The Club Beat With Say Wut
Although he’s been making Baltimore club tracks since the late ’90s, producer Say Wut–alternately known as Nigga Say What or NSW–didn’t really make a name for himself until he came up with a catchy way to say it. “I was like, ‘Man, nobody really knows who I am, I need to put my name in a song or something,’” he explains in a recent interview. “So, I was sittin’ there thinkin’ that, got on the mic, and said, ‘S-S-S-Say Wuuut,’” stuttering his production handle just like in his now familiar mixtape drop. “And after I started doin’ that . . . it became catchy. It was actually something that people liked saying.”
The 25-year-old’s love affair with Baltimore club music began early, looking up to Scottie B. and Sean Caesar during Unruly Records’ initial run. “When Scottie and Sean came onto the scene–when they started makin’ stuff back in I guess ’91, ’92–I had an older brother that was in the scene at the time,” he says. “He brought these tapes home and started playin’ ‘em. I thought it was just crazy. But it quickly grew on me, and I was a young cat listening to this older stuff from the beginning, all the way till the later ’90s–’97, ’98. That’s when I first got on.”
While still a teenager, Say Wut hooked up with Da Horsemen, one of the first local crews to merge hip-hop and club music with tracks like “Bout It.” At the time, the group would take their song ideas to an outside producer, club legend Ron “Dukeyman” Hall, to program the actual beats, but Say Wut had an interest in making tracks himself. “I was just graduatin’ from high school, I didn’t have no money for no MPC2000 [sampler] or ASR keyboard or anything like that,” he says. “So I said, ‘Alright, Dukeyman, I need to try this on my own.’ So that’s when he was like, ‘Well, you know, you gotta buy the equipment.’ And I’m thinking to myself, this is a new day and age . . . y’know, computers are hot, I’m in the computer field, I should be able to find something.”
Say Wut made his earliest club tracks on computer programs like Frooty Loops, later upgrading to Reason, and eventually buying his own equipment. But it was only in the last few years–after hooking up with DJ K-Swift–that his tracks became staples on the tastemaking DJ’s radio sets on 92Q. Say Wut’s blaring, high-energy tracks like “Hornz Theme” have since become–alongside another 92Q favorite, Blaq Starr–arguably the defining sound of Baltimore club circa 2005-’07. And this year he’s been taking that unique sound even further out there with his latest dance-floor smashes, “Get Loose” and the wigged-out, aptly titled “Futuristic,” both of which are available on the Unruly Records EP Beats Extraordinaire.
“I had ‘Futuristic’ a good six, seven months before anyone ever heard it,” he recalls. “Scottie B. and Sean Caesar, they told me, ‘You got some fans over in the U.K. and London,’ and as they told me that, I was getting hit up on MySpace from cats overseas. So I listened to what was goin’ on, on their pages . . . and I said, ‘Well, lemme try something a little different, a little crazy.’ So I did it, and I said, ‘Eh, people here not gonna feel it.’ So I kept it in my library. It wasn’t until I had a couple people come over to the studio–I let ‘em hear it, and they said, ‘Oh my god, what is that?’”
Meanwhile, Say Wut been branching out as a DJ with his Horsemen Entertainment company’s Sunday night residencies at clubs like the 5 Seasons and the Latin Palace, and the recent mix CD Club Chronicles: Level 1. And with production credits for local rappers like Huli Shallone and A-Ma-Zon, Say Wut is increasingly venturing into hip-hop and R&B, with several of his nonclub instrumentals featured on A&R web site TaxiMusic.com. And while he has a grand vision for a compilation in which he’ll produce tracks in all three genres, he’s too busy to set a release date just yet. “The compilation is just so hard because I’m also a music engineer, too,” he says. “So that pulls me away from my projects. I’m just lookin’ forward to workin’ with good artists and making good music.”