All of the previous installments to the “TRAPPIN’ IN” series on Ryan’s page we’re compilations of many artists but the newest, “Trappin in Jamaica” was a PHONK Music collaboration between artist NAVEISDEAD and RobotFingers. It was inspired by the previous mixes by Ryan Celsius and is the trios first production together. In less than a month since the release the week before 4/20 the video has 125,000 views. Being hypnotized by the sounds, I had to reach out to NAVE and RobotFingers to find out more about their musical influences and the process the production.
NAVE said, “It was a real honor to be able to create a project that Ryan felt fit in with the other “TRAPPIN’ IN” mixtapes that he had curated.”
“My own personal influences span all across the boards, including artists/producers such as; MF DOOM, Earl Sweatshirt, bsd.u, DJ Smokey, Ozzy Osbourne, The Alchemist, and specifically The Gorillaz. RobotFingers and I bonded over the fact that we’ve both grown up on the music of The Gorillaz and are both drawn to their ability to fuse many elements of different genres to make up their sound to create something entirely new.
In addition to beat making, I also rap and before creating beats with RobotFingers, I was collaborating with him as an emcee. I’ve been making beats since 2012 and was a self taught guitar player for 8 years prior to taking on beat making. Everything I’ve learned in regards to beat making has also been self taught; Utilizing tutorials I found on YouTube and overall trial and error over the years to hone in on the craft.”
RobotFingers elaborated on the duos dabbling in the music scene,
“NAVE and I have been working together/music homies since 2016 or so. Back when I was a rapper. But we didn’t start working on beats together since around the end of 2020. I had been rapping since around 2013, but I didn’t become a full time producer until the start of 2017. When I started, I used to go by Kal.Kal and make mostly lofi hip hop, but last year I rebranded myself to Robotfingers and started working on harder, Memphis/trap influenced beats. Everything I make is done on FL Studio, although I do use my Roland SP-404 to run effects and DJ sometimes.”
His influences include, “Flying Lotus, Madlib, Lil Ugly Mane, Soudiere, Always Proper, Three 6 Mafia, DJ Smokey, DJ Screw, among others. But by and far my biggest influence creatively is Gorillaz. Any time I make a beat, I strive to achieve the same signature wonky flare and invention that is present in Gorillaz’ work.”
That shared love for Gorillaz helped lead to the Trappin in Jamaica tunes I’m listening to while writing this piece. RobotFingers explained,
“I was showing him the remix album that Gorillaz did where they had a dub group named Space Monkeyz come in and do a reggae dub remix of their first album. As we were listening, the lightbulb basically flashed above our heads at the same time. We knew we HAD to try to sample some reggae music. The first track alone ended up being WAY better than we ever could have possibly thought it would have been. We tried to find online anyone else who was already doing this, but we could not find any reggae-sampled phonk online, so we knew we had to get this wave started. There is SO much sampling potential in Reggae music and most of it is just sitting there untouched, especially in regards to the genre we usually stick to. From there it just went up. We completed the album in about 2 weeks, bar some extra time spent on mixing and finishing additions.”
“The process was fairly simple. We would dig through obscure dub playlists on Youtube to locate a sample. Then one of us would download it and start working on it, usually while the other watches the process and gives their input via screen sharing over a Discord call. Once adequate progress was made and the song was at least halfway done, we would send the FL Studio project to the other to complete. There are 12 tracks total. NAVE did 6 and I did 6, then we sent our 6 to each other to finish up. This is where the project shines, in my opinion. NAVE and I have fairly different production styles. He’s an actual sound engineer and knows far more about mixing than I do, so the 6 tracks that he started all sound very clean and modern. I, however, prefer grit and wonkiness, so the 6 I started all have very raw and weird sounds. But there’s at least a little of both of our styles in each other’s tracks, so it doesn’t feel disjointed and like it was made by 2 people. I think we’ve found a pretty solid balance between our respective sounds. With Trappin’ in Jamaica, we made it a mission to utilize delay and reverb in a way that we otherwise couldn’t with our other projects because it totally fits here.”
Oh it fits. It fits so many vibes and drives around whatever city you’re chillin in. And there is a reason.
As per RobotFingers,
“This album is basically our love letter to weed and reggae music. NAVE lives in Colorado where it’s legal and I live in Houston where everybody smokes like its legal. All of the songs refer to different factors of weed-smoking, and the drawn artwork, made by Ozymandias’ Dream, depicts a very high NAVE and my informal mascot, Charlie the Funland Robot (a Scooby Doo character), with its head on a desk, serving as a vaporizer. We wanted to make THE seminal 420 album, and I think we far exceeded our own expectations for both the quality of the album, and the love/response we’ve received from listeners.”
Yea, I’ll smoke to that and hit play one more time.
For another NAVEISDEAD x RobotFingers collaboration