Studio Session: Drumma Boy Motivates the Children
Gucci Mane's return from prison has everybody in the music world stalking his next move. With all the new music he's been dropping left and right, a spotlight has been placed on the producers that Guwop tapped to record fresh out of prison. Enter Drumma Boy, who produced the rapper's recent release "All My Children."
The 32-year-old beatmaker's catalog speaks volumes, not to mention his deep history with La Flare. So, it was only right that the former frequent collaborators reunited to craft up more career-defining material. As the producer behind Jeezy's rise to fame, most of Gucci's highly acclaimed projects and one of the most influential engineers out of the south period, Drumma has gifted the culture with some of its greatest works.
Drumma made his first beat at the age of 12, which set his production dreams in motion. The Memphis native knew his destiny pretty early on in life and by the age of 15, he scored his first placement on local radio with Memphis rapper Tela's "Double Dose." Drumma was also very influential in the early days of Yo Gotti's career, producing four tracks on the CMG rapper's debut album, Life, back in 2003.
In 2005, the producer linked up with Jeezy to work on Thug Motivation 101 before connecting with Gucci in 2008, and scoring Birdman's first No. 1 with "Money to Blow" featuring Drake and Lil Wayne in 2009. For nearly two decades, Drumma Boy has remained consistent, gifting rap fans with songs like "White Girl" by Jeezy, "No Hands" by Waka Flocka, Plies' "Shawty" and more recently Migos' "Look at My Dab" and Gucci Mane's "All My Children."
XXL caught up with Drumma Boy to talk about his career, getting started in the game and his involvement on Gucci Mane's upcoming album, Everybody Looking.
XXL: When did you first discover your love for music and producing?
Drumma Boy: I found this group that was from the country, like super suburbs. I put out a CD on them and we sold it. Then we put together our own show. We did this show at Wilmington Sports Collective in Memphis and it was like when I was 14 and it was about 500 people capacity that could fit in the club. We sold it completely out. So it’s like 500 people packed into this little room and the group is about to perform and when they played the first song, the whole room knew the words and was like reciting word for word and moving to the beats. It was like, “Damn, I produced this!”
And right then when I saw that many people, right then when I saw I could just push play and control a whole room full of people, I knew I was the shit. At 14, I knew beats was going to be my destiny. I was playing varsity basketball and had dreams of making it to NBA, but I used that as my backup, so I always had a backup plan. Okay, so at least I can make it to college, at least I can get a college scholarship playing ball, which I had scholarships at University of Memphis, University of Arkansas, Western Kentucky and various locations. Fortunately, for me, music was super popping and I was making so much money that I didn’t want to boil down my time playing for a coach and I’m not getting paid to play for it. So, at the end of the day, I had to make a business decision, and at the age of 14, I kind of knew what was what.
When did you make your first beat? Do you remember the year and what age you were?
I was making beats at 12, I definitely made my first beats at 12 with my older brother. He sold a couple beats we did together for a group called The Loot Chasers. I was doing stuff, local acts around the city of Memphis and I started doing my beats to the warmups of the basketball games. So, now the cheerleaders, now the pom pom squad, everybody getting familiar with my music.
Any cheerleading squads that were coming to any our home games because we had the warmups and we played my beats at all the home games. So like any time other cheerleaders would come or whatever everybody was getting familiar and then they would shout me out. I was just getting super popular through the beats plus the basketball. It was kind of like a one-two, it was just like, of course it was a hobby at first, I’m making beats because I just loved to do it.
So I was really giving my beats away and bumped into Yo Gotti and he actually paid me for the beats. So, once I started getting paid it was really like a rap. And I still wanted to play basketball because I loved to do it, so I m not going to stop doing something just because one thing making me money. It’s just like I love to swim, I love to read, I love to eat ice cream, I still do all of the things that I love to do.
When did you know that your career was taking off? What moment in time was it that you realized things were getting bigger than the norm?
I would say when I got my first platinum plaque and to put my first plaque on the wall. I’ve seen so many plaques and so many accomplishments and awards hanging up on the wall from so many other producers. For me to finally get my own and it went triple platinum, “Standing Ovation,” Thug Motivation 101 it was one of the biggest albums to come out of the South.
