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 Monicas 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 Atlantas Peachtree TV], Drumma Boy explains why complacency will never be his
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 Was Put On originally made for Jeezy,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. Ive 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.
f/ Kanye West Put On Video
AllHipHop.com: Did you
originally know Kanye was going to be on it?
Drumma: No, I
didnt 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 its just a classic record.
Regarding Paper Trail, did you have
to spend a lot of time in the studio with Tip, or was it more just submitting
known Tip for awhile, ever since I first moved to
Atlanta and met with Jason Jeter. Grand Hustle is an organization Ive been
trying to be a part of for about six or seven years now, ever since first
meeting Tip after Im Serious.
So even after Urban Legend
and King I just continued to grind and remained consistent. Im in
Jasons 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. Its crazy because Ready for Whatever was one of the first tracks he cut when he got
out. Thats 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 Aint
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
T.I. Whats Up Whats Happenin Video
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 Im 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 theyll 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 dont 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. Lets 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 producers fee and split sheet. The money will be taken care of if you
focus on your work. Thats my overall advice.
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
has been the same over years and years. Its traditional and will continue to
be brought up, ever since the 1300s. Its all about how you present yourself.
If you give someone a vision that youre sloppy, whether its 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 theyre 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 dont 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?
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. Its crazy because thats 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 wasnt 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 Ill 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.
Youre a big fan of The Neptunes. What appeals to you
about their sound?
Anytime someones 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. Thats 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 dont 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 everyones first single. Thats 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 its a mutual and friendly competition.
Theres so much music, producers are always going to get the check.
A good example is my reality show
on Atlantas Peachtree TV coming January 19th, called Welcome to Dreamland.
Its Drumma Boy vs. Jazze Pha. Which producer can make the
biggest star? Stay tuned to that.
AllHipHop.com: How did
that project come about?
dudes named Vaughn and James proposed it to me. Its 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.
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 its
feasible for Hip-Hop producers in todays climate do those type
of collaborative projects?
think anything is possible; its just the way you do it. A lot of things are
being duplicated, and theres not a lot of original creativity. Lets 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 its hard
to get people cleared. The artists might be fine, but the president and this
person at the companies may not get along, so theres 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. Ive been saying we need more R&B features, more
duets, and collaborations. Its just the way of presenting through original
Rick Ross f/ Avery Storm &
Nelly Here I Am Video
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?
possible. But its up to the producer to make sure he elevates his sound. Just
like I did Put On, I wont give Rick Ross the same style just because he
wanted something crazy. Thats why I put him onto Drumma
Boy Live, a whole different style with live drums and bass.
A producer can get beat-lock
because theres so many people coming at you and you cant think that far
ahead. Thats why I work hard 365 days. Its 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.
the status of the Drum Squad compilation album?
working on a mixtape right now. I got to make sure
the album is highly anticipated. Im first going to warm the world up on what
the squad is about and the music we have to offer.
AllHipHop.com: If you
had to pick three tracks to introduce yourself to someone whos never heard your music, which tracks would you pick?
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. Its a pop record and a lot of people havent heard me do pop or think I
can do it. Its going to do big numbers as Dramas first single.
[As an honorable mention] Id say
Shawty from Plies and T-Pain. That got a lot of
women in tune to the movement.