Drumma Boy: Smokin’ Grooves

Drumma Boy is aware your

production catalogue is only as good as your last beat. And for that reason,

the Memphis native makes sure that every new track he creates is a potential

hit. This philosophy helped Drumma to have a

phenomenal 2008, where the preeminent producer supplied Young Jeezy with his #1 Rap and Top 20 Billboard single “Put On,”

and four tracks off T.I.’s platinum-plus Paper Trail album.

 

Adding to these notable achievements were production spots

on big releases from Rick Ross (Trilla), Plies (Da REAList), and DJ Drama (Gangsta Grillz 2: The Album). 2009 is already

filling up for Drumma, starting with extensive work

on Monica’s comeback album Still Standing,

and preparation for his debut Drum Squad compilation LP.

 

Even with several 2009 Grammy

nominations for his work and a new reality show  [“Welcome to Dreamland” on Atlanta’s Peachtree TV], Drumma Boy explains why complacency will never be his

downfall.

 

 

AllHipHop.com:

Congratulations on the Grammy nods for “Put On” and Paper Trail. Was “Put On” originally made for Jeezy,

or something he selected going through your catalog?

 

Drumma Boy: I

made that specifically for Jeezy. I do a lot of beats

out of the crib. I’ve been working with him for a minute, about three or four years

since the first Boyz N Da

Hood project. So I can put my finger on exactly what he wants. He always says,

“I need them new yams and greens.” I tell him I got them new black

eyed peas for him. So I called him up and told him I had something real

special for him. And from there he just did his thing with it.

 

Young Jeezy

f/ Kanye West “Put On” Video

 

 

AllHipHop.com: Did you

originally know Kanye was going to be on it?

 

Drumma: No, I

didn’t know anything about that. Jeezy let me hear

the record a week or two after I gave him the beat. It was crazy. A month later

he was like, “I think this might be the one, and I got a surprise for you.” I

thought the surprise was that I got his first single, that was my goal for

2008. But that was just part of the surprise.

 

And then just to listen to what Kanye was saying and the way he put on for his city in ways

I can relate to. All around it’s just a classic record.

 

AllHipHop.com:

Regarding Paper Trail, did you have

to spend a lot of time in the studio with Tip, or was it more just submitting

tracks?

 

Drumma: I’ve

known Tip for awhile, ever since I first moved to

Atlanta and met with Jason Jeter. Grand Hustle is an organization I’ve been

trying to be a part of for about six or seven years now, ever since first

meeting Tip after I’m Serious.

 

So even after Urban Legend

and King I just continued to grind and remained consistent. I’m in

Jason’s ear every month like, Yo, I got something

crazy for Tip.” They were going through a lot in 2008. But just like Jeezy I came through with some crack. Tip was locked up at

the time, but I knew he was about to get out. I was one of the first people to

see him when he was on house arrest. It’s crazy because “Ready for Whatever” was one of the first tracks he cut when he got

out. That’s why he was explaining the situation so thoroughly.

 

It was a blessing to be a part of

that movement and give him what he needed, whether it was a hard, triumphant

street track like “Ready for Whatever or “You Ain’t

Missin’ Nothin’,” from the Drumma Boy Live catalog, or the track with Usher (“My Life

Your Entertainment”) which I made specifically for Tip. I make beats for

certain artists and just keep shoveling CDs, letting them pick out what they

want. Tip picked about 27 tracks out of 30. From there he just narrowed it

down.

 

T.I. “What’s Up What’s Happenin’” Video

 

 

AllHipHop.com: Just

like winning an Oscar in movies, a Grammy nod raises your profile and makes you

even more sought after. Being that you still work with indie artists, how do

you modify your business model between major label and indie artists?

 

Drumma: I try

to focus mainly on the music. A lot of people can get caught up in if the

artist is independent, major, how I’m gonna get paid

etc. That should be a focus, but my main focus is quality music and potential.

