Producers are an integral part of music creation, but so few of these sonic gurus get the recognition they deserve. HEAT RISING looks at the best beats by an up-and-coming producer, and talks about where they’re from (ROOTS), what they’ve done (RESUME), and why they’re an exciting presence in music today (REASONS TO WATCH).
ROOTS: The first time Minnesota-raised, now Dallas-based producer Cardo met Wiz Khalifa, he thought that he might shit his pants. He wasn’t worried about being starstruck; Cardo was dealing with food poisoning the night Chevy Woods wanted to introduce him to Wiz. Recognizing this as a career-making opportunity, Cardo grabbed a bottle of Pepto Bismol, and took a chance.
27-year-old Ronald La Tour’s earliest exposure to music production came when one of his uncles downloaded a copy of Fruity Loops. As aspiring young rappers, La Tour and his brother were excited by the prospect of creating original beats for their rhymes, but they couldn’t afford their own computer and a copy of the software. They decided to save their pennies to buy MTV Music Generator, a Playstation game that allows the user to make their own music using a variety of pre-packaged loops and samples. Amongst their group of friends, the La Tour brothers’ primitive beats were well received, so Ronald decided to put his energy into beatmaking instead of rapping. Heavily influenced by DJ Quik and Pimp C, Cardo’s signature futuristic and funky grooves were already starting to take shape.
Cardo spent his youth in St. Paul, Minnesota, and though he moved to Texas in 2006, the Pittsburg hip-hop scene was the first to embrace his production work. Cardo made connections with Mac Miller and Chevy Woods (formerly Kev Tha Hustla) in the late aughts, which would ultimately lead the producer to the doorstep of a rising Pittsburg rapper by the name of Wiz Khalifa.
RESUME: The night Chevy Woods introduced Cardo to Wiz Khalifa, it was like a ceremonial induction into Khalifa’s Taylor Gang. After playing Wiz some beats off of his iPhone, Khalifa told Cardo he wanted to use them for his Kush & Orange Juice mixtape. For Cardo, it sounded too good to be true, but lo and behold, when K&OJ dropped, two of Cardo’s beats graced the tracklist. “Mesmerize” and “In The Cut” confirmed Cardo’s place in a trio of Taylor Gang’s in-house producers, alongside Sledgren and Big Jerm.
Cardo’s best material is reserved for Wiz Khalifa and his stable of Taylor Gang artists, but he’s also placed beats with rappers such as Freddie Gibbs, Domo Genesis, and Dom Kennedy.
REASONS TO WATCH: Cardo dropped an instrumentals debut on Fool’s Gold Records called Everything I$ Gold last fall. It speaks to a hip-hop producer’s strength when their instrumental tape is listenable without vocals. The eight tracks on Everything I$ Gold perfectly showcase the 808-bumping, synth-laced beats that we’ve come to expect when Cardo’s on the track.
In an interview last year, Cardo had a laundry list of artists he was working with, including Action Bronson, Danny Brown, Chuck Inglish, DJ Quik, Daz, Black Cobain, Wale, Fat Trel, Mikey Rocks, Nipsey Hussle, Dom Kennedy, Pol3yester, Rich Hil, Kirko Bangz, Chris Webby, A$AP Mob, Smoke DZA, Treated Crew, ShowYouSuck, Chief Keef, King Louie, GLC, Gerald Walker, Do Or Die, and Big Sean. If even a small fraction of these collaborations surface in 2013, Cardo is going to have a huge year.