Phil The Pain

While emcees are most often seen as the face of Hip Hop there are a set of very important artisans whose role in the creation of the music is just as vital as the performer. Without the producer, a rapper would just be a poet. It’s the man (or woman) behind the boards that serves as the co-creator of the final art.

Phil “The Pain” Coyle is one young producer that takes his role as collaborator seriously, and the industry is starting to take notice. The Brockton, Massachusetts native worked in the music programming department at Sirius XM radio, and also mastered his skills under the tutelage of DJ Premier, Charles The Mixologist, Showbiz, DJ Ready Cee, and DJ Mixx. He’s worked with well known rappers like Joe Budden, Royce Da 5’9, M.O.P., and Blu, and he’s currently an in-house producer for the Massachusetts-based Viciouz Society Entertainment and First Dirt Records in California.

Last year, Coyle teamed with fellow First Dirt signee Timothy Rhyme to release his first full length collaborative album Vintage. With Tim supplying the rhymes and Phil on the dials, the duo creating a 14-track LP that combined Hip-Hop, Jazz, and Soul. Coyle has a big year ahead of him, but before he takes on more production credits and competitions, Phil The Pain spoke with DZI: The Voice in our latest Q&A.

Yohance Kyles: When did you know that music production was the career you wanted to pursue?

Phil Coyle: I always had a passion for music and for the creative process, but about 8 years ago or so I came into some extra money and was able to buy my first MPC and started making a few beats. And even though they were very raw I would get really good feedback from people, and shortly after I began going to college for audio engineering at the Audio Research Institute in New York City and really began to develop my skills.

YK: How did you hook up with First Dirt?

PC:  I hooked up with Timothy Rhyme and First Dirt through a mutual friend of ours while I was living in New York City. Shouts out to my girl Shirin on that one.

YK: What production programs do you use to make beats?

PC: I use Pro Tools and an MPC 4000.

Phil working on his MPC

YK: What do you look for in a song when trying to decide it’s a track that you’d like to sample?

PC: It depends on my mood for the day and the artist I am making a track for. Sometimes artists will give me a certain topic or a reference of what they want and depending on the topic and artist there may be a certain instrument, loop and/or vocal sample that will catch my attention that I can build from. But if I am just sitting down to create with no one in mind it all depends on my mood.

YK: You see a lot of Hip Hop artists today work with in-house or regular producers. For example Drake with 40 & Boi-1da, Black Hippy with Digi+Phonics, and A$AP Rocky with Ty Beats & Lord Flacko. What are the advantages of being an in-house producer that spends a lot time working with the same artists consistently?

PC: The advantages of being an in-house producer is that you have a certain relationship and familiarity with the artists in your group, and it’s easier to understand what the objective of a certain idea or project is. The more you work with that artist the easier it becomes to understand exactly what it is they are looking for. There are also times when I am sample digging in which I hear something that strikes a topic for me to build around, and I can make the beat for a specific artist and know that it is an idea that the artist would want to work with.

I feel the lack of this sort of collaborating these days really hurts the quality of music that has been coming out lately. “Producers” just email or dropbox beats with no communication with the artist.

YK: What is the creative process in the studio like for you when working with an artist?

PC: Myself and the artist will sit down and I will ask the artist what he or she is looking for. They either give me an idea or say just do you. I will dig for a sample and sound kit based on their idea or cut up a sample that I’ve been waiting to flip if they just want me to go. The artist will sometimes throw in ideas as I go along such as slow the tempo, give me more bass, more percussion, or say nothing at all and just let me rock and tell me how they would like the song formatted based on what  have come up with.

When an artist is in the room with me, feeding me ideas, I feel like this is when I am at my best. This way there is no confusion about what the artist wants and I can feed off the artists reaction to what I am creating. I feel the lack of this sort of collaborating these days really hurts the quality of music that has been coming out lately. “Producers” just email or dropbox beats with no communication with the artist.

YK: Why did you decide to do your first full joint album with Timothy Rhyme?

PC: I became interested to do the full joint album with Timothy Rhyme because at that time I hadn’t really work with any west coast artists, and it was certainly a market I needed to tap into. When I first checked out his music he had dropped a song called “Ima Monster,” and I knew that he would fit my production very well. So I sent him a gang of beats to listen to. 

I decided to do the album with Tim shortly after talking to him just a few times and got a sense that he is not full of shit like a lot of independent, unsigned artists. Out of about the first 20 or so beats I sent him he liked about 16. So he picked a few from that batch to kick off the project, and I began to create a few more specifically for him after getting a sense of his music and which beats he had liked.

