This month's issue focuses on love in many forms. When we talked with music producer, rapper, composer, philanthropist and businessman Drumma Boy, it was clear that he has a love for music, fashion and the ability to bring people together. We chatted with him about how his life started infusing with diversity in music, the important role that producers play in Artist Development, his upcoming projects with Too $hort, Musiq Soulchild, his musical work with the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies, his business in Atlanta and his must hav3s that you will find in his studio if you're ever working with him.
ATHLEISURE MAG: Clearly music heritage runs in your family. What was it like to be infused with such insights and talents growing up?
DRUMMA BOY: Coming from my mom, she used to always tell me stories about plugging the record album into the speaker and playing Isaac Hayes and all of that. I was young, but from her doing that, I would have these dreams of hearing music and when you would put your hands over your ears it sounds like this beautiful sound. Like you know it’s coming from somewhere, but you don’t know where! So in real life, even right now – there is a beat swimming in my ears. There is music in my ear and I have to transfer that to actuality which is what the recording process, beat making and all of that is. And to me, that’s the writing of music.
That’s the best way that I can understand Beethoven. By losing your hearing, you can still hear. Your brain can hear. Even if I muted my ears or covered them where I couldn’t hear anything – I could still hear the music. That process transfers into writing music.
AM: What was the moment that you realized that producing was going to be the way that you worked musically?
DB: That inspiration came from my brother, Ensayne Wayne who was older than me and was recently shot and killed on Feb 10, 2018. I remember being 12 or 14 and he took me into the studio with him and he was working with Three 6 Mafia and all of these different artists through Memphis. Just going through all of these different studios was amazing. I remember that the first studio I went into, it was like I was in a spaceship. I was like, “man all of these lights!” I knew that if I could transfer the orchestral knowledge and the ability to write, compose and to arrange and to put that with this Hip Hop – I could have my own sound! That’s how I came into the game making beats.
I was motivated by Ensayne Wayne, Jazze Pha, and a lot of the legendary cats that were doing it at that time.
AM: How would you define your style?
DB: I call it a pot of gumbo, there are so many different styles of the music in it. Mama would make the best from the scraps. She had some leftover chicken, black eyed peas and whatever and cooked it down in one pot and stretched the food out. Like gumbo, my style is a little bit of blues, a little bit of country, a little splash of rhythm and blues, and you have a bit of hip hop and a pinch of orchestra. Just all of these genres of music like jazz, bluegrass, funk, oldies but goodies. I loved Isaac Hayes, operas and orchestras as well as plays and then I could run out into the street and hear Three 6 Mafia. Then I could go downtown to hear the blues like BB King. There was so much history musically that it was just destined.
AM: What artists and groups have inspired you beyond a lot of those that you have mentioned? Do you get inspiration from EDM artists?
DB: Yeah I mean, I always respected the DJ. I DJ’d parties when I was coming up and I would do things here and there. As a DJ, it’s about spreading good energy because people just want to have a good time, dance and have fun. As a DJ, when you have that repertoire and that ear for what people really want to hear you can infuse that energy. So for me David Guetta, Tiesto, Flosstradamus.
When I met Flosstradamus in Atlanta, they told me that I needed to get in on EDM and doing my first song Hulk Smash Remix which hit a million streams on Spotify – it’s a blessing to get that genuine love with independents and pushing heavy on that party side. When I first released Hulk Smash Remix, Dan Bilzerian picked up the record and put it behind one of his videos and I was like, “damn this is my first time even playing around with EDM!” It was just mad love!
AM: What’s involved in producing? How do you work with your artists to your vision and the artists’ vision come together in a true collaboration?
