The term prolific comes up too easily when describing a productive beat-maker. So instead of slapping it on Jean-Paul Tyo, also (if not only) known as Jeepz, I’ll call it something else. He is productive, sure—last year he released 18 beat tapes and this fall he’ll release his 50th—but he should be called passionate. The sound engineer of “vintage futuristic boom-bap” searches wide for music to give MCs their fix, and he clearly loves his work.

Today he released Campus Radio, a culmination of new tunes gleaned from campus-run radio stations. It’s full of soulful and heavy instrumentation lapped over rap lyrics, sometimes song lyrics, and radio announcers describing their programs. CKCU & CHUO figure prominently on a tracklist based on their weekly shows, with more than a few local flairs. The third track uses the root of “Dubai, Bye Baby, Dubai” by Silkken Laumann. A whole joint is dedicated to CHUO’s Cypher hosted by DJ So Nice, Killa Kambow and CIRCA Beatz. It’s nice to hear Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.” in there too.

Jeepz keeps people with the same passion close. The work he’s done with G.Grand alone really speaks to what he contributes to an MC’s rhymes, not to mention Just Poets and Kay Flow. And there are many new projects on the way too, all currently hiding in his hard drive.

Stream Campus Radio while you check Jeepz’s insightful answers to questions I put to him last week. The roots of his producing, his favourite Ottawa musicians, and his thoughts on labels all figure prominently here. Respect.

From what I can see on Bandcamp you’ve been making beat tapes since 2011, but how long have you been sampling and tweaking sounds?

I started releasing beat tapes in Spring 2012, but had been making beats for a few years prior.  I first started off dropping occasional beats on Soundcloud but preferred the approach of making cohesive projects to be released as quasi-albums which led to the switch in method of release.

Did you have an “oh shit” moment with a certain record or artist that made you want to produce music?

I can definitely attribute my beginnings directly to one singular album: Blu & Exile’s Below The Heavens. This was the album that made me fall back in love with hip-hop, the same way I did when I first got into Talib Kweli in the early 2000s, or hearing “Nas Is Like” in the mid-90s. These were the three big moments for me as a fan… But Exile’s work fascinated me and I listened to it front to back every day for about a year. I needed to learn to do what he was doing. That was the moment I wanted to be a producer.

Who are your favourite acts/musicians in Ottawa these days on top of your collaborators?

I am a big fan of Buck N’ Nice. They set a bar in talent & work that makes me increase my compete level. City Fidelia is a really talented dude as well. Production-wise, I think Goldstripes is extremely slept on. Outside of hip-hop, I really enjoy Claude Munson & The Storm Outside, Thrifty Kids, Loon Choir. The AK-47s were sweet as well, though I don’t think they have done anything of late. I’m also a big fanboy of Leif Vollebekk. He is originally from Ottawa, and I went to high school with him as well as did my Philosophy undergrad with him, but now he’s out touring the world sharing his Dylan-like brand of genius.

What are your aspirations in the beat-making game?

A few things. To eventually produce for rappers I’ve looked up to. I’d love to produce a track for Blu, Versis, or J.Cole. I’d really just like for my name to someday be spoken in conversations alongside other greats. For heads to talk about Dilla, Madlib, and Jeepz as influences would be something else. I’ll know I made it when Nardwuar calls me for a interview! I’d like to say I’m trying to build a legacy, but without it sounding so narcissistic. Beyond that, my angle is now to try and learn sound engineering on a greater level, where I can eventually treat it as an art form and not just science.

Campus radio stations have provided you with a lot of good material, are there other places you look for eclectic music?

Vinyl, first and foremost. Just buying dollar bin gems because of the cover art or list of instruments on the back can lead you to some pretty awesome stuff.  There are also crate-diggers online that expose their finds which is so dope. For example, the two Parisian crate-diggers, Jero and Cottich, who I collaborated with on “From Paris, With Love”. All the samples were dug up on dusty records five timezones away for me to chop up. That was really fun to work on. At the end of the day, whether it be a record shop, a Youtube channel, or a radio station, the best and most interesting music will always be found wherever a ridiculously passionate person is curating the selection.

Is there a music genre you won’t touch?

I prefer not touching new music (post-1990) but at the end of the day, everything is fair game to me. As long as I believe I’m creating something new with it, and I like the sound, I’m in. I do however, prefer the dynamic, warm, analog, and unquantized sounds of earlier music… I tend to lean towards whatever has heart, emotion, and grit to it.

When are you going to start your own label?

Ha! My MCs ask me the same question. I prefer just being part of a loosely affiliated collective of like-minded artists. Think Soulquarians. I just want to stick to the music. As I develop my sound and grow the catalog, it becomes more evident when something is “Jeepz-produced” and I am blessed to have found artists with whom my sounds mesh.

But unless there is a label that is funded and paying the projects and everything affiliated to it (marketing, touring, merch, recording), I think creating “labels” for the sake of it is nonsense and a vain attempt at legitimacy. Shots fired. Oops.

Hopes and dreams for the Ottawa hip hop scene?

Whether they are from Ottawa or not, I just want all hardworking, talented, and unique artists to get their shine. I try to not look at things from a city standpoint. I just believe in good music. But the last little while has been very positive for the local hip-hop scene and it seems to have more and more credibility and exposure. This is apparent in increasing media coverage, and involvement with bigger platforms like Arboretum and Bluesfest.

There is no reason for anyone to feel restrained by the “small-city” issue. Just make good music and seek/seize opportunities. We are seeing that happen right now and I’m trying to do my part by providing the tools for talented people to make their bars into reality.