Drumma Boy has quietly been heating up streets and iPods for some time now.
The man behind hits from artists like Young Jeezy (“Lose My Mind,” “Put On”), Waka Flocka (“No Hands”), Wiz Khalifa (“Phone Numbers”), 2 Chainz (“Spend It”), DJ Drama (“Oh My”), T.I. (“What Up. What’s Haapnin’”) and plenty more is continuing to build his brand. The Memphis native dropped his mixtape, The Birth of D-Boy Fresh, late this summer, and is currently cooking up more heat for everyone from Tip to Ludacris to Big Boi.
The beatsmith spoke with XXL about his rapping background, getting in the studio with the recently-released T.I., and his responsibilities as a producer. —Adam Fleischer
XXLMag.com: Things seem to have been going well recently. “No Hands” just won a BET Award. “Oh My” and the remix are both going strong.
Drumma Boy: We got a fan base that’s following me and waiting on me to drop my next record. It’s fun. It’s definitely a great opportunity. We working with Luda. We working with Big Boi. Getting with the other acts in Atlanta that I’ve been missing. Like Luda, like OutKast, like Goodie Mob. And also working on the R&B stuff. A lot of people don’t know I’m on Musiq Soulchild’s album. Also on Jagged Edge’s new album titled Remedy, I did something on there.
How do you approach an R&B record differently than a rap one?
More musical. More chord progressions. Bridges. Bigger strings. Just a bigger feel, more emotion. Rappers, I give more synth, more bounce. It just depends. A lot of times, you can mix the two and make a record that I call a unisex record, where they go both ways.
How did “Oh My” come about? Were you with DJ Drama? Or did you have anyone in mind to get on the record?
When I made the track, I just made the track. All of the time, really, I just make what I feel and make what comes out of my head, and I express. That’s what Drumma Boy is: the musical side of me. I didn’t know it was gonna be “Put On” when I made it. I didn’t know it was gonna be “Oh My” when I made it. I just played a couple beats for him, and that’s the one that he suggested. I gave him the idea, you should put something on there, “Oh my…” And Roscoe did his thing and wrote the hook.
In terms of Luda and Big Boi, what’s going on with them?
Big Boi is reaching out. We talking on the phone, seeing each other out. He gave me a drop [on my mixtape]. A lot of people didn’t know I was rapping on that. That, to me, was the start of the movement of unification through my city of Memphis. I wanted to display a lot of the artists I had relationships with through this record. I had a song with Yo Gotti, I got a song where Rick Ross is ad-libbing on the intro for my raps. It was an exemplification for what the movement was coming out of Memphis. It wasn’t no disrespect to VH1, but it just felt like when they honored the South and didn’t mention Memphis [at the Hip-Hop Honors], we had a lot to do with a lot of the hip-hop of the South. 8Ball and MJG, Three 6 Mafia. They been had gold and platinum albums. These dudes won Oscars off some hip-hop shit that everybody thought would never be that big. We motivating people in the South.
Was this tape the first time you rapped?
I was rapping before I was making beats. Beats was juts a hustle. Beats is 10% of my mind, and I already got the world on lock with just that. It’s 90% business, 10% music. So, definitely, speaking more—vocally, rap-wise—is what you’re gonna hear more. More interviews. And that’s because more people are in tune with the story.
How has it been working with T.I. again?
He reached out a couple times before he got out, just letting me know he appreciate me holding it down. He brought me in the first time when I went to his crib for the Paper Trail album. That was the first time when he got released. I was one of the first visitors to go to his crib. He called me King. Which was crazy, I was like, Damn, this the King calling me the King. Holding certain cats down with my music, people see that and people understand that.
On the T.I. songs that you gave him for Paper Trail, like “You Ain’t Missin Nothing” and “My Life Your Entertainment,” he’s opening up and being extra honest.
What the best producers do best is read the emotions and understand how to make a marriage of the emotions from the music to the vocal. And that’s what we’ve been able to do. That’s one excitement as a producer: working with an artist you know you love working with and then hearing the music, hearing the outcome of what they do with your work. It’s almost like going and getting your picture done by a famous painter, and then you have to leave while he finishes it. And you have to leave like, I can’t wait to see. I like challenging rappers to rap on a certain pattern. If you not challenging an artist—I wanna make a muthafucka have to sit and write. You gotta understand your clients. Some people wanna drive and pick it up, some people want it dropped off.