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TwizzMatic: Sweet Honey Beats.

November 18, 2014

TwizzmaticOnline01Text and images by Michael Bucher.

Time is precious and the longer a musician spends in the industry, the more selective they must be with who they devote that time to. After embarking on a partnership making beats for a Philadelphia singer this past year, TwizzMatic had to cut his losses on a project not up to his standards.

“Working with somebody who only has one rehearsal before their shows?” TwizzMatic asks. “Her dad doesn’t want to work with me? He’s the manager, he doesn’t have time, works three jobs. I don’t do that anymore. I address things head on.”

He was being paid for his work but it didn’t matter.

“I thought she was a good singer but the rest of it isn’t up to par,” he says, explaining his initial interest. “I’m just not wasting my time going in circles.”

TwizzMatic, who is 28-year-old Antoine McRae, now has a strong vision for what he wants from music projects after spending years experimenting, making him the well-rounded writer, rapper and producer he is today.

Inside his bedroom and basement studio in Yeadon, his childhood drumset sits as a relic from his past and a helpful tool when he gets stuck producing a beat on his laptop.

“Being a drummer makes me a good producer,” says Twizz, who started playing drums as a child and performed on the street with classmates from Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. “I’ll go to the drums and see what I hear naturally and mimic what I hear.”

His knack for making beats was the basis of a partnership with a friend, Jon Moxin, who could naturally freestyle. Twizz doesn’t believe in sugarcoating his opinions and freely commented on which lyrics did and did not work.

“I taught him and learned something from that at the same time,” Twizz says.

Twizz followed Moxin’s encouragement to rap himself. He played with lyrics, looking for words to rhyme and then constructing lines that made sense but in a clever way like in his song “Re-Programmed,” where he raps, “As a youngin’ I was spoon-fed/ Everything I was taught will be soon dead/ They put a price on your style, twice on your head.”

Twizz worked on other projects, such as the yet-to-be released J Dilla Presents, a tribute to his favorite producer, and Treehouse Coalition, where he worked with a mix of friends and local artists, sampling sounds from DVDs of 1950s TV shows. The project ended, says Twizz, because of lack of teamwork. But it served as a valuable learning experience for seeing how difficult it can be to organize a group of independent artists.

Then in 2011, after opening for Blonde Gang, Twizz was approached by Carlow Stanley, the president of a startup recording company called TCA Music Group. He asked Twizz to join the company, which now includes five other area artists.

“He had a presence,” recalls Stanley. “He was commanding the crowd.”

By trial and error, Stanley says, the roster went through a number of artists who weren’t committed enough to put in the work to be great. Twizz has not had that problem. In the last year, he released a track with verses over Philly jazz legend Lee Morgan’s “Sweet Honey Bee,” an EP with beats from German producers Orange Field and a 12-track album with sampled beats from some of his favorite artists, like MF Doom, Madlib and Nas.

Back in his bedroom studio, Twizz replays tracks for his newest project – producing a radio-ready album showcasing the artists in TCA. Stanley hopes the album will be a foot in the door for the entire label. The album is another experiment with new sounds and styles, in step with TwizzMatic’s broad interest in music.

“I’m trying to conquer every genre,” Twizz says, mentioning a potential country album at some point. “I want to show people I don’t just do this.”

With so much to accomplish, every second counts.


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