#Dabeeside x Jonathan Mena! Combat Season

What up good people!?  It’s your boy, Trav Dave and I’m back to share another great interview with you all. This one here is with a dude that has inspired me and tons of other people to join the podcast game.  This man is one of the producers of TaxSeason and The Combat Jack Show, which has been the standard in podcasting for a while in the hip hop community. They have been bringing classic interviews and in-depth stories that have been purely for the culture. One time for my guy – Jonathan Mena.


Q: Growing up in Jamaica Queens, were you a hip-hop head or just a casual fan of the music. And who were you listening to the most?


A: I grew really close to Colosseum by Jamaica Ave. I remember my pops not wanting to buy us retail music because they only had 12-15 songs and cost a lot. So we would go on the Colosseum block and buy mixtapes that had 50 songs on both sides. Because my dad was so cheap we got put on to hip hop at an early age. 



Q: A lot people might not know, but you have actually been in the podcast game for a while. You used to edit a German podcast back in the day. When and how did that opportunity happen for you? And what was that experience like?

A: I had a college gig editing German lectures that we would post on iTunes University. I don’t speak a word of German so the professor would give me instructions on where to stop and start in English as she recorded her class. This was 10-11 years ago when ipod minis with the color screens first hit the streets. Back then I thought podcasting would never be popular. I was really wrong. 


Q: While doing my research on you, I found out that it was almost fate how you ended up on The Combat Jack Show. Can you tell us a little bit about that story?


A: From time to time I would edit an episode here and there for the Combat Jack Show, but nothing consistent. I was like the backup of the backup so to speak. So one Sunday morning I’m up extremely early and Combat Jack CC’d me on an email.  He needed the Lord Jamar episode they recorded edited down quickly. I knew that email wasn’t for me but I hit him back anyway and told him I’ll do it. That’s probably the fastest episode I have ever turned around. 


A week later Combat asked me if I would meet him for coffee to discuss coming on the show as a producer. I immediately hit him back that I would take the gig, I was a real fan of the show. Weeks go by and I never heard back from him. I thought maybe he changed his mind. Then one day out the blue I get an email from Combat asking if I can come to the studio because he was interviewing Russell Simmons. He introduced me to the team as the new producer and I haven’t left since. 



Q: As a producer of one, if not the best, hip-hop podcast show, what exactly is does your role on this particular show entail?

A: My goal as a producer is for the talent to only worry about getting in front of that mic and creating magic. Everything else is my job. From booking the studio, writing questions, editing, shooting pics or whatever else is needed I take care of it. I’m not too big to go on a beer run if a guests is asking because at the end of the day all I want is to create great content. I think that’s why we are successful because we understand that this is a team effort and we all have the same goals. 



Q: You also work on the Tax Season podcast, what did you see in Taxstone that made you want to work with him?


A: I started following Tax on twitter a few months before he made his appearance on Brilliant Idiots. I thought he was hilarious on Twitter but that doesn’t always transfer to podcasting. But once I heard him on Idiots I knew that kid was going to be a star. I called Chris Morrow and told him Tax needs a show on the network and I wanted to produce it. Tax isn’t an altar boy, so at first people were hesitant to give him a shot but I knew he was talented and there was nothing like him on air. Plus I saw he had a strong work ethic and he thinks like a producer so that was a great benefit to the team. We dropped our first episode a year ago and we are 4 million plays deep. Not bad for two kids who a lot of people thought wouldn’t amount to much. 





Q: Combat Jack and Tax Season are completely different shows but both embody all of what New York is about. What’s the difference between working on the Combat Jack Show and working on the Tax Season Show?


A: What I love about both shows is that the goal is to create the best show and not the best click-bait. When we say we are here for the culture we really mean that shit. We aren’t looking to take away but add to the culture because it has been so good to us. Interview styles between the two are the mains differences. Combat is like Muhammed Ali and Tax is Mike Tyson and your ass might get knocked out in the first 60 seconds of the fight. 


Q: Podcasts are popping up everyday now. It’s almost the future of journalism in the music business. What are your feelings about the growing competition or do you guys even worry about what other shows are doing in your market?