So if I run into an indie artist with a crazy amount of talent and not much

money or backing, I still have a couple options. You can choose to develop and

sign the artist. Or maybe put out a song to generate a buzz and get them started.

Or you can let the artist grind and they’ll come back and holla

at you anyway. It depends on your overall belief and faith in the artist.

 

I recommend any artist you sign

you believe in. A lot of people sign artists they don’t believe in 100% or have

a vision [for]. Those things make an artist successful. Major label artists

normally know exactly what they need, which makes it easy to deliver. You just

hit up the management for the negotiation, contract and the fees. I just try to

stay creative with the music and not get caught up with the money. Let’s just

make good music.

 

If you make a top quality record,

someone is going to pay for it. If it blows up, somebody is going to have to

pay the producer’s fee and split sheet. The money will be taken care of if you

focus on your work. That’s my overall advice.

 

AllHipHop.com: Over

the summer we were at a music seminar in Atlanta, and

you mentioned the importance of focusing on perfecting your craft and having

the overall package to be noticed, even down to specific image details like jewelry.

These days, do you feel image and presentation trump the actual music in

consumer importance?

 

Drumma: Image

has been the same over years and years. It’s traditional and will continue to

be brought up, ever since the 1300s. It’s all about how you present yourself.

If you give someone a vision that you’re sloppy, whether it’s the way you

dress, organize your Pro Tools, the way you walk in the studio, just your

overall demeanor [is important]. Are you prepared for certain situations? How

will you react?

 

You might come to a studio

thinking they’re waiting for you to play your beats, and you get there and the

artist is in the booth recording. The engineer might be doing something else,

and you have to wait an hour or two. Or you might think the artist wants one

type of a sound like a rap track, and then he tells you he wants an up-tempo

R&B track. How will you react? Things a lot of times don’t go a smoothly as

you plan in the music industry. So be prepared to adjust and change. Those who

adapt the best are the ones who succeed the most. 

AllHipHop.com: Like a

lot of people when they first came into the industry, you had to juggle school,

a day job, and other responsibilities that can take away your focus from music.

What were the instances that made you comfortable with stepping out on faith

and pursuing music full time?

 

Drumma: Man,

the first group I ever produced was a group called Treal,

they were from a suburb area of Memphis, kinda

country, called Chapel Hill. I was in high school, about 16, and I did the

whole album and produced all the tracks. We put it out on the street and I was

one of the salesmen. It’s crazy because that’s how I ran into Playa Fly in the

mall, [then] Yo Gotti, Eightball & MJG. It was all from passing out CDs. And

this was the first time I was being heard, but I still wasn’t known.

 

I was doing anything I could to get

to that next level. You got to start from the bottom and earn your way to the

top. Pay your dues. I went to Chicago with $100 in my pocket because I got a

phone call that someone needed some tracks. I was charging maybe $200 at the

time. But, the person wanted 5 tracks. I only had $100, but I’ll be coming back

with $1000. That $1000 I can use for CDs, get some stuff for the MPC, pay a

couple bills, and still have about $300 to make it to Birmingham for another

dude that wants tracks. Then I might get another $900 to invest. I would always

reinvest in my sounds and equipment.

 

 

AllHipHop.com: 

You’re a big fan of The Neptunes. What appeals to you

about their sound?

 

Drumma:

Anytime someone’s music appeals to me, I think about the thoughts and feelings

they have to get them to that music. The Neptunes and

Quincy Jones are producers that think extraordinary. That’s the realm I try to

stay in. [With the Neptunes] a lot of their hooks I

can relate to. The movement they had came from so many placements and moves at

a young age. And still, no one really knew who they were. I feel similar in my

career. A lot of people even after the singles don’t know who you are.

