Droop-E, “Sade’s Lyrics is Like Rap. It’s Real Sh#t You Can Feel.”
At the tail end of September, E-40’s son, 22-year-old rapper/producer Earl “Droop-E” Stevens, Jr., dropped a short mixtape titled BLVCK Diamond Life. Available on his website, droop-e.com, the tape featured only eight songs but they went hard. Straying from his typical hard-hitting, hyphy sound, the Yay area beatsmith used music icon Sade’s signature soulful, sexy sounds to create a mellowed out backdrop for heads to nod to, while also paying homage to the beloved multi-Grammy award winning singer. (Even the cover art displays a clever nod to the British songstress’s 1984 debut, Diamond Life). XXLMag.com recently chopped it up with the Sick Wid It rep to find out the inspiration behind the project, his eclectic taste in music and the upcoming collaborations he has in the works with 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg. Black star keep shinnin’…
XXLMag.com: How did the whole concept for BLVCK Diamond Life come about?
Droop-E: I feel like the idea was from God; it came together so perfectly. So basically Sade has always been my favorite band/artist period and everybody knows that so at the end of the day, you know, I always had all of these beats that I already flipped of hers, and I had this idea, ’cause her first album is called Diamond Life. And I don’t know if you know about Diamond Supply Company—they’re a clothing line out of California—and their whole company is based off of Sade in the first place; that’s where they got the idea [for the brand]… And there’s this new [clothing] company called BLVCK SCVLE, they been rocking for the last couple years and they from the Bay, too. So I’m thinking, Man, throw them both together. And they ended up being cool anyway, so the whole thing made sense for us all to collaborate.
When did you start working on the actual music?
I started working on it like December of last year; took me about nine months to really finish it. Even though it’s only eight songs, people don’t know how much work I put into this. I had a lot of songs that I kept off of the project, [’cause] I’m thinkin’ about doing a BLVCK Diamond Life 2.
Rappers have been sampling Sade for a long time. 2Pac, Krayzie Bone, Curren$y, MF Doom… and Drake’s been talking about wanting to do a song with her. Why do you think rappers and producers love Sade so much? What’s the appeal?
I’ma tell you why. You know, first off, the obvious [is] her voice; the sexiness and the smoothness of the tracks; but on top of that, her lyrics is like rap. It’s all real shit that you can feel. If you look at her lyrics she gasses harder than rappers. She talks about some real shit in her songs. So I guess that’s why, at least for me. That’s why her influence was big ’cause it’s real soul, it ain’t no pop, but it’s popular.
What’s your personal favorite Sade songs?
The whole Love Deluxe album—period. I think it would have to be “No Ordinary Love,” ’cause when that Love Deluxe album came out, it was in ’92, I was four. So I was always hearing it on the radio. It’s more of a nostalgia thing more than anything. If you notice on the project, I didn’t sample any songs except from the first four albums, nothing after ’92. I didn’t sample [her] new [LP] Soldier of Love and I didn’t sample Lover’s Rock.
So what’s the reaction of the tape been so far. Has everyone on your Twitter account been showin’ love?
Yeah, it’s been kinda crazy. It’s been real positive. Pretty much 90 percent of the feedback has been an A-plus. The only complaint has been the length of the album, which is a good thing—they wanna hear more.
What projects are you working on now, production wise, besides your ongoing stuff with Sick Wid it?
I’m working on something for Snoop right now, 50, Jay Rock, David Banner, but really right now my main thing is Sick Wid It. I executive produced my pop’s last double album [Revenue Retrievin’: Day Shift and Revenue Retrievin’: Night Shift] and now we’re going back in on this new one. So that’s really my main thing right now, working on his album.
So as I’m sure you’re aware, all of the critics praised you for the way you flipped that Bjork sample on E-40’s “Spend the Night.” Where did that come from ‘cause E-40 over a Bjork sample is so random.
I listen to a lot of different music. I been listening to Bjork. With that album that I sampled off of [Medulla], at the time I was just listening to the album, period. It’s an all-vocal album. A lot of people can’t really stomach it, it’s just all vocals. Anyway I flipped it, it came out kinda stupid, I let him hear it, we got the word back from the publishing clearing and they were like, “Bjork, she does not clear samples as long as I been working here she does not respond in a timely manner.” That’s what they sent us, the email from the publishing house. Two weeks later we get a call back. “Yeah, she loves the song, she’s full steam ahead, whatever you want to do it’s good.”
Yeah, it was crazy. It was a blessing, there was a lot of love on that record.
So are you gonna use another Bjork sample? Since you know she’s a fan now?
Man, I don’t know. I mean really, my next thing is, to be honest, when I start working on my studio album, I wanna work with her. I got a few people on my list I wanna work with, hopefully, God willing, I probably will. I flipped a few other beats from her to be honest.
So who’s on that list besides Sade and Bjork?
Portishead, I’d like to collab with them on some tracks. This group called Adult out of Detroit, I’d like to work with them. And then just OGs. That’s just as far as the crazy list, but there’s a lot more people I’d like to work with on a hip-hop side, but we’ll see. Everything I’m doing is just genuine. If you notice the features I put on BLVCK Diamond Life those are people I really know, I’ve known for years…I’m a genuine person. So the people I wanna work with, I want them to wanna work with me, too. I want it to be a mutual respect. I got this Pablo Picasso complex, where I always strive to be original and do something different. So we’ll see how that works out.
So what about these tracks that you did with Snoop and 50?
Really their A&Rs reached out ’cause I’ve known Snoop since I was a kid. Him and pops have been friends, so I’ve connected with the A&R and Snoop been telling me to send some tracks. And with 50, my pops and 50 linked up recently, too. And Yayo had told 50 about my beats too ’cause I gave Yayo a beat CD a long time ago. So he told him about my beats.
So what’s up next for you?
Right now, just goin’ hard on the production. I fee like I’m glad I got to put this album out so people could see the different type of productions I could do. I’m known more for the up-tempo, the hard music. So this is my next thing too, building as a producer and then working on this next solo. —Jesse Gissen