Jersey City’s very own, Cito On The Beat is a RIAA Gold Certified award winning producer with albums that sold over 500,000 copies and over a billion streams. Cito has worked closely with your favorite artists such as YG, Kevin Gates, Nicki Minaj, Lil Baby, and more! Cito currently has a website of his own called “CitoOnTheBeats.com” where he has been selling his productions daily. Last but not least, Cito works on artist development and training. Read more to find out how he does it all!
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: I go by Jeydah from Jersey so you know it was only right to interview another Jersey City native! How has being from Jersey and just miles away from the birthplace of hip hop shaped you as a producer?
CITO ON THE BEAT: I actually got a lot of my musical inspiration from other places like Los Angeles and Atlanta. Being around other producers like DJ Spinz, who is popular in Atlanta, played a big part in inspiring my sound with the whole Trap movement. People like early Gucci Mane and Zaytoven really inspired my sound. Out in L.A, it was really more of the pop music. I was big on Dr. Luke who has done a lot for Brittney Spears, Katy Perry.. It was kind of like blending pop and trap music from those two places that were big influences on my sound.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: What goals did you have set before you started your career?
CITO ON THE BEAT: My dream goal was to have a record on the Top 10 Billboards, which I accomplished.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: What was that record?
CITO ON THE BEAT: Big Bank by YG, 2 Chainz, Nicki Minaj, and Big Sean. Another one of my dreams was to become an award winning producer. I have gold plaques for that album. That album did over 1 Billion streams, and sold 500,000 copies and went gold. I can say that I’m a Gold Certified winning producer, so that was cool. Those were goals that I’ve set for myself, and I’ve accomplished them already. And you know, the obvious goal.. To get rich! To have financial freedom. That’s a goal that I’ve set and is still one that I’m trying to achieve now.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: You’ve worked with artists like Cardi B, YG, Lil Baby, Lil Yachty, Dave East, Jadakiss, the list goes on… What was the song that you produced that made you sit back and think, ‘Wow. I am finally where I have always wanted to be.’
CITO ON THE BEAT: When I worked on the “Stay Dangerous” album with DJ Mustard and YG. I was able to be a part of that whole process down in Atlanta. I saw people coming in and out of the sessions and I met artists like Lil Yachty, Moneybagg Yo, Lil B.. I actually heard “Boo’d Up” by Ella Mai a year before it was even launched. I would say at that moment when I was sitting in the room with all of those people, I was like ‘Wow. These are records that I know are gonna go somewhere.’ That’s when I knew it was real.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: Has there ever been a time when you haven’t gotten your work done by a specific deadline?
CITO ON THE BEAT: Yes. I’ve actually missed opportunities that way. I was supposed to get some music done for A Boogie’s Hoodie Szn Album, which actually happened to be my favorite album that he ever put out so I was mad that I didn’t get on there. I got a chance to get on there and I worked on the beats, but I didn’t work fast enough. So, by the time I submitted it, the album was already done.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: You’ve mentioned that Pharrel Williams is a producer that you look up to, have you ever met him?
CITO ON THE BEAT: I have. That’s my idol. I met him back in 2012 and I flew out overnight to Miami and went to his house. I went into his studio and he was recording with Mike Posner, and they paused the session and I played him a bunch of my music. He mentored me and gave me advice about what I should take advantage of, and what I can do better. I got to eat dinner with him and his family. I got to meet his son, his wife, and his mother. He was really dope and really humble.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: Speaking of mothers, Mother’s Day is coming up so how do you plan on spending the day with your mom in quarantine?
CITO ON THE BEAT: My mom loves seafood. Due to the quarantine, we can’t really do much. So, we’re gonna buy a bunch of seafood and have a big seafood boil in my house for her.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: How would you describe your sound?
CITO ON THE BEAT: Definitely a mix of Hip Hop and Pop.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: So is Trap and Pop your favorite genres?
CITO ON THE BEAT: No, actually it’s not. It’s RNB. I’m a RnB head.I love it.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: Okaay! Have you made any RnB records?
CITO ON THE BEAT: I have. Are you familiar with Snoh Aalegra?
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: Yes. I was actually just listening to her as I was getting ready to interview you.
CITO ON THE BEAT: Haha. I’ve worked with Snoh Alegra and did some records with her. I’ve done some work with Kehlani a few years ago when she first started. I do a lot of work with Justin Love as well. I dabble in RnB from time to time. I’m not prominent in the RnB world so much as far as creating it, but it is my favorite genre to listen to.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: What is your creative process like?
CITO ON THE BEAT: It changes all of the time. It depends on who I’m working with. A lot of the time if I’m working with an artist, they’ll come with an idea or a song that they have already written and they want me to create the vibe for them. I work off of vibes and energy but most of the time I find inspiration in movies, Youtube producers, finding other producers, and listening to playlists on Spotify.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: What is the first thing you listen for when listening to a new recording?
CITO ON THE BEAT: The vibe. Music is all about vibin’. It doesn’t matter the genre of music that you’re creating, or about the artist. If you can’t nod your head or feel what you’re listening to, then it’s no good.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: So would you say that the artist’s vibe makes a good session?