A: Competition creates better content so I’m all for it and never shy away. I listen to everything and keep tabs on all the major players and the up and coming stars. We definitely keep our eyes and ears in the streets. We don’t promote it but we also help out a lot of podcasts that aren’t on the network. We learned a lesson with what happened with the blogs. The market got over saturated and blogs started beefing which was stupid. I feel like if I can help you out and you win it’s a win for all of us. 




Q: Loud Speakers Network is growing at such a fast pace, how do you keep the guest and content fresh to keep your listeners engaged for the Combat Jack Show and Tax Season Show?


A: The key is to keep the listener on their toes. We never want them to get too comfortable with the type of show we are doing. I mean we interviewed Tony Lewis who has an amazing and inspirational story one week and the following week we recorded a show in a chicken spot in East New York. We are always going to keep you guessing. 


Q: Word on the streets is that Dallas Penn and Premium Pete are doing a sneaker podcast? Can you give us any insight on this or is it still top secret developments?


A: Dallas and Pete will always be the homies. They’re working on their respective projects so you will be seeing and hearing a lot from them soon. 


Q: If someone has never listened to  The Combat Jack or Tax Season podcasts, what 3 episodes from each would you recommend? 


A: For Combat I would say Chuck D, the second Dame Dash episode and the No Malice episode which we recorded last month. For Tax it would have to be the Styles P, Pee Wee Kirkland and the Joe Budden episodes.



Q: Our mutual friend, Mister Morris said that you grew up listening to Guatemalan radio and that’s what secretly influenced you. Is this true, and if so please explain how it was an influence on who you are today?


A: A better question is what did Mister Morris do that made the judge order him to wear an ankle bracelet and as a latino man why does he support Donald Trump?


Q: What’s next for Jonathan Mena in the coming years?


A: I have some shows in pre-development right now that will be very different from what we are currently producing. A lot of new podcasts are coming out with the same format and we plan to go in a different direction the next couple of months. 


Dabeeside sits down with "The Kid" Sean Beauford

What’s up good people? It’s your boy, Trav Dave. I’m about to hit y’all with another great interview. This is one that is very special to me, I had a pleasure to befriend this guy all thanks to a good friend of ours, Ainslee. This guy has had an influence on me since ’07-’08 and I’ve been following his career ever since. Back in ’07, he was down with Sickamore and the whole Famous Firm Crew. These guys took marketing to a level thatI had never seen done for that age and time. Also, the fact that he is from Ohio, showed me that people from here could get out, network and make great things happen for them and their homies.  He is currently stationed in Pittsburgh and I’m very grateful to have a chance to reconnect with him and talk to him about everything he has been doing since he left Ohio. Give it up one time for my man, Sean Beauford.

Q: You’ve been gone from Ohio for a while now and you’ve become a curator of art. What exactly does that mean you do? And how did you step into that profession?

A: To me, curate means to organize and present content. I curate art, but I also curate my culture, strategically and purposefully. My shows will be a presentation of artwork but also a presentation of elements that come from my culture, to honor it and present it to the masses in a respectable place, like an art gallery. People are more open minded to things presented in art galleries for some reason. If I put an image of a black boy posted on the corner in a music video, those that don’t understand dismiss it and assume he’s up to no good for no reason. But if I put that same image in an art gallery, people will ask questions and try to understand what lead that boy to this corner, or they’ll ask the artist why he’s on the corner – which is an opportunity for him to teach about our culture. I got into because I knew a bunch of visual artists that spoke my language and I wanted to give them more opportunities. I also wanted to enjoy myself more at art events, so instead of asking someone else to put together what I want to see, I did it myself. I never thought it would be a profession though.


Q: You’re not an artist in a sense that you draw or paint, but you do put shows together for artist right? Explain how you make that happen.

A: It usually starts from me wanting to say something or feeling like something needs to be said, or shown, or done. Then I think of artists that I know (or know of) that might be able to help me execute the idea, and I reach out to them and see if they’re down to collab. Then it’s a matter of making sure me and the artist are on the same page as far as our mission. Sometimes I’ll already have a gallery or space lined up, other times I’ll have to get one, which is never really that difficult, or it hasn’t been. As I grow, I’m more particular about the space I use for certain ideas. It has to have the right look and be in the right location. From there we just have to make sure people know about it.

