Welcome To The Locals: N Dot of The Funkitorium
I met producer N Dot in 2018 when he and my good friend James Weldon came together to create The Artistry Collective Studios. I’ve learned that N Dot has been in the Philadelphia local scene for awhile as a rapper, producer, DJ and even a radio personality, which explains why he’s been able to help the next generation of local artists with their careers.
As a producer / rapper N Dot has a way of finding pockets that make listeners want to give a sweet 16 to soulful beats, which can be heard on his beat tapes They Counted Me Out and I Could’ve Been a Monster. Artists like James Weldon, Arthur Thomas, Re-Mus, Queen Maya, and Evita Colon have made amazing music with assistance from the Southwest native, who also plays a huge role in his band Arthur Thomas and The Funkitorium.
As he prepares to rock out with his bandmates this Friday at XPoNential Music Festival, I was able to speak to N Dot about his humble beginnings, how the local scene has changed, and he got into his role in The Funkitorium. Listen to our conversation below.
…on learning the ropes of radio at a young age.
I started radio when I was 12, 13, with my partner Ai-Que, we started radio through a program. Learning to hear what the masses wanted to hear was is the greatest and most difficult thing that I ever had to learn. The technical acumen was fine, but learning what’s a hit, what’s not a hit, the importance of working records, how to talk and deal with A&Rs. I’m 13 or 14 and I got people stopping at the show, I didn’t realize how important radio play was at that moment because I didn’t know the other side of the business. They were coming the show like “can you play my record,” I was like “yo, I thought the record was dope, I was gonna play it anyway.”
…on the importance of paying it forward to the next generation.
My beginning, where everybody got to hear my publicly, was as a DJ, but I was a rapper first. And I had the pleasure of being around a couple visionaries — Ryan “Set Free” Richardson, and Tre “Nex Millen” Taylor. I grew up around the corner from them, my dad’s church was on the corner of their block. That experience showed me that if you can take the time out and talk to someone who’s a little bit younger than you, it can catapult their careers way further. I can’t be out here living my life as a musician and not be willing to give back to the young folks.
…on multitasking on the song “Slow Down.”
A lot of people didn’t know I rapped! If you came the studio and been around, you know I rapped, but to a lot of people in the public eye, I’m the DJ who makes funny faces.
…on developing a Philly spin on classic funk with Arthur Thomas and The Funkitorium.
I’m a record digger, I’m a crate digger. I come from the era where funk was going out of style, so a lot of the record I had in my house growing up were funk records. When I first met Art, he said I got a passion, I really want to explore doing some different kind of music, funky kind of stuff. Ironically, I was working on a different kind of sound — sample based, but funky. My idols are Lord Finesse, Eric Sermon, Dr. Dre. The funk-sampling producers. So that’s where I was going, but trying to put my Philly spin on it. I was making 15, 20 beats a day. Art had a sign shop down the hall from my studio, and he’d just come down the hallway like “I want that one, I want that one, I want that one, I want that one.” And in that initial pack is where we found “How You Like Me Now.”
…on how his DJ / producer role plays out in the live show.
It’s my goal and my objective to keep the band engaged and the fans engaged. Knowing cal and response is big and heavy – that’s just music theory stuff I apply to the game. And being a producer is like, every time I go on stage, the biggest thing for me is to try to produce the live show as well. Helping with the call outs, BPMs, the key switches and chord progressions. Me being not just a regular DJ but being a musician as well in my own right. And having a band that’s so talented and versatile makes things so much easier.
…on the aspect of the Philly scene he takes the most pride in.
There isn’t a successful legendary crew without somebody from Philly. If it ain’t an MC, if it ain’t a DJ, the engineer, the drummer…there’s somebody from Philly in everybody’s crew. You gotta come through Philly if you really want to have a powerful impact.