1500 or Nothin’ are amongst the music industry’s finest production and songwriting teams. They stand apart from most producers today because of their authentic musicianship that plays live instruments in lieu of drum machines and computer programming. Formed here in Los Angeles, the band has stayed true to their roots, contributing to the latest work of the west coast’s most talented rappers, including Snoop Dogg, Dom Kennedy, Problem and Nipsey Hussle. However, 1500 or Nothin’ is much more than just a local act. Jay- Z, Beyoncé, Eminem and Rihanna have requested the musical influence of this versatile group of virtuosos.
I was lucky enough to witness the musical genius of 1500 or Nothin’ when I joined in with a few members of the group, Larrance “Rance” Dopson, Brody Brown and Carlos ‘Los” Mc Slain on a recording session for the upcoming Hidden Beach album Unwrapped Vol. 8. The group was working on a reinterpretation of Dr. Dre’s “G’ Thang” that day. Rance, the keyboardist and leader of the group, worked one-on-one with creative directors from Hidden Beach to try and gauge the goals of the project, which were simply for 1500 to do what they do best – take a sound and put their own creative spin on it. I was impressed with Rance’s laid back yet professional approach to the challenge.
Once Rance knew the expectations, he had the studio engineer turn up the track. After listening to the song back-to-back, once or twice, Rance went straight from businessman to musician and began to play along and create a new piano arrangement off the top of his head. It was magical to witness Rance give an impromptu interpretation of a classic cut. Seeing something like that teaches you that even perfection can be improved.
After Rance finished recording the keys, Brody Brown stepped up to the plate on his bass guitar and added some serious funk to the an already funky track. Then came the drum solo by Los. Rance told Los they needed a few bars, but Los took that instruction and went off on the track, banging out a set for 15 minutes straight. About 8 minutes in, sweat started pouring down his face. Half the time, Los had his eyes closed, but he never missed a beat. Watching him in the zone was like watching Michael Jordan in the 4th quarter of a championship game, equally as flawless but even more effortless. Somewhere in the middle of his drum solo, members of the 1500 family were leaving the studio and Los said his goodbyes… all while he tapped and kicked away at the drums in perfect rhythm.
1500 or Nothin’ are great role models for inner city youth aspiring to be musicians. They show that talent, mixed with hustle, can take you anywhere. All of us here at Hidden Beach look forward to new recordings from the group and the highly anticipated release of Unwrapped Vol. 8. Check back here for updates on the project and some behind-the-scenes footage of recording sessions.
Photo: Beat Making Videos