MentPlus on the MPC Live II Retro with Fly Tape 2, Chomplr, and Lo-Fly Dirt
Posted on 08 May 2021
Music producer, beat maker, radio show host, and DJ MentPlus is a jack of all trades. However, he's mastered the art of fusing hardware & software for his production. Weekly, you'll find MentPlus sharing gems and jams on his social networks as he continues to explore his world of sound. Recently, he shared some footage of him using the new MPC Live Retro II sync'd up with Chomplr. We wanted to highlight this process and dive into a bit more of the world of MentPlus' approach to beat-making & his use of the MSXII iOS apps Chomplr, Lo-Fly Dirt, and Fly Tape 1 & 2. We discuss everything from his unique sound, his mixing approaches, as well as show video of how he routes his iOS rig into the hardware world. Enjoy the interview below....
1. For those unfamiliar, please let us know who MentPlus is, where you're from, and how you got your start making beats...
Hey folks, what’s good? I’m a DJ / Producer from Brooklyn, New York. M E N T were the letters of the graffiti writing I did once upon a time. The "P L U S" was added once I got into DJing and beatmaking. I started making beats because I was spinning other people's music and decided I should try to make my own. At first it started out with remixes where I would take an acapella of a popular song and use breakbeats with random samples off records to make a different beat with the same song. At the time I had an 8 to 12 second Gemini sampler and two tape decks. Then I picked up a (Boss) Roland DR-5.
I would program my drums to match the breakbeats I would sample, even layer them. It was a trip. I would go back and forth between the two until I completed the song or beat. Most people know this cooking method as “pause tapes”. Soon after I got a (Boss) DR-202 and still stuck with the pause tape workflow until I picked up an MPC 2000 in ‘99.
2. What inspired your set up? The mix of hardware, software, and apps is insane! Tell us a bit about how you arrived here...
Hardware only was my thing. I was a super purist, lol. I saw all the greats were using hardware only and I wanted to be like them so... All that changed once a friend of mine named Jacqueal Jackson, a.k.a
Dr. Dope, introduced me to Reason in ‘04. It opened my mind when I heard all the different things you can do with software. I was hooked from that point on. It took me a while to get comfortable with the hardware / software combo but once it grew on me there were no more limits on my creativity.
From this point no matter what it was I would find a way to make beats on it. In my opinion whether you use hardware or software you can make dope shit, you just got to figure out the workflow. As years went on I copped different MPC models. Eventually I ended up learning to make music on Ableton thanks to the homie DJ Static around 2015. That got me hyped to make music on the iPad with various iOS apps also. The possibilities are endless now because you can use inexpensive apps on your phone to make heat.
3. Can you share a bit on how MSXII Sound Design samples, apps, and overall product offerings have inspired you?
Once I hear any MSXII sounds I know there’s gonna be quality from the jump. Whether it’s drum samples or loop manipulation, you’ll always find FIRE in that MSXII sound folder. Some of my favorite drums and samples include Lo-Fly Drums, Lo-Fi Melodics and Schlump Loops/Shots there are so many I use the list goes on.
If I'm on my MPC Live 2 (with Chomplr), Serato Studio or Ableton, MSXII always has me covered. On the iOS side of things recently I’ve been using Koala coupled with Lo–Fly Dirt and Fly Tape. Those two apps routed together through either Audio Bus or AUM make your drums and samples sound amazing. It’s the triple threat! Sir! Sir! Hand me that aux cord! Lol
4. Recently, you've shared a FIRE beat on the MPC Live II, but routing Chomplr to it and triggering the samples. Talk to us a little about that track!
I really liked the samples from Chomplr and wanted to make something dope with them. I recently figured out a way to control iOS apps via MIDI using my MPC Live 2. At first it was just a test and then it turned into something MUCH more. I stumbled onto the Zoomies preset in Chomplr added about 40% attack on the front end of each triggered sample.
My purpose of this was so the drums and samples would fit in the same space. I programmed the drums first then played the Chomplr on top of it. Since the Zoomies preset is a C#m I played a baseline to match. Boom there it was!
