OG Ron C, the 39-year-old Houston producer, DJ and Swishahouse co-founder, has made some 1,500 tapes since music "took" him in the late '80s. From his home studio in Texas, where he's busy building out his new "Amazon of chopped and screwed music", Ron C recorded a seamless FADER Mix, blending crawling versions of radio hits like Macklemore's "Thrift Shop" and Rihanna's "Pour It Up" with extra-plaintive renditions of singles from Solange and Houston's Lil O. Things kick off with Ray Lewis' heartfelt Madden 13 speech and Drake's "Started From the Bottom," expertly mixed into Joe Ski Love's vintage Pee Wee Herman beat, the combination Ron's reminder of how high hip-hop has risen in the decades he's loved it. A download and tracklist are below, along with a quick chat with OG Ron C about Grimes, Oasis, kids being all right and (spoiler alert) his new deal with Drake's OVO.
Download: OG Ron C's FADER Mix
You've been a DJ for 25 years. Where do you find new music now? Being close to 40 this year, I surround myself with younger guys. That's how I find music: listen to the youngsters, keep my head and my ears and my eyes open. The guys that hang around me, DJ Candlestick and Hollygrove and DJ Saw Mill, they're all under 25. I'm always an ancient statue. I'm old as dirt, I'm Uncle Ruckus. I get grumpy. But I feel like I can save them from a lot of headaches in the game that people could have saved me from. People could have told me about all these wizards out here that wave these magic wands. If I tell them something, they don't just think i'm trying to be the older figure around the camp. My crew listens. Most of the time you hear older people saying, "I got a bunch of hard-headed youngsters around me." I don't! I got a bunch of youngsters around me who love the music and love what they do. It's four of us who get together every day and vibe out how to make these tapes great. The music [we work with] already jams cause the artist already put their heart into it. So we have to add the wow factor. We really fine-tooth it. The reason we really fine-tooth those type of big projects, like Drake and Frank Ocean, I must say this, is cause the checks be pretty nice.
Who's writing those checks? The artist and the labels. Most of the time I've already been doing these guys' mixtapes and then when they drop their real albums, the label will be like, "We gotta do this chopped and screwed version." It's a sticky headache getting it done with the labels. These days it's more the artist making the labels [commission a chopped and screwed version], cause the majors don't wanna do it anymore. I think that need to get printed big as hell: The majors are sleeping on it. $100,000 is too little money to them. They'd rather just lose the $100,000 they can make off of each chopped and screwed that they put out. So now I've just been going straight to the artist, working deals out with the artist. And the tapes that we give away for free, those work in our benefit cause they have millions of downloads. Chop Care should be approaching 10 million downloads.
Drake bought a bunch of F-Action CDs from you, and has said he writes lyrics while listening to your tracks. Do you keep in touch? Drake is the realest artist I've ever known. He understands the pain of going through he label, so me and Drake worked it out between me and Drake, and it worked out very beautiful. I'm gonna jump the gun right now and say I'm supposed to be doing a deal with Drake, signing to OVO. We supposed to get together today so we can iron everything out.
You've been slowing down music for decades. Does that relaxed pace suit your personality? I am a relaxed guy. I wasn't raised in a hostile environment. I was raised in the hood, true enough, but music took me early so it saved me from the streets. When I was 14, music caught my eye. Most 14-year-olds are worried about girls and puberty and peer pressure; I was worried about going to DJ and making some beats and playing basketball. Can you lend me your back and knees? I would love to be back on that basketball court. But I work too much. My wife goes to work at 6AM, I'm getting in bed at 5:30. I got a studio in my house. I wake up [at] eight in the morning when she goes to work, and I go to work too. I'm stuck in my man cave all day. I have been jamming this Grimes album, and I want to do a chopped and screwed version of this Grimes album, right? Never had a chance to just sit down and do it cause I've been having so much paid work to do.
Your music has always been associated with lean. What do you think of rap's new wave of songs about molly? I'm not opposed to what the youngsters do. Five years from now they'll be some kind of other crazy drug. It's the same thing as in rock music, but in hip-hop we're so, "Bam! There it is!" In rock, if they're gonna smoke cocaine or something, they're gonna put it into a coded gesture and you're gonna have to be a real fan to know what they're talking about. Like Oasis' "Champagne Supernova." Catch me in a champagne supernova. Nobody know what the hell this man is talking about! He's talking about getting high, he said it in the song: Where were you when we were getting high? I'm pretty sure Britney Spears and them are popping mollies too, they're just probably saying "I'm on that good time." When there's something new in hip-hop, we tend to put it in people's face. We're just so bold with it, like, "Yeah fool! We gon' smoke weed!"
Have you stopped fucking with lean? That was a quick fad for me, 'cause I realized that stuff mess with your bowels. It makes your bowels like pebbles, it rocks up your stomach. Every blue moon, I sip with my friends, but I still won't sip like they sip. I don't make it too muddy. I do that for my friends when they come to town just to show them. Everyone wanna know be shown, taught how to pour it up, taught how to do it right.
Drake, "Started From The Bottom"
Talib Kweli, "Upper Echelon"
Master Ace, "Jeep Ass Niggas"
Young Jeezy f. 2 Chainz, "RIP"
Macklemore, "Thrift Shop"
Lil O, "Balling In The City"
Gizzle Break #1
Rihanna, "Pour It Up"
Slim Thug f. Paul Wall and Chamillionaire, "Houston"
Jay-Z f. UGK, "Big Pimpin"
Lil Wayne f. Future and Drake, "Bitches Love Me"
Solange, "Losing You"
Gizzle Break #2
Alexander Spit f. Bago, "Breath Taking Trip"
Big Kap, "Just Looking"