 

Pharrell does everything. I respect people who make good music. I

always tell my manager the next big producer is the one who has a run like the Neptunes. [He] will be that n***a. For about five years

straight the Neptunes were getting that first single

for everyone. From Kelis, Nas,

Snoop, Luda, everyone! Them dudes had everyone’s first single. That’s a goal

[for me]. To be great you have to attack and be amongst those that are great.

 

To be better than Jordan, you got

to go at Jordan! Iverson got the biggest respect in the world when he crossed

over Jordan.  But at the same time it’s a mutual and friendly competition.

There’s so much music, producers are always going to get the check.

 

A good example is my reality show

on Atlanta’s Peachtree TV coming January 19th, called “Welcome to Dreamland.”

It’s Drumma Boy vs. Jazze Pha. Which producer can make the

biggest star? Stay tuned to that.

 

AllHipHop.com: How did

that project come about?

 

Drumma: My

dudes named Vaughn and James proposed it to me. It’s basically out of 300 girls

who auditioned; they narrowed it down to 13 girls. I picked four, Jazze picked his four, and each team is made up of fresh

writers, stylists, and choreographers. We were given two weeks to create a

star. Which girl is going to have the biggest stardom? The girls are judged on

style, voice, technique, crowd participation, all that

was evaluated. It was great way to show my talents so definitely stay tuned.

 

AllHipHop.com: You

mentioned Quincy Jones earlier as an inspiration. One of his most remarkable

traits is that he was able to do collaborative projects with artists from all

spectrums, whether that was a Sarah Vaughan or a Ray Charles. Do you feel it’s

feasible for Hip-Hop producers in today’s climate do those type

of collaborative projects?

 

Drumma: I

think anything is possible; it’s just the way you do it. A lot of things are

being duplicated, and there’s not a lot of original creativity. Let’s say a

joint album between Usher and Chris Brown, that would be nuts, depending on how

you go about it. The labels might not be allies with each other, so it’s hard

to get people cleared. The artists might be fine, but the president and this

person at the companies may not get along, so there’s a lot more involved these

days than back then when it was about great music. A lot of us producers are

trying to bring that back. I’ve been saying we need more R&B features, more

duets, and collaborations. It’s just the way of presenting through original

creativity.

 

Rick Ross f/ Avery Storm &

Nelly “Here I Am” Video

 

 

 

AllHipHop.com: You

mentioned admiration for The Neptunes run of first

singles, but also acknowledged a lack of originality in the music. Do you think

part of the issue can be when a producer has a hit, all the artists flock to

that one producer, creating situations where nearly all the radio singles sound

the same? Or do you feel there are other primary factors?

 

Drumma: It’s

possible. But it’s up to the producer to make sure he elevates his sound. Just

like I did “Put On,” I won’t give Rick Ross the same style just because he

wanted something crazy. That’s why I put him onto Drumma

Boy Live, a whole different style with live drums and bass.

 

A producer can get beat-lock

because there’s so many people coming at you and you can’t think that far

ahead. That’s why I work hard 365 days. It’s so many ideas [I have] stashed and

ready to go. So [me suffering from] overload? Nah, we got music for days! Not

ideas or gimmicks, but [I have] music ready to go.

 

AllHipHop.com: What’s

the status of the Drum Squad compilation album?

 

Drumma: I’m

working on a mixtape right now. I got to make sure

the album is highly anticipated. I’m first going to warm the world up on what

the squad is about and the music we have to offer.

 

Shawty – Plies

 

AllHipHop.com: If you

had to pick three tracks to introduce yourself to someone who’s never heard your music, which tracks would you pick?

 

Drumma: I

definitely have to say “Here I Am,” “Put On,” and the new record with DJ Drama

called “Day Dreaming.” It features Akon, Snoop, and

T.I. It’s a pop record and a lot of people haven’t heard me do pop or think I

can do it. It’s going to do big numbers as Drama’s first single.

 

[As an honorable mention] I’d say

“Shawty” from Plies and T-Pain. That got a lot of

women in tune to the movement.

 

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