“I love the technology of now,” says Gary “The Architect” Herd as he bounces around a bank of computers and studio equipment. Fellow music producer The Big Head Scientist rolls a blunt on a couch nearby. The modest East Oakland room is a home away from home—Herd travels here regularly from Stockton, where he lives with his family. “Older heads are used to a format, y’know, some type of label, some type of [A&R] there to organize it and make it all work,” Herd reflects. “But these days don’t work like that. You gotta love this shit to really do it. Facts.” Herd’s catalog dates to the early ’90s, when he and Everett “Grand the Visitor” Aknowledge formed Homeliss Derilex in Milpitas. Decades later, he’s still hustling beats. Vinyl copies of recent albums by cult stars like Tha God Fahim, Planet Asia and Mach-Hommy—nearly all self-released by the artists—decorate the studio walls. Each bears The Architect’s signature sound: a blend of cryptic, dreamlike sampled loops, sometimes augmented by keyboards and other live instruments that he plays himself. He calls it “the new golden era,” a nod to how the sound evokes a hallowed period before the deaths of 2Pac and the Notorious B.I.G. The irony is that now, in his middle age, The Architect is arguably better known than ever.