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Interview: North Carolina Producer Thadd Ross

Hailing from North Carolina, producer Thadd Ross is no slouch when it comes to shaping some of the most soulful, authentic, and versatile sample chops in the game today. A product of the DJ Premiers, Pete Rocks, and 9th Wonders - his diligent work ethic and consistency aid to one of the illest discographies you’ll find in the world. First coming across his work via his Instagram Live sessions; Soulato Academy, a community he and peers formed to mentor up-and-coming producers, as well as showcase everyone’s creativity through back-and-forth beat battles, I realized that the man was playing hit after hit with each chop he showcased. Putting on these masterclasses on a monthly basis, I decided to reach out and see if we could meet the man behind the flips.

Getting in touch with him, I had the opportunity to pick his brain about his recent release: SS Flip, his creative process, and everything in between. Here’s how it went:

Bakari: So, first thing’s first, I want to start off on a totally different level: Can you even make a bad beat? And if so, what’s the worst beat you’ve made?

Thadd: (Laughs) Worst is subjective. Specifically, there are beats I make that lack direction - tracks I don’t see going anywhere, but, later on down the line, an artist sees something in them. So, I’d never say any beat is bad, some I just have more purpose for than others.

Bakari: Being a producer that predominantly flips, having a less contemporary sound to the average listener, some would market you as “not mainstream”, how do you navigate through that?

Thadd: Mainstream is so vast. Most people associate it with trap, but it’s more than that. I’m in the middle of the spectrum. I’ve always been me. I’ve never heard I’m bad or out of touch, it’s usually just a, “not right now” type of thing.

Bakari: You recently gave us SS Fliped, but not on your usual streaming platforms, you took it back to Soundcloud. Why?

Thadd: Flying under the radar sample-wise. A lot of the samples used this time around have a higher chance of getting flagged. So, it would be a lot easier to deal with that on Soundcloud where I can take it down, versus it being on streaming platforms for elongated periods while I’m dealing with those clearance issues. It’s just easier. But, I also wanted to bring that nostalgia back - the platform is a great start and testing ground for artists who want to know if their streaming ready. If it passes the Soundcloud test, you’re on your way.

Bakari: Going back to clearance issues, does the thought of that weigh on you frequently when making selections or creating?

Thadd: I make what I feel like making. I don’t worry about legal things until I’m sure I want to release something specific.

Bakari: Are you protective over your beats? As in: can anybody rap on them for the right price?

Thadd: (Laughs) Even if the price is right, nah. You have to have some type of integrity. You could pay me 20K and that would be cool, but now my name is forever associated with trash. I’d prefer not to have to explain myself twenty years down the line with the typical, “I just needed the money” story about a whack project.

Bakari: What’s your take on the direction of the game now?

Thadd: Rap is in a good place. I look and listen to everything. Most people critiquing only listen to a specific playlist or specific radio station; there’s so much out there waiting for you to find it. Sure there’s a lot of evolution in the game - the loss of the third verse, the lack of the traditional verse/hook/verse style, we could get into all that. But at the end of the day, it’s in a great place.

Bakari: I appreciate you for taking the time out your day to chat with me! To end it off, what three projects of yours would you give to the audience and why?

Thadd: I would say go stream The Cloth, 980, and my Jesus single with collaborator Rufus Blaq. It’s the perfect lineup to showcase my versatility. Cloth is a clean cut, 980 is a little more rugged and raw, Jesus is the mainstream appeal. So for now, dive into those, I want to tell you more but I’m under oath…

I wanted to give the Richmond artist a chance to connect with a dope producer, but also have a glimpse of the character behind him. I can’t give away all the man’s secrets, but I can tell you that the record number of tracks he makes daily is just a testament to his greatness. A posterchild for consistency, authenticity, and straight-up soul - dive into Thadd Ross. Charlotte’s in the building!

You can follow Thadd and his associated pages here:

Instagram handles: @thaddrossmusic @soulatosound

Written by: Bakarii Kennedy. @therealbakari_ on Instagram

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