One of the most classic albums that I can listen to from top to bottom, and to be on it--Jeezy’s buzz, I don’t think nobody came out as big as Jeezy from the south. It was just an honor, a privilege and a huge accomplishment to myself. And just how much work that I got from that one project, everybody called me from that one project. It was just meant to be. This right here ignited everything, all of the singles -- “Shawty,” “White Girl,” “Put On,” “Umma Do Me,” Tip’s “What Up, What’s Haapnin,” Rick Ross' “Here I Am” featuring Nelly and Avery Storm -- like all of those records spurred because everybody looked up to Jeezy. Everybody wanted the producers that were producing for Jeezy. So it was just that simple, like whoever on this album, y’all are the niggas poppin', period.
Would you agree with me in saying that you, over the course of your career, have become one of the most predominant producers to come out of the South?
I would definitely say that. I am definitely one of the most dominant in my generation. I looked up to guys like Mannie Fresh, Jazzy Pha, and DJ Toomp; those are like my top threee from the South who we were looking up to when we were little ones. We also looked up to Three 6 Mafia, Juicy J; all of them were making beats and doing it way before us.
I considered myself one of the most dominant producers in my generation. Who’s done what I’ve done and as consistent? I’ve been on the radio since ‘07 hanging out, we are two years away from 10 years straight on the radio. There aren’t too many producers that can say that.
Being one of the most predominant producers out of the South, it only makes sense for Gucci to link up with you. How would you explain your relationship with Gucci?
I mean Gucci know my phone by heart. So everybody keep talking about this clone bullshit [uses a mocking voice], “Gucci a clone,” and all of this. I can clear the water right now. As soon as Gucci got out, he called my phone. I covered his phone number up, but I showed you the proof on Instagram when I had my finger over the number and showed you Gucci just called me up.
So, I don’t think no clone going to have certain information in his brain and just know some shit off the top of his dome. Like dude been working out, and he looked at it just like Boosie looked at it. [He thought], If I get out, this could be my last chance. So, I don’t have time bullshit. I don’t have time to play. I don’t have time to fuck around. I already missed a lot of money. When I get out this time, I’m focused. And dude got out and he hit me, he hit Zaytoven, he hit Sean, the engineer, he hit Auntie Debra, Waka. He hit all of his go-to people, like you should. And we delivered because we don’t have time to play.
He know I got a folder waiting on him, 20 beats, 30 beats, I had fucking 1,000 beats ready for Gucci. I sent him one beat, that’s all that’s needed, one beat, I’m not going to overload this nigga. Do this one, and it’s the single, “All My Children.” I’m a person when you call me, I deliver, period. It’s not about being friends, yeah that’s nigga, that’s my homie, we rock, all of that. But, he didn’t have too much time to talk and I didn’t either. It comes down to the business and what you’re going to deliver. At the end of the day, after the jokes, after the laughter, after the playing; it’s about pressing play. What your shit sound like?
How would you describe the record "All My Children"? What are your thoughts on it?
It’s an expression, it’s a feeling. This is how [Gucci] feel. [His thoughts are], Since I’ve been locked up, I feel like a lot of things and people have spurred since I’ve been gone. So, now I’m home and I’m ready. And I feel the same way, it’s a lot of producers that my children. They tell me that they started their career because of me. That means I gave them life, that means I gave them birth.
That means there’s something that I did to motivate them to even want to be like me. It’s millions of producers who are my children. I have millions of children. I feel the same way that Gucci do. It’s almost like a Michael Jackson and moonwalking type of thing, I started this trap sound. People forget I’m an originator of trap. There isn’t no replicated nothing in Drumma Boy. Drumma Boy is one of the originators of trap. We come from Three 6 Mafia and 808s and hard big booms, that real mafia shit. I merged it with orchestra. I merged it with the blues. I merged it with country. I merged it rock and roll. I merged it with anything that I could get my hands on. And we created that so it’s just like Michael Jackson and the moonwalking. If you have a whole mass of people who want to do the moonwalk just because you do the moonwalk so well, that’s flattering. That’s a whole nation that I birthed.
Like when I was coming up, people wanted to play basketball and get into the NBA, but when I started making beats, everybody who came under me, they wanted to make beats. They looked at beats as an outlet, it’s a whole new movement now. Now every kid in America want to make beats as an outlet, because they see what I did, they used me as an example. That’s why I go so hard to continue to showcase such a good example