For the latest installment of Behind the Beat, we interviewed Coke Boys producer and Surf School leader Harry Fraud, a New York legend in the making.
Harry Fraud has stayed in the same part of Brooklyn his entire life. “I ran around Gowanus when it was word of mouth the mob was dumpin’ bodies here,” he says with a hint of sarcasm. Fraud’s studio is situated in a relatively industrial patch of a neighborhood that has seen a real estate boom in recent years. In a warehouse and overlooking the Gowanus Canal -- still as toxic as ever -- is where some of New York’s best rappers, from French Montana and Action Bronson, to the late Chinx and the late Sean Price, have spent countless hours recording some of their best work.
Today, he came in with Harlem rapper Smoke DZA, as after their mini press run they were headed back to Gowanus. DZA is one of Fraud’s most frequent collaborators, and vice versa, joining forces for the stoner essential Rugby Thompson in 2012 and The Stage, a three-man collab tape that also included Curren$y, a year later. A few days before our interview, Fraud and DZA released He Has Risen, a 9-track joint release on DZA’s RFC records and Harry Fraud’s Surf School (stylized: SRF SCHL), the first official release on the producer’s three-year-old label.
All of the sounds heard on He Has Risen are live recordings. “We had a band in there with one of my engineers just working on stuff that we could pull from and sample for the project,” said Fraud about what he called the “lushness” of the project. “I just feel like sonically it’s not just some shit where it sounds like a bunch of two-finger keyboard beats you put together. It’s lush instrumentation and orchestration going on.”
Fraud is adamant he’ll never leave New York, but he’s built a reputation far beyond his native town, working heavily with top stoners like Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y. Other credits include Pusha T, Ab-Soul, and even The Weeknd. He’s also been composing music for the Emmy Awards for years. During a live broadcast of the award show in 2010, upon winning the ‘Founders Award,’ Simon Cowell asked that the show’s production staff play back the music that was heard as he made his way to the stage. “And the one before,” he said, after cueing to the first of two Fraud instrumentals. “That’s a hit record.”