brother with strong business acumen is extremely important in todays America, especially when youre dealing with the pythons and cobras of the recording industry. Devo Harris is in a real G.O.O.D spot. He proudly encourages, Naysayer, please show me one example why Kanyes crew aint the s**t and I could refute you with five, proving that he has some of the swagger that the labels known for.
The one-time college roommate of John Legend in Philadelphia now locks himself in a downtown New York studio. On the verge of going to Pop and Rock music, this Grammy-nominated producer and DJ showed he was all about Diamonds without flossing a single baguette.
AllHipHop.com: Can you give us a brief introduction?
Devo Springsteen: People may know me from producing [Kanye Wests] Diamonds, and producing songs for John Legends first album, Get Lifted. Im also Johns DJ and a producer for G.O.O.D Music. My name is Devo Harris, but my stage name is Devo Springsteen. Consequence started that, and it just circulated throughout our music family because Im the boss. I really think its because I live in downtown Manhattan, I party like a rock star and know a lot of white people.
AllHipHop.com: What were your adolescent years like?
Devo Springsteen: I moved around a lot, did a lot of sports. I was real active between sports and singing in different choirs. I was more into sports than music. I played football and wrestled in college.
AllHipHop.com: Does having a Grammy skyrocket you to a whole new stratosphere?
Devo Springsteen: I dont think so. Jermaine Dupri didnt win a Grammy this year and people are most likely going to holla at him before me. The Grammy recognizes what youve done, but I feel that in Hip-Hop it doesnt create any new opportunities. Diamonds wasnt necessarily the hottest song of the year, but its depth made a difference. Depth sells records and thats what youll get from me.
AllHipHop.com: Do you play any instruments?
Devo Springsteen: Nah, but what I do is real musical. If I dont sample, I get musicians to come through and play everyday. So, I dont know what a C or a G is
AllHipHop.com: Youve got a strong ear for music.
Devo Springsteen: Yeah I started DJing in the 90s out in Philly. John Legend was my roommate at [University of Pennsylvania]. Naturally, like so many DJs, I started making beats. And through working with Kanye and John things just evolved. Theyre crazy musical and I learned a lot from the both of them. I try to implement all that into what I do.
I feel like Im more of an executive producer. I dont just make beats I signed John Legend to G.O.O.D Music. Theres years of defining Johns sound. Even artists that John and I are working with now, were really working to define what they do. We also find other outlets and press opportunities for these artists to get exposure before their albums come out.
AllHipHop.com: Who are some of the DJs you look up to?
Devo Springsteen: Kid Capri is my favorite. Im not too much into the technicalities of DJing. I used to be into the scratching aspect, but now Im more interested in making sure people have a good time. I do a lot of special events. This summer, I went to Africa and DJed out there for MTV. Its definitely all about the music, but on a grander scale, Im trying to make some things happen outside of just making beats.
AllHipHop.com: What are some of the recent songs that set the club on fire?
Devo Springsteen: It depends on where you are. Its mainly Down South records that are hot nationwide. Its usually harder for me to play New York/East Coast records.
AllHipHop.com: Are there any genres outside of rap that you listen to?
Devo Springsteen: I like all types of music. I like alternative Rock and Pop music. I try to incorporate it in my sound and work on that type of music. When you hear John Legends new album, youll hear those influences. Its not like the Beatles, but it is leaning left. Im getting calls for Britney Spears label and I love it. Im a Hip-Hop DJ, but Im a fan of music. This past year I was up for Grammys in the R&B and Hip-Hop field. This year I hope to be up for Grammys in the Pop or Rock field. Im very active about it, but Hip-Hop isnt the only thing that defines me.
AllHipHop.com: What was it about Johns sound that made you sign him?
Devo Springsteen: Well, his voice is very soulful. Thats why they call him John Legend. And Kanyes music is soulful, but they are both slightly different. So hearing them for years, I was imagining them working together and combining their unique sounds and what they could add to each others music. And working for Kanye, he was at the point where it was time to start his own company and sign artists and I felt John was the perfect guy. It was a no-brainer.
AllHipHop.com: How is G.O.O.D Music separate from the other sounds out today?
Devo Springsteen: Its just exciting to even be involved. Tell me a flyer label, a more talented label. Kanye West, John Legend, and Common? Nine out of ten songs or artists you hear nowadays are reactive. Whats hot, lets react to it, the 2006 version, the girls version; theres a lot of formulas. With G.O.O.D Music, nothing is reactive everything is progressive. Kanye is the spokesperson for a whole genre.
AllHipHop.com: As a producer, whats unique about what you bring to the table?
Devo Springsteen: Ive lived overseas and all across the country. I have a perspective that a lot of producers cant offer. I play in a live band and have DJed around the world for years. I was an assistant to Kanye for five years and I have a commercial businessman mind. I offer musicality and I write. I want joints that bang in the club. Its important to make records that are exclusively relevant to the artist.
AllHipHop.com: Whats 2006 looking like for G.O.O.D Music?
Devo Springsteen: Its going to be a really exciting year. Kanyes focused on blowing up G.O.O.D Music. He already started work on his new album; John Legends album is going to be coming out, Fonsworth Bentley I feel like people know that if Kanyes involved, the music is going to be decent at worst, if not classic. Commons going to be coming out [in September]. GLC and Consequences buzz is gaining momentum. Im doing a lot of different things; several major pop artists are in the works. Sa-Ra is crazy. Theres going to be a lot of exposure for G.O.O.D Music. Were taking it real seriously and throwing a lot of events. Our branding is innovative and wholesome.
AllHipHop.com: Whats it like working with Kanye?
Devo Springsteen: Its cool. Kanye is a genius.
Devo Springsteen: Have you heard anything wack from him? I know a lot of smart people. Music-wise and marketing-wise hes a genius. For a Rap album, on Roc-A-Fella records, to have a stuffed bear on your album cover is crazy. Through The Wire he paid for. There were no labels supporting it, and without that you cant get on the radio or TV. Hes able to talk things into existence. But musically, hes on top of it and its spoiled me to work with other artists. John is talented the same way and they both put in a lot of work. Its a pleasure and I know that whatever were working on is the next s**t. Ive already worked with some of the best so I try to keep the bar high.
AllHipHop.com: What are some of the hardships that youve had to face?
Devo Springsteen: A lot of fake people. Promise-breakers, the dynamics of people and how cutthroat the business can be plays out as hardship. People are very reactive and its difficult going into a meeting with a banging record and hearing Well, we really wanted a record like the one last year. At times I would give in but I dont think thats going to get me any further in life. I saw Kanye go through the same thing. Its hard trying to eat while not making the same stuff as everyone else. People are beginning to appreciate it and I feel like Im turning a corner. I just produced and wrote a song for Aretha Franklin.