Mr. Collipark: Park Placing Hits

When you hear the name Mr. Collipark, the Ying Yang Twin’s hit single “Whisper” comes directly to mind. But long before the Ying Yang Twins, DJ Smurf was burning up the turntables on the Southern Bass scene.

After linking up with the only mixtape crew in Georgia, King Edwards J’s team in 1987, Michael Crooms, then known as DJ Smurf was introduced to MC Shy D and the rest was history. After hitting the road with Shy D in 1991, in two years he was an accomplished enough beat maker to produce half of Shy D’s album The Comeback. Simultaneously dabbling in rapping, he crafted a song called “Drop Like This B***h” on Ichiban Records’ Bass compilation called Excuse Me Sonny, Do You Know Where I Can Find Some Bass?, where he created the infamous “To the windows, to the walls” which he copyrighted and Lil’ Jon capitalized.

But as Bass started to be etched out of the Hip-Hop scene, so did DJ Smurf’s popularity. Determined to re-carve his name in the movement, Smurf met up with an unknown artist by the name of D-Roc who was known in Atlanta for his more laid-back rhymes. Soon after, under the moniker Beat-in-Azz, the Ying Yang/Collipark movement was born.

After the success of “Whistle While You Twurk”, Crooms knew that in order for him to be the success he wanted to be, he had to change his name to something more marketable. Named after both his hometown and his label; he dropped Beat-in-Azz and dubbed himself Mr. Collipark. got a chance to sit down with the purveyor of the snap and whisper movement to discuss his life and how it feels to be one of the most sought after producers in the game. First things first, how does it feel to be credited with ushering a movement that changed the way Hip-Hop music sounds in the South?

Mr. Collipark: It feels good, because [the South] has been responsible for a lot of things, we just never received our credit. Like the a big part of the up-tempo Crunk music came from the Ying Yang Twins and myself, but now that we are doing our thing and people know how we are they automatically credit us, and that’s what I love about this. Do you feel that the “Whisper” record is what Crunk has evolved to, because honestly you can’t get any louder?

Mr. Collipark: [Laughs] Yeah for real, but that was what Crunk was for, to have you act a fool in the club. But after the “Whisper” record, now Atlanta has a whole new sound with “snap” music which started with “Wait [The Whisper Song]” and “Play”, a lot of people have already started to flip it into something else. So I definitely feel that the hey-day of Crunk is over, and the South is definitely coming with something new. On that same note, you initially debuted on the scene as DJ Smurf, then you changed your name to Beat-in Azz and now you are known as Mr. Collipark; what made you change your name and go under so many different monikers?

Mr. Collipark: Well initially, I changed my name from DJ Smurf to Beat-in-Azz so that Ying Yang Twins wouldn’t be stigmatized, because that was my first act going in as a label owner. With me at the time being known for Bass music, I didn’t want [Ying Yang Twins] to be prejudged as another Bass group or project by record labels and executives. But Beat-in-Azz was something that I just created just being funny and it took off and blew up when Ying Yang blew up. I really couldn’t use the name DJ Smurf again due to legal issues with the Smurf Corporation, but the success of what were doing was starting to grow. I knew that I need a name that was marketable so I could really establish my label and my sound and I couldn’t do that with a name like Beat-in-Azz. So how did you finally decide on Mr. Collipark?

Mr. Collipark: Honestly, every since I started making records, I always shouted Collipark, because that’s where I’m from and now is the name of my label. Plus I was really the first one from College Park to really do something big so I believe I earned the right to call myself Mr. Collipark. How did that sit initially with fellow ATLiens, because there are a lot of self proclaimed “Kings” out there in the game?

Mr. Collipark: But it’s not a name to disrespect because I was doing mixtapes when nobody was really messing with music out here in College Park, except for Jermaine [Dupri] - and he was doing Hip-Hop sounds. I was really the only at the time who was staying true to the sounds and going through the different stages that Atlanta was going through at the time, I was always apart of that. So I earned it. With all the big name artists that you have been working with lately, are you planning on releasing a compilation album?

Mr. Collipark: If I do decide to release one, it would be more like Dr Dre’s The Chronic album, where it would be a compilation of music that I want to do. You know what, if I made an album it would be full of music that I want to do. Back when I was doing Bass music, I took a lot of chances and that’s why it spills over to the Ying Yang projects and other creative artists that can do this with me. So if I did an album, it probably wouldn’t be what people would expect from me, because I would do whatever I feel and it wouldn’t be anything that I am known for right now. Initially you were on three labels previous to TVT, you were signed to Koch initially with the Ying Yang Twins but back in the day you were signed to Ichiban and SMD which were independent labels, how is the situation at TVT better than the previous deals?

Mr. Collipark: After I out the four solo albums back in the day with MC Shy D, I ended up creating the “Whistle While You Twurk” record that got us signed to SMD and distributed through Universal, but after we caught the lawsuit over the sample, it messed everything up. But luckily we ran into someone from Koch who believed enough to give us a deal, but not enough to go beyond one record, so once we dropped that record and went gold Ying Yang started catching a little noise. With the work they were doing with Lil’ Jon, it only seemed right that we link up with TVT. But honestly because I have been under the independent for so long, now I want more. TVT is great at what they do, but I really just want more for me and my artists. What do you think makes your beats stand out from that of any other producer?

Mr. Collipark: I think that a Southern producer as a whole, is a lot more melodic because we have a lot of different personalities in the South. Not taking away from my New York counterparts, but everything up there is just so hard. In the South, we are more laid back and more observant of life. I mean everywhere else in the world you have rap and R&B, in the South we have music. So if music is all we know music is all we are going to create. Do you think that music as a whole is suffer due to the follow the leader type of style, because when The Neptunes first came out, everyone had a space age beat. Now with the new “Snap” music everyone has a “Snap” beat. Yeah definitely. I think that the record companies are to blame for that because they are afraid to take risks. They want the next artist that sounds similar to the ones already out making noise. So I blame the record labels and the artists equally, because if Ying Yang Twins can blow up with an empty ass beat and some finger snappin’ then I can take my superstar artist and do the same thing, but they don’t think like that. Instead the labels want the next Ying Yang to re-create “The Whisper Song”. Honestly, everyone now is coming at me for another “Wait” or “Play or “Shake”, I am so tired of hearing the same thing, with all the “Snap” beats popping up I ain’t going to sit up there and dispute who was the first to do it, I am just going to make something new and leave everyone else finger snappin’. As a behind the scene type of guy, what is your opinion on producers who appear all through out their artist’s videos?

Mr. Collipark: Truthfully, when I first got into the game, it wasn’t about that, it was about creating good music and letting the artists shine. Now the industry has changed, now its common for the producers to be in the video and to be able to survive in music is being able to change with the times. Because although Ying Yang will continue to be a success, my Collipark label won’t be because people won’t know Collipark, just The Ying Yang Twins. So when it comes time for me to drop the next artists it’s going to be like starting all over again. So this is actually the first year I started branding my stuff, it’s funny because people are actually asking for that Collipark yell or appearance, because they are associating the name with heat, so I can’t be mad at all.