When ProducerTrentTaylor first enlisted in the Air Force in November of 2009, it initially seemed like he was going to remain stationed in the US for the duration of his service. Making his way from Atlanta to Texas for basic training — and eventually Tucson, Arizona for his duty station — things took a drastic turn when he found out he was being sent to Afghanistan in October of 2012, a mere week before his actual deployment.
Already an aspiring producer who had owned and sold several pieces of equipment at this point, Trent decided to invest in a new sampler to help him get through his time overseas. “I went to Afghanistan and that’s where I bought my MPC4000,” he says. “I ordered it on Amazon while I was in the Air Force and I made beats for six months on it.”
In between busy shifts servicing military aircraft, Trent took whatever opportunities he could to create. “I worked on the A-10, the Warthog,” he says. “Every free second I got, I’d work on beats. I guess I took inspiration from wanting to get out of there and go home. It was a crazy experience.”
Though he couldn’t wait to be back in the US, his time in Afghanistan reaffirmed that music was the right path to take once he returned home. “I was just trying to stay focused,” he says. “I knew once Afghanistan was over I only had three months left in the Air Force. I already knew I wanted to go full force with making beats.”
“I made the original ‘Weed Tape’ while I was in the process of getting kicked out the military. They extended my time — I had to stay in so they could kick me out.”
Then, with one week remaining before receiving an honorable discharge in June of 2013, the unthinkable happened. “I got kicked out for smoking weed in my last week,” Trent says with a laugh. “Yeah, they got me in my last week man.”
As he awaited a final ruling on his expulsion, Trent decided to focus his energy on a tongue-in-cheek beat tape. “I made the original Weed Tape while I was in the process of getting kicked out the military,” he explains. “They extended my time — I had to stay in so they could kick me out. I knocked that out in a week.”
Though his life hit a rough patch after he put the album out, he was able to wrap it up and release it to the general public before things went south. “Before being homeless or anything, I was able to get that out and it did really good — better than I expected,” he says. “Besides the free beat tape I put up, it was the first official release I had done.”
“‘Heaven Scent’ is one of my favorite beats I’ve made. I created the beat and someone unplugged my MPC before I could save it. The next day, I was like, ‘I gotta remake that.’”
Once his removal from the Air Force was complete, it was on to the next project. Even though Trent struggled to find a stable living situation, he didn’t let that stop him from making one of his best-received projects to-date. “I’m homeless, I’m motivated, so I start working on The Weed Tape Reloaded,” he says. “I knocked that out in three days. That’s definitely is a fan favorite.”
In addition to serving as a fan favorite, The Weed Tape Reloaded contains one of Trent’s favorite creations of all-time — an instrumental that was almost wiped out of existence due to a technical mishap. “I created ‘Heaven Scent’ and someone unplugged my MPC before I could save it,” he says. “The next day, I was like, ‘I gotta remake that.’”
Remembering the basic timing and feel of the song, Trent did his best to recreate it before it was lost forever. “I remembered the tempo, so I did everything to make it the exact same way,” he says. “I think that took me about two hours to do. I was just really high and the sample just spoke to me. It honestly didn’t even sound like it was supposed to be sampled into a beat, but I had to make it work — I liked how it sounded.”
“Most of these beat tapes are just fragments that all come together to a complete idea.”
Another important aspect of Trent’s evolution as a producer has been his frequent use of Instagram to document his beat making process — something he started doing without much expectation. “I remember I was on Instagram the second day you could do 15-second videos,” he says. “I was in the middle of making “The Wake and Bake” for The Weed Tape at the time. I took a video and people were like, ‘What are you doing? That’s weird.’”
Though his followers might have been skeptical at first, the video ended up paying dividends. After a six-month hiatus from Instagram in the aftermath of losing employment with the Air Force, Trent returned to find that quite a bit had changed during his brief time away. “I come back onto the internet and I’m seeing there’s a whole lo-fi culture,” he says. “I check my Bandcamp and there’s all types of crazy money in there. I was like, ‘Man, what happened?’ I had a whole fan base that I hadn’t kept up with, didn’t even know about for six months.”
And much like his Bandcamp account and Instagram took on lives of their own, Trent remains amazed at how most of his projects seem to do the same thing. “Most of these beat tapes are just fragments that all come together to a complete idea,” he says. “It’s never too well thought out, it’s just literally fragments that have nothing to do with each other that somehow make sense by the end of the tape.”
“I was just really high and the sample just spoke to me. It honestly didn’t even sound like it was supposed to be sampled into a beat, but I had to make it work.”
Such is the case with his September 2018 release Rare Candy. Inspired by a Dave Chapelle stand up special where he talks about “doing something dope backward,” Trent tried to take this concept to the next level with his latest release. “I took that theory and I tried to make the tape backward,” he says. “I just let people know the title, I didn’t know what I was about to do.”
After he name-dropped the title to his fans and followers, Trent decided to get the design ready before the project was even close to completion. “I told the designer, ‘I want a bunch of people praying to a chocolate bar, I’ll figure it out later. I don’t even know what the tape’s going to be about,’” he says with a laugh.
Intrigued by a series of quotes from famous boxers like Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson that he heard while the project was coming together, Trent started to see how interview clips could anchor the album. “I was like, ‘I’m gonna let boxers narrate this tape,’” he says. “It doesn’t make any sense but it all does come together. It’s narrated by boxers, it’s called Rare Candy. I don’t even know how to explain it, I just tell people to listen.”
And despite the carefree attitude maintained through the making of the tape, there are songs that reflect some of the serious realities that Trent faced as he worked on the album. Take “On A Suspended License” for example — which Trent named after he experienced driving around on tour with a suspended license. “Me and my girl, we were just kind of like, ‘We wanna make this happen,’” he says of the tour. “Then I got stopped one time when I was on the way to Tuscan. I told the cop, ‘Look man, my license is suspended — but I’m on the way to go open for Redman and Method Man right now.’ He just had her drive and we were good.”
“It’s been a real struggle, but things are working out now. I guess life works out how its supposed to.”
Trent is very aware of the potential risks that come with driving through multiple states without a license and doesn’t necessarily think it’s the best idea for other aspiring producers who might find themselves in the same position. But for him, it worked. “I would not recommend it, but sometimes you get crazy when it comes to goals,” he says. “I wanted to play in Vegas, I wanted to play in LA, I wanted to go everywhere and do what I had to do.”
Now that he’s back safely from his tour, Rare Candy is recorded and released, and he has the benefit of hindsight — Trent thinks he unceremonious parting with the Air Force was almost a blessing in disguise. “To be honest with you, if I wouldn’t have gotten kicked out in my last week for smoking weed I probably wouldn’t be where I am now,” he says. “I would have got out honorably, I would have gone to college I would have been wrapped up into that.”
Though it hasn’t been easy, it seems Trent’s path eventually led him to the right place. “It’s been a real struggle, but things are working out now,” he says. “I guess life works out how it’s supposed to.”
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