Article by Charne Graham (@88nae88)
Most of the students at Chicago’s Columbia College are working toward promising careers in the creative arts and entertainment industry. 20-year-old Thelonius Martin is a student that has already started his career as a music producer for some of raps’ most sought-after artists. Producing was inspired in Thelonius when he started watching television late at night and caught a J Dilla instrumental being played on an Adult Swim commercial. “When I heard Dilla for the first time I was like 13 or 14 and I knew then I wanted to start making music” says Thelonius. Other influences are MF Doom and lots of Jazz music because his father played jazz for him as a child to help him sleep given him the nickname “Thelonious.”
Thelonius has worked with almost everyone from Pac Div, Curren$y, Sir Michael Rocks and Action Bronson just to name a few. “It’s kinda crazy because I used to go to library in high school every day to listen to Pac Div and The Cool Kids on iMeem, and to run into them at SXSW and get respect for my work just from word of mouth is really cool for me” says Thelonoius. Making connects is important to Thelonious “SXSW is the best way to get noticed and bump into artists to get your contacts up” adds Thelonious “I slept on floors, I ran around all crazy and I survived” After dropping the EP 3-Piece Set with Curren$y last Christmas Eve, Thelonius reveals that currently he his most proud of the project since he’s been a fan of Spitta since he was signed to Cash Money. “The little things like the stories behind the songs and the artist make them mean so much more to me” explains Thelonious.
The creative process that Thelonius goes through when making beats is also interesting. He admits that he used to make beats with a certain artist in mind but after a while he ended up hating the final product. Thelonious only create his beats when the sun goes down. “I’ll watch a movie or something while I’m working, I made a beat the other day with the movie Kids playing in the background, I like to have a visual standpoint on a beat so movies influence me a lot too.” says Thelonious. He also plays video games and watches a ton of Adult Swim in between creating beats.
Thelonious hopes to eventually work with artists like Dom Kennedy and Erykah Badu in the future. Being a part of the positive attention that Chicago music has gotten in 2012 is also something that Thelonius is proud of. “It’s a bunch of talent here and it’s been really dope to know that when people bring up the names of who is hot in Chicago that I’m producing for some of these guys.” Being affiliated with Chicago’s Treated Crew and Save Money groups is something that Thelonius takes pride in. More and more young talent continues to flourish in Chicago and the advice that Thelonious Martin gives to young producers is to “Always be a student of your craft.”