The Runners dont look like two men with their ear to the streets. The Orlando-based production duo is more GQ than they are AllHipHop. Their unapologetic fashion sense is a little flashier and more form-fitting than two men ingrained in Hip-Hop typically have. Thats a risky move in an industry that places as much emphasis on image as it does on substance, but lucky for the Runners, success allows you to break the rules.
Friends since either man could spell Hip-Hop, Dru Brett and Mayne Zane made a loud debut on music charts this year. Hustlin the bass-heavy scorcher they produced for Miami street king Rick Ross quickly became a hit, which has the duo in a good place right now. Hustlin built a momentum thats making the Runners phone ring more often than ever before. Everyone from trap star Young Jeezy to pop star Jessica Simpson is requesting their musical services.
Brett and Zane are clearly enjoying success, but the respect it brings has limitations. The Runners have endured criticism from journalists and Hip-Hop fans since Hustlin first bubbled, with some claiming that their beats sound too similar. For every supporter of their biggest hit to date, theres also a detractor comparing it to Lil Waynes Money on My Mind. The Runners spoke about the knock on their resume, and they had some choice words for naysayers. Brett and Zane are hearing a lot of talk, and theyre ready to send some of it back.
AllHipHop.com: T.I., Young Jeezy, and a few other artists had the Hustlin beat, but never purchased it. How would things differ if someone besides Rick Ross used it?
Dru: I think it would have been a big record for anybody. Ross just knew that it was a hit record and ran with it. The fact that that record broke a new artist made it so much bigger than it was. People already knew who those other [artists] are and out of nowhere this guy comes out blasting all over the radio station and everybodys saying, Who did that? Who did that? It brought us a lot more attention and also a lot of credibility because a lot of people tried to break Rick Ross and it took a special sound to do that.
Mayne: Dude was doing his thing for like 12 years.
Dru: Yeah; why didnt it ever pop off until now? Obviously it was that creativeness between us and him.
AllHipHop.com: What do you say to critics who claim your beats sound too similar?
Mayne: Man, critics, we dont listen to them because they doing their job and we doing our job. Thats our own sound. We have a wide range of genres that we can touch. We can touch R&B, we can touch New York artists, and we can touch the South, we can touch the West Coast. We just did a track with Young Jeezy that is like a sound that we never put out there before. People never heard this sound from us before. F**k the critics cause they dont know us.
AllHipHop.com: People also say you rely on the Chopped & Screwed sound too much.
Mayne: It all started with the screwed-up vocals and hooks, but those beats were us. We put those hooks in those songs. Some we took from recent songs and we just put a couple words and chopped it up, but most of those hooks we made. Its not just putting a screwed hook on a beat; its that sound behind the beat.
AllHipHop.com: Some producers complain that artists ask them to reproduced hits. Since Hustlin was such a big song, have you experienced that?
Mayne: All the time, man. All the time. Thats our job to stay creative and please the customer, please the artist, and then keep our reputation hot by coming up with something new. Presenting something new to them is our job to do. Like, yeah, we did this, but this is what were working on now. Take a listen and tell me what you think.
AllHipHop.com: Lets go back a little bit. How did you guys link-up?
Mayne: We knew each other since preschool. <br<
Dru: I was actually in North Carolina, I was about 16 and Mayne was down in Vero Beach, Florida. We were on the phone and we kind of had creative ideas that were bouncing back and forth between both of us. So we came up with a plan on how we should approach the music business being that its such a difficult business to get into. We came up with an idea to structure our company correctly and decided to vibe together on everything we do.
AllHipHop.com: Did you work well together at first?
Dru: Yeah, because Mayne is more on the creative, musical side and I handle more on the business side, so we dont step on each others toes.
AllHipHop.com: What happens when you disagree on how a beat should sound?
Dru: That doesnt really happen. I dont think thats happened. Im not going to mess up somebody elses creativity because he could be taking something to a level where maybe I dont see the vision at first, but then it all comes full circle later on.
AllHipHop.com: Mayne, who would you say influenced your style?
Mayne: Dr. Dre and anybody who came up with their own sound. All of the people before me who stayed in their own lane [like] Dr. Dre, Timbaland, Neptunes, and Scott Storch right now. Anybody who stays in their own lane and doing something new. Anybody thats adding new material to the game by doing it their own way and not by copying the next man.
AllHipHop.com: What made you want to become a producer?
Mayne: I dont know. Thats kind of like a question if youre married or you got a girlfriend, Why you like that girl? You dont know you just fell in love with her, you know what Im saying? It just happened; its just in me.
AllHipHop.com: Your managers are DJ Khaled and DJ Nasty. How did that happen?
Dru: DJ Nasty was like the first person that believed in our talent. A little over a year ago, he passed our first track to Fat Joe [Does Anybody Know]. He was on the radio station in Orlando [102 JAMZ] and he had connections to the music business, so he kind of stepped us in the door; walked us in. After we kind of walked in, we started needing to expand our management to touch more people. Khaled was willing to jump on board and anxious to get things rolling quickly. And that was a good look because of his personal connections and hes such a great person, such an inspiration to us.
AllHipHop.com: Is it strange because theyre producers too, so theyre kind of your competition?
Dru: It hasnt really come to that point to where we felt competitive with them. Theyre getting us so much work and doing so much for us that I really dont have any complaints right now.
AllHipHop.com: Whats the worst thing youve encountered about the Hip-Hop industry so far?
Dru: Id say the worst thing is dealing with peoples personalities. Certain people are difficult to deal with and you have to deal with them regardless if you want to or not.
AllHipHop.com: Have you guys had any lessons in Industry Rule # 4080 about record company people being shady?
Dru: Oh, absolutely. Thats just part of the business, so we deal with that on the professional level and handle everything that we need to handle. Whether youre doing construction business or youre running a shop or shoe store, youre going to deal with shady people in the business. Thats just the way it is.
AllHipHop.com: What are some projects youre involved in now?
Dru: We just did Trick Daddy, and were going to have a single coming out. We just did Young Dro and gave him two really crazy records. We just gave Bohagon a single and Fat Joes newest single that Flex dropped bombs on. We shot the video for DJ Khaled Born N Raised and we did a bunch of new records with Lil Wayne. I dont even know how many we have on there.
Mayne: Young Jeezy too with Keyshia Cole. Hold up Keyshia Cole and Travis Barker. Travis Barker from Blink 182 is gonna be playing the drums on there.
AllHipHop.com: Are you on branding your own stuff like with a mixtape or a compilation?
Dru: Yeah, were working on something. Were going to focus more on our own artist and R&B artist right now. Thats a side of us most people dont know about. We just did a song with Trey Songz thats the title track to his album called Trey Day. Were also going to do Ciara, Mario; were going to keep expanding into R&B. We do ballads and everything so thats why when people say, Oh they only can do that sound, they have no clue. When they hear the Trey Songz record, or they hear the Mario record, theyre gonna be like, Wow.
AllHipHop.com: I can imagine that a year ago, your lives were very different. How do you think your lives will change in another year?
Dru: Even crazier than it is now. People are gonna see our R&B side, the Pop side. Were going to be working with everybody from Jessica Simpson to Ashley Simpson to Maroon 5. Everybody that you can imagine.
Mayne: Just be on the look-out for The Runners in your Top 40 radio station.