Production Breeding Ground: Da Grindaz

The creative mind of a producer is usually an untamed, uncompromising beast. That being said, it is easy to see how one could, at times, harbor the craft as his own, with contributing team members from time to time. Few have successfully formed a productive team that could produce cohesively as an intertwined hit-making unit. Da Grindaz are striving to stake their claim among the few successful production teams that have made significant marks before them. The duo, consisting of Bao "Classic" Pham, a trained musician who plays the bass, guitar, keyboard, piano and the saxophone, and Stephen "H20" Holdren, a master percussionist who is also a wizard with chopping and looping samples, compliments each other's talents perfectly. It is this union that has landed the Alabama natives a placement on the king of the South’s new album TI vs. TIP. Da Grindaz sat with to discuss their roots in Hip-Hop, their work ethic, and the circumstances that led to them working with the largest rapper in the game right So you guys are from Alabama, what's the Hip-Hop scene like down there?Bao: It's not an industrial outlet down there and so it's kind of hard for folks to get out. You got a few cats that came out of there, like Dirty, Duece Komradz, thats been on the underground scene for years, Small Tyme Ballaz that had a single deal with Universal, Chason Dreamz of NuNoiZe Productionz and Khao both came out of there. Stephen: Rick Rock, with The Federation; He's really a big influence I know on myself. Him and the guy who helped Dirty get their start, a guy named Dr. Fangaz. As far as producing-wise, them cats, they were like the late ‘90s. They were hard on like Wu-Tang [Clan] and stuff like that. It was like more of an underground thing. When I got into it, it was like early ‘90s and it was poppin'. The only thing about it was that we was trying to chase a sound because we were from the South, but influenced by what BET was showing. BET was showing the East coast joints and we were from the South, and we go to the club and they playing Rob Base[and DJ E-Z Rock.] So it's like we were fusing the two. We never had a distinct sound. It's good because it's a melting pot for How did you guys start out producing music?Bao: Well we've been doing stuff on our own for a good bit and we just linked up about a year or two ago. I know myself, I've been in music since I was four, playing piano, guitar and bass. My dad had a band and I was basically into music my whole life. Stephen: Myself, I've been kind of like the same thing. I started small and developed a passion for percussion. I went to elementary, junior high, [I was in] the marching band. When I went to college, I was in the marching band. I felt like I really wanted to pursue music. When I got to college I was like, "I'd rather pursue music," so I dropped out of college and started to grind from there. Who are some of your influences in Hip-Hop?Stephen: Wu-Tang [Clan], Biggie [Notorious B.I.G.], Pete Rock. That ["They Reminisce Over You"] joint is still bananas today. Even like now we listen to the old stuff. People always say that our stuff has soul because a lot of stuff Bao plays guitar on. If we do a sample, instead of truncating the baseline, he'll play it live.Bao: I kind of had a late start, I used to listen to alternative s**t. Like '91, I was on that Nirvana s**t, like Stone Temple Pilots, Smashing Pumpkins and Soundgarden. I was on that. Nirvana was the s**t to me. Until my homeboy, Arthur James Poole, Jr. a.k.a. Bo Bo, that dude is credited for giving me my first Hip-Hop CD, and that was that Ready to Die [by Notorious BIG]. When I listened to that s**t, man it was just over How do you guys work together when you create music?Bao: It's kind of crazy, we got two different types of styles. How it's been working is that I may be busy and he's doing some stuff or he's busy and I'm doing some stuff, or we do it all together. I'm more like melodic, like playing bass and guitars and the melodies. Steve, his sh*t is on some sample s**t, some Hip-Hop s**t. We just coming from that ‘90s, East coast Hip-Hop, when it was good. Not to diss New York or anything. [Laughs] You recently were fortunate enough to get a major placement on the T.I. vs. TIP album. How did that come about?Bao: Well we had a relationship with Khao a couple years back. We submitted some tracks to him and he walked it in and got it placed, and made it happen. Stephen: It's a good look on both Now on the album, you're credited with co-production on the song with Jay-Z, "Watch What You Say to Me." What work did you do with the song to earn that co-production credit?Bao: Well we contributed pretty much the groove of the track. Like I said, we submitted some things and [Khao] got it placed, but pretty much the groove of it. Basically bass guitars, what you hear and Khao did his thing and added some things to it, you know, did some drops and that was it. We're just blessed to be on the album because we beat out some big name producers and that's an accomplishment our first time kind of hitting it with two of the biggest names in Hip-Hop, the Legend and the hottest rapper out right now. So What's next for Da GrindazBao: Well we got some upcoming projects with UpFront Megatainment, that's Akon's label Devyne Stephens. We are working with an artist named Shock Dollar. Stephen: Yea Shock Dollar he was in a group that had a deal, but evidently he had something that he really wanted the world to hear, so he decided to do a solo venture with UpFront and Devyne. It's a good look on his end with him and LadiDrew. They gave us an opportunity to make it happen with a first time artist and us not really being well know producers. Even before the placement we were working with him. They gave us our first chance to develop and nurture our sound through him. So a lot of the stuff we did for T.I. and Jay-Z, that stuff you'll hear that reflect to the third power when you hear Shock's stuff. How can people get at you guys to listen to your music?Bao : Go to or hit us at