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.


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

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 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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