Here’s an @Akai_Pro MPC Live 2 x @MSXIISound CHOMPLR app collab joint. Best of BOTH worlds Hardware or iOS Software ..you can flip anything with everything. Just have fun with it. 😤👌🏾💯 pic.twitter.com/VpJsYNkWvk— 🔪Sling Blades On Loops🔪 (@MentPlus_) April 30, 2021
5. Can you explain, in detail, the routing for this track?
MPC Live ---> MIO iConnectivity (USB MIDI Interface) ---> iPad (USB MIDI Interface) ---> Novation Audio Hub 2X4 (for audio to MPC). ‘Optional Ultra patch pro patch bay’. (Video below)
6. What are some of your favorite presets on Lo-Fly Dirt? Any go-to settings on Fly Tape 2? How about favorite samples/FX on Chomplr?
Favorite Lo-Fly Dirt presets : 404 main setting, the MPC main setting and the SP 12 main setting. Sometimes the mood I go for I use 8-bit main setting. IMO (Adds crunch and dirt to samples.)
Favorite Lo-Fly Dirt factory presets : Beautiful Dirt, Busted 12s and POW Block. IMO (Adds knock to your drums.)
Go-to settings Fly Tape 2 : Noise slider to about 75%, Mix at 100%, SPEED, SATURATION, MUTE, REV, WARBLE, LOFI, BREAK, STUTTER. I use pretty much all of these. Love them!
Favorite samples presets Chomplr : SYNTHESIZED SOUL V2, DRUM AND PERCUSSION, MELODIC SAMPLES, VOX & FX. I use a majority of these depending on my mood.
Favorite FX Chomplr : All FX including LOFI, DRIVE, ECHO, VERB, DIRT, LOPASS and HIPASS. For sample manipulation I use the slider along with START, END, ATK, TUNE, PAN, LOOP and REV.
7. How has the iOS community as a whole inspired you lately? How has iOS helped your efficiency and creativity?
I think it’s really inspiring being able to create music on the go without having to jump in front of the computer or turn on the MPC. Mobility in music is the way of the future and I'm living it along with all the other beat heads. S/O my Koala gang homies: Dibia$e, TVKii, YTC, TellyMclean, TatzumaKiii, Nimzo, Remi of Koala Beatcast & MORE too many to name..ha. The movement is growing everyday. Beat makers have come together using the same apps but making dope music in different ways. You tell me is that not inspiring or what?
8. Talk to us about mixing on iOS? What are you doing to get where you want to go?
I pretty much use the same principles when mixing on desk top apps or DAWS. Use your ears for the mix instead of your eyes. Those meters can be misleading at times. Especially if you want your joints to knock. Start at 0 DB and at the end of my complete mix I always make sure I have –6 DB of headroom. (For my mastering engineer.) Also this isn't set in stone ... learn the rules right then experiment and break em' it's more fun that way.
9. How would you personally describe the "MentPlus Sound?" What is it you're trying to achieve when creating records?
I’m still trying to find my sound but often I'm told I do have a particular Slap in my beats that people check for. My goal is to give the listener the “Mud Face” or the “Scrunch Face” when they listen. It has to be timeless and inspiring at the same time. That is the goal. Expect the unexpected ... the “Oh shxt “ factor is what I intend to convey every time I press play.
10. What new projects are in the works for you?
My new project is on the way via High Water Music will be titled, “The Archers Paradox." It’s mostly an instrumental album with a few surprise guests. Y’all won’t wanna miss this! My current release “Royal Spheres” is out NOW. On all streaming platforms.
I have a weekly radio show called “Open Handed” on Bushwick Radio every Saturday between 3pm-4pm. You get to listen to dope quality Hip-Hop mixed, cut and scratched by yours truly. Every week I show case 4 – 5 producer instrumentals between songs during the hip-hop show. With my own twist. (Think Stretch & Bobbito or Future Flavas)
I'm also involved in a venture with the Battle Ave/Session-In beat collective and Serato called "The Kitchen" where we will be using Serato Studio cooking up live beats on Twitch. Coming July - Aug. S/o all my Session-In homies so deep with the beats wayyyy to many to name.