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House & garden > Motor City Cribs and Rides

Motor City Cribs

Cream of Beats' Harper Woods home-studio

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Published 5/6/2009

Of all the people who've taken a Chrysler buyout lately, hip-hop beatmaker and producer Cream of Beats (real name: Zachary Cephas) has got to be one of the biggest buyout success stories.

See, this guy Beats took a buyout a little more than a year ago, after driving a Hi-Lo at Chrysler's Jefferson North plant for 14 years. Just as Berry Gordy had found inspiration to start a hit factory while working at a Lincoln-Mercury plant, Beats found inspiration in the constant din of Jefferson North's automated march. "I would hear beats in the factory sounds all the time."

Zachary also got inspiration from his former neighbors in Detroit's New Center area — Adult.'s Adam Miller and Nicola Kuperus. "I'd be on my way to work at 5 in the morning and I could hear beats coming out of their studio. They were a big inspiration to me to work just on music; they were living the life."

A couple of years ago, Beats moved to Harper Woods and erected a basement studio amid his sprawling record and synthesizer collections. Part of what makes Beats' beats so immediate is that he programs and plays everything live through the pads of his sampler. "Everything is live. It's dirty, it's basement, but it's me." Case in point: Dig Beats' inspired reworking of the played-out sample "Nautilus" by Bob James on Smoke's "Smoke & Cream."

Beats has worked with female emcee D.S.Sense, Smoke, B.L.A.K.E. Eerie and Leaf Erikson, and he's got a few projects in the works with some big emcees that we can't mention yet. He also just released the first issue of his hip-hop magazine Eight-O-Eight, and soon he'll start releasing records on 45 only. Whew.

When asked about why he's given up on releasing CDs, Beats says, "The Internet has killed album sales. The days of having something tangible in your hands and feeling good about it are gone. That's why I think it's more important than ever to focus on throwing good parties. Musicians have to give people an experience. You can't bootleg an experience."

You can check out Cream of Beats music at myspace.com/creamofbeats. You can check out Eight-O-Eight magazine online at bigben.net.

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