Trauma Tone has some of the biggest placements in the rap game, and he’s just getting started. Hailing from Charlottesville, Virginia, the certified Platinum producer has been putting in work, producing records for Bino Rideaux, Kevin Gates, NBA Youngboy, Money Man, Yo Gotti… the list goes on. When it comes to his beats, it’s his impeccable ear for sound and drums that allows him to flourish in the production space.
Currently based in Atlanta, Trauma has a crazy story to tell: dealing with a rare illness that resulted in a brain aneurysm at age 30. While achieving these incredible milestones, he’s been recovering in the hospital — still motivated as ever. Inspired by the likes of Pharrell and The Neptunes, Timbaland, Kanye West, and J. Dilla, Trauma combines old school influences with modern day sounds.
AllHipHop: Being from Charlottesville, Virginia, what were you seeing growing up?
Trauma Tone: It was typical, not too much going on. As far as music, we had a cool local scene. That’s pretty much it.
AllHipHop: You mention J. Dilla is a huge influence, how so?
Trauma Tone: J. Dilla for sure. As I grew older and got hip to his work, that’s a producer who stood out to me a lot. He had a certain groove about him, his beats. To her the production coming out of an MPC like that was fire.
AllHipHop: How did you learn how to produce?
Trauma Tone: One of my older cousins, he’s a big producer where I’m from and I used to hang around him in the studio. He introduced me to Fruity Loops, which is a production program. That’s how I got introduced to producing. He gave me the program and had me learn myself.
AllHipHop: How did you teach yourself?
Trauma Tone: Basically playing with the program. Youtube wasn’t even a thing when I got started, this was 2002. I didn’t have any tutorials or anything, I was just clicking stuff. It was easy to use in a sense once you understand a program: okay this is where you put the drums, this is where you play. From there I started messing with it. I still haven’t watched tutorials to this day for any programs, I try to learn myself.
AllHipHop: How’d you get tapped in with Chief Keef?
Trauma Tone: One of my friends from Cali, we were working on a bunch of different beats. He sent the beat to him, that was one of the ones getting placed. At the time, it was crazy because that whole drill movement was just coming in. It was real dope to have a song with him at that point.
AllHipHop: How would you describe your sound?
Trauma Tone: I like pain in the music, like soulful and blues type s###. Blues vibes.
AllHipHop: Do you have a producer tag?
Trauma Tone: Yea, it’s my name. A chick with a London accent saying my name, nothing too crazy.
AllHipHop: How’d you get tapped in with NBA Youngboy?
Trauma Tone: Have you heard of DJ Suede The Remix God? He does a lot of funny videos on Instagram that go viral. He’s been one of my close friends for a while since I got into the music scene, especially in Atlanta. We were working on beats, he already had a relationship with NBA Youngboy. He hit me up saying he wanted to get some stuff to him, that ended up being one the beats they rocked with.
AllHipHop: How’d it feel hearing “Cross Roads” back? TOP went #1 on Billboard.
Trauma Tone: It’s crazy because around the time all that stuff was going on, I was going through this little situation in the hospital. It was definitely dope. Not sure if you know the situation, but I had a stroke randomly.
AllHipHop: What happened?
Trauma Tone: I had bad headaches, I went to the hospital and started blacking out. It was crazy. I got really hot, was throwing up because I was so nauseous. The doctor I went to see told me to go to the emergency room. I went to the emergency room, they ran a bunch of tests. They gave me an MRI and Ct Scan, told me that I had an aneurysm, a blood vessel popped in my head, and I had a stroke.
AllHipHop: How did that happen?!
Trauma Tone: That’s what we’ve been trying to figure out, I’m still going to appointments. It happened out of the blue. Literally that same day when the doctor told me I had the aneurysm and the stroke, Suede called me like “yo man, we got a placement on NBA Youngboy’s album!” Damn, I’m so numb at this point because my doctor came and told me my head is bleeding. Definitely crazy. It was dope but the circumstances at the time, I couldn’t celebrate how I wanted to.
AllHipHop: How did you push through?
Trauma Tone: I’m actually still recovering, really starting to get back to work. We’re still working though as far as getting placements in and knocking s### out.
AllHipHop: You also produced “Dreka” and “Always Be My Gangsta” for Kevin Gates, how’d that happen?
Trauma Tone: I reached out to him on Instagram, didn’t even think he’d hit me back. I DMed him that I wanted to send him beats, he hit me back. He told me he liked my beats and wanted to do some stuff, we’ve been rocking ever since. Been working on records.
AllHipHop: Yo Gotti’s “I Know” featuring Rich Homie Quan achieved Platinum status this year, how’d that feel?
Trauma Tone: That’s one of my favorite placements. It was dope it went Platinum because it took awhile. We did that record in 2014, it went Platinum this year. I actually got that placement through Rich Homie Quan. At the time, I was working with him heavy. He called me one weekend when they had the BET Hip Hop awards in Atlanta. He said “man I got a session with Yo Gotti, send me some beats.” Next thing I know, Gotti’s label reached out to me. They’re saying they got a song I produced with him and Rich Homie Quan and it made on the album. I was pretty hyped because I was still working a regular job at that time. [laughs] I’d quit when I found out.
AllHipHop: What job were you working?
Trauma Tone: I was working for my uncle, it was a fried chicken spot. When I found out, my uncle was actually there. I was working with him, told him “stuff’s starting to pick up on the music, I think I’ma have to put my notice in and slide out.” He was cool with it because he understood what I was doing.
AllHipHop: How did you land in with Bino Rideaux?
Trauma Tone: I’d met Bino when I went to LA for the GRAMMY awards, we met through his manager. His manager had reached out that they wanted to do some stuff a month before. I ended up going out there, knocked out a bunch of records. We made 3 that night, got a few more that’s dropping soon.
AllHipHop: 3 things you need in the studio?
Trauma Tone: Besides my laptop, water, some candy, and Voodoo chips. Good vibes honestly, I don’t need too much in the studio.
AllHipHop: What can we expect next music-wise?
Trauma Tone: Me and Money Man have been working on some stuff, hopefully we’ll get another project out soon. A joint project. I’ve been working with Curren$y, which is dope because he’s my favorite rapper. We’ve got 7 songs in so far, but we’re trying to get a little EP together for the people.
AllHipHop: Goals for yourself at this point of your career?
Trauma Tone: Being the best producer I can be, take this s### to the level of the producers I aspire to be. I want to be considered one of the greatest, especially in my time. Invest in other things outside of music too.