When talking about musical production, you could make the argument that a good producer is one with a recognizable sound, a sound so distinct that you can always tell who’s behind the beat, like hip hop legends Timbaland and Dr. Dre, for example. You could also make the argument that a good producer is one who is versatile — someone who can slide between genres and sounds, completely adaptable to the needs of the artist.
I’d argue that a good producer is both: someone who has a sound so uniquely theirs that you can pick it out of a playlist, but who continues to surprise you with their musical reach. While there are many excellent producers sharing music out of Cuba at the moment, JD Asere is the one I’m keeping a closest eye on as he continues to impress me with his minimalistic tropical sound and fresh beats.
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For a 21 year old, JD Asere already has a surprisingly long discography under his belt, having started producing beats at age 13 for Cuban rapper El Individuo, including the hit song “Baila.” For over seven years, JD Asere and El Individuo worked together under the group name Con100cia, putting out two full length albums including fan favorite “Ahora Se.” A natural entrepreneur, JD established himself as one of the go-to producers within the hip hop community in Cuba, selling beats to a plethora of rappers including Cuban rap legend Barbaro El Urbano Vargas.
What started as an obsessive adolescent hobby has turned into a professional career, jump started by two international trips in 2018 (to Colombia and the US) as a supporting artist with El Individuo’s PR campaign with Swedish telecommunications brand, Rebtel. Aside from opening the doors to international travel and exposure, the culmination of this trip was a gorgeous music video for the track “Tan Lejos, Tan Cerca,” a commentary on the pain many Cubans suffer due to the distance between loved ones who have left the island.
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JD Asere is ramping up to release his debut EP later this year, revealing a more mature sound that we haven’t consistently heard from him yet. I had the privilege of hearing a sneak peak of the EP, and it shows us a softer side of the artist, featuring melodic tunes and even a bit of singing. The first single, “Pa’ Mí,” due out July 12th, is an example of his minimalistic production style combined with tropical influences, clearly inspired by Colombian artists like J Balvin and my favorite, Crudo Means Raw.
My Chat With JD Asere
I had the privilege of chatting with JD a bit about his musical influences and professional trajectory. Check out the interview below, in Spanish and English.
¿Cómo defines tu sonido? Con cuál género te identificas, y cómo te gustaría que la gente piense de tí como artista?
Si tuviese que definir mi sonido lo defino como fresco y minimalista, lo segundo porque me gusta fluir creativamente sobre ideas bien sencillas y lo primero porque me mantengo buscando la forma de que el sonido sea algo nuevo y además fácil de digerir para cualquier persona que escuche.
Me identifico mayormente con el rap hispano, a modo de entretenimiento cuando quiero escuchar buenas letras porque puedo entender lo que dicen y cuando se trata de buenos escritores suelo nutrirme mucho. También con la música urbana en general, pero no todo, hago mis selecciones
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La gente mayormente puede tener pensamientos radicales con respecto a mi modo de hacer música, que soy mejor productor que rapero o al revés. Mi trabajo como productor es completamente distinto a mi trabajo como rapero, yo produzco a los artistas a modo de entretenimiento, porque además me da de comer y porque lo disfruto, y rapeo para llenar un vacío, o sea, soltar todo lo que uno siente escribiendo deja un vacío, y ese vacío es el que permite entrar la paz. De cualquier forma, el proceso es constructivo y saludable para mí, entonces la gente puede pensar de mí como rapero o como productor, ambos pensamientos son válidos.
How do you define your sound? Which genre do you identify with, and how would you like people to think of you as an artist?
If I had to define my sound I’d define it as fresh and minimalist; the latter because I like to flow creatively with very simple ideas, and the former because I keep searching for ways for that sound to be new and also easy to digest for anyone who listens.
I mostly identify with Hispanic rap, as entertainment when I want to listen to good lyrics because I can understand what they’re saying and when it comes to good writers they usually nourish me. Also with urban music in general, but not with all of it, I make my selections.
Most people are divided about my way of making music, thinking either that I’m a better producer than rapper, or vice versa. My work as a producer is completely different from my work as a rapper. I’m trained to produce artists, because it’s how I earn a living and because I enjoy it. And I rap to fill a void, that is, to let go of everything that one feels writing leaves a void, and that void is what allows peace to enter. Either way, the process is constructive and healthy for me, so people may think of me as a rapper or a producer, both thoughts are valid.
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¿Quiénes te han influenciado?
Siempre me resulta complicada esta pregunta, pero si de influencias se trata tengo que mencionar toda la música y cultura afrocubana antes que todo. El reggaetón, dancehall y rap del caribe como Tego Calderón, Daddy Yankee, Vico C. Luego viene la música afroamericana principalmente contemporánea, como Kanye West, Timbaland, Jay Dilla, Wu Tang Clan, Fugees y muchísimos más.
Who has influenced you?
This question is always complicated for me to answer, but if we’re talking about influences, first and foremost I have to mention all the Afro-Cuban music and culture. Reggaeton, dancehall and rap from the Caribbean, like Tego Calderon, Daddy Yankee, Vico C. Then comes mainly contemporary African-American musicians, like Kanye West, Timbaland, Jay Dilla, Wu Tang Clan, Fugees, and many others.
¿Por qué haces música?
Hago música primero porque la música me inspira y hacer música es la forma que encontré para agradecer a esa inspiración, y lo segundo y más importante es que honestamente me siento comprometido con la humanidad al punto de que necesito aportar algo positivo así sea en una canción. Por otro lado, la música me mantiene flexible ante cualquier desgracia.
Why do you make music?
I make music first because music inspires me and making music is the way I found to thank that inspiration; and second and more importantly: I honestly feel committed to humanity to the point that I need to contribute something positive, even if it’s through a song. On the other hand, music keeps me nimble in the face of any misfortune.
¿Qué quieres lograr con tu música?
Con la música quiero lograr, cada día, la gloria, pero no lo que llaman gloria por el éxito, si no la gloria que nace de la satisfacción y tranquilidad espiritual por haberse esforzado para llegar a un punto, y llegar, sea ese punto la aceptación del público o simplemente el poder tener música para compartir. Eso quiero lograr con mi música.
JD, What do you want to achieve with your music?
With music I want to achieve glory, every day. But not what they call glory as success, but the glory that comes from the satisfaction and spiritual tranquility at having strived to reach a certain point, and to reach it, whether it’s being well received by listeners or just being able to have music to share. That’s what I want to achieve with my music.