A harsh reality among producers is that you can make a thousand beats and still have no one hear you. A lot of your favorite beatmakers started out as rappers who decided to make their own music, but the desire to be heard never died. Multiplatinum, Grammy-Nominated producer Drumma Boy has left more heat in his wake than Ghostrider but for whatever reason hasn’t hit that household name status with some.
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In this new interview with Nodfactor (he was one of our first when we launched four years ago) the Drum Squad founder breaks down the realities of earning respect for both his city of Memphis and for the producer looking to make a name.
NODFACTOR: How has the industry changed since we last spoke in 2008? What have you learned as a producer in the last 4 years?
Drumma Boy: There’s so many different things. The music game is always on a changing spiral. Even now with car systems, with iPods, iPhones, anything without the apple iTunes library. You got a world of mp3′s, uploads and downloads and what have you. It’s also becoming a world of custom playlists. You got cars coming with hard drives where you can just load your music and just play what you wanna play. You got cars with the auxilliary cable and USB. CDs are on the way out, thats one things i’ve been learning and doing a lot of distribution through usb. So instead of me pressing up CDs now, I’m pressing up usb drives, 20,000 copies, 30,000 copies and they load straight up to people’s cars, computers, iPads, what have you, PCs, Mac. It’s a custom world, everything is customization. That’s been one of the biggest changes that I have recognized and that I’m capitalizing on.
Q: Has it changed your approach to how you make music at all? Or is the art still the same just the distribution…
A: The change of making music is still the technology aspect. We all started making beats on analog and outboard ear and actual MPC’s and actual Keyboards. But now you got software like Logic, ProTools, Reason, virtual instruments. and a lot of the things used are computer based. I’ve been using a mix, a mesh of the best of both worlds, between digital and analog and doing my thing. It’s still keeping a lot of the relationship that I had with all of my outboard like the MPC, certain Roland keyboards and what not. But I’m mixing the analog with the digital, with the ProTools and virtual instruments.
Q: Have you used the iPad or any tablets to make beats yet?
A: Yeah. I got the sequencer on the iPad which is kinda cool. It’s more of a fun, you bored play around, mix a couple beats. The beats I make I can see myself using for like music for cartoons or music for skits. I call it “Lolly-gag” music. Music for play.
Q: You mentioned cartoons, have you dove into other revenue streams outside of albums? Have you been doing scores and movies, video games…
A: Definitely, I did a movie score for a movie called “Chapters” it was an independent film that we did and we launch it through Drum Squad Films. I also just finished completing a documentary with our film department Drum Squad Films and the producer of that is Kay Kutta aka real name Sean Williams. But its’ a documentary called “Know your History”, on the city of Memphis, the structure of Memphis, the way the city was built. The first black millionaire out of the United States came out of Memphis Robert A Church.
It just shows the structure of where we come from dating back to the early 1800′s. It’s definitely a educational wake up for a lot of people who are from Memphis and even those who aren’t, the out of-towners and people across the world. Everybody always finds Memphis interesting, which is weird because I go to LA, I go to London or wherever I go and I say I’m from Memphis people say “Really” “Interesting”. And you wonder if it is a good thing or bad thing but some people mention Elvis Presley, some wrestling fans mention Jerry Lawler, some people mention Elise Neale, if you a actress or actor. You know we known for different things. Some gospel fans mention Yolanda Adams or Kirk Whalum and so and so fourth. Some soul fans mentions Isaac Hayes, Al Green you know when we say Memphis. We’re known all around the spectrum. And of course the hip hop fans mention Playa Fly, Three 6 Mafia. You know all of these things. [BUT] The world didn’t know the first black millionaire came from Memphis. The world didn’t know we been getting money, we’ve been a rich source for young blacks in the south. I just don’t think it’s been exemplified. You see “First 48″ and you think we all about killing and robbing and stealing. And you listen to the majority of hip-hop music that comes out and you think we’re all about drug dealing and so on and so fourth. I just try to motivate and encourage and change the status of where we stand in Memphis.
