Interview: @SirTallBlackGuy Bringin’ Us That Oldskool Sound !


From humble ori­gins in Detroit, raised on a healthy diet of Motown, Jazz and early Hip Hop – Ter­rel Wal­lace (aka Tall Black Guy) has become a stand­ard bear­er for the cur­rent hip hop beats scene. Through a steady stream of pro­duc­tions filled with incred­ibly clev­er sample flips and deft pro­duc­tion chops, he has won fans across the world, includ­ing Gilles Peterson (who included him on one of his Browns­wood Bub­blers albums), Lefto, Anthony Valadez, Jazzy Jeff, Questlove and count­less oth­ers. With the tan­gible begin­nings of world­wide recog­ni­tion, Tall Black Guy has estab­lished him­self to be one of the most influ­en­tial pro­du­cers work­ing today. We catch up with Tall Black Guy to find out more! 


Q. What was the first record you ever bought?

Well to be hon­est, my pops blessed me with my first records. He had a very extens­ive jazz col­lec­tion. When I actu­ally star­ted col­lect­ing my own records, I transitioned into col­lect­ing Cd’s. I have tons of Cd’s and no records, I gave all my records away or lost them and nev­er went back to buy­ing records like I used to.

Q. How did you come up with the name Tall Black Guy? How tall are you?

 Ha Ha, I get asked that ques­tion alot. In my art col­lege I was one of the few black stu­dents in my class. My teach­er gave us an assign­ment where you had to come up with your own com­pany name and mar­ket­ing cam­paign. I went the pro black route. I think at first I came up with “Right On Pro­duc­tions” and my logo was a black afro man with a “fight the power” fist raised. My second name was Tall Black Guy Pro­duc­tions with the same logo. After that Tall Black Guy just stuck from there. I am 6’5

Q. You star­ted as a beat­box­er, how did you make that trans­ition to becom­ing a pro­du­cer? Do you remem­ber the first beat you ever made?

I think it was just nat­ur­al pro­gres­sion for me. I went from beat box­ing into mak­ing pause tapes of my favor­ite hip hop beats. Around 2000, I wanted to learn how to make my own hip hop beats. Let me tell you, my first beats were super wack! I actu­ally quit for like 2 months because I could not fig­ure how to sequence my drums right.

 Q. Which era of music inspired you most?

Any­thing from the mid 70’s or early 90’s hip hop and R&B

Q. Can you play any instru­ments? What is your favour­ite instru­ment?

For the last 6 years, I have been mess­ing around with key­board play­ing. But my favor­ite instru­ment is the gui­tar, which at some point I would like to teach myself how to play.

Q. The equip­ment for pro­du­cing music is becom­ing more expens­ive,  do you have any tips on mak­ing dope beats without hav­ing too much fin­an­cial    invest­ment?

At least in my situ­ation, I did not have the money to afford an MPC 2000. I choose some­thing that was cheap and that I could just learn the basics on how to cre­ate my own beats. Son­ic Foundry 2.0 (now Sony Acid 7.0). I spent hours and years try­ing to mas­ter just that one pro­gram. My tip would be, find one hard­ware or soft­ware. Whatever you can afford and mas­ter it, which means.…. practice,practice, and prac­tice X1000000!

Q. Are you more of a soft­ware guy or a hard­ware guy when it comes to pro­du­cing? What’s your stu­dio set up like?

I am more of a soft­ware guy, but I would love to learn how to use dif­fer­ent types of hard­ware. My stu­dio set up is very basic:

2X Yahama HS 50M Stu­dio Mon­it­or

Dell Laptop

Sony Acid 7.0

M-Audio 61 key­sta­tion

Audio Tech­nica ATH-M40X Pro­fes­sion­al Mon­it­or Head­phones

M-Audio Fast Track Inter­face

Tas­cam sound record­er

Q. Do you have a lot of sample packs or do you cre­ate your own samples? Because you have some pretty unique sounds in your music.

Most of the time, I try to cre­ate my own sounds and samples. When I am out and about or at work, I like to bring my sound record­er with me just in case I want to col­lect some crazy sounds or if I have a idea in my head that I don’t want to for­get.

Q. As a prom­in­ent pro­du­cer in the cur­rent Hip Hop scene, your beats main­tain the old skool sound. Do you see your­self as try­ing to revive the old skool, or is your music an evol­u­tion of the ori­gin­al Hip Hop style?

My goal is to just make good solid music. I nev­er wanted to put myself into a box on what I wanted to make.  At least for me, as long as I strive to stick to that, the sky’s the lim­it.

Q. Tell us a bit about your recent pro­ject ‘Search­ing for Hap­pi­ness’ with your group 80s Babies?  How did you guys decide to work togeth­er?

80’s babies is basic­ally me and my best friend Dee Jack­son from high school we have been best friends for like 20 years now.  We are hom­ies first and music came second.  We have recor­ded 3 oth­er albums before “Search­ing for Hap­pi­ness”.   So this is pro­ject is a con­tinu­ation of us mak­ing music togeth­er.

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Q. You hail from Detroit, the city that gave us J Dilla, Black Milk, Wajeed and many more. How did grow­ing up in Detroit influ­ence your music?

Even though I am from Detroit. My influ­ences did not come from the city itself but, from friends and fam­ily who lived there. How­ever, when I did return to Detroit in 2011 for a brief but, dif­fi­cult time I was moved to cre­ate my debut album, “8 Miles to Moen­art”.

Q. One of the mis­sions of I am Hip Hop is to embrace the roots of Hip Hop cul­ture, par­tic­u­larly focus­ing on the know­ledge ele­ment. As a pro­du­cer how do you choose which artists you want to work with, and how import­ant are their lyr­ics when your decid­ing?

As long as the artist and myself are on the same page about lyr­ic­al con­tent ie; uplift­ing and empower­ing. And I like their over­all style. I am open to pos­sib­ilty of work­ing with an artist.

Q. How would you describe the cur­rent state of Hip Hop? Are there any artists that really stick out for you? 

I think it is the lack of bal­ance in the cur­rent state of hip-hop. A lot of the main­stream music sounds the same and lacks sub­stance. I believe if real hip-hop was avail­able on more main­stream out­lets, then more people would grav­it­ate towards it. Dayne Jord­an, Add-2 and Dee Jack­son are some of my favor­ites right now.

Q. What brought you to the UK and what would you say the biggest dif­fer­ence is between the music here and in stateside?

My wife is from the UK. Things weren’t going so well for us in the states. So we tried to make it work out here and have been here for the last 4 years.

Music­ally, I think the people a bit more open to my style of music. I just think that is because I am not from the UK.

Q. What is your all-time favour­ite book and why?

To be hon­est, I really don’t have a all time favor­ite book. I love read­ing about new music­al techin­ques or watch­ing videos about music.

Q. What does TBG do when he is not mak­ing music?

If I am not mak­ing music, I am watch­ing You­Tube try­ing to learn some­thing new, watch­ing bas­ket­ball, or watch­ing movies. That’s pretty much a every­day thing for me.

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Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rish­ma Dhali­wal has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rish­ma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal
Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.

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