West Coast Styles

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DJ CMT, along with his frequent collaborator E-A-Ski, released their debut EP, 1 Step Ahead of Yall, in 1992 after inking a recording contract with Master P’s then Richmond, CA, based No Limit Records. 

The duo, who hail from The Town [Oakland], went on to sign with Priority Records where they dropped their second project, Blast If I Have To [‘95]; its title track also appearing on Friday: Music from the Motion Picture.

After later parting ways with Ski over creative differences, CMT has since gone on to produce for everyone from E-40, Ice Cube, Ice-T and Spice 1 to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Naughty By Nature, Champ MC and Mr. Mike, as well as even R&B acts; Christión, SWV and TLC.


First things first, last year (August 11th to be exact) marked the 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop — What exactly does that mean to and for you?

And, to quote the late, great The Notorious B.I.G., “You never thought that Hip Hop would take it this far!” — Was this something that you ever could’ve imagined?

It’s amazing to see, Doo Wop, Disco, Funk, all just a decade run, Hip Hop is still here and even one of the Greats in disco Nile Rodgers – Producer of CHIC – help out the Daft Punk sound, which to me sounds like Disco meets Techno, all form of Hip Hop. My Twitter rant said: Hip Hop is ageless until it plays out.

What are some of your fondest, most stand-out moments / memories during your lengthy tenure in this thing called Hip Hop?

Just being able to work with the greats like Too $hort, Ice Cube, Ice-T, Dr. Dre, E-40, Bun B, not only are these artists completely different but they have unique characteristics that explain why they are above average.

That said, what are your future plans and / or goals throughout the remainder of 2024 and beyond?

New music as usual; look out for EP Ships A CMT Miraculous EP and Drugs [compilation LP], and merch and a lot of shows this year. None I can confirm, but there are talks of a tour.

Switching gears here, what exactly do you want people to get from your music?

Good vibes, and a good time; music is supposed to take you away from reality, and sometimes you need songs that are relatable, not in a preachy way…a comedian’s job is to make fun of reality, which can be stressful, which is why laughter heals the soul. It’s the same for music.

If you could collaborate with any one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?

I never cried for a family member the way I cried about Marvin Gaye when I heard he was shot. Being older now, I understand his job was done; he touched so many souls, the creator was like, “you good, come home.” Alive, my dream was probably every Hip Hop lover of West Coast music, which came true…working with Dr. Dre.

If you could play any venue in the world, which one would you choose and why?

It was a tour called the Fresh Fest; Too $hort performed for the first time at the Oakland Coliseum, the feeling I felt to have someone up on stage representing where I was from on stage performing with Run-DMC, Whodini, LL Cool J was goosebumps. I was so proud of that moment. Any Bay Area arena I would love to receive a welcome like he did, performing in my hometown.

On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of Hip Hop?

I’m still able to thrive in it; we are in the festival era, where everyone likes different shit. If they like it, you’re winning. And it’s a lot of non forced music that I don’t understand, but to others it’s slappin’…who am I to judge?

What do you feel has and will continue to be the key to your longevity?

Staying true to what I want to put out for the masses. I love when new ideas become the new standard, it’s how it stays relevant. But I always find a way to carve my niche into it.

Do you have any other outside / additional (future) aspirations, maybe even completely away from entertainment?

If it’s not music, it’s pretty much family and friends; we forget we are 100% here for each other, but life has a way of taking you away to get that dough…you just have to find a balance and find time for family and the people that support you.

What’s an average day like for you?

Studio sessions are not always beat making; it’s that, meetings, planning marketing strategies, continuous projects audio / video, plans to better the community.

Please discuss how you interact with and respond to fans…

I’m still trying to get used to it; I’ve always watched behind the scenes how it works, the fans are not as naive as they were when I was in the background. You have to be careful of what and how you say things, you can be out of here so fast. I haven’t dealt with much; if it’s ever out of hand, silence and misdirection is key to escape the BS.

What is your favorite part about this line of work? Your least favorite? And, why?

The Creative part; especially the collabs, the beats are cool but when an artist expresses themselves and it paints or adds another side or picture to the music is the most innovative thing us artists could do. The disagreements that are broken or ulterior motives; producers get a lot of wise guys who try to manipulate their way in for the music and treat you like a $5 dollar hoe.

What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Just stay true to what you want to produce, never be afraid to ask for assistance, there’s no “I” in team, get up off your ego, ask around and do some research.

Looking ahead, say five or maybe even ten years from now, where do you see yourself?

The goal is to be in depth with community work. Helping our youth can only transform our future; sounds cliché, but is the realest shit ever wrote.

Is there anything I left out or just plain forgot to mention?

Izrell Timeless EP is Out Now, and Waay Under Par Media has more visuals on the way.

Any “parting” words for our readers?

Stay away from the vultures.


CMT: Ageless Hip Hop #HH50

CMT: Ageless Hip Hop #HH50

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