VH1 Hip Hop honored the South and didn’t say shit about Memphis. And it’s crazy. We got an Oscar on music for “Hustle and Flow”, who the fuck else has an Oscar in hip hop? Three6 Mafia were one of the first hip hop artists from the south to go Platinum and Gold. We were the creators of Crunk. Lil Jon could tell you that. Lil Jon is a friend of mine, homie, he be telling me I’m holding it down for Memphis and keep doing what you doin bruh. For us not to get recognized at the VH1 Hip Hop Honors was like a smack in the face from whoever drop my mixtapes, from whoever took my CDs. Thats like the fuel for the fire. You wanna overlook us overlook our city and we been doing all this. 8ball and MJG was getting platinum albums out of Houston before Paul Wall, Slim Thug. No disrespect, them my dudes, them my niggas. We’ve spoken about this. Houston has said why wasn’t Memphis involved int the topic. You mention Outkast, Luke, all of them have paid their dues and earned the respect they got. But for you to leave out Memphis… We just speaking on it. It’s time to speak on it. Speak on what you stand for. I stand for the city of Memphis and I feel like if we didn’t get recognized then, then we got a lot more work to do. That’s cool. They just didn’t know their history. So we dropped the DVD, documentary on the city of Memphis so Mo’fuckers will know their history.
Q: And its out for people to see now?
Q: So the mixtape ” Welcome II My City 2″ came out March 30th. How did you approach making this one differently from the first one?
A: Uhm, just the sound. It was a certain sound that I wanted to elevate it to and elevate it to a field that’s real dark, full of struggle, full of heartache, full of pain and just reaching towards something because as hard as we work folks just always try to overlook us, always trying to call us the underdogs. Even with the basketball team, the Memphis grizzlies, we swept the #1 seed last year ,San Antonio Spurs and got it to round 2 with the OKC, lost to them in the 7 game series and still really didn’t get much respect. Came back this year, four seeds higher than last year. Last year, we entered the playoffs 8th seed, this year we entered the playoffs 4th seed and it’s still… people like “oh, Memphis ….” it’s always something someone got to say about our success. We just striving to be the household name, city of Memphis.
Q: You’re in the studio with Nelly right now?
A: Yeah I been in the studio with Nelly, I been in the studio with 2 Chainz. I just gotta print and complete some hit music. I’ve been going in a lot lately with Chris Brown, that’s who I have been working a lot with lately and most recently. We just did a record called “Oh Yeah”, he leaked one version of it, but we just got a couple special guest on it. So definitely stay tuned. “Oh Yeah” coming to iTunes soon.
Q: How many songs do you have on the radio right now?
A: Last time I looked at how many songs I have spinning on the radio was at least 20+ and that’s including old records like every now then they’ll play ” White Girl”, they might play “Shawty” , “Money to Blow”, Gorilla Zoe “Lost”. You still see downloads with songs like “Standing Ovation.” People still downloading “The Recession” album. People still spin “Put On” Jeezy. The DJs still spinning’ that, you hear the remix every now and then. A lot of the records are always still in rotation, even DJ Drama’s record “Oh My.” It’s just a blessing to be able to make other people money, to generate success for others, that’s what I get a kick out of. Just generating success for as many people as possible and turning it into revenue.
Q: Who was your photo shoot for today?
A: The photo shoot was for the website. Check out the website, www.Drum-Squad.com. We got the Welcome II my city t-shirts going up in a couple days, I was doing a photo shoot of me in the shirts. They’ll be posted this week. Doing a lot of upgrades to the site, the clothing line, the shirts and prints thats been coming. Looking to move some units soon. We on a mixtape campaign Welcome to my City vol.1 and 2, working on “Welcome to my City 3″ and “Strictly for the Strippers”,”Clash of the Titans” with DJ Paul. Me and him doing an album called “Clash of the Titans.” . It’s gonna be crazy. Adrenaline music.
Q: Are you still on twitter?
Q: How active are you on there?
A: I’m on there. Probably got about 13000 tweets. 100,000 followers. Im pretty active. I just posted a picture from Instagram from the shoot of me and DJ Smalls.
Q: What equipment are you using now?
A: I’m using MPC 4000, Pro Tools, Logic, a lot of keyboard like Roland, really anything i can get my hands on, that creates and generates sound.
Q: Do you feel your sound has been copied or mimicked?
