Songwriter, artist, model - James Worthy wears many hats. But the Atlanta-based entertainment insider has begun to gain notable attention as a producer for acts such as Truth Hurts, Yung Berg, Arrested Development, Dave Tolliver, and Sara Stokes of MTV's Making The Band.
To be clear, Worthy doesn't refer to himself as a "beatmaker." He's a traditional producer and self-taught instrumentalist. The Queens, New York native completely immerses himself in the full creation of the music, and his tracks provide a throwback feel to classic Soul/R&B while bringing in a touch of modern Hip Hop.
AllHipHop.com recently interviewed James Worthy to discuss his buzzing career. The DreammusikGroup CEO talked about his production influences, his affiliation with Jay Z's Roc Nation, appearing on the Centric reality series From The Bottom Up, and more.
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How did you get involved in making music?
I’m originally from New York. That gave me a lot of inspiration growing up with different genres of music. I was a big fan of A Tribe Called Quest, and my favorite producer was Q-Tip. My favorite R&B group was Dru Hill.
I started researching, honing in on the craft, and checking out different producers. I learned about instrumentation. I was fascinated with the production aspect, and I started making my own tracks.
Were there any other producers that you studied?
Besides Q-Tip, I studied Timbaland, Organized Noise, and Pharrell. It really came down to anybody that was innovative at the time.
Do you typically work in the studio with the artists or do you send tracks to them?
It depends. Sometimes you’ll have a label who wants you to do a record with someone, and sometimes you can’t sit in the studio with that person. I do make it an effort to be in the studio with the artist, because it’s more of an organic feel.
You want to have that vibe and make sure everybody’s on the same page. Sending stuff back-and-forth through email, something could be left out that could be very important to the song. So it depends on what the situation is.
You mentioned labels. Can you talk about your affiliation with Roc Nation?
Shout out to Roc Nation. I’m not signed to Roc Nation. My cousin is an A&R for Roc Nation, so we do a lot of work with them. I do songwriting with Roc Nation, and we’re getting more into the production phase over there as well.
You’ve embraced working with artists of different eras. Do you change your style when you’re working with a more established artist like B Angie B and Robin S?
I like to work with artists from the 90’s or even before that who really had their time, but they were kind of left out of the transition of the industry. These are artists that have made their mark in the industry, so why not give them another hit record? If you’re doing that, then everyone's going to come to you for that sound.
I also work with a lot of mainstream, modern artists. I’ve worked with Future, Young Thug, and Tip [T.I.]. I just did a record with Bone Crusher. I’m hands on with the new generation as well. My focus is to bring back good music.
You’ve worked closely with Sara Stokes of Making The Band. How did you connect?
I’m Sara’s producer. I do all of her new music right now. We’ve known each other for a while. We met and hit it off. Our chemistry is dope, and she has a great personality. I love her energy. Once we got in the studio, we never stopped making music.
Now we’re working on her new album. She’ll be on the new reality show From The Bottom Up. It’s a lot going on.
The show focuses on artists that are trying to rebuild there lives and careers after going through some tough times. With you working so closely with Sara, did you get any insight about ways to avoid some of the pitfalls that come with being part of the entertainment industry?
She’s been through a lot. I’ve been through a lot. Her thing is just to keep positive energy and positive people around her. I do the same thing.
She’s turning over a new leaf, so she’s letting everyone know what’s going on. Everybody saw the TMZ stuff, the bad stuff the media wants to put out.
She’s embracing that, because it’s all about growing, letting people know your story, and overcoming that adversity. When you see this new show, you’ll see she’s letting it all out for the world to see.
We’re letting everybody know that you can overcome anything. The success we’re having with our single, the success she’s having with this show, and future successes we’re going to have - that’s all God.
I read that you’re making a cameo on the show.
Yes, I’ll be in an episode with Sara. You’ll see us in the studio working on our single “Sneak Peak.” It’s a good platform for both of us.
Do you have any interest in doing your own reality show?
I’m not opposed to it. I’ve done other TV work before. I always say if it makes sense, then I'm definitely interested. Everything right now has to coincide with the brand.
You also worked with Bobby Brown Jr. Or is he going by…
King Jayare? I don’t really know what he’s going by now. But I’ve been working with Bobby Jr. for years. We’ve done a lot of music together. I’ve done records with him and his father. He’s a good kid.
I found it interesting he veered more toward rap as opposed to R&B, especially with his dad being the self-described “King of R&B.”
He does a lot of R&B as well. He raps, sings, and dances. He’s an entertainer just like his pops.
You’re from New York, and you work in Atlanta. There’s been a conversation over the last week about the state of southern Hip Hop. There’s some people that say rap music in the south - as far as its dominance - is on the decline. Do you feel like there’s a very distinct difference between what’s happening in Atlanta and other regions?
In the industry period, there’s a lot of creativity, but the actual substance or content in the music is lacking. A lot of times, you don’t really know what’s a “hit record” right now. It’s 50-50.
In the south region, I think a lot of the rap music - which could be considered Trap music - is going to fade out. It’s the same stuff being recreated over and over. I think people are kind of getting over it.
I think it’s time for good music to come back which is why you’re seeing a lot more R&B and older heads from back in the day coming out. Even rap music - I think more quality rap music is going to come back.
As a producer, I know you keep your ear to the street about the music scene. Are there any up-and-coming artists that have caught your attention?
There’s a ton of them. There’s an African pop star I’m working with right now. Her name is Zaena Morisho. She’s very huge in Africa and overseas. She’s gaining a fan base in the States right now.
She has a lot of other artists around her that are doing very well like Rey Fonder. He’s a phenomenal indie artist. I also like female rapper Marlé Blu out of Atlanta. There’s so many of them.
What can listeners expect from you this year?
You can expect so many things - singles, TV appearances, films, albums, modeling. I have a couple of singles coming out. Zaena Morisho’s “One Thing” is out now. I have a brand new single with B Ange B entitled “Shake.” That’ll be out on the 29th. I have a new single with Bone Crusher featuring Dave Tolliver of Men At Large. There’s so many different things.
From The Bottom Up premieres on Saturday, January 16 at 10P/9C on Centric.
Watch the trailer for From The Bottom Up below.