CITO ON THE BEAT: Of course. I’ve had times where I’ve had to work in the studio and the artists’ energy was off and it was very hard to create. Music has to be fun, you have to enjoy what you’re doing. If it starts feeling like a job, or if you’re not in the mood to work on it, it’s a dub.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: How do you know when a song is going to be a HIT?
CITO ON THE BEAT: You know when a song is gonna be a hit because you’ll feel it. It’s something that you can feel when you hear it like, “Wow. Yeah. This sh*t is fire.” It’s not always about being lyrical. Sometimes songs don’t even need any substance. It’s about the energy of the record and that’s why you can have artists like 6ix9ine screaming on a beat not saying anything and it somehow gets you hype because of the energy that it brings.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: What is distinctive about a cito on the beat production?
CITO ON THE BEAT: My tag, and my drums. I have a certain sound for my percussion. So my drums always have a certain rhythm that I constantly use. Anyone who is familiar with my work will be able to hear it.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: Speaking of drums, I know that you’ve learned how to play the drums and the piano at a young age. Are there any other instruments that you have been wanting to learn?
CITO ON THE BEAT: I wanna learn how to play the guitar. I love the guitar.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: What kind?
CITO ON THE BEAT: Acoustic. Electric. Both.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: With all of your responsibilities in the studio and at home, how do you balance the two?
CITO ON THE BEAT: Man, that’s complicated. Everything is about timing. One thing that I learned from my father was, there’s timing for everything. It’s all about having really good time management. I make time for my music, but I also make time for my family.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: I get it. They’re both of your worlds. They have to mix well together.
CITO ON THE BEAT: Honestly, sometimes I have to dedicate more time to one than the other. So, it gets a little difficult sometimes. But, practicing good time management is really important.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: I also know that you manage a label and do artist development, how do you know when you have a star on your hands?
CITO ON THE BEAT: Again, it’s a second nature thing. A star starts with the music first. It’s more than just liking the music, it’s about the business aspect. I’m in tune with the culture, so I know what works. Second thing that I look for is their image. Do they look like somebody who stands out? If I saw them walking down the street, would they look like an artist to me? I look for someone who has drive. I know a lot of artists that make great music, but lack hard work and consistency. I feel that is the most important. Those are the three main things that I look for in an artist when I take them in and try to develop them.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: What advice do you give your artists to make sure they succeed and don’t end up embarrassing themselves on the Shade Room or something?
CITO ON THE BEAT: Stay away from dealing with any types of relationships, because they never work out, especially when you’re coming up. I tell them to stay out of people’s business, and focus on themselves. Don’t comment on anything that doesn’t benefit you. There are plenty of things that I would love to write about, but I don’t.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: How do you find artists?
CITO ON THE BEAT: I’ve recently been finding a lot of artists on Instagram. So, either friends of mine would send me links or I’ll be tagged in posts. If I think they’re dope, I’ll slide them a DM and tell them I really like their content. We work in the studio, I feel out their vibe, and it goes from there.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: Networking is key. What advice would you give to someone who is looking to gain more networking opportunities and create a bigger platform.
CITO ON THE BEAT: Learn how to put your ego away and just reach out. In this game, a lot of artists miss out on opportunities because they feel like they don’t wanna “d*ckride” So, they don’t realize that not reaching out can block their blessings because that person might have helped them get to the next level. In order to open doors, you have to take your chances and just put yourself out there. When you want something, you just have to go for it. This game is 90% networking, and 10% music. You have to put more leg work in than you do in the studio. Some artists spend hours on end making music in the studio that people will never hear because they’re not going out there to build opportunities. Get into people’s faces. Introduce yourself.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: When you’re feeling stuck, who do you go to for musical advice?
CITO ON THE BEAT: I don’t really go to anybody. If I’m feeling uninspired, I’ll throw on Netflix and watch a movie. It’s very rare that it happens to me. I think that I’ve been doing it for so long, that it’s almost like second nature.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: You’ve mentioned Netflix twice so far. So what’s your favorite thing to watch right now?
CITO ON THE BEAT: I like Ozark. It’s really good.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: While everyone is going crazy during this lockdown, would it be safe to say that you’re benefiting from it?
CITO ON THE BEAT: I have, for sure. I have an online website where I sell my beats. That’s been doing very well. With artists all being home, I sell every day. And, being locked in the house, I have all the time in the world to create. I’ve been creating a lot more than usual, so it’s definitely been beneficial.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY: What’s the biggest lesson that you have learned during quarantine?
CITO ON THE BEAT: I’ve gotten a chance to get closer to God, and closer to my family. It taught me not to take anything for granted. Following this dream and pursuing it and trying to reach a certain level of success can drown out everything that is really important. Sometimes, I feel like I’m focusing so much on my music that I forget to do small things like going to visit my mom. And, being home with family now made me open my eyes to how important little things are especially during times like this.
JEYDAH FROM JERSEY:Thank you for interviewing with me! Do you have any shout outs or last messages?
CITO ON THE BEAT: Follow me on Instagram @citoonthebeats. And, check out my website and my beats: Citoonthebeats.com I really want people to be aware about what I’m doing. I post everything on my website whether it be helping artists, selling my production, merch, everything can be found on there. Tune in!