Tack Fu: The Way of Tack

Written By: Evita M. Castine
Edited By: Eric Torkelson
dated: 2/2002
The second floor of the KURI studio is packed with M.C.'s and D.J.s from the show, "Low End Theory." Mr. Tack a.k.a. Tack-Fu sits in the corner, nodding his head up and down rhythmically to a beat that has infested every corner of the glass enclosed studio, now crammed to the fire hazard limit. He quietly observes all of the M.C.s stepping up to mic. After the session, he adjusts his black beret cap and leaves. To say that Tack-Fu is intense is an understatement.

The producer released his first LP, Yen & Slang in 1998 and followed it up with Chain Reaction in 2000. Both received favorable reviews in the underground hip-hop media.

Juan Hooks, from the Iowa City hip-hop group Bad Fathers, has worked with the producer in the past and agrees that Tack-Fu is one of the better producers in hip-hop today. "Tack-Fu is a beat maker, his style is unique and that is what you look for as a fan and an artist, and he does what he does well," said Hooks.

However, reviews and compliments are not the driving force behind Tack. He has a strong work-ethic and an even more uncompromising attitude, when it comes to producing instrumentals.

It has taken him around 3 or 4 years to earn respect from local club owners, and now he can book a venue on a Friday or Saturday night with one phone call. Just recently he picked up nationwide CD distribution from Crosstalk, a company located in Chicago, and it has taken him even longer to perfect the craft of hip-hop production.

The energy spent on releasing projects, along with saving every penny from working temp jobs, has made Tack guard his time and talent with a barb-wired fence. "When I first started out, I was more than willing to work with rappers, almost bend over backwards for them, but now I'm getting used to working alone, without someone making demands on what they need or want. Nowdays it's my way or the highway. I don't want to depend on a lyricist any longer," said Tack-Fu.

Juan Hooks respects the creative efforts in beatmaking, but also understands the role of each individual involved. "What he comes up, as far as music, really does not require vocalists most of the time, and I am a vocalist," observed Juan.

"I don't want to rely on emcees 'cause most of those cats are a pain in the neck to work with. I don't want to hear how big their dick is or hear about their life problems. That stuff really annoys me, because my goal is to make timeless tracks, plain and simple, to record music that stands on its own merit," said Tack-Fu.

It is understandable how Tack Fu got to this point. In order to get one record produced properly, a base minimum of $2000 to $3000 dollars is required, and that does not include, "miscellaneous expenses, talking on the phone constantly, and being nickel and dimed to death on studio time," observed Tack-Fu.

Orion Meyer, a retail clerk at the Record Collector in Iowa City said that he has heard on the streets that people are complaining about Tack-Fu's tactics.

"Tack has big criticisms, like having an inability to work with emcees, but his greater strength is that he is really creative. As a producer he prefers to make beats, people are subject to his whim, he comes with the idea," said Meyer.

Because of the expenses and time required, Tack-Fu said he had to start cutting out people who were taking advantage of him. "If one person is putting in all the extra work, making the beats, recording the tracks, booking the act, and setting up the gigs, and your so-called partners slash emcees don't put in the work to promote themselves or put on a good live act, then everyone involved is doomed. I'm not interested in helping out "Joe Rapper" who isn't motivated, who doesn't want to walk the extra mile. You're only going receive what you put into the music craft." remarked Tack-Fu.