“I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for Wit,” many artists have told Rapzilla.
When it comes to being the center of a networking web, look no further than the collective works of Wit, the main producer for Alex Faith and Dre Murray’s album Southern Lights: Overexposed, which dropped on Tuesday. Wit has produced tracks on notable past projects including Lecrae’s Church Clothes and Gravity, Christon Gray’s School of Roses and Swoope’s Sinema, among others. Wit continues to emerge to the foreground with Southern Lights: Overexposed, as well as future albums from Tragic Hero and Andy Mineo in 2015.
“Wit basically set me up to where I could do this full time,” Faith said. “Wit’s work for me is invaluable. He got me signed to Collision Records and produced most of my first album.”
“I would’ve quit trying to push through, to be completely honest,” Murray said, “because I didn’t have production when I made beats. I worked with maybe one or two producers that weren’t as serious about my work as Wit was. Without him, I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Wit was the first person in his family to be in the music industry. His family is originally from Iran but moved to Germany, where Wit was born. Wit and his family then moved to the United States where Wit grew up, partly in New York and the Philadelphia area.
“I grew up in a totally different type of culture outside of the music industry,” Wit told Rapzilla. “My introduction to music was by playing the drums at a young age, which eventually led to rapping. When I was rapping, I was in a group called Frontliners. I joined them when I was in high school and started producing. I then got into engineering because of DJ Essence. DJ Essence was a huge influence in my life at the time and we still work very closely to this day.”
Wit grew up in evangelical circles and was involved in church. Between the ages of 17 and 19, though, he finally started to feel God breaking through into his life.
“Jesus didn’t become real to me until I got older,” Wit said. “I was reading a lot of new literature that DJ Essence had recommended to me at the time and truly read the Bible for myself. It was during the same time that Cross Movement was big in the Philadelphia area. I just remember feeling the impact of grace on my life, understanding total depravity and how lost I was in my own sin.
“I felt broken. It was at this point that I accepted salvation, even though I didn’t completely understand it. I still don’t think that I will ever truly understand salvation while on this earth.”
Southern Lights: Collaborated
This was the first time Wit had ever done a project like Southern Lights: Overexposed. Everything had already been written. He just needed to add new production to the project.
He started with the production of six songs on the album on the first day. He then reproduced, remixed and remastered the rest of the album in three weeks. Musically, this was the first duo album he had ever worked on.
“On ‘Money,’ I wanted to go more musical and use boom bap drums for the chorus,” Wit said, “then obviously have 808’s in there, but I can’t go too far left. I wasn’t going to make it like a De La Soul song, but I wanted to give it a different sound.
“So, putting those big east coast-sounding drums in the chorus and then going back to the southern stuff during the verses, that was a lot of fun. Hearing Reconcile rap over it was dope because you wouldn’t expect an artist like that to rap over that style of beat.”
In relation to other specific tracks on the album, most people don’t know that 42 North helped with instrumentals in “Decatur Street Blues” and “Taking Time.” Also, the whole track of “Forever” came together in about 45 minutes.
“One of my favorite tracks is ‘City of Nightmares II’ because of Dre’s verse,” Wit said. “His verse and that beat took me back to when we first started working together on Dre’s album, Hell’s Paradise. It had that same sound to it.
“We have this chemistry that goes back for years now. I can just send Dre a bed track, and it’s easy for him to bring it to life. Then, I build around him. That’s how we usually work.”
Murray and Faith also had songs that stood out to them on the album.
“I really like ‘I-610’ because I got to reminisce about being on the freeway with my brother,” Murray said, “and it really took me back to those times. I love ‘Wake Up Music’ because of the perspectives. It was one of those special times where the light bulb just went off.”
“I have never had a song where I was able to let loose,” Faith said. “I was able to say everything I wanted to say on ‘I-285’ and ‘Overexposed.’”
Featured artists are common, but the collaboration process is unique to each track and creates the overall picture of the album. The featured artists, when asked to conclude on the album, had this to say:
“If you grew up on southern music,” Reconcile said, “it will be like food for the soul. I think this is an album that is real to my own life. The best way to be evangelistic as a Christian is to paint Jesus through a lense of everyday life. I believe this album does exactly that on a lot of different levels.”
“They seem to tackle everything from social injustice to our false perception of success on the album,” Corey Paul said. “I’m excited to see what the Lord will do with this album.”
“I love this album,” Young Noah said, “for two reasons. One, for it’s authenticity of subject matter. Two, because these guys are really letting their hair down and sharing their personal experiences. I encourage everyone to support these brothers because they genuinely love the Lord and hope to be southern lights in a dark world.”