NMV Sit Down: Lord Haiti
Updated: Nov 15, 2019
Soulful and vibrant producer Lord Haiti talks about forming his collective The Starships, producing for Jadakiss, and challenging himself to push his own creative limits.
We got the chance to catch up with the smooth hitmaker as he got into discussing recent projects, his knack for producing and organizing your paperwork as an artist.
SM: Steven Mainzer
LH: Lord Haiti
(Editor's Note: This interview took place before Healing Hearts in Nature Festival)
SM: Hey Lord, how you been? What have you been working on lately?
LH: Man everything has been good. Lately what I have been focused on right now is me and my collective, The Starships are heading to Alabama this weekend to perform at a festival. That is where I have been focusing my energy to head out of town do this show, in Alabama. It’s the Healing Hearts in Nature Festival, it’s not just music, it’s also a healing and therapeutic type of experience. It blends real well with my aesthetic as far as music being a spiritual thing -- there's going to be sound healing, interactive yoga, a sweat lodge, all type of good therapeutic amenities and more. I’m looking forward to it to gear up and head out of town on Thursday. I also just dropped a project not too long ago, On My Soul 1.5. I’m looking at that as far a series. I dropped the first EP back in 2016, so 2019 we at 1.5. I’m working on Volume 2 soon as well, that’s all coming in due time. We got a video we shooting as well.
SM: How did your new group, "The Starships" come about?
LH: Starships came together, I hate to say it but it felt kind of divine because of the fact that everyone I came across played a huge role at some point in my life. The first member Sleepy Brotha, he started off doing comedy and soul comedy around the Chicagoland area, he opened up for Tim Meadows, that’s the lady’s man – the guy who was in SNL. He’s been doing a lot of soul singing here in Chicago for a few years now. Him and I came together and talked about it, we wanted to put together something, it just came like that.
Next person I met was SharmonJarmon!, I use to see her at panels and discussions and other industry events. We built a relationship there on some music and business type of stuff. I love the way she conduct business as well as her music. Be on the lookout for her.
There’s about 6 of us. One of my home girls, Del Marie she’s a dancer, singer and emcee, she is very talented. I think when I met her at a David Banner panel at SAE. She was a part of Donda House. I use to see her a lot at the YCA and Donda House sponsored events and her and I built a huge friendship off that. Honestly I would say she kind of saved my life one time. She scooped me up one time walking to the crib and come to find out there was a shooting the route that I was walking. She is so talented and really improved the last couple years -- she was a part of this band called Electric Company.
My man Scott Damn, we dropped a few songs -- we dropped a song called “Wop” last year and it got some traction. Power 92 had it in rotation; it got reposted by Complex, HipHopDx. Last but not least my brother Danny Mr. Talented – he’s one of the dopest songwriters I have met in the city. He worked with a lot of artists in Chicago and the underground scene. He dances, sings, does choreography and raps. He is the whole package and dope freestyler. Good bars off the dome.
We are an Afro futurism collective, focused on good vibes, high vibration music, being in tune with something deeper than we see on this Earth, we focusing on changing the world through our music.
SM: Can you talk about your 'On my Soul 1.5' project?
LH: It took about 2 years to make. Starships formed in 2017, the first song that we recorded that wasn’t on the tape was maybe late 2017. In 2018 we recorded “Livin Water,” that was one of the first records we recorded. It came so nicely too, because the way it came about we all started just writing, we all had writing sessions to get that creative energy flowing, and then got to recording. We had one or two writing sessions a month then we would go record. Now the chemistry has been so good that we don’t even need multiple writing sessions. We lay down a beat on the spot and lay down some new ideas, I make a beat on the spot and then finalize some ideas, then go straight to the studio, knocking out multiple records. We have been consistent with that.
That started with ”Living Water,” then came about “Ignite.” Right after “Ignite” the third track that we recorded had to be “Voyage.” It wasn’t featured as Starships but Starships definitely played a role in the production of that record. That’s track two on the tape. Sleepy Brother had some background vocals as well as Danny Talented. He did most of the songwriting on “Voyage.” Most of the feedback that we got off the tape was the favorites being “Living Water” and “Voyage.” That’s how everything came together, we just had actually jam sessions and writing sessions. The last track we did was recorded a month before it was released, “Frequency” – the reggae track and we dropped it a month before the track. It was powerful because I made the beat a while back and maybe two to three weeks before we linked up. We recorded it, with my engineer and mentor Johnny Bravo for mixing the whole entire EP. We had a private session and the rest is history. I’m really just thankful for getting that thing done and just getting the traction. It’s a blessing and an honor.
SM: When did you realize you had a knack for producing?
