AF The Naysayer
Sep 22 2014

AF The Naysayer

By: Craig Magraff Jr.

Amahl Abdul-Khaliq, better known in New Orleans and across the nation as AF THE NAYSAYER (that’s A-F and, yes, it’s spelled in all caps), is an up-and-coming Louisiana-based producer by way of Los Angeles who blends an eclectic sound featuring 1980s R&B, 1990s West Coast hip hop and even old-school video game soundtracks.
Since graduating from McNeese State University in 2010 with a degree in communications, AF has set up shop in New Orleans and carved out a niche for himself within the music community while garnering the respect of underground masters. As “Mr. X” of the Red Bull Music Academy, AF represents New Orleans on the national stage as an ambassador and spokesman for local talent. Totally self-taught, AF proudly named his label Self-Educated Vinyl and has released his first EP, The Autodidact Instrumentals Vol. 1, and its first track, “Sunday.”

WYAT: Tell me a little about yourself.
AF THE NAYSAYER: I’m a producer. I started making beats in 2008 when I was in college. I was based out of Lake Charles back then. Now I’m more based out of New Orleans and split my time between here and Baton Rouge. I have my own showcase series called Dolo Jazz Suite, which is a producer showcase that travels from Houston to Birmingham and places in between. I also work with Red Bull Music Academy; I’m the ambassador for New Orleans with a position called “Mr. X,” which is pun on expert.

WYAT: How did you get started in music?
ATN: Honestly, I come from a BMX background. I was really involved in that scene and one year it was raining too much for me to ride. I would ride every day, multiple times. I needed something to do with all the energy I had and a buddy of mine showed me a clip of a guy programming a beat on a drum machine. He was a producer named nick tha 1da out of Washington D.C., and I contacted him and we became friends. That’s how it happened; I really got into making beats and watching footage of people using the samplers and beat machines and it went from there.

WYAT: Tell me about your musical influences.
ATN: I have so many. I was raised on a lot of soul and funk records, so I looked up to people like Roy Ayers and Parliament Funkadelic. And hip hop, punk rock and indie rock. My music tastes are all over the place. If I had to name a producer I’m influenced by, there’s a producer in L.A. called Battlecat and one in Germany called Jan Jelinek.

WYAT: How long have you been active in the music industry?
ATN: I started making music around 2007, but I didn’t take things seriously and try to make a living from it until 2010.

WYAT: So what goes into your creative process?
ATN: It’s different every time but I do realize I have a pattern. I usually start with the chord progression or if I sample, I start with chopping a sample. Then I put in melody, then I add drums, then bass, then I kind of rinse, wash and repeat. That’s the basic skeleton of it. It starts with a melody in my head and I go from there.

WYAT: So what do you have going on right now?
ATN: I just got back from a tour. I did my first nationwide tour and now I’m actually about to go out on tour again with my buddy Prism House; he’s out of Brooklyn and we start the tour on September 2 and are doing half of the U.S. I’m also releasing my very first beat tape. It’s really an EP called The Autodidact Instrumentals Vol. 1, and it’ll be out on September 2, so I’m going on tour to promote my first EP. I have more Dolo Jazz shows coming up, too. So I’m just gearing up to make more music.

WYAT: You’ve been doing this for about five years. In that period, what would you say helped you to find your way so fast?
ATN: I talk to people. I genuinely want to know people and befriend people. Lots of people think I'm a really nice guy. I care about the community, the music, and a lot of people like my sincerity. Money’s nice and all, but at the end of the day I think there’s more longevity in building a community.

WYAT: What about musically?
ATN: I always wanted to make music. Since I was in middle school I’ve been building myself up. By the time I got to making music I just picked it up really fast. I was always studying and researching, and still go back and learn more and more things. In order to create a certain sound, you have to study and know what you’re doing. Once you know what you’re doing, you can make a polished sound easier.

WYAT: As a producer, who do you enjoy working with?
ATN: Well, honestly, I haven’t really worked with a whole lot of people but I’m getting to a point in my career where I’m doing that a lot more. I have done some stuff with other producers but nothing too serious. I really like remixing. That’s the thing I like doing the most right now.

WYAT: What about in the future?
ATN: I did work with Myka 9 on Freestyle Fellowship. That was a big deal for me because I’m originally from L.A. and he’s a well-known rapper out of that area and is credited with coming up with the term “freestyle.” It was released on vinyl and got major distribution so that was cool. People I want to work with? Locals. I want to work with locals. There’s this guy in Alexandria called Zetroc, he’s really cool; the best R&B I’ve heard in a long time. There’s also another producer out of Baton Rouge, Prime8 Pimpin’; he’s someone I plan on working with in the future because he’s kind of out there in left field and I’m more structured. But we’re compatible, so it works.

WYAT: Tell me about your video for “Sunday."
ATN: It was the very first music video I ever did. Most of the music I did was featured a lot in BMX videos, so that’s how I really got national attention. So I wanted to pay homage to my roots and the BMX community. In Austin, TX, there’s this garage where BMX riders go and ride, so the idea was for everybody to get together and ride bikes until the sun goes down.

WYAT: What was your inspiration for the song?
ATN: The song is from my upcoming EP. The inspiration is really just a Sunday afternoon. That’s the vibe of the song.
Putting out more records. I’m self-releasing my record through my label Self-Educated Vinyl, so the future is getting my stuff released on different labels. I want to tour Europe, so I’m working on that. I’m also working with this non-profit called Upbeat Academy, which is based in New Orleans and partnered with Winter Circle Productions. There, I teach at-risk youth how to make beats. The age range is 15 to 19. Working more with them and getting that program going is a priority for me: getting more equipment and kids in the building, building the New Orleans and Baton Rouge producer scene. I’m really into getting the community off the ground.

WYAT: For anybody who wants to work with you or find out more about your music, where can they do that?
ATN: I have a website, afthenaysayer.com, as well as my Facebook page. And I can be emailed at [email protected] I'm pretty easy to get in contact with

WYAT: Is there anything you want to add?
ATN: Well, I’d like to say thank you to Tony Skratchere and the Dolo Jazz family for always being there.
 @CraigMagraffJr

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