Jonathan "Numonics" Rosenfeld, possibly Broward County's hardest-working hip-hop producer, knows how to make an entrance. Hip-hop blasts from the speakers of the 27-year-old, red-haired studio savant's red Ford Explorer when he arrives to meet New Times at Deerfield Beach's Cove Shopping Plaza. This random meeting place, replete with Brazilian restaurants and trinket shops, was the closest locale for both parties, and the site of the amiable producer's day job conducting internet marketing.
Although the Pompano Beach resident has knocked out beats for five hip-hop acts with scheduled releases in 2012, serves as a brand rep for urban streetwear clothing companies (Crooks & Castles, IMKING, and Last Rights), and runs his own label, he's not financially prepped to ditch his internet ad sales gig just yet.
So we stand in the parking lot trying to figure out where the best spot would be to discuss his plans for South Florida's rap game. Eventually we agree that grabbing a six-pack of "Pottsville's finest," AKA Yuengling Lager, heading up a flight of stairs, and grabbing a couch in his sparse office is our easiest option.
Rosenfeld prefers we call him by his stage name Numonics. The handle comes from a friend's love of "cheesy" '90s sci-fi movies. "My name being Jon, my friends insisted on nicknaming me Johnny Mnemonic." When looking for a handle for his DJ gigs, Numonics couldn't come up with anything that could top that, so he got rid of the annoying spelling and ran with a phonetic version.
Numonics says he has a self-diagnosed case of "musical attention deficit disorder," which translates to his formula for success. "I like to try to change everything up every eight bars," he explains. Unlike everyday hip-hop songs that carry the same rhythmic flow for 16 bars straight, Numonics' creations switch up every eight bars so they sound like their own "entity."
While he admits he doesn't have the voice to get on the mic himself, he knows what he wants from rappers, and most of the popular South Florida products don't cut it.
"Unfortunately for us, the major label artists that have come out of Miami just aren't very good," he says. "Outside of Trick Daddy, I do not think Slip-N-Slide has done anything positive for South Florida's image. Look at the last Rick Ross album, for example — it's the same beat rehashed five times over. When you listen to Atlanta rappers, they all sound like they are from Atlanta; New York, same deal. I strive to have Miami be on the same page as a city like Los Angeles for instance, where real diversity exists in their hip-hop."
With five projects in the works for next year, the enterprising producer could break out big in 2012. Records in store with up-and-comer REKS, famed battle-rapper Knowledge Medina, and further collaborations with Co$$, Dynas, and J. NiCS (see sidebar) will position Numonics as one of South Florida's premier producers, part of the so-called "new Miami sound." Plus, his distribution deal through Coal Mine Records ensures that all five EPs will see the light of day.
"Everything is possible through consistency and persistence," he says.
Numonics began his career eight years ago as a drum and bass DJ in Tampa. Eventually his friends twisted his arm into letting them throw down rhymes over some of his own beats. After dropping out of the University of South Florida, he moved to Pompano Beach four years ago, and fully transitioned to hip-hop production. "At that point I got involved with wanting to make my own music and became obsessed with creating my own sounds."
In addition to becoming a topnotch engineer specializing in Apple Logic Pro studio software, Numonics' skills on guitar and bass regularly flesh out the samples used in his productions. On "Can You Let Me Be," from Knowledge Medina's forthcoming project Never Enough, Numonics played all the easy-flowing guitar strums and funky bass parts himself, and the drum machine beats were the only looped material on the entire song.
Numonics' gear-shifting contributions on the 2009 mixtape, Ink Made Me A Monster — featuring local rappers Dynas, Lex One, and Mike Beatz — raised some eyebrows for the rookie mix master that he was.
His first official time in the driver's seat, the Herculean 21-track project, Being Cool Doesn't Pay the Bills, put him on the map. He chose 19 different emcees spanning coast to coast, constructed each beat, and handled all the marketing and promotions himself.
Last year, Numonics' collaborations with Los Angeles-based microphone mangler C0$$ (Revelations) and Miami rapper J NiCS (Champion Rizla) proved extremely fruitful. After garnering write-ups on both hip-hop sites and in more broad-based destinations like Prefix Magazine, he's shooting to make 2012 his biggest year yet.
Near the tail end of our six-pack, Numonics reveals that he's adopted, and he recently connected with his biological family. With the help of his adoptive mother, he met his biological sister — he'll be an uncle soon — and grandparents, who live mere miles from his office. "I finally figured out where my musical side comes from," he says. "I discovered that my cousin is a composer for the Fort Worth Symphony and my uncle does jingles for radio stations."
With the interview wrapped up and beers guzzled down, Numonics invites us down to his red Explorer to listen to snippets from each of his five projects. He tells us his SUV speakers are his true gauge for knowing if a song works or not. "You are only the fourth person to ever hear this," he tells us as he cues up REKS' maniacal, fast-spitting verses on a track called "Bang Bang."
Before 2012 wraps, Numonics hopes to be the next member of his biological family with a musical career and to make hip-hop production his full-time job. "I know the quality of my work is good enough, and if I continue to put out music it will eventually happen."
Numonics 2012 Productions
Knowledge Medina & Numonics — Never Enough
Hollywood, Florida's Knowledge Medina is a prominent local battle emcee, but can also lay down great rap verses on wax. Release date: January.
REKS & Numonics — REBELutionary
Best known for his work with DJ Premier & Statik Selektah, REKS is a fast-spitting cerebral rapper who doesn't fall short on hooks. This is a hard-hitting album with a focus on political and social issues. Termanology, Statik Selektah, J NiCS, and Knowledge Medina are confirmed guests. Release date: Tentatively February.
Co$$ & Numonics — Genesis
Co$$ is known for his unorthodox flow that can sometimes jump an octave between the realism in his lyrics. This is the follow-up to the duo's previous collaboration, Revelations. The Leimert Park, Los Angeles resident is best known for his work with Blu and his album on Tres Records, Before I Awoke. Release date: March.
Dynas & Numonics — Commercial Music
Dynas and Numonics have a long-standing working relationship. A staple of the South Florida hip-hop scene, the rapper has a steady, easy flow. The album feels both contemporary and reminiscent of "golden age" hip-hop. Release date: April.
J NiCS & Numonics — Champion Rizla II
This is the sequel to last February's Champion Rizla, a critically acclaimed album featured by Complex, The Source, HipHopDX, and more. Release date: June.