Terrace Martin plays tomorrow's Paid Dues festival in San Bernardino. The producer, saxophonist, and emcee came up on the streets of Crenshaw and Slauson, and was tapped for Snoop Dogg's 2004 Rhythm & Gangsta album at 17 and for Quincy Jones' production staff at 22. Millions of record sold contain his melodic and soulful production touch.
After releasing the Marvin Gaye inspired Here My Dear EP in 2010 and Locke High 2 in 2011, Martin has plans to forge a name of his own with the June album release of 3 Chord Fold. In conversation, Martin describes his experience traversing the worlds of hip-hop and jazz.
“It wasn't a big jazz community in L.A. but my father lived in Spanish Harlem,” he says. “So every summer and winter of my whole life I had to go to Harlem strictly because my mom didn't want me to gang bang.”
Later, jazz drummer Billy Higgins enlisted Martin and a small group of elite high school musicians to attend his Leimert Park World Stage workshop. “He would bring in guests like Herbie Hancock…Quincy Jones…and Jackie McLean. [We saw] all these great jazz artists at a young age.”
Martin abandoned typical teenage pursuits to dedicate himself to the jazz lifestyle. “[When] everybody was buying Jordans in high school, we would be talking all low and trying to wear vintage suits,” he says. During this time, he studied under arts educator and soul music producer Reggie Andrews. “From the World Stage to going to Locke high school where I used to practice four hours a day — fuck P.E. class, I was practicing.”
Martin's jazz obsession gave him an unique set of values different from those of many rappers. “In the jazz community, we…just want to be the baddest motherfucker. We don't care about that much money…To this day, like all my plaques are still at my mother's house in the garage in bubble tape. I don't even like hanging up plaques because whatever I did yesterday that shit is dead, that shit is over, I just want to keep pushing.”
3 Chord Fold has high profile features including Kendrick Lamar, who will also perform at Paid Dues with his collective Black Hippy. (Martin, incidentally, is in a group called New Westside Connection with Lamar and Jay Rock.) Of 3 Chord Fold Martin describes it as a cross between a West Coast inspired rap album and a relationship advice book. He adds, in his South Central drawl: “If Dr. Dre and Battle Cat and Q-Tip and Quincy got into the room…that's what this record sounds like.”
He pauses to break character and laugh. “I hope it do sound like that!”
Imagine the Think Like A Man, Act Like A Lady soundtrack with smooth, G-funk rhythms. “My goal for this record is to help heal wounded relationships and wounded hearts and really tell people that its going to be ok. My theory for relationships is that anything can work out.”
The album's name comes from the biblical imagery of a three cord fold representing the partnership between a man, a woman, and God. Channeling his church rebel childhood, Martin decided to add some “real ignorant South Central shit” to the spiritual concept. “A lot of things in my life happen in series of three. In the young black community everything seems to…start off as friends, turn into lovers, and then you become enemies.”
In the lead single, “Something Else,” Martin chronicles both the pain and pleasure of love. “I'm a regular dude that God gave the gift of music to. I like dominoes [and] dancing to Marvin Gaye.”
Terrace Martin performs the 12:40 -12:55 pm slot tomorrow at the Paid Dues Festival in the San Manuel Amphitheater