“I think I’m gonna wake up one day and say..Wait a minute…My name is on the credits of an album that Kanye West and Jay Z did…”
Sak Pase, is one half of the production team The JuggaNauts. They are the producers of Rihannas global smash hit Man Down. Then Sak’ dreams came to reality when he learned that Jay-Z & Kanye West wanted to use not one, but two of his tracks for arguably this years biggest album, Watch The Throne. The two tracks were Who Gon’ Stop Me & Made In America. I had the pleasure of putting some questions to Sak’…
Firstly, how have things been lately, what’s good with you?
I’ve been wonderful lately…I can’t complain much about anything. Just got back from LA collaborating with the producer Boi1da on some music. And was also working at Atlantic Records for the new T.I album as well as ideas for Tank, and B.O.B…
Could you give us a small history lesson on how you got started and formed your production duo The JuggaNauts?
After I graduated from Full Sail I moved back home and was selling beat CD’s around the city (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)… I had to get a part time job and met Verse (Simmonds) at AT&T…I was booking sessions at a recording studio in Miami. And one night I was having issues with a demo singer who couldn’t sing a song I wrote..So I called Verse at like 1am in the morning.. He came and wrote a song really fast…and after a couple really late recording sessions…I thought to myself this guy is really good…I was in the process of moving to LA to be a staff songwriter/producer for an indie record label. And I told the owner of the label that he should have verse on the team..I basically told myself that either I work with him now, or hope to work with him in the future…Long story short…The owner flew verse out to LA for a week we wrote like 8 songs that week..and he never went back to FL…Everything verse owns is what he has accumulated over time…He left everything in FL…We’ve been working with each other ever since…I’ll produce it.. then he’ll write it…
Was there a moment when you knew that you were beginning to make this all actually happen?
I still don’t think any of it has hit me yet…I think our careers have taking a huge leap over the course of a year. But our first duties as album producers came in 2006 when we wrote or produced I think 13 out of the 17 songs on the Aksent Album (International). That was pretty big for us back then but I think God has given me a glimpse of the things I will accomplish so there is a lot of work left.
But in just a year Alesha Dixon’s 1st single “Drummer Boy”, which didn’t do well, but creatively I think the song was brilliant. Unfortunately it might have been maybe to creative for what people wanted from her. “Ice Cold Summer” which is also on her album is a really great Rock Ballad that I don’t think people got a chance to explore.
Then Rihanna’s “Man Down”, and the two on Watch The Throne. So its happening right now. I guess its safe to say we are “happening” but there is a lot left to do.
Rihanna – Man Down
Not only are you a “producer”, but also a songwriter. Is there one you prefer, or do you feel they go hand in hand?
I actually like producing better. Producing in the sense of arranging and putting a song together. I get the most joy in directing this musical play. Bringing in the writer, presenting a musical piece and trying to capture an emotion. Then you bring in the artist and help direct a performance that an audience can enjoy. I think there is a genius in songwriting that I respect. So I kinda let the writer express themselves. Im just there to make sure all the ideas come together. And make sure the sonics of it all feels right.
How did you feel when you learned you got two tracks on Watch The Throne, and how did it come about?
How would any kid growing up listening to Jay Z / Kanye West feel to hear that news. BLESSED. To say the least. Like I said I still don’t think its hit me yet. I’m such a fan of music. I really really LOVE music. And I’m excited to hear this piece of music that they put together. Its cohesive. Its classic piece of art. So to be a part of that is incredible. I think I’m gonna wake up one day and say..Wait a minute…My name is on the credits of an album that Kanye West and Jay Z did…
The track Who Gon’ Stop Me has a British dubstep influence. Is that something that is starting to take off in the States? And, what is it about the sound that you’re drawn to?
There is definitely a dubstep undertone to the record. I think dubstep is going to take off at some point in the states. For me dubstep is so fresh. The energy in dubstep is so intense at times. You get these moments where you don’t know whats going to happen. So much personality in the dubstep style when done right. I just hope it doesn’t get watered done. That tends to happen to styles in the states. Last thing I want to hear is a million dubstep influenced songs. Cause then it loses the specialness to it.
Jay Z & Kanye West – Who ‘Gon Stop Me
Then half way through the track, the beat switches, was that part of the original plan, or was it developed whilst laying the track down?
Well there were many great minds involved with the song. Kanye is always in search of transcendence. Perfection can be achieved in Kanye’s world I think that’s why he is one the greats early into his career. But I cant tell you if that was part of the original plan or not. I think it just happened. I think there was a moment where he wanted to intensify the listeners experience with that change. Up until the release of the record i never heard the song in its entirety.
Made In America is the other track you have on the album, which has been getting a lot of praise. Can you tell us a little about that track?
The track is very simple. I actually wanted to add more but Kanye felt that the mood had been achieved. Its not very complex. Just intimate. Its amazing what words can do to a piece of music. And I felt they turned a piece of music into a soundtrack of celebration. It’s a celebratory piece written in retrospect.
Jay Z & Kanye West ft. Frank Ocean – Made In America
The Rihanna track, Man Down, obviously took off, what more can we expect from The JuggaNauts & Ri in the future?
We submitted several songs two of which I believe she really likes. Since the album is not closed I think im gonna go in and lay down so more ideas for her. But I hope that we’re able to be the producers that give her the “authentic” west Indian influenced sound on all her future albums. I think the edge we may have on other producers is that we were born with the west Indian rhythm that Rihanna was born with. So we’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope that she will continue to have a song or two on the album that is true to where she is from.
Off the back of the work done with Rihanna, has that opened even more doors? And, any future work that you can tell us about?
Diggy Simmons, K’naan, did some music with Estelle, alongside Jerry Wonda (Fugees). Working on records for T.I , No Doubt, Tanya Lacey.. And a buncha of names that I cant seem to remember right now.
You have produced for British act Alesha Dixon, firstly how was that, and what other British Acts would you like to work with?
It was amazing working with Alesha. Her voice is one of the most memorable tones Ive heard. She has a classic Rock Voice that I think could be massive if she did the right album to compliment that. I told her that she sounds like a female Rod Stewart and she should really explore making music in that direction. I hope no one takes that idea and runs with it.
I’ve worked with Parade. These girls are SUPERSTARS…. If the label gets it right they can be as huge as the spice girls. THEY HAVE HIT RECORDS. Believe me I’ve done 4 or 5 records that can be HUGE…
Loick Essien…Incredible male vocalist. He is such great talent and just an awesome person overall..I have also worked with Tanya Lacey who’s just an incredible talent. Ive been fortunate to have worked with some great UK Artists. Looking forward to working with many of the bright stars the UK are grooming.
As someone on the “inside”, how do you see the popular music world heading in the near future?
I think with the success of Adele, and great albums such as Watch the Throne. Popular music is headed in the right direction. I feel good about it. I think the need for great music and great albums has arrived. I think its going to force the Labels to be more about the music and less about the business. In the end it works out for the better. If you put out incredible music. I can be successful. Look at Adele’s break out year… there is no trick or gimmick behind making great music.
If you could assemble a kind of supergroup for one LP, who would be included?
That may take at least a month to answer that question!
Any last words?
Verse Simmonds. I think he is in a great space creatively. Think he has the chance to be huge and I hope I do a well enough job as a producer to make sure he gets to that platform.