[HHW Interview] East Harlem Producer Erick Purvis Talks Starting Out & Returning To His Craft

Erick Purvis has a compelling story to tell about his journey in the music business before becoming the producer he is today. Originally from East Harlem, Manhattan, Purvis explains why it meant so much for him to have a better life. Check out the insightful interview below.

HHW: So what’s your story?

Erick: Originally, I’m from East Harlem. I grew up in the era of Hot 97. There was no Power 105. I went to sleep listening to them every night. I grew up on DMX, Bone Thugz, G Unit & Dipset. I grew up rough. My pops took care of three kids at the age of like 16 by himself. We went from a shelter to finding a home and then back to the shelter. That was the process for a Lil bit before we got settled in The Bronx. I played in the streets up until I was 16. I got into a fight with this gang 6 Wild. They backed me and my man Ragime down cuz they mans got jumped on my block and instead of running we fought off about 20 n*ggas. No gas, my hands were real back then. Hahahha. We both ended up getting stabbed in the back with Ice pic’s. I got hit in the spine and at the time I was paralyzed from the waste down. A summer at Mount Sinai doing physical therapy and mad painful days and nights and my shit start working again. I prayed to god the first night in the ER that if he gave me back my legs I’d be a better person. So I’ve tried my best with that. During that stint 50 was a heavy influence. Needed that energy to get thru all the bullshit. 

HHW: How did you get into producing?

Erick: I actually started early. About around 18 or 19. My best friend, my brother, Davell passed away and I just had enough. It made me really think about what I wanted to do. I downloaded the free trial of Fruity Loops (FL Studio) and that’s how I started. 

HHW: Why did it take years for you to officially come out as a producer?

Erick: I ended up managing this artist Caspa Narkz who produced and rapped. I told him to help me learn how to produce. He insisted I help him by managing. So I started managing. World Star Hip Hop just blew up. So I put up a few racks to put a video on the top box. That caught the attention of indie label Black House Records, who landed an investor and wanted to sign Narkz and hired me as an A&R. I agreed because he had brung on Jon “Shipes” Shapiro as a consultant. At the time Shipes had Nipsey Hussle, Big Krit and later Joey Badass. 160k into the deal and 25k of the radio budget randomly goes missing. The story was that an independent radio promoter stole it. Eventually, the guy running the label OD’s on heroin and that’s the end of that.

From there I put on a few independent showcases in the city under my company Capital Campaign. The most notable one was “The Offering Concert” with headliners Smoke DZA & Vinny Cha$e at Webster Hall. The whole Pro Era ended up pulling up. I had sponsors from XXL, The Source, NOOK, LRG, 10 Deep and a few others. I built my own lane. I toured the whole LA independent through working with artist. I’ve sat down with people like Jay Irving who at the time was thinking about working out a deal with my artist CYM and Spotify. I’ve worked with Atlantic, Columbia, E One, and Sony all as an independent contractor. My company was directly contracted to help with marketing artist at Sony/The Orchard. I help develop talent in all fields of entertainment.  It worked for a while but I wanted more. A lot of this I did before I worked with Puff.

HHW: How’d you end up working for Puff?

Erick: So I actually had a job at the Brooklyn District Attorneys office and I hated it but it was my most consistent. I was also hustling and managing these kids from queens named EYW. I came up with a game plan to find a way to make working in the industry full time because at the time, everything I was doing was on the side. 

We all know of the infamous stories of working your way up from intern to boss. Well that was my idea. I knew I had to be enrolled in school to receive credit for the internship so I enrolled into music school. I searched and searched for an internship and I saw one for Combs Enterprises. I applied and got an interview. 

What I didn’t know is that you had to attend the school for a certain amount of time before you could receive credit for an internship. HR at CE asked for my letter from the school, which stated I could receive credit. All I had was a denial letter. So with the skills I’ve acquired over the years (hahah), I turned that denial letter into an approval letter and that was my way in.

I then decided that since it wasn’t a paid internship I’d need to make money and I couldn’t work for the DA and do the internship. They were both in the mornings. I thought about going back to some old ways but I didn’t want to risk it so I decided to make myself get fired so I could collect unemployment and prayed that it all worked out.

