From humble origins in Detroit, raised on a healthy diet of Motown, Jazz, and Early Hip‐Hop – Terrel Wallace (aka Tall Black Guy) has been consistently building a massive online following. His soulful hip hop production can be heard on countless indie and self released instrumental projects on the internet.
Most recently, Tall Black Guy (TBG) released the digital only “Brazilian Chonicles” which finds him flipping only Brazilian samples into a fly mixture of hip hop, instrumental & World Beat bangers. But rest assured Tall Black has also found his way into the world of physical product releases as well with early 2012’s “Tall Black Guy Presents… Tempo Dreams Vol. 1” on Bastard Jazz Recordings (LP, CD, Digital).
Tall Black Guy (TBG) has produced soulful joints for the likes of the 80s Babies, The Primeridian, Malice & Mario Sweet, DJ Vadim and The Electric, Maylee Todd, Temika Moore, Teri Tobin, Skyzoo, The Colman Brothers, Cilla K and Shev Rock. If you dont know of him I’d say you will soon enough. Why? Mainly because TBG has become most sought after for his filtered boom bap funk and soul style of production. It’s the type of music we all love… seriously, it’s infectious.
We caught up with Tall Black Guy recently to see whats next on the menu for him and to dig into what keeps him motivated as an up and coming producer.
For those that may not be familiar, tell us a bit about Tall Black Guy?
Tall Black Guy is a name that I came up with in college while studying graphic design. I was one of the only few black students in my class. So what I decided to do was for ever assignment I would create some type of black character to express myself. I was pro-black on EVERYTHING! Tall Black Guy was birthed out of one of those characters.
Tell us about your experiences with beat battle and /or beat invitationals. Do you still do these sort of events?
I started participating in beat battles around 2006 to 2009. At that time, it was something new for producers to make a name for themselves, similar to MC or DJ Battles. I participated in 11 beat battles and out of those 11, I won 6 of them. The biggest beat battle of them all was the “Red Bull Big Tune”… This was the crème de la crème of beat battles! I won the city heats for Chicago in 2007 and went on to the national finals held in Seattle, Washington. There were some serious producers that were participating (Dj BABU, Marco Polo, Swiff D, The Are, Symbolic One). In the first round I went against Symbolic One aka S1. In hindsight, I wish that I had played a different beat as my first beat to the crowd. I lost in the first round. It was a very dope experience though. After 2009 I left beat battles alone, to focus on completing projects…But I will say that they are a very good networking resource for up and coming producers, who want to get their music heard.
You’ve made a name for your self mostly for making good music but partially due to your strong internet hustle. What do you think has been the key to your success thus far?
Really staying true to what’s most important to me. My faith in God and that he has given me a talent to use in responsible way, to connect with different people from different parts the of the world. The support from my family and friends is a very key factor and learning from my own mistakes that I have made along the way.
Now, I know that you are a part of the Chicago based hiphop group the 80’s Babies which is made up of yourself and emcee Dee Jackson, how did you guys initially hook up?
Before we ever recorded a song, we were homies from meeting on the basketball court in high school. We have been friends for like 15 years, so our connection is way beyond music. I consider Dee to be like a brother to me.
Has it been difficult collaborating from a distance?
Kinda, but we still talk through the wonderful world of the Internet.That’s always been an easy way for us to keep in contact. If we are cutting a song, we usually swap files through a file sharing service.
Any new music coming up for 80’s Babies?
We have a couple things in the workings but it’s a secret though, so you will have to just wait.
[attention]At the time of this interview the 80’s Babies were obviously in the planning stages and in preparation for the release of their latest album “We Shall Not Be Moved.” So I guess the wait is over… check it out.…[/attention]
How did you get started making beats?
It all started from me beat boxing first. Growing up in the late eighties, one of my girl cousins use to beat box for all the cyphers when she was in high school. She adopted the nickname “Bopper”. So I picked up making beats with my mouth first. Years go by and one day I was just like, I want to start making beats. That was in Feb of 2001, right. I couldn’t afford a traditional hardware beat machine like a MPC 2000, so instead I just bought this $60 computer program called Sonic Foundry Acid Pro 2.0. From there I just tinkered around and learned how to make basic hip hop beats, but there was a problem, I could never sequence my drums the way I heard them in my head. So I just said skip this I’m going to quit because this is way too hard. I quit for like a month or so. But I couldn’t fight the the feeling of wanting to make music, so I gave it another shot and the rest is history.
Who are some of your influences (either producer or otherwise)?
There are a lot of things that influence me. God, my family, being at my job, life in general. As far as producers, Dj Premier is my all time influence. In the beginning I use to study him a lot.
In your travels between Chicago, LA, Detroit and London have you allowed those environments to influence your production in any way?
Yeah they all of these places groomed me into the producer I am currently. Since moving to LA in 2009. I created Hollyweird 1 & 2, then in 2011 I moved back to my home town Detroit and I created “8 miles to Moenart. So now with me being in the UK, I will be creating a album based on my experience being over here. Wherever I am living in my life, I want to create a memory of that place through sound.
I recall that you won some sort of beat battle a while back and the prize was a NI Maschine. Do you still use it? What are your thoughts about the NI Maschine?
As far as the Machine. I have yet still cracked that thing open and played with it. That’s a shame right?? LOL! I heard it was dope though
Oh wow. lol. I can dig it. If what you do works for you why change it up? Dope!
Have you ever used an MPC in your production? How does it compare to the Maschine?
I dabbled around with a few of my friends MPC’s but I have never used a MPC in my production before.
So I take it that you are more of a software guy than a hardware guy?
I am more of a software guy simply due to the fact that, that’s what I had access to when I started making music. But I wouldn’t mind learning some new skills on hardware equipment.
Word So, if you could have any piece of vintage gear what would it be?
Man, I really want a Fender Rhodes or a bass guitar.
Nice… What is your studio set up comprised of now?
My studio is very basic: Dell Laptop, Oxygen 49 keyboard, Sony Headphones, and a teddy bear with a speaker on it to test my mixes on. (I’m being so serious right now)
What is your go to piece of gear right now?
Do you have a favorite soft synth at the moment?
Probably that Nexus joint. That’s has some pretty cool sounds in there.
Your use of filters and your drum programming is nuts. Would you say that these attributes are a part of your signature sound?
Yeah the filter’s are a big part of my sound, as well as layering of different sounds and instruments.
What’s next for Tall Black Guy?
The next project on the list is my official full length release called “8 Miles To Moenart”. This album was purely my experience of living in the city of Detroit last year and shows the different emotions/life issues I was going through at the time, I guess you could say that this album is really personal to me.
Keep up with Tall Black Guy