The production duo Da Internz has hip hop marching to the beat of their own drums. Chicago-natives Marcos "Kosine" Palacios and Ernest "Tuo" Clark became beat-making stars after crafting Big Sean's hit “Dance (A$$)” and Rihanna's smash “Birthday Cake.” They’ve garnered yet another Grammy nod this year for producing Nicki Minaj's bootylicious runaway hit “Ananconda," which caused quite a stir when its risqué video premiered. And they even raised eyebrows when — shortly after the beef between Chris Brown and Drake — they got the two in the studio together to record.
Did they broker the peace? The two sat down with BET.com to talk about that, working with Ms. Minaj and how they built the rhythm for her Grammy-nominated track.
Congratulations on the Grammy nomination for “Anaconda.” So, what was the process for producing that track?
Kosine: The process was very intense; like going into the battlefield with one of the greats of our time. You know, Nicki is a tough cookie, and she had the high standards. She didn’t give us the freedom to do whatever the hell we wanted to do. Nicki sat right in front of us and we worked on that track together. So it was intense because, you know, if I’m going to be 100 about it: she’s a little intimidating. That stature. That face. Her eyes. It’s not easy to play the piano with Nicki standing there. So, with that being said, it was intense, but it was also an incredible experience because it was our first time ever working with her inside the studio.
Who chose to use the sample of Sir Mix-a-lot’s “Baby Got Back?”
Tuo: This was a co-production with producers Polo and his producer Anonymous. They had the idea prior, like, three or four months before we came in. And Nicki was like, I know you guys can get this record the way I need it. We was like, “Ya damn right.”
Kosine: Her exact words were: “I have this track that I really like, and I got some ideas to do it. But I know you guys can make me love it. I know you’ll make me fall in love with it.” So we whipped out our shovels and we started shoveling the snow.
Kosine: I feel Tuo’s answer is very disrespectful every time he opens his mouth [laughs] because there’s Quincy Jones. What he was able to with Michael Jackson is second to none. So I always say Quincy Jones first. Then I always say Timbaland because his beats are just so wild. And then there’s Dr. Dre, Pharrell, Swizz [Beatz], Kanye [West], Puff Daddy [Diddy]. Man, working with Puff we learned so much.
This question is regarding Big Sean’s “Dance (A**)” and Rihanna’s “Birthday Cake.” Did you purposely make the songs sound similar?
Kosine: Umm, I don’t think they sound similar. What are you talking about?
The beat. The intro. The synthesizer rising in the intro. The chants in the beginning. They’re similar.
Kosine: Ehh, look man, the same guys made the beats, bro. It’s not about them sounding similar. It’s basically we are Da Internz. You know what happens when a Pharrell song come on. You know whose song it is. We have a DNA to our music. It’s not that it’s similar. It’s the DNA. Some producers, um, they...hmm, it’s kind of hard to explain. But don’t just look at our No. 1 songs. Look at the entire catalogue.
I understand, your work with, say, Justin Bieber sounds totally different. But those two hits just sound, well….
Kosine: Yeah, they might have came out the same week. That’s what I’ll tell you. Me and Tuo might have made those beats in the same week [laughs]. That’s all I got for you. [Laughs] I mean, what do you want from me? One came out in 2011 and the other came out in 2012 [laughs].
What is your process for producing the majority of your artists?
Tuo: No process is alike because we base a lot of things off of energy. Like you might have what I call that golden moment. You guys may be in a conversation, and the conversation creates the record. Or you may have that situation where — and this is very rare — you may send that track and the artists may write to the track and you get “Birthday Cake.” Or you may be fiddling around with some kicks and a snare and couple of pianos and you get some live instrumentation in there and you come up with a record. Someone may have a phrase and you have a record. There’s no pinpoint way.
Kosine: I have to say that — and excuse my French — but If you have a set process then you’re f****d up because music is lifestyle and there is no set way to live a life. You have rules that [are] meant to be broken, and you have laws that you have to follow. So when it comes to music, if you can write and produce life you will be successful forever. It’s when you have a formula — trying to cook up magic — is when you fail.
Also, didn’t you guys kind of broker peace between Drake and Chris Brown? One of you posted an Instagram pic of the two in the studio.
Kosine: Absolutely not. I don’t even know what "broker a peace" means when you’re a producer. You just produce songs.
So you just got the guys in the studio?
Tuo: Yo, we didn’t have anything to do with any of that.
Kosine: No comment, man. No comment.
Albums or singles?
Tuo: Mostly album. But everybody’s in pre-production right now.
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(Photo: Rebecca Sapp/WireImage for NARAS)