Q: Do you feel like you have a special vision that helps you when you’re putting together your art shows?

A: I’m not sure if it’s special, but it is mine, which helps a lot because I know what I want to do. That sounds obvious but a lot of people are out here trying to carry out other people’s visions, which is very difficult. Because it’s from my mind and my heart, I’m more dedicated to it, and willing to endure whatever’s necessary to see it through.


Q: Tell everybody who Tinker Hatfield is and how he influenced you?

A: Tinker Hatfield is a legendary designer who went from being an architect to designing every Michael Jordan sneaker we care about and a bunch of other groundbreaking Nike shoes. I was never that big into sneakers so I didn’t think twice about the design, until I found out Tinker’s inspiration for some of his most famous Jordan’s. Those unfamiliar should definitely research but he had a knack for seeing great design in things like fighter jets and lawn mowers and putting those elements into sneakers like AJ5 and AJ11, respectively. Learning that blew my mind and it made me love his work, but it also showed me the importance of observation and inspiration and appreciating beauty in everything. There’s inspiration everywhere if you pay attention.


Q: Tell us about “The Other Side of Pop” and how it came about?

A: I didn’t feel like what’s typically presented as pop art and especially pop culture, connected with me and people who are of my culture. The things they most celebrate and reference aren’t relevant within my community. There’s this notion that for something to be verified as important, it has to cross over to mainstream, as if their approval matters to us. It doesn’t matter to me. I wanted to do a show about things that my people could connect to, and not just my people, but my generation. This is the Hip Hop generation. Whether you’re black, white, yellow or brown, if you’re born in the 80s, 90s, and especially 2000s, there’s a big part of your life, whether it’s music or fashion or entertainment that’s been influenced by Hip Hop, which is influenced by black culture. I wanted to give us a show that wasn’t about oppression.



Q: You also did a art show called “Poison”. How did you develop the idea behind that?

A: I wanted to document our generation’s relationship with drugs but I didn’t want to shame or be on some D.A.R.E stuff. As someone who has never done a drug in his life, I’m not into the stuff, but I have a lot of friends and loved ones who are, and I understand them. I wanted to show with art what this relationship has looked like for the past 30 years or so. Art should document the times. I also wanted to connect with people who aren’t into art at all, and to do that I needed to show something relatable.




Q: You have a beautiful daughter, Neon inspires you the most. How does seeing life through her eyes help you with new ideas for different shows?

A: Neon makes me want to be greater than I ever wanted to be. I want to make her proud and inspire her, and show her that she can do anything. I’ve heard that babies like bright colors so for the next two years or so, no matter the content of the show, I want it to be super bright so that she likes it lol. If Neon likes it, it’s a win no matter what. She has also inspired me to be aware of children’s relationship with art and art shows. They need something too. I really want to make family friendly shows, that are enjoyable for everyone from babies to great grandparents.



Q: What is your ultimate goal when it comes to Art and the whole movement?

A: My ultimate goal is to bring people together. For as much progress that we’ve made, it’s still easy to see that we as a society aren’t as together as we could be. I also want to get more young black people into the arts. We’re at a time where art is becoming trendy, which is okay as long it lasts and people really explore and learn about it. Everyone doesn’t need to be a painter but I think that an appreciation for art leads to the appreciation of so much more, and opens doors of creativity that we might not otherwise have come across.



Q: Let the people know what is next for the Sean Beauford?

A: Bigger, doper, more impactful collaborations. I have a few projects in the works but none that I can say too much about right now, as there are still some things that need to be confirmed. The Other Side of Pop will be on display until March 25th at the August Wilson Center in Pittsburgh, PA.



Q: How and where can the people see all this wonderful art you work with?

A: seanbeauford.cominstagram.com/seanbeauford



Q: And how can they get a hold of you and/or follow your movement?

A: seanbeauford.com, @seanbeauford on Instagram and Twitter



Q: Lastly, do you have any special shout outs for anyone or group?

A: Shout out to Neon, who is the light of my life. And shout out to my brother Damien, who is doing great things for the city of Mansfield. He’s going to change that place for the better.



Interview by: Trav Dave

Edited by: Michelle Greenwell