Midi Mafia: The Next Movement

In 2003 when 50 Cent decided he needed to Get Rich or Die Tryin’, Dre wasn’t the only producer to lend his magic touch to the multi-platinum project. Fif’s second #1 single from the album, “21 Questions” introduced the hit-making production/remixing duo of Midi Mafia to the masses. Consisting of Kevin “Dirty Swift” Risto and […]

In 2003 when 50 Cent decided he needed to Get Rich or Die Tryin’, Dre wasn’t the only producer to lend his magic touch to the multi-platinum project. Fif’s second #1 single from the album, “21 Questions” introduced the hit-making production/remixing duo of Midi Mafia to the masses. Consisting of Kevin “Dirty Swift” Risto and Wayne “Bruce Waynne” Nugent, Midi’s supreme production work has gone on to appear on Talib Kweli’s Beautiful Struggle, G-Unit’s Beg for Mercy, Nelly’s multi-platinum double CD Sweat Suit and Lloyd Banks’ forthcoming Rotten Apple. Never ones to rest on hits, Midi expanded its rep scoring and producing the soundtracks on Playstation’s NBA 06 & 07.

As they prepare to dig in that always filled bag to kick start the career of their own Family Ties Entertainment label artist Deemi, her single “Soundtrack of my Life” has simultaneously grown from radio spins, MP3 downloads, and old-fashioned word of mouth. Although Swift’s devastating motorcycle accident in July could have stalled things indefinitely, all good mafia men know the grind never stops. Midi recently kicked it with allhiphop about the accident, making hits, and what the future holds. Next stop? Another level. All aboard.

AllHipHop.com: Let’s talk about the accident. What were you doing that day? How did it happen?

Dirty Swift: I’ve been riding bike since I was eight years old. It’s just something I’ve always done. Earlier in my life, I used to race motorcycles when I was younger. When I was 18, I finally really got into music. And at the time, I was really struggling, so it was either ride bikes or pursue a music career. I did the music thing. But I’ve always ridden motocross, off road, tracks with jumps and stuff…basically what happened I was riding that day and it was just a practice. I was gonna race that day.

AllHipHop.com: What date was this?

Dirty Swift: July 17th. It was a Monday. It was at the end of the day. At this track, they were watering the track to keep the dust down. It was like 100 degrees that day. And I didn’t see where they were watering when I came around the corner and it was straight mud all the way up to this jump. I had too much speed. I couldn’t stop, I couldn’t do anything. My bike got sideways, and I basically went up in the air sideways so I kinda knew at that point I was going to have a bad situation. When I landed, obviously, I crashed. I pulled myself to the side of the track, I laid there for a bit, and then I got up. It felt like somebody hit my lower back with a baseball bat. I didn’t think my back was broken because I was able to walk. I didn’t feel any different. It felt like my kidneys were hurting. So I jumped on the back of this other dudes bike. He drove me down to my truck, I called the ambulance, and they came and took me out. I didn’t know till I got to the hospital, they did the x-rays, that I’d actually broken my back. I didn’t know you could break your back without being paralyzed. I was lying in the hospital when they told me about my injuries. The first doctor came, and he was kind of a d*ckhead, ‘cause he just walked up to me and said, “Yeah, you broke your back, it’s really bad, and I don’t know what else to tell you.” He kind of just walked away. I was in the ER and then did seven hours of surgery. They basically told me one of my vertebrae was crushed and they had to fuse the crushed one to the one below and the one above with titanium screws. It was a pretty serious break.

AllHipHop.com: Where are you now in your recovery process?

Dirty Swift: It was six or seven weeks ago. I’m doing alright actually considering. I’ve broken other bones in my body and I was up and walking pretty much two days after surgery. They tell me I can probably make a full recovery. I’m still young, so basically it’s a bone thing.

AllHipHop.com: Would you ride again?

Dirty Swift: I haven’t decided yet. Somebody once told me that it you are a true biker and you can walk away from a crash, you’ll ride again. I did walk away so who knows. But I’m going to chill for a while.

AllHipHop.com: How did 50 Cent hear about Midi Mafia?