LH: The first time I got paid, I was like “okay this is real.” As an artist you know when you start to get good. As an artist or a producer you know when you start to feel yourself, you think okay I’m getting good at this now. Writing an idea comes easy. You know off fact I know I’m good at this, maybe like the fourth year or fifth year in my career, I did a beat battle. It was like a showcase. I came in 3rd place. From that I got a lot of recognition. I got a lot of feedback. I received a lot of local artists hitting me up. That was the first time I was like, “Yeah this is what I want to do and this is who I am.”I kind of made a name for myself since then and I’m happy for it.
SM: In your bio it says you worked with Jadakiss. What was that experience like? How did come about?
LH: My friend Hitch was an artist I worked with before, Hitch is from the East side and we linked up at a show at Elbow Room. We vibed off hearing each other music and seeing each other performance. One time he said he was going to New York, linking with a couple close people that he talked to in Biggie’s camp. He’s like, “Yo I'm about to get in the studio with Jadakiss bro, I could use some tracks.” I’m like "Alright cool, that sounds good." Being from Chicago I thought he was bluffin’ because I hear things like that all the time. So I see him on IG with Jadakiss and Styles P at D Block Studio in New York so I’m like, “Oh s**T its real.” A week or two later I sent the stems, I got the track back and I was still like wow, and I knew it was Jadakiss because he did the signature laugh and it was something, that was dope. To this moment i still cannot believe it. I got one of my favorite emcees on a track and I still can’t believe it. This was like last year. I still can’t believe it.
SM: Where do your soulful and R&B vibes come from?
LH: Honestly just having a good ear for it. Actually having the opportunity to grow, I like R&B soul because I like to challenge myself as a producer. I like making hip-hop. Currently what hip-hop is right now in terms of trap inspired beats, it’s kind of easy for me to make. I wanted to challenge myself. I have been around a lot of musicians. I like trap music, but I wanted to challenge myself. The co-producer of "Living Water" has been playing piano for 20 years, and seeing other producers inspire me to step my game up. All my peers inspire me to step my game up. It’s not competitive but when I get inspired by my peers it makes me want to go harder. It makes me want to be great. A lot of producers in Chicago are not doing good R&B. I wanted to make a change to that. Bring back the soul and love for music. Bring back stuff that is memorable to us and timeless music. That is why I was inspired to delve into soul and R&B.
SM: What special plans you got in the works for the rest of 2019?
LH: First off, I’m grateful for a NBA 2k Placement. I’m working on a few getting placements with brands and sponsors and licensing opportunities. I’m focused on that the rest of the year pushing records to get placement opportunities. I may be working on another Starships tape. Right now currently as a producer I'm staying active in the studio and staying consistent with other artists as well as globally, and focusing on licensing opportunities. That’s the most important thing to me right now. That helps build my catalog as a producer. As a producer you can make income not just off rap or just off giving music to artists. I’m happy because my business was right and my paperwork was right. A lot of the time producers don’t get paid that much for songs. But luckily I have had the fortune to be taught by industry professionals. They educated me and I took notes and I soaked in a lot of knowledge. I am grateful that I had my stuff together and everything right on paper. I am grateful because that 2k track, I got a decent percentage of that track. You can make a track for a video game or a commercial as a producer and still be good. I have access to other avenues with my music and that’s something I’m learning to grow with.
(Editor's note: this interview took place before The Farm Plug Rolling Papers Brunch)
SM: I know your side hustle is your brand of rolling papers. Can you talk about how that hustle started and what makes your papers different?
LH: My main focus has been on my particular business, my own brand of rolling papers, Farm Plug Rolling Papers. The rolling papers are doing real good, our website will be launched real soon, in the next couple weeks and we’re going to do a brunch in late October. It’s going to be dope vibes and we’re going to be doing more events too and sponsoring other things too. These are papers with a purpose, the portion of the proceeds goes to farmers of color. We are a very intersectional company and brand. We’re going to be doing a lot of community work as well and we’re going to do a lot of dope stuff, community evens, community initiatives and donating back to the community.
SM: Dream collaboration?
LH: If not George Clinton, then Quincy Jones, if I’m still going and they are alive those would be my dream collaborations.
SM: What advice would you give up and coming producers in the game?
LH: One, have your paperwork together for sure, because you never know when you are working with an artist. Work with as many artists as you can because you never know which artist will break, which artist will pop, and if you have your paperwork together then you can benefit from that if they do break out. Lastly I would say recalibration. If you go to theses events like SXSW, A3C, Lollapalooza, and you network with artists, follow up with them and build that relationship. A lot of times a lot of producers will have met that “rap star” and that guy already blew up. Definitely build those relationships and reconnect with those artists or sponsors and brands, also have a good work ethic and work with as many artists as possible, and have your paperwork right.