The Rocks Off 200: Legendary K-OTIX Producer Russel "The ARE" Gonzalez

Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See previous entries in the Rocks Off 100 at this link.

We first encountered Russel "The ARE" Gonzalez when he served as a judge for the Red Bull Thre3Style DJ Competition earlier this year. The wide-eyed, animated producer is a never-ending oracle of music, both from H-Town and beyond.

We also had the pleasure of spending some time in his home as The Legendary K-OTIX gathered to practice for their reunion concert. With stories ranging from his dealing with DJ Screw to his history with DJ Premier, Russel entices and entertains, much like the music he creates.

Photo by Marco Torres
Who? Born and Raised in Houston, "The ARE" says he started producing music in 1992. He stayed with K-OTIX through the '90s and went on to produce songs for Keyshia Cole, Nicki Minaj, Lil' Kim , LL Cool J and others.

Home Base: Houston, Gonzalez says, but he also works in New York and Los Angeles from time to time. "As a producer, the Internet has made it easier for me to stay in Houston more, although I still prefer to go to the artist and work with them in person," he says. "There's a certain bond that builds when working in the same room with an artist, and that can really come through in the music.

"We need more of that," he adds.

Why Do You Stay In Houston? "I stay in Houston because my family is here and with today's technology, it is easy to send files and work with artist via computer," The ARE says. "I love going to NY or LA to work but as far as living, Houston is where it's at.

"I find it easier to relax here and be creative," he explains. "Plus, my daughter is here and I can never be too far away from her."

Story continues on the next page.

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