HHW: How was your first day as an intern?

Erick: It was pretty underwhelming. For all the people who cracked cheesecake jokes, that’s all it felt like. I knew I was in the Executive Assistant Department, but my plan was to move over into anything music related. That wasn’t the case. I helped pick out vacations, created presentations, stocked, cleaned and ran errands. 

HHW: Did you ever transition over to anything music related?

Erick: Not at first. I was the fastest hired intern though. I was hired in 3 months. I got hired as Diddy’s Facility Manager. I had experience with mail distribution and running a building. I had keys and access to his whole building at 1710 Broadway. I did that for I think a year or so; I think before transitioning into an Executive Liaison position. There I worked directly with Sean from his home in Beverly Hills. Where the light began to shine a bit and I had a small taste of the music bug. The day I flew out to LA I saw Cipha Sounds at the airport. I’ve listened to him most of my childhood on Hot 97, so I was hyped. I told him about the kids, EYW, I was managing and he fell in love with them. We began to work together while I was in LA working for Sean.

HHW: How was your first day as Sean’s Liason?

Erick: I was hype but I played it cool. He set me up at the Palazzo West over by The Grove. I was given a car to move around with. Which is another crazy thing, I didn’t have a license. I had a permit. I went to LA knowing that but risked it because I didn’t want to lose the opportunity. So when I landed and I was taken to the rental place I gave them my permit knowing this whole thing was going to blow back in my face but it didn’t. They scanned it and gave me my keys.

HHW: So what were some of the things you had to do?

Erick: Same as an Intern. I just dealt with more of the personal stuff too and some music stuff. So he was basically in the process of dissolving Bad Boy records and creating REVOLT TV. Oddly at the time he was still making music. Yea he was dropping MMM. So we would set up studio sessions at his home or at a studio out in Hollywood. That’s when I felt some satisfaction. I actually was the one that delivered the final sign off papers for REVOLT to his investors. I met The Weekend, Kanye, Jermaine Dupri and bunch of dope people. It was a dope experience.

HHW: So why get back into producing now?

Erick: I had my son last year. I took some time off to really get settled because I’ve lived most of my life hustling and worried about the next day. I don’t want my son to feel any of what I’ve felt. He needs to grow up with a whole different mindset.  

With the time off, I just fell in love with it again. The City has energy again. We have a sound and identity. I believe Pop Smoke got me excited again. I really loved everything he was doing and where he was going. You’ll hear that NYC Drill influences this beat tape. I won’t stay in this zone though. Since I have all the experience and knowledge from developing others I figured I’d apply it to myself. I can’t just be a producer. I’m a business. I have to treat this as such. So I put together another company Stay Connected with my partners Manny Smith & P. Hunter. We’re a label that takes an innovative approach to developing new talent. I’ve taught my blood brother Marquise “MarKeyz” Rodriguez how to produce. So you’ll hear from him right after me. I wanted to drop this Beat tape to introduce everyone to what I’m doing before I start working with artist. But I’ll be working with all of NYC emerging acts as well as the ones ya’ll know. I want to take it slow and let it build organically. Just because I have the reach I’m not reaching yet. I have a bad habit of reaching too early since I’ve been around all the top players.

HHW: Are there any Producers that inspire you?

Erick: Yea. All of the ones you know, like Ayo N Keyz, Axl, WondaGurl and Boi 1da. But there’s these super producers that go by the name of “The ORA’. Daffy and Keyz. They recently produced “Thru The Night” by Jack Harlow. They got some heat and are one of the reasons I was like I need that feeling again. I need to love the music again the way they do. 

HHW: How can an artist get in touch with you?

Erick: Currently you can send me a DM or email. All my beats are being sold exclusively. No leases. If you reach out to me for a beat and it’s taken it taken. If not, it’s yours and no one else’s. Here’s a streaming link for the Beat tape: Produced By E Vol. 1

Follow Erick Purvis on Instagram: @producedbye

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