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Hartford Musician Doc Ish Hits the Big Time

By Andy Hart

April 30, 2009

Rapper Eminem’s video for his latest hit, “We Made You,” caused a national controversy due to its use of a provocatively dressed Sara Palin look-alike.

But few people know that the song was produced by Hartford’s Doc Ish of In Ya Head Productions (IYHP) at The Kontrol Room, its studio the city’s South End. IYHP’s production team also includes B. Burroughs, J. Stone, Vishous and other local musicians.

Ish said it all started with a “beat” he’d made at the studio. He said the concept for the song came from he and Charmagne, a soulful singer who also calls Hartford home. “As I was working on the song one night in the studio, a whole video was like playing in my mind of walking into a party and people [are] excited to see you. Fella's give you love while girls giving you smiles and hugs. Making you the person you are. A rockstar!” Ish had tried to find a catchy hook for the song with others singers. Charmagne understood his concept for the song, hopped into the booth and began singing, “When you walked through the door, it was plain to see...” and that’s what you hear on Eminem’s hit, which is now climbing up the charts chasing the number #1 spot. Ish blended Charmagne’s performance into his beat, giving her vocals a nostalgic feel, as though they’d been recorded on an old-style vinyl record and not the high-tech equipment at The Kontrol Room. “It seemed to fit, she has such a soulful voice,” he said.

Ish originally sent it to Bizarre, a member of Eminem’s D-12 group. “Bizarre murdered it with his comical flow, people were laughing hysterically when they heard it. A hot song but it wasn’t suitable for radio...About a week later Bizarre called up and said Marshal Mathers [AKA Eminem] wanted to know if the song was for sale. Eminem’s manager called me just a few minutes later and the deal went down within 24 hours.”

Collaborating with one of the biggest names in rap music is a nice step up for Ish, but he has already worked with several other well-known rappers, including KRS-One, Joe Buddens, Max B, Talib Kweli and Quan. And he has big things planned for both his IYHP production team and his rap group, The Abnormals. Ish has also landed a role on a reality show that will appear next year and his debut album "Arbitration," which features not only Joe Buddens, Talib Kweli, Max B and KRS-One, but also Saigon, Red Cafe, Kool G Rap, Sean Price, Inspector Deck (of Wu Tang), Joell Ortiz, Ransom, AZ, and many more, is scheduled to come out later this year.

The Abnormals consist of Ish, Belly, Colloso and Apollo Swyf, all of whom are also members of the production team at IYHP. Belly, a native of Hartford’s Blue Hills neighborhood, said The Abnormals are trying to provide a new direction in rap music. “People are tired of all the negative music...we talk about real struggles and try to give some solutions,” he said. Colloso, a native of Bloomfield, said, “We rap about the problems people are facing every day. Problems with finding a job, girl problems, health problems...just everyday life that we’re all living.”

On June 1, The Abnormals will be putting out a mix tape entitled “The Teaser.” The release is scheduled to coincide with the launch of the group’s new weekly internet web show at www.abnormalstv.com. “The show will be live and it’ll run 30 minutes but that’s all I’ll say,” Ish smiles. “If you want to know more, you’ll just have to watch.”

Ish is equally mysterious about his age, “I’m pushing 30, that’s all I’ll say.” He was born in Dallas,Texas but grew up in several different different places, including Virginia, Brooklyn, New York, the Washington D.C. area, Ohio but mostly here in Hartford. "This has always been home to me" Ish said. “No matter how many times we moved I ended up back home every time." He spent many years in Hartford on and off and attended four different high schools. "I dropped out twice,” he said, “and still graduated on time with my class..laughing.”

He honed his music production skills when he moved to Brooklyn, NY and was signed to a production deal under Medamorphosis. Ish learned the tricks of the trade from observing some of the best in the business. “Working under “Med” was great...He taught me to come up with a picture in your mind and then develop a beat for it...that was very easy for me. I love movies to death. I’m very visual, very cinematic,” said Ish.

After working in New York, he signed on with a record company in Virginia but things turned sour when the company’s owner was charged with tax evasion. “One day everything was cool, we were just working away, “ remembers Ish. “The next day, I came in and everything was gone. The IRS took it. All my work, my equipment, it was just gone...The only thing I could save was my ARS-10 [keyboard] because I still had the receipt for it, showing that it was my property, not the company’s.”

After the Virginia debacle, Ish decided to come back home to Hartford. He ran a landscaping company with Apollo Swyf but continued making music. He and Swyf worked together musically as DNA (Doc ‘N’ Apollo). “We continued to record and “spit” on various mixtapes.. making our own special brand of music and seeking a way to bring it to a wider audience. “

The Kontrol Room, which opened in Hartford’s South End in October, 2007, was built to his specifications and things have been moving right along ever since.

Ish said one of the keys to IYHP's success is constant networking among other musicians, producers, DJ's, A&R (artist and repertoire) people and other industry insiders. "I'm going back and fourth to New York all the time," he said. "In this day and age, if you don't reach out to people, you're not going to get anywhere." Ish said he lives by the quote, "The greatest risk in life is the one not taken” and it appears as though his risk-taking is paying off.

For more information on In Ya Head Production or The Kontrol Room Studio, call 860-756-0949 or visit: www.whosdoc.com or www.inyaheadmusic.com.

You can also find him on www.myspace.com/docish or www.twitter.com/docish. For production by Doc Ish, contact his management team through Art Martin @ 917-679-0585 or Abel Mason @203-537-7812.

Reprinted with permission of the The Hartford News.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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