Lil Wayne Producers Play N Skillz Lead Dallas Hip-Hop Scene

'We are blessed,' Play, of the double-Grammy-winning duo, says.

DALLAS — [artist id="1834351"]Play N Skillz[/artist] could definitely get used to this. Two Grammy ceremonies, two Grammy Awards — the brothers from Dallas, haven’t come away empty-handed yet.

“We are blessed,” Play said the day after this year’s Grammy Awards. Play and his brother Skillz won a Grammy in 2007 for their work on Chamillionaire’s “Ridin’ Dirty” and, just a few weeks ago, took another trophy home when [artist id="510062"]Lil Wayne[/artist] was honored with Rap Album of the Year. The duo produced the monster “Got Money.”

“It was the best album of 2008; one of the best albums in a long time, hip-hop-wise,” Play said of Lil Wayne’s latest LP. “It’s a blessing to be a part of Tha Carter III and have a single.”

The fact that “Got Money” even made it into Lil Wayne’s hands is a miracle. The track was originally erased by an engineer, and the duo had to make it all over from scratch. Then, Slim Thug, Plies and Pitbull all recorded verses over the instrumental at one time or another, but due to label politics or creative differences chose not to use the song for their projects. T-Pain then took custody of the record, but sat on it for so long that Play N Skillz almost asked for it back. Eventually, Pain passed the record to Wayne, who worked his magic.

“It was a marathon,” Play said. “That album had so many release dates … then we was hoping our song didn’t get leaked. We was hoping that this song didn’t end up on DJ Drama’s Gangsta Grillz 28 and then don’t make it to the album.”

Juan Carlos “Play” Salinas and his sibling Oscar “Skillz” have been dreaming of making music since they were kids. The two were born to Venezuelan immigrants and lived a large part of their lives in a two-bedroom apartment. When their parents saw how serious the DJs-turned-producers were about making music, they moved to the living room and let the brothers convert the master bedroom into a mini-studio. Play N Skillz would eventually pay their parents back by buying them a house, which was a great surprise to mom and pops.

Before their big breakthrough with Chamillionaire, Lil’ Flip put them in the game with his You Gotta Feel Me LP. Now cats such as 50 Cent, Bun B and, of course, T-Pain and Lil Wayne hit them up regularly for tracks. On the night they spoke to MTV News in Dallas, they had three different sessions going with Slim Thug, Pitbull and Paul Wall, all longtime friends.

“For Paul, we’re trying to push the envelope with this one,” Skillz said.

“Everyone’s heard him on screwed and chopped records … Jermaine Dupri did a good job on a couple records with him,” Play added. “We’re trying to do something a little different with him, and he’s willing to take a chance. We’re recording a song called ‘Cadillac’ right now. It’s an ode to all the Cadillacs we ride out here. It sounds like he’s talking to a woman, like he’s in love with a woman, but it’s his car. It’s a remake of a Ready For the World record. It’s something different for Paul.”

As for Slim, the brothers — who released their own album in 2004, The Process — say it’s a miracle they even are getting work done with Thugger, as they usually go to the club instead of record. Pitbull is the wild card.

“Pit is incredible,” Skillz added. “He works fast.”

“You just gotta keep up with him,” Play chimed in. “He’s one of those guys you never know what’s gonna happen. He can give you a girl record, he’ll make a house record, he can tear you up lyrically. It’s always fun working with him. There’s nothing we can’t try.”

In addition to working with established acts, Play N Skillz are looking forward to helping some of the local talent blow, like their artists Bug Tuck and Tum Tum. They say that Dallas’ new burgeoning music scene is primed for mainstream love.

“The wave of technology has really helped people,” Play said of songs such as the GS Boyz’s “Stanky Legg” and B-Hamp’s “Do the Ricky Bobby” that have gotten big on the Internet and are starting to spread nationally on radio. “Now records are getting started on YouTube and MySpace. They get popular there and, believe it or not, some of these [radio] programmers are going onto these Web sites and looking for talent.”

Dallas has a lot to offer! In the coming days, we’re bringing you details on the city’s burgeoning hip-hop movement — from dances to fashion to hairstyles and, of course, the music. We got it all, so keep checking back for more during Dallas Week.