Dirty Swift: We heard about him when he got dropped from Columbia and was just starting with his mixtapes. A friend of mine was an A&R at Universal and he was trying to connect with 50. I knew him from “How to Rob” too. I was so hungry. So I said , “Yo, give him my s**t. I like that dude.” The beats went to him. “21 Questions” was one of those and “Groupie Love” off the G-Unit [Beg For Mercy] album was in that batch. I got a call about a week later. A three-way conference call from somewhere. They were like, “Yo, we just did this song ‘21 Questions.” [They] played it on the phone and it was hot. It wasn’t even Nate Dogg on it. It was someone independent just singing the hook. They wanted to put it on the album and asked us to hold that. It was about a year before he got his deal.

AllHipHop.com: And you trusted that it was gonna happen?

Dirty Swift: Other people actually had that track and wanted it. But I was like, “Nah, 50 Cent.” I was talking about 50 for so long and everybody was like, “Yeah 50, whatever.” When he blew up, everybody was like, “Yeah! 50 Cent.” I was talking about him way before.

AllHipHop.com: Do you think you are getting the respect and recognition you deserve? Or are you really just starting to shine?

Dirty Swift: We were so good at branding ourselves that we made Midi Mafia the brand bigger than any of the songs we have ever done. We have a lot more name recognition than a lot of the producers that have multiple hits. We are always trying to forge new relationships. Video game [soundtracks], giving free exclusives to DJs, remixes. A lot of people don’t know a lot of the records we have been on. We’ve sold a lot of albums in the last two or three years. From Nelly to West Side Connection, all that comes from good relationships that people want to reach out to you and work with you.

Bruce Waynne: Exactly.

AllHipHop.com: Hip-Hop has become a tree with many branches. It’s all over; movies, commercials, fashion, advertising.

Dirty Swift: I think about Sprite. [laughs]

AllHipHop.com: Sprite?

Dirty Swift: Yeah, that’s just an analogy. It’s everywhere. Everything is rap. Everything is Hip-Hop. It’s a part of everything now.

Bruce Waynne: I love it. [laughs] People gettin’ mad sayin’ “Yo why they keep playin’ that record over, over, and over again everywhere?” If that was my record, yo, that’s gonna feed my daughter! That publishing is gonna feed my daughter, so it’s all good.

Dirty Swift: You take it for what it is. If you hear some cheesy rappin’ in a commercial, you can’t be upset. F**k it. It’s always gonna be good music out there. Cream rises to the top.

AllHipHop.com: So are you talking about bringing those old musical elements back?

Dirty Swift: Right. A lot of times the industry these days is too categorizing. That’s a Pop record. That’s this. That’s that.

Bruce Waynne: There is no balance, and we wanna bring that back.

AllHipHop.com: Are the masses ready to appreciate balance? You think there are a lot of people out there looking for that?

Bruce Waynne: Perfect example. Justin Timberlake’s “Sexy Back”. That record is crazy in the clubs! Black kids, White kids, older, everyone loves that. Listen to that music. That record isn’t supposed to be hot. That sound, that movement is hot.

Dirty Swift: Kanye killed it commercially. He killed it artistically. He had that balance.

Bruce Waynne: Yeah Kanye and 50. Two different extremes. One preppy one gangsta. But they had it.

AllHipHop.com: What’s the future holding for Midi Mafia?

Bruce Waynne: Really a next movement. We gotta go back to what Death Row was, what Bad Boy was early, what So So Def was early. It’s time to bring a lot of good music back – and strong artists with integrity. Everything right now it’s really about good music. People gravitate to Keysha Cole because look at the story that comes with it. You gotta touch something. A lot of what’s going on right now doesn’t really do that. It’s proof. I get calls everyday, “Yo, I love that Deemi record!” This record is not up tempo in the clubs. This record isn’t a South-feelin’ beat. This record ain’t none of that. It’s just a really good song. Everything we do right now is gonna be history. We just doing what we love.

Dirty Swift: Speaking of love, I wanna thank AllHipHop.com. I was out on morphine for two days and when I came to after AllHipHop put the accident out there, it was crazy. It was a beautiful thing. I was feeling like I was part of a community. I just wanna thank everyone for that.

Bruce Waynne: People think Midi Mafia is like 100 guys. It’s just me and Swift and years of catalogs of music that people didn’t want to hear. Now people are starting to respect it.