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NugLife's 4/20 Debut Album Full of Tracklib Samples (Interview)

NugLife's 4/20 Debut Album Full of Tracklib Samples (Interview)

L.A.-based beatmaker NugLife celebrates 4/20 with the release of his debut album. An introduction to the world backed by an impressive line-up of guests such as Planet Asia, MED, Blu & The Underachievers, and packed with seven Tracklib samples. Making a hazy claim for the ‘Nuglife 2020’ throne. Because he didn’t choose the nug life, the nug life chose him.

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What was the production process of ‘Nuglife 2020’ like? When and to which extent did digging on Tracklib come into play?

My process was a bit of beautiful madness and producer-OCD, that changes during certain stages of the project. With all projects and beats, I mainly try to just find great samples that strike me and create some great original melodies as well. Overall, digging on Tracklib is a normal ritual for me: I’ll just listen and let tracks play when I first arrive at the studio for 10-20 minutes while getting organized. Or even while doing admin business work for NugLife as a brand.

I like to treat this platform of digital crate-digging, the same as I would with normal vinyl crate-digging. Just let it play, explore the music, and when something sparks inspiration—CHOP IT UP! I find comfort in knowing that the samples I use are fully clearable. Especially as I’ve progressed, the artists I work with tend to appreciate that, too…

Blu & NugLife
Blu & NugLife

Speaking of artists you work with: the list of features on Nuglife 2020 is pretty crazy with emcees like Blu, MED, Planet Asia & The Underachievers! What was it like to collaborate with artists like them?

Man, it’s like heaven on earth and dreams come true! I specifically reach out to artists that have influenced my craft and whom I seek on my production. So it’s an honor.. Even to work with underground uprising friends like Rocky G, Don’t Sleep, FrankieOG and everyone else, because I know they’re ready to be passed the torch soon.

I think the most notable session before COVID-quarantine began, was with Planet Asia. From the jump, he pulled up to the studio giving legendary vibes and was loving the beat for the track “Roulette.” I shared some other songs from 'NUGLIFE 2020' to set the mood, and he wrote his vicious verse in about 30 minutes. This man “one-taked” (no punch in’s) his verse about three different times before we chose the one that we felt was strongest. Those are the legendary “OH SHIT!”-recording moments: when you’re engineering and you hear fire being laid down on raw wax right in front of your eyes & ears in real-time.

After recording the song, time flew by as we shared conversation of music and world politics over some spliffs. The vibes that were set in that room, are the kinds of vibes that yell possibilities of future collaboration.

You have sampled ‘The Big Score’ by John Cacavas for ‘Red Eye Vision and Trevor Duncan’s ‘The Girl (Theme)’ for 2020 High Life. Have you sampled a lot of library music before?

Sure. But I don’t necessarily approach my digging style specifically looking for “library music.” I just go with what strikes my ear! I like colorful jazzy, soulful, and worldly sounds and instrumentation. I think since using Tracklib, I may have added that to my genre of sampling under my tool belt! You guys seem to have added a nice vast collection over the past year or so.

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The same goes for ‘Mesothelioma,’ I guess. As that’s another soulful track you sampled, for your track ‘I Just Wanna Smoke.’ What was your first reaction when you discovered Magic In Threes' music?

The first thing that came to mind when listening to that Magic in Threes track, is that its bassline had similarities to Erykah Badu’s track “Didn’t Cha Know,” produced by the great J Dilla. It captured me almost immediately. And then came in the psychedelic sounding synthesizer layers and I was done being teased. I had to sample it! Overall, the group Magic in Threes has kept me on my toes when digging through their records.

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"Tracklib is a first-mover and ahead of its time. Sampling was seeming to be a legal train wreck for the industry. Tracklib is the brilliant middle-man to obtaining licenses for large or small artists and entities."

—NugLife

Is there a certain way how you dig through Tracklib’s digital crates? By genre, decade, BPM, or perhaps randomly...

I really like to be surprised, so I’ll just start by skimming through any new curated Collections, and then to the Newly Added Tracks. And sometimes, I use the Popular Tracks filter. There have also been times when I look by specific genres such as Soul, Jazz, World, or Classical. Other times I’ve looked by year: normally within the 60s and 70s, seeking psychedelic sounds. Even mixing up combinations of all those digging styles. There isn’t one way to go about it I guess. Just start digging somewhere, whether it’s a quick skim or a detailed listen. Crate digging can feel infinite.

Your track ‘Reflections’ features a sample from the previously unreleased Isaac Hayes catalog. Were you already a fan of his music before the exclusive material was made available on the site?

Ahh man, I remember the night I came across that catalog premiering on the site! I normally use more obscure and lowkey records being placed on the platform. But when I saw that new Isaac Hayes collection, I went ham! I was already pretty familiar with Isaac and his music from crate digging. And, of course, him being the legendary voice of Chef on South Park. It’s cool to see unreleased music get recycled back into the music community in cool new different chops and styles. I think I have at least one more track sampled from the Isaac Hayes collection that I plan to release in 2020. One together with artist and close collaborator, Rocky G.

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Planet Asia & NugLife working on 'Roulette'
Planet Asia & NugLife working on 'Roulette'

How do you look at Tracklib and its potential for producers like yourself?

Tracklib is a first-mover and ahead of its time. Even then, I wish the world would’ve had it even sooner. Prior to Tracklib, sampling was seeming to be a legal train wreck for the industry, and independent artists were thought to never see the light of day when It came to clearing samples. Tracklib is the brilliant middle-man to obtaining licenses when clearing samples for large or small artists and entities. The more that the Tracklib catalog grows in music and matures, the more the potential growth will naturally happen from my perspective as a producer.

Your album drops on 4/20. Aren’t you afraid that day is getting too busy now for some quality “nuglife” yourself?

[Laughs] Great question… But I’m not too worried. With my fan base prepared, and my fellow collaborators helping with the promotions, I believe all the right people who would appreciate this project, will get to hear it right on time. Your right, though, 4/20 is a bit crazy and polluted with promotions from stoner artists, cannabis brands, and more. The thing is, “NugLife” as a producer and brand is the perfect candidate for every 4/20 celebration. So hopefully, the name and music can one day be recognized alongside the cannabis legends and greats in years to come...

Listen to 'NUGLIFE 2020' by NugLife below, or follow him on Instagram to hear more:


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