Needlz (Khari Cain)


Name: Khari Cain
Affiliations: Dry Rain Entertainment,
Creative Collaborators: Bruno Mars, Talib Kwelli 50 Cent, G-Unit, Fabolous, Swizz Beatz
Institution Affiliations: Florida A&M, Alpha Phi Alpha,
Endorsements: Native Instruments’ MASCHINE
Brand Work: BET, vH1, Bad Boy, Interscope
Expertise: Hip-Hop & Pop Production
Current Work: Honors English (MC)

Describing his own production signature as “an oxymoron: clean and dirty at the same time,” Needlz caught the ear of many popular rap acts, most notably 50 Centand his G-Unit camp, in the early to mid-2000s. With a predilection of straying away from sampling, his “clean and dirty” style often consists of abrasive basslines, grimy sound effects, and light melodies. He first began shopping around his beats as a graduate student at New York University (NYU) and had some success making tracks for a few artists including Fabolous and the Ruff Ryders. However, his breakthrough tracks were the 2004 major hit single “Let Me In” from Young Buck‘s Straight Outta Ca$hville and the beef-stirring “Piggy Bank” on 50 Cent‘s The Massacre. He also devised theme songs for BET’s Rap City and MTV’s Suckafree Sundays.

Born Khari Cain, Needlz grew up in Lansing, MI. He attended Florida A&M and Florida State University for undergrad, where he also did DJing for parties and local clubs. His introduction to the music industry began at NYU as a coffee-fetching intern for Sean “Diddy” Combs‘ Bad Boy Entertainment. As a music business major, Cain was planning to pursue a career as an A&R, but the experience at Bad Boy left him embittered. At the time, beat-making was mainly a hobby, but he became determined to work for himself. Eventually, his work wound up on the desk of A&R Folayan Knight. She helped land him the BET and MTV deals as well as the connection with G-Unit, which has been his main clientele. 2005 was a lucrative year for Needlz, boasting productions for a variety of different hip-hop artists including Talib Kwelithe GameCassidy, and Trina.