DB: Well when I say produce music, I mean it starts with the vibe, the music and the energy of the room. Sometimes the artist may be pacing back and forth even when the music starts playing. Then we might come and bring in more energy like singing a vibe or coming up with concepts with adding in words here or there. Throw a bar or two in there. I mean producing – I look at it like I’m in therapy. The artist may not be in the mood to do the job in a certain way. I’m telling them that we need to go about it in this way or that because that is what the record label is saying. I’m telling them that they need to do something uptempo, but they may have come out of the hood and they’re about Trap. T hey may have negativity going on in their lives, they’re frowning, frustrated, they’re on the phone arguing and I’m like, “hey put the phone down – let’s get some drinks, we might have to go to the strip club, or whatever to get your mind off of that so that we can take the good energy and go back to the studio.
So now it’s been 7 hours, but it comes down to that one moment that you can capture. As a producer, we capture moments and when that artists gets into that rhythm – we capture that. That will be the best presentation that will be the best presentation that you record and then you will study that to see that it’s a hit or a smash and as you perform, it’s a completely different ballgame when game when you do that. As a producer, we’re really about artist development, enhancement, choreography, concept, theme, messages, stories etc and really giving that dedication to a successful artist.
AM: What artists are you working with that are coming out this year that you’re really excited to work with?
DB: Right now, we’re heavily working with my label Drum Squad Records. We just signed an artist Kdogg, 17 out of Memphis. He just comes from the mud, that bottom and you can just hear his struggle in his music. We released his single on Apple Music that you can download now called No Turning Back. We’re also working with Scott King a very cool artist out of Atlanta whose voice is his message. Also go get The Pimp a Too $hort Album that I just did 2 tracks on: Ain’t My Girlfriend and Tables. There are so many different artists it’s hard to say. I just went in with Kevin Gates. We’re working on DJ Drama’s new album – there’s no telling who he will drop on a track. He might pull an artist from Toronto, another from NY and an artist from the West Coast. I just got off the phone with Jeezy, he’s working on some exclusive things so I’m definitely excited about that as well. I’m all over the place!
There are so many great songs I’m working on with songwriters, I’m working on 2-3 albums and I’m about to drop my album, My Brother’s Keeper – another rap project that gives more details into my family and how we plan to continue the legacy of my brother. It will drop on 2-23 which is Insane Wayne Day in the city of Memphis. I’m also executive producing Musiq Soulchild. When I say that it has been some of the most amazing music I have made in my life! I’m very excited about that as well!
AM: Who have you yet to work with that you would like to work with?
DB: I’d say John Legend. I’ve always wanted to work with him and I’m a real jazz and R&B hip cat. I haven’t had the opportunity to really showcase my expertise in that world. Beyonce would be another one as well. Rhianna is also in there too!
AM: We know that you work with the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies. How did this come about and how do you approach the projects that you create with them season to season?
DB: Man with the Memphis Grizzlies they just wanted energy and me and DJ Paul did a rap project collaboration back and forth called Clash of the Titans and we did a song called We Don’t Bluff, which is the message behind Memphis. We don’t take no shit and it was just an amazing run for the city and the people don’t understand how big the Grizzlies are for our youth in our community because there aren’t too many things to do. They took Liberty Land which is an amusement park, we don’t have any water parks, not too many community centers or things of that nature. So there’s not a lot of things to do for the youth and one of those things is to go to a Memphis Grizzlies game. So to be able to create a record like We Don’t Bluff, to sit floorside with them and it’s been a 3-4 year process – it’s been a blessing. To be able to support them and to just believe and to share that message that someone can get it done is great.
AM: We also know that you have worked with Grey Goose – how did that come about?
DB: We have a lot of chemistry and a lot of love. They reached out and wanted to show some love so although it’s not an official deal, they respect what I do and appreciate it. It’s been a relationship that continues to expand and I am open to future opportunities with them as well? It’s a great non exclusive relationship.
AM: What is the House of Fresh, what do you carry there and how did it come about?
DB: The House of Fresh – well one of my first jobs when I was 14/15 was selling shoes and they put me in the Com bat Zone which was where the cheap and ugly shoes were. Nobody wanted to buy those $9.99 shoes and the retailer put you there first because they felt if you could do well there, then you could make it to the Shoe Pit. Everybody wants to buy the Jordans and other hot shoes that are in that area.
