‘cos we kinda got it down to a science. Sometimes we do beats on our own, but most of the time we do everything together. Between the two of us we have like fifty crates of records. I might do the sample, he might do the drums, then I might play the bass line and we dump everything right into Pro Tools. He’s a DJ so if there’s scratches then he scratches – I’m an engineer so I’ll mix. Most of the stuff you hear from us that sounds good? I recorded it.
Did you do get any training to become an engineer?
Nah, not even, man. It’s the craziest story – my partner found a laptop – he was working at the airport and he found one. Someone had left it there, flew out somewhere, didn’t claim it. Grabbed it – it was a Mac – so we were like, ‘Fuck it, let’s buy an M-Box’. Bought Pro Tools and then we just started recording. That’s when I was working with Royal Flush all the time, so he’d come to the crib and we were like, ‘Fuck studio time, we gonna record ourselves’. We had that shit set-up in the basement, recording in the bathroom. I didn’t even really know what I was doin’ at first, man. I just called a couple of my peoples to bother ‘em, like, ‘Yo, how you do this?’ Fronted like I knew what was doin’, and eventually just learned. ‘Deep Thoughts’ was cut down there from Killa Sha, a lot of the Royal Flush stuff was cut down there. People used to ask me, ‘Where you record that shit at?’ ‘My fuckin’ bathroom!’
What was the first project you ever worked on?
The first person we ever worked with in the industry was Blaq Poet. That’s like family to me – we know each other from hood shit before that. After that we got up with Royal Flush and we was runnin’ around with him a lot. I was managing Royal Flush for a couple of years and we were doin’ a lot of production for him. He had dropped a CD called Street Boss, and that’s probably the first real CD that we featured on and first vinyl that came out with us on it. We did ‘Q.U’ on there and ‘Man Up’ with Troy Slugs. After that we connected with Shabaam Sahdeeq – and to this day we still grindin’ heavy with him – workin’ with the NYG’z, we did two joints on their first album. I met them through Poet, too. We did ‘Connect 4’ from Sean P’s Master P CD and two joints on Killa Sha’s album. He shoulda sold a lotta units on that, it was a fuckin’ good CD. ‘Deep Thoughts’ is one of my favorite tracks that we’ve done.
What are you working on next?
We got a new group we just started called The Closers. The Closer is the pitcher in baseball that comes in at the last inning to make sure that no more runs get scored and you win the game. Shabaam Sahdeeq, Red Eye – he’s from Queens but he’s in Orlando now – and Thorotracks Productions. We also dropped The Saga Continues mixtape on iTunes while we’re working on the Thorotracks album.
It seems like no one wants to admit to being a fan anymore.
I still buy records. If you don’t like what’s on the radio – go buy the shit you like, and change things! I have some of my own peoples, ‘Oh, dude! This wack shit on the radio!’ They ain’t buy their own man’s shit! They won’t even buy certain people we fuck’s with album. Somebody we work with might be doing an in-store at the record store, and I’mma walk in there and while people are standing around I might be the first one to buy their record and give to them, ‘Alright, sign this for me’. They might laugh at me, but you know what? Every single thing we ever worked on – we bought. You ask people what the last CD they bought was – they never know what to say, man. That shit be funny.
I miss cutting out of school to buy the new CD that came out. That’s what we used to do in New York – people would play hooky to go grab the new Nas CD or whatever came out. It wasn’t enough that you could get a copy from your friend – you had to go buy that yourself! I remember when Strapped came out on HBO – everybody grabbed their 40’s and went to the crib and watched that movie and then came back out, like, ‘Oh, you see that saw that shit?’ Nothin’ moves people anymore like that no more – everything’s fast and forgotten and over with real quick. When Big L’s first album came out? We sat there like, ‘Ohhh!’ and digested that whole shit! ‘You hear what he said, yo?’ I love lookin’ at the covers and all that. They tryin’ to completely destroy that. I remember I got pulled over and got a noise-pollution ticket for blastin’ the first Wu-Tang tape – crazy shit – on a Sunday morning! [laughs] It’s hard, ‘cos the classics are taken away because people drop so much shit and it’s so fast paced that you don’t have time to sit there and marinate to let it even become a classic – even though some people drop dope records.
I don’t suppose you know what happened to Kyron’s project?
I don’t know. I ran into him recently – it was Poet’s album release so we ran into him in the hood. It was Queensbridge, we went there at like 11 o’clock in the morning but we were drunk by 1:30 in the afternoon. We went to Poet’s in-store twisted – that was bad, bro. Then it was 6 o’clock and we were like, ‘Fuck, we still got a show tonight?’ We just kept drinking. We probably shouldn’t have bought a bottle of Henny and six-pack on the way to Queensbridge. That’s me and Poet’s problem – when we get together, we get drunk. I don’t know what the hell’s with that…we always get twisted. I never see him drunk unless he’s with me. The funny thing is when I’m with Po we’ll end-up drinking Olde English or some crazy shit. He came here with St. Ides the other day, matter-of-fact! [laughs]
Blaq Poet feat. Shabaam Sahdeeq, Phantasm & Killa Sha – ‘Grimey Niggas’
Thorotracks feat. Sean Price, Shabaam Sahdeeq, U.G. & Casual – ‘Connect 4’
Killa Sha – ‘Deep Thoughts’
Thorotracks feat. Smiley The Ghetto Child – ‘Gangsta On Da Track’
The Closers – ‘Unkut’
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