When you think of good music there are a ton of artists that comes to mind. Maybe you’ll quickly yell out, ‘Kanye has a label with that name,” or “Drake and Kendrick Lamar are the best rap artists out right now,” but if you truly know good music you have a high appreciation for the instrumentals and the musicians that put them together before a single word is recorded over them. This leads me to introduce a very special producer by the name of Mighty Joe who’s also 1/2 of the hip-hop group The Other Guys (Isaiah & Mighty Joe). He’s currently making noise by producing dreamy tracks like Chasing Amy (aka In Your Heart), So East Coast, Blow My Mind and more. As Joe continues to grow as a music producer he’s definitely not far from breaking into my list of favorite producers including RZA, Oddisee, Kanye West, J Dilla, DJ Jazzy Jeff, 9th Wonder, Alchemist, Just Blaze, and Black Milk . He has also found recent success with signing a record deal with HiPNOTT Records, recording tracks with Von Pea, and befriending great music artists like yU from The Diamond District (Oddisee, Uptown XO, and yU). Although his ability to compose monstrous instrumentals has been granting him much needed attention and wonderful opportunities, his story on how he got there is just as golden.
Joe grew up in the Southeast area of Washington, D.C. and was yearning to find an opportunity to grow beyond what he knew at the time. After graduating from Dunbar High School in 2003 (same high school NFL Superbowl 50 Champion Vernon Davis went to) he decided to enlist in the United States Navy and quickly found himself in Norfolk, Virginia to serve his country. While in Norfolk his love for music began to emerge. He gives ample credit for his interest in production to 9th Wonder’s ability to add vocals to the background of the many beats he was creating at the time. Promptly after hearing the track that got him inspired he did his research and quickly went to a music store in Virginia Beach, VA to purchase his first MPC (Akai Professional MPC 1000) in early 2006 around the same time the late J Dilla passed.
Now when most people get started they seek out help, and luckily for Joe, his cousin Isaiah had already been dabbling in music production and was able to assist him in gathering the necessary sounds and guiding him once he got started.
“Isaiah actually taught me how to make beats, the crazy part of it all was I didn’t know anything about mp3s so I would literally mail him beat CDs and this was around 2005.” — Mighty Joe
Eventually, Isaiah would let him know he didn’t have to mail him beat CDs and he’d shed light on the power of mp3s. Now if you let Joe tell it, he would say he wasn’t a ‘computer person,’ but I have to say it’s remarkable that he was able to overcome his initial tech challenges and make the beautiful music he now composes with all of the gadgets in his studio.
He also shared that one of the videos that got him through his first year of beat production was a YouTube video titled, Just Blaze Makes A beat…, which gave him the much-needed inspiration to keep going even when his beats didn’t sound so amazing at first. After getting the hang of music production, Joe and his cousin Isaiah teamed up to form the group, The Other Guys and began shopping around tracks. Their goal was to grow a buzz but that never quite happened. Eventually, they changed their approach and started putting out their own projects and acting as their own manager under the moniker of Ben Aldridge. Unlike their first attempt, their second one was successful and they began to find more work as a duo and even landed their first record deal with Kevin Nottingham’s label HiPNOTT Records. Surprisingly, Joe admits that the very first time Isaiah and himself performed as The Other Guys was at A3C Music Festival in Atlanta, GA but I doubt it will be their last one.
When wrapping up the interview with Joe we shared an honest appreciation for good music and even managed to talk up the importance of hip-hop and art. While in the process of doing so he managed to bring to my attention that the notable Washington, D.C. illustration artist Natural was also once an emcee blazing hot lyrics over !llmind beats. Then he shared his admiration for his Finn action figured modeled after Jon Boyega who was recently cast in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. “I just think that’s the coolest thing man, the last black action figure I remember was Mr. T so I had to cop this one when it came out,” says Joe with a smile on his face.
For a more in-depth understanding of all things Mighty Joe, continue to read below.
Who are you and what do you do?
I am Joseph Myles, also known as Mighty Joe of The Other Guys. I am a father, a husband, and a musician.
What inspired you to become a producer?
My inspiration to become a producer came from hearing Kanye West’s “Last Call” from the College Dropout.
What’s your go-to equipment when tasked with producing a master beat? (mpc, keyboard, turntable, etc.)
The Akai MPC has been my choice of equipment since I began producing.
How long have you been producing? How did you connect with Isaiah to create ‘The Other Guys’?
I started producing in 2006. Believe it or not, Isaiah is my cousin. Isaiah started producing a few years prior to me, so once I decided that producing was something I wanted to do, I looked to him to show me the ropes. After about a year, we formed The Other Guys.
You also collaborated with Tanya Morgan. How did that come about?
In 2013, I reached out to Von Pea of Tanya Morgan for a feature on our project, The Week Instrumental EP, and from there we developed a working relationship.
What’s your favorite track that they are on?
“Blow My Mind” and Von Pea’s “Chasing Amy aka In Your Heart“.
Recently you’ve been working with Substantial. What sparked that collaboration?
Substantial and Isaiah went to high school together and Isaiah was also Substantial’s best man at his wedding, so it was only natural. Substantial is also one of the first people that I played my beats for and they were awful, LOL.
What exactly do you look for when finding artists to rap on your instrumentals?
Our primary focus is chemistry when looking for artists to rap on our instrumentals.
Who did you sample for the ‘Chasing Amy aka In Your Heart by Von Pea track?
I will tell you that offline.
That was the song that made me a fan of The Other Guys. I swear I must’ve played it 10x straight when I first heard it. How does that make you feel?
I am very humbled. Our goal is to make music that we like with the hope that others will like it too.
How did you learn the art of sampling?
Years of studying my favorite hip-hop producers and trying to mimic their creations.
What makes you want to keep diving into that sound when trap and EDM sounds are popular now?
I want to make the music that I like and music that I don’t hear enough of.
Mark is my youngest son. I have 2 sons, Mark and Matthew.
How do they make you want to continue to evolve as a producer?
I just want to create a legacy that my kids will be proud of.
What do you tell a kid out there that may be thinking about getting into production but doesn’t know where to start?
To only do it if it is something that they love and enjoy doing because things don’t always work out the way you may have planned. Your love of the craft will propel you to continue to move forward.
What do you wish you knew 5 years ago?
To focus on The Other Guys as artists and not just producers. We have wasted several years waiting on placement from other artists. Our musical career accelerated once we focused on The Other Guys’s brand.
What’s your ultimate goal at the end of the day when sharing your gift with the world?
That our music will be played 50 years from now.
What do you want your legacy to be?
I want to be known as a great artist and an overall good person.
If you had to pick one song to listen to repeatedly on an island what would it be? Why?
Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth’s “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” In my opinion, I think that is the greatest Hip Hop song ever recorded.
Who are your top five favorite producers out right now?
Oddisee, Jake One, Pete Rock, Just Blaze, and Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys.
Tell me a bit about HiPNOTT Records.
HiPNOTT is the label that pays me *Snoop Dogg’s voice*, but really, HiPNOTT is founded and owned by Kevin Nottingham. HiPNOTT is like home to us, they took a chance with us and it worked out for both parties.
What makes you a Stereo Champion?
I am a father, husband, and musician and every day I strive to be the greatest at all of them.