In a week, I probably sold the most $9.99 shoes because I was good at selling in the Combat Zone. So they saw that and let me go to the Shoe Pit. Within a month, I was the number 1 sales person. You got a $500 bonus every time you came in as the #1 sales person. That incentive made me push for it. I did it by selling accessories with them. You came in for shoes, but I said let’s dress that up and I let them know about sneaker cleaners, hats, etc. When you come into the store expecting to spend $200, you leave spending $500 or $700.
That energy, I liked it and I liked making people happy. Touching people through music has always been my things, but fashion is also the other. I started selling my own clothes because people wanted what I was wearing. When you look at my pictures on Google, you’ll see me in Drumma Squad gear. My own custom, extra large waist and oversized clothes. We would have it all over and people would buy it. I used to sell it out of my trunk and one day I thought what could I do with the relationships that I had with these clothing labels? So many of the lines would send me free packages. I knew I was bigger than a sales rack and a walking billboard. I looked at how I could expand the relationship and I saw a location and said if I can get it, then that's it. House of Fresh is an actual house that is on a busy street in the middle of Midtown Atlanta with a lot of walking traffic. I called Reebok, this one and that one and they said that they would send their shoe reps in. My music relationships with Ludacris, 2 Chainz played well for love and support as well.
I’m also excited that we’re opening Pre-Game, a Bar, Grill and Lounge. It’s on 899 Martin Luther King Jr Dr SW in Atlanta. It’s right down the street from the Mercedes Benz and we plan on being open right before the Super Bowl.
AM: What are three key things that you truly believe in in terms of the success of your career?
DB: I believe in the importance of watering relationships. You get so many contacts, but it’s important to circle back from time to time to ask them how they are doing. I love to share the message of loving practice. Loving to get up every day and to practice - whatever it is that you want to do and enjoy that process. It’s the ultimate confidence builder. I also believe in having multiple revenue streams of income. I feel that these things have been instrumental in my success.
AM: Your hands are in so many pots, how do you take time for yourself?
DB: Well it’s weird. The music saves me. I’m up every morning 8/8:30am and I start out with breakfast and getting the proper nutrients, fruits and of that nature and I just think/brainstorm on what I want to accomplish for the day. I start getting phone calls and I attack the priorities. I zoom in on the top things that I have to do and I have that schedule. Usually House of Fresh, Pre-Game Lounge and everything that I have to do business wise is orchestrated between 9am - 2:30pm. By 2:30/3pm I’m all studio. I’m not so much on the phone so people can just leave a message and I’m there until 2:30/3am. I come home, I get about 3-4 hours of sleep and then repeat. It’s a dedicated process, but I find it very effective.
AM: What are must hav3s that you always have in the studio when you’re working?
DB: I would say company is one thing
that you have to confirm – ladies in particular – to know when you have a hit. It’s when they move or not period point blank. If someone says, “ooo I like this.” You know we have a hit. When you get a lot of chatter and no one is paying attention, then that just confirms that I need to go to the next beat. Another thing is candles. We’ve been supporting a brand, 1122 Candles for the simple fact that they’re natural and soy – there are no chemicals when they burn. They also have a great scent! My third thing is the fun – I have to have fun. That’s one thing I do. I’ll do something silly or just try something out for no reason and that turns out into something incredible.
AM: In Atlanta, where can we find you grabbing a cocktail/meal, working out and shopping?
DB: I work out at Heat Gym. I work out with my trainer shout out to Mr Shut Up and Train on Instagram. As far as grabbing a meal you may catch me at the STK or at Paschal’s. It’s a really well known Southern wine and dine spot. For shopping, you will find me at Phipps Plaza as I love that it’s exclusive and you can get right to the point and get out without being stopped by too many people. Every now and then I might run into Lenox Square to stop by Zara and see what they’ve got.
PHOTOS COURTESY | Drumma Boy