Dirty Rice (center, with trophy), surrounded by (left to right) Erick Mendleson, Coko Korinne, Johnny Juliano, Omar Grant (Rocnation), and rapper MIMS.
Chris mackey, a.k.a. beat producer Dirty Rice, was born in Shreveport, LA, and close examination reveals how both the Louisiana-bred dish and man represent hip-hop.
Slow-cooked, dirty rice is a mix of simple ingredients, but one that''s highly personalized. Peppering his productions with fleshy samples and stacked percussion, Dirty Rice beat out past champions and underdogs alike to win the 2011 Soundtrack Beat Battle Grand Finale on October 8 at Limelight in Nashville, TN. “You have to be screened to get in, so I really started stepping up my craft when I got involved with [the Soundtrack Beat Battle], and my production level has just skyrocketed because I haven''t wanted to lose,” emphasizes Mackey.
The Soundtrack Beat Battle was launched in 2009 by music entrepreneur/singer-songwriter/producer Coko Korinne to bring attention to the strong urban music scene in Nashville. The Soundtrack Beat Battle, “Where producers go hard . . . or they go home,” promised musicality, rivalry, and showmanship, and thanks to participants like Mackey, the 2011 edition delivered, impressing judges including MIMS, whose “This Is Why I''m Hot” was flipped by participants as part of the competition.
Making beats with Fruity Loops and Cool Edit Pro since he was 19, Mackey moved to Nashville to go to Middle Tennessee State University, at which time he also became more serious about producing. Informed by his location deep in the Bible Belt between the hip-hop scenes of Memphis and Atlanta, Mackey absorbed the gospel, blues, rock, and R&B production, and live music traditions of the area, filtering them through a setup that grew around Pro Tools 9, Sony Acid Pro 7.0, a Digidesign Digi 003 interface, a Korg Triton keyboard, a Shure KSM44 mic, and Universal Audio LA-610 MkII Classic Tube Recording Channel.
“I think making music on a PC had a positive effect on the way I stack sounds,” reflects Mackey. “I know plenty of producers who would take an 808 sub, a clap, and a snare, and that''s their drums, but I can have seven different claps panned before the beat, after the beat, and I''ll mix that with a lot more from the kit to establish a big, fresh sound that stands out.”
Dirty Rice productions are lobbed like a box of snap ''n pops, laying down a blanket of fluctuating hits singed with positive sibilance. There''s a lot of varying motion, expressiveness, and humor, which Mackey admits is inspired by producers such as Timbaland and Kanye West. Mackey balances an appreciation for crunchy, quirky rhythm characters with the way he smoothly juggles and cuts on the beat, giving Dirty Rice tracks a two turntables-and-a-microphone sense of old-school party-rockin'' authenticity.
Recently relocated to Atlanta, GA, Mackey has been soliciting collaborations with singer-songwriters and MCs to build hooks-anchored songs to audition for Sony ATV. (A pitch meeting was one of the Soundtrack Beat Battle''s prizes.) He''s looking beyond beats toward the ultimate goal of placing full tracks into film and television. “Hip-hop has a tendency to be primarily a party, club type of music, and I love that type, but I really want to put my heart into music with a positivity, a good message and that speaks life into people.”