Timothy Rhyme

YK: What’s the meaning behind choosing Vintage as the album’s title?

PC: The meaning behind the album’s title Vintage was very simply about creating a project that was uninfluenced by anything except what we like and what we know about while maintaining a more positive feel to the project. I am a big fan of old Jazz and Soul music and that sort of music is usually portraying positive emotions and everyday situations while the production carried a feel good vibe. The album reflects this idea with Tim’s rhymes being true to what he knows and not rapping about cars, cribs, guns, money, drugs and other things that he is not involved in or knows anything about with the production mostly carrying a feel good vibe throughout.

YK: How did the collaboration with Blu “Shower & Shave” come about?

PC: A close friend of mine and rapper, Mega Trife, check him out if you haven’t, had recorded a track with Blu for his Full Circle album called “Split The Seconds”. He contacted Blu for us while I was out in Sacramento for the NorCal beat battle. Tim recorded a rough version of the track while I was in Cali and gave him an idea of what he wanted, and Blu laid that down the same week.

Vintage Album Cover

YK: You used vocal samples from the movies Halloween, Rope, The Dark Knight, and Network on Vintage. Are you a big film fan?

PC: I can’t believe you knew that vocal sample was from Rope, lol. But yes, I would say I am a pretty big film fan and sometimes different ideas for music come from movies that I watch. A few of my favorite films are Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, Gone Baby Gone, Apocalypto, and True Romance.

…the most important was to just don’t limit yourself to working on just music as an engineer. There are many different ways to utilize engineering skills besides just recording and mixing music.

YK: What did you learn from your experience working with Charles The Mixologist, DJ Premier, and Showbiz?

PC: I learned a lot from being over there even though it wasn’t for a very long time. Many of my engineering skills came from watching Charles as well as learning the proper way to deal with artists, how the industry really works and what to watch out for, other ways to connect with important people in the industry, and probably the most important was to just don’t limit yourself to working on just music as an engineer. There are many different ways to utilize engineering skills besides just recording and mixing music. DJ Premier loves to talk about music and he will definitely drop jewels on you if you get to speak with him enough. His experience and talking with him has helped me a lot.

YK: What other producers have influenced you?

PC: There are way too many to name but just a few are: J Dilla, Pete Rock, DJ Premier, Hi Tek, Rashid Hadee, Madlib, Curtis Mayfield, Norman Connors, Black Milk, Dr Dre, Robert Glasper, Just Blaze, and Kev Brown.

YK: If you could choose any three artists that you haven’t work yet to produce for who would it be and why?

PC: 1- Elzhi just simply because as far as lyrics and wordplay go for modern day rappers he is probably the best doing it today. I also feel he may like my type of production based on the type of beats he has been on in the past.

2- Median (from Foreign Exchange Music). I’ve wanted to work with him since I heard his Path To Relief EP about 7 years ago. I feel that he would be a good fit for my production as well, but he is about as good as “conscious” rappers get. A very smart rapper with clever song ideas and wordplay and lyrics that always make me hit rewind.

3- Common because he is a legend in the game and has done it without really changing up. Seven of his nine albums are classics in my opinion which is a great ratio compared to other rappers who have been in the game as long as he has, as well as his showing out on most of his features. I also feel he would be a good fit for my production.

YK: What’s next for Phil The Pain?

PC: Upcoming Projects I am producing or featured on are Manny Garcia from VS Entertainment- no title as of yet (producing entire project) set to drop this spring. Freedom from Post Up Entertainment- Project Freedom set to drop in the spring. Another Project with Spoken Word Artist Cinematic Kimo from VS Entertainment- Writer’s Block. 

First Dirt’s First Class album set to drop later this year. Lecks Get It On’s The Art of Living set to drop in the spring. Jugga Rock’s upcoming EP – set to drop later this year. Notoriety Music’s upcoming album, The G.E.M., set to drop in the spring (producing entire project). Mega Trife’s Gold Ain’t found Above Ground album set to drop later this year. Rymeezee’s mixtape, Gassanova: Time Piece Vol. 3, which is dropping soon. Another full length album with Timothy Rhyme is in the works. Cash from Task Force Entertainment’s upcoming project set to drop later this year. Xtra from BFMI’s upcoming mixtape set to drop later this year.

I also am aiming to do about 4 iStandard Producer Showcases in different cities this year if possible as well Battle of the Beat Makers in Toronto if I can get on.

All photos courtesy of Phil The Pain

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Check out Timothy Rhyme & Phil The Pain’s video for “I Gotta Go”:

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