While some may simply know him as Future's DJ, DJ Esco has built a platform for himself to fully separate his art from that of his Atlanta contemporaries. From 2013's No Sleep to this year's Kolorblind, the producer has curated masterful works involving Future but making full use of his personal talent. As one of the top talents in a thriving Atlanta scene, Esco has a lot to live up to and he has consistently delivered with major hits like "Too Much Sauce" and most of the Project E.T. mixtape. 

Continuing his reign of success, Esco most recently dropped off Kolorblind, an album that features some of the best curation we have seen on the part of the producer and DJ. Making an album that people will enjoy listening to from top to bottom is a difficult task but Esco's eleven-song tracklist runs long enough to entertain fans for a while and introduces a flurry of new voices via stacked features that bring different elements to the table throughout its runtime. 

We had the pleasure of speaking with DJ Esco in the last week to discuss all things pertaining to his new album, his studio process, what it's like working with Future and his favorite album of all time. Our interview is available below.


HotNewHipHop: First off, congratulations on the album. Our readers really love it. What was your favorite track to make on Kolorblind?

DJ Esco: I appreciate it, man. I think probably working on the Nas beat [for "Walk Thru."] I actually had to go up to New York, you know I’m from Atlanta so I had to catch a whole different feel. That one I think I liked working on the most cause we really did something completely different. I’ve never done anything like that before. 

What was it like working with Nas? Did you get to meet him in the process? Because that’s one of a lot of peoples favorite tracks on the album.

Oh yeah, I don’t do songs with people that I don’t know personally. If we haven’t met yet, then I won’t do a song with you until we meet because I wouldn’t know how you are as a person. You know what I’m saying? So I met Nas on a plane. We were on a red-eye to San Francisco and he was just behind me in the seat. I took up the courage to turn around and talk to him and then we ended up exchanging information and I just tried to keep in touch with him. Tried to come up with an idea that maybe he would be up to for making a song. I didn’t know if he was acting right now or writing or if he was just making movies you know, I didn’t know what his mindset was. That’s why I like to get to know the person first, just to know what mindset [they're in.] And he was ready to create some music and I specifically wanted him to create some street music cause I knew people were gonna think he was gonna drop something political and I was like "man, would you be willing to make a street song?" And he was like "yeah, I’m actually waiting on somebody to ask me to do something like that." So it worked out perfectly. OG Esco, DJ Esco. I thought it was good history behind the name Esco between the two of us so I thought that was dope.

You always work with Future. How did you first meet him?

He didn’t go to the same high school [as me] but we had mutual friends and we got introduced and we just started really hanging out a lot. He was just trying to get his name out there, not in rapping but kinda still in the streets. The closer we got as friends, the more I think we started talking and taking music more seriously and we decided to do something together.

Along with you and Future, it seems like everyone is coming out of Atlanta right now. What do you think about Atlanta's hip-hop scene?

I think it’s a modern-day Motown. It’s just rap and hip-hop instead of R&B, even though there's still R&B mixed in the scene of Atlanta too. But to me it’s just the modern-day Motown. I was watching the [miniseries] “Temptations” the other day and, Detroit at that time, everyone was trying to get a contract in music or as a group and was singing in the corner, trying to get studio time. Somebody would come down the street in a new car cause they just got signed. Motown - it’s the same thing happening in Atlanta, it’s just modern times. It’s the same thing. There are groups everywhere trying to get signed, producers trying to give beats, trying to get signed, background singers and dancers trying to get signed, it’s just a big thing. And it’s not many people from Atlanta anymore so like, even Metro, he’s from St. Louis, you know what I’m saying? So it’s like Lil Uzi, he’s from Philly but he’s in Atlanta. A lot of people just come to Atlanta because it’s like a melting pot, it’s like a Motown.

Is there one song on Kolorblind that you think could be considered a 'hidden banger?'

The “Showed You” song with A Boogie, Young Thug, DeJ Loaf and Future, that’s one of those feel-good songs that sounds a little different than everything else. I made the beat a little more, not as trap, it was kinda like more smooth. I really like the “Showed You” song, I think it’s a different type of sound.

How would you describe your production style and studio process at this point in your career?

When I go to the studio, I don’t let anyone else in. It’s only me, and I pretty much do 90% of my beats in my basement at my house in Atlanta. I lock the door. I lock myself in. There’s no clocks in there. Even on my computer, I got the clock in the corner so that’s it’s off. You can’t see the clock in the corner. When I was a kid, I read in a magazine that Dr. Dre didn’t let anybody in the studio when he made beats so I read that and I always wanted to do that so I took that from Dr. Dre. I don’t let nobody in there cause I don’t want nobody to do what I’m doing. I see a lot of producers that make beats and they put them on YouTube and they’re showing their talent, which is cool, and then they get mad when someone makes a beat like them. It’s like, 'n---a, you the one that fucking put this out.' *laughs*
Other than removing clocks and locking yourself in, do you need to have anything in order to feel comfortable when you’re producing or when you’re recording?

Psychedelik Smoke.

If you were locked on a secluded island and you could only listen to one album not named Kolorblind, what would it be?

One!? Aw man, you killed me with that. You know what, I know this album word for word. I know this album top to bottom, and it’s home team so I gotta with it. If I had one album, I would listen to ATLiens, Outkast’s second album. I know that shit word for word from the first song to the last song. I would be on the island just 'ATLien' out.

With the 'Psychedelik Smoke' though?

With the Psychedelik Smoke.

You spent 56 days and nights in a jail in Abu Dhabi. How did that experience shape your life and bring your music to this point?

It allowed me to become Kolorblind, that’s why I named the album that. Having your back against the wall and being the only American, being the only one really speaking English, figuring out that language really is 80% non-verbal like they say. You learn things like that, you learn things about cultures and religion and race that I would have never known if I didn’t experience those 56 nights. I still might have had the same prejudices that they try to implant in your head. The definition of Kolorblind is not having any prejudices towards anything. That’s why I named the album Kolorblind cause I learned not to be prejudiced to anything during those 56 nights. I met Arabs, Muslims, people from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Dubai, Cameroon, Nigeria, South African. You name it and I met them and I talked to them the best I could. That’s why it’s Kolorblind