(AllHipHop Features) On November 8, the Recording Academy announced the nominations for the 60th annual Grammy Awards. Singer-songwriter Bruno Mars earned 6 nods, including Album Of The Year for 24K Magic as well as Song Of The Year and Best R&B Song for “That's What I Like.”
For that chart-topping single, Bruno joined with the LA-based production team known as The Stereotypes. The musical collective made up of Ray Romulus, Jonathan Yip, Jeremy Reeves, and Charm also assisted in providing the soundscape for the 24K Magic title track and the album cut “Finesse.”
Additionally, The Stereotypes’ 2017 included producing Sevyn Streeter’s “Before I Do,” Fifth Harmony’s “Deliver,” Iggy Azalea’s “Bounce,” Lil Yachty’s “Better” featuring Stefflon Don, and Kyle’s “Sunshine” featuring Miguel. The Recording Academy recognized Romulus, Yip, Reeves, and Charm's prolific output over a 12 month period by nominating the foursome for the Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical award.
By ending the year with three Grammy noms and platinum-certified singles, The Stereotypes are going into 2018 as some of the most lauded music creators in the industry. I recently spoke with Ray Romulus about his squad’s remarkable run in ‘17. We also chatted about their upcoming work, the profitability of music streaming, and more.
AllHipHop: First off, congratulations on the Grammy nominations.
Ray Romulus: Thank you. I really appreciate that.
AllHipHop: What was it like finding out you’re up for three awards?
Ray Romulus: Honestly, it was a very stunning moment. We all kind of froze when we heard the news that we were nominated for those three awards. Especially Producer Of The Year because it’s one of those things where you work so hard, you feel like you’re doing great stuff, but you never think that people are actually paying attention. So to wake up in the morning to hear that is like, “Wow! That’s really crazy!”
AllHipHop: The other two nominations are connected to Bruno Mars’ “That’s What I Like.” At the time you were putting that song together, did you have a feeling it was going to resonate with so many people?
Ray Romulus: I didn’t know the song was going to be as big as it was, but we knew the song was really dope. We all came together and it was like one big party while creating it. Obviously, we were super excited about Bruno having us involved in that creative process.
AllHipHop: How did you all connect with him?
Ray Romulus: Our relationship with Bruno goes back to 2007 when we were all into songwriting and trying to get placements. They were like our go-to team. We were just friends that were making music every day. We were basically coming up together. Bruno produced and was featured on a song with B.o.B - “Nothin’ On You” - and he got his solo deal at Atlantic. He put out a solo project and became huge. We didn’t work [together] for awhile. We then reconnected last year. He asked us to come in, and it was like a party again. As soon as we came back in, it was like no time had ever passed. We were just happy for us reconnecting.
AllHipHop: I read that you guys were actually considering stepping away from music at one point.
Ray Romulus: Yeah, up until like the middle of last year we felt like we were working our asses off, putting everything into what we do every day, and it can be very demoralizing when the results are not what you want them to be. I’m married with two kids and another on the way. I got partners that have families, and we have to support them. It’s not like we have a company supporting us to help fund what we’re doing. So it was like, “Man, we gotta figure out a way that we can support ourselves and our families when the music thing is not panning out. We know we’re doing great stuff, but the results are not reflecting that.” But everything was in God’s time that we were able to work with such an amazing artist like Bruno. That helped change a lot of the trajectory of where our success has gone.
AllHipHop: I’m sure you guys are getting a lot of calls now.
Ray Romulus: Yeah, the calls are loose right now. [laughs] It’s a blessing.
AllHipHop: Going through your catalog, I noticed you guys have worked with so many different artists. Do you have a different approach to when you’re working with a Pop artist like Justin Bieber, a rapper like Dumbfounded, or when you’re doing R&B music with Mary J. Blige?
Ray Romulus: It’s definitely a different approach because we want to tap into what that artist brings to the table. So you’re coming in as the canvas. You’re literally listening and figuring out at what point in their life they’re in, what they want to talk about, and the mood of the music. It’s definitely a different approach every time.
AllHipHop: The makeup of Stereotypes is so different culturally. How does that play a role in the production?
Ray Romulus: I think that’s another thing that benefits us. I’m from a Caribbean/West Indian/Haitian background. Charm is Samoan. Jeremy is German/Russian. He’s like a Viking. John is Chinese. We come from different backgrounds and different upbringings. The common denominator for us is the music. That’s what brings us together, so I think that works for our benefit.
AllHipHop: How did the Kyle track with Miguel come together?
Ray Romulus: We happened to be working with Miguel on a couple of other things. He was in a session with us, just coming up with ideas to write hooks. Miguel had an idea for that particular track. That just happened to be around the same time we were locking in a session with Kyle. When he came in, the first thing we said was, "We have an amazing idea for you." He said “load it up” and jumped in the booth. Then Miguel came back in and fine tuned it to fit exactly what it is now.
AllHipHop: Now the song is being featured on ESPN.
Ray Romulus: Yeah, that’s one of the main songs for the NCAA.
AllHipHop: What other work do you guys have coming up?
Ray Romulus: We’re really excited about this Pitbull song. It’s called “Jungle.” It’s Pitbull and The Stereotypes featuring E-40 and Abraham Mateo. We worked with Meghan Trainor on her upcoming album. We’re looking forward to developing a couple of new acts.
AllHipHop: Have you thought about putting out your own album as The Stereotypes since you have this song with Pitbull?
Ray Romulus: Yeah, we kind of look at this Pitbull song as a good launchpad for us to do a lot more collaborative songs and definitely focus on a Stereotypes project.
AllHipHop: There’s been a lot of conversation over the last few years about producers and the way they’re credited. You even had Sonny Digital saying producers should think about having their own union. From your experiences in the industry, how have you guys managed the business end of it?
Ray Romulus: I think that’s something that’s serious, especially for the songwriters. That’s why we’re definitely more involved with the Grammy Advocacy program to help with the rates we’re getting paid as songwriters from streaming, because streaming is the platform that’s the leader of music consumption right now. At the rate that it’s going right now, none of us will be able to support ourselves. That’s why we’re really fighting and coming together to help let Congress know the songwriters are important. That’s a serious thing.
AllHipHop: We’re coming to the end of the year. This is around the time a lot of the year-end lists start coming out. Outside your own work, was there any other music or artists from 2017 that you found yourself listening to more?
Ray Romulus: I really love one of the other nominees for Producer of the Year which was Calvin Harris. That album is amazing to me. I’ve been listening to a lot of Daniel Caesar. The new Dipset just dropped, I’m definitely on that. Oh yeah, and Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic. I’m still playing that. [laughs]
AllHipHop: He has a good chance to win the big one - Album Of The Year.
Ray Romulus: I definitely think he has a great chance to win that.