Grammy nominated production duo MIDI Mafia (Dirty Swift and Bruce Waynne) received an ASCAP award for their work on Fantasia's smash single "When I See U," last year and are currently working their magic on Fantasia's currently untitled upcoming project. I had a chance to chop it up with them about the album as well as their work with Brandy and their new artist Shiré. Check out their interview and an exclusive video of Fantasia in the studio below:
Soul Rebel: What's going on with Fantasia's new album? What can you tell me about it? Does she have a title yet?
Bruce Waynne: We're just recording right now, as many records as possible. We're about 15-20 records in. She has an idea of an album title but it wouldn't be fair for us to put it out there right now, she's been through two titles already. There's a lot of things about Fantasia people don't really know and she's using this album to share that, that's why we feel we are gonna give everybody the album they are gonna want from her. Some people feel she has that Aretha Franklin thing going and she should sound like that, then they hear "When I See U" and think it should sound like that, but she's all of that stuff so we are really going to paint a picture and make sure she is involved in the process. We know we make hot beats, but it's really about big songs. We got guys like James Fauntleroy who wrote "No Air" for Jordin Sparks, Lonnie Burrough, he's doing a lot of stuff with Brandy, we are just trying to make great hit songs, using soul, country, pop, whatever. Her voice is incredible. I'm excited. If I was on the other side of the board I would be like 'This is what I always wanted to hear from her.' She's trying new things, we're just helping her navigate.
SR: Congratulations on winning the ASCAP award for "When I See U." Did you know the record would do so well?
BW: Yeah, thanks, it was the most played R&B Record of the Year. It's crazy because there was so many people against that record. When we originally started with Fantasia we recorded 10 records in 6 days. A lot of the mission where we wanted to go with her just didn't go that way. When I see you just made the cut.
SR: What's the chemistry between you guys and Fantasia like?
BW: We clicked right away. When we first met, we came in to do this song called "Finally," we cut it and then we played her two songs, "Broke" and "Without You" and she was like, "This that Rockstar shit," and she cut it in like two hours and asked what else we had and we played "When I See U," and she sat with it for 2 days. We played her more stuff and she cut two records the next day, she was supposed to fly out but cancelled everything to stay us with the rest of the week. She even hit us when Swift broke his back. The last 2 years we've been through a lot of adversity, he broke his back and I was going through a divorce and a lawsuit. When he broke his back fanny stopped what she was doing and came to visit and just hung out with us. We've been kind of quiet the last two years, we haven't been going as hard as we usually do but in the midst of this we had a record nominated for a Grammy, and got an ASCAP award. It feels like we are starting all over right now.
SR: Shortly after I heard "Broke" Fantasia's first single for the new album, I heard an older version with Nicole Wray. What happened with that?
BW: We originally did the record two years ago. Nicole Wray used to do writing for us and I guess when her situation went bad at Roc-a-fella she needed a record, so she leaked the record. We got mad, like why leak the record? But she got a buzz and we worked it out but now it's like it leaked all over again. It's always something with these records. Every time we go through something with songs they get big.
Dirty Swift: It's just the reality of the internet now, if a beat gets out there people can have it. We're just happy people like it. F*ck it.
Fantasia in the Studio "Broke"
SR: You guys have a label right?
DS: We have a label called Family Ties, we've been through a few situations and we're still looking for a permanent home, but we have a couple one-off deals. We have an artist Shiré, that's signed through SRC/Universal Motown/Family ties. We're always finding talent and the way things are going now the internet is our distributor. It's a good time to be in our situation because iTunes is the number one retailer and we can go direct to the people.
SR: Who else are you working with?
DS: We've been working heavy with Elliott Yamin and Brandy, hopefully Dr. Dre for Detox and also with 50 Cent on his new project.
SR: How has Brandy been? She's had such a rough last few years.
DS: You can tell she's had a rough ride, but she really feels she's in a great place. She is all putting it back together she's in a positive place and she sounds incredible we are excited to be a part of that.
BW: She is a really good spirit.
Currently, MIDI Mafia is in the studio producing Fantasia's next album and launching one of their first artists Shiré, an R&B soul artist out of Baltimore whose sound calls upon the heartache of Mary J. Blige combined with the fiery attitude of Lil Kim. Shiré's debut album "Picking Up The Pieces" will be in stores in 2009. Her mix tape "Baltimore's Daughter" is available now as a free download through www.myspace.com/shireuniversal or www.themidimafia.com.
Its not too late to nominate your favorite artists, bloggers or even yourself for an Online Hip-Hop Award. State your bid here