A: There are definitely imitations. But the imitation is flattery for me. For me not to be looked up to, for me not try and be repeated or try to be duplicated , just means I know I’m doing something right. Like when people saw Michael Jackson do the moonwalk for the first time, there are still kids doing the moonwalk. That’s what you want. Thats when you know your shit is hot. When you see Jordan come out with a shoe and next you know the whole world wanna wear the fuckin shoe, thats when you know you hot. So when I come out with a certain sound or certain beat or a certain style of producing and the whole world wanna make beats like me, you can type in Drumma Boy type beat and watch how many n*ggas pop up. That lets me know my shit is hot and Imma keep elevating and keep making them niggas keep up. Cuz I’m doing all kinda tricks and I’m starting all kinds of trends. Far as I know, I’m the king of trend, I’m cool, you can do what you wanna do.
Q: Speaking of trends, you’ve been rapping more recently, but that’s not a new thing for you.
A: A lot of people ain’t been paying attention. I been rapping before the beats. I just really wanted to solidify one thing. I was rapping with Rick Ross on Volume 1 of “Welcome to my city”. Rick Ross was ad-libbing me on a record called “Stop and Stir”, the intro record to Volume 1. I ain’t never heard Rick Ross Ad-lib somebody. That’s to say the least. I had Big Boy drop on there, I did a record with Yo Gotti called “Every Chance I get.”
The beats is like a hustle, it’s like 20% of my mind, I make beats in my sleep. And there’s only but so much of your story you can tell through music. You can just imagine what my story is like when you listen to it through sounds but when you hear me say it through my mouth verbally verbatim, it gives you details. “The Birth of D-Boy Fresh” was my first rap mixtape, if you hear what I’m saying on track #2 you hear my life story. If you hear #1 the birth intro you hear my momma and daddy coming in telling the life story , you understand that story would not have been able to be told without the music side and the verbal literature rap side. This interview is rap, I’m rapping to you now I’m just not rhyming with my words. But you’re still understanding better whats in my mind mentally, through my words I chose to speak.
Q: Do you think it’s necessary for producers to rap?
A: If you look at the history, the biggest producers in the game all had to verbally rap and they had to be heard through their own artists. If you look at Ruff Ryders, Swizz Beatz was rapping but he did it through his click Ruff Ryders. Dr. Dre he wouldn’t be rapping if it wasn’t for NWA group, 50, Eminem all that shit. He had to rap to verbally get his point across. Especially with “Chronic”. You look at Neptunes Pharrell, he’s where he’s at because he got his point across verbally. That’s what these dudes do best, is get their point across verbally. Yeah Timberland, Lil Jon. For me to go to the BET awards, we were nominated for BET Club Banger of the year in 2011, which I won. But check this out, for this particular BET awards I only had access to the red carpet. Meaning, Lisa Purcell, which is one of the VP’s of some shit, they only granted me access to the red carpet not tickets to the awards. But I’m nominated for an award so I’m like ‘what the fuck?’ So I see Lisa on the red carpet and I’m like “Hey Lisa what’s up I’m Drumma Boy, out here doing the red carpet I was wondering why we weren’t granted any tickets to the awards, I mean I had a fucking TV show on BET which I won, “Welcome to Dreamland” which I defeated Jazzy Pha.” I been on TV shows and all types of shit on this network BET and thats the love I get. She tells me “Well producers aren’t really recognized like that, like rappers, artists” blah blah. So you can continue the red carpet and then just leave. BITCH WHAT?! IM NOMINATED MOTHAFUCKA. Like you don’t understand what you just said. So I did my red carpet, rocked that shit out like a king. And then I seen my nIgga Rick Ross, seen my other homies, they were like “oh you about to leave?” and I’m like “yeah we ain’t go no tickets” blah blah… They were like “nah come in with me.” So this how it work, a real nigga don’t get where he’s supposed to be anyway. There’s always a Mo’Fucka that wanna keep you from making it to the top, always somebody who hatin’ and they the Mo’Fuckas that be smilin in yo face. They the motherfucks that sent you the invitation for they shit anyway. So when the motherfucka call up the awards for “No Hands” BET Club Banger, guess what? Waka didnt even show up. Guess What?… I got you my nigga and I go on the stage and the first thing i say is ” YEAAAAAH BOOOY” Thats what that means. When i said it n*ggas know I’m in the building.
Follow Drumma Boy on Twitter @DrummaBoyFresh and download is latest music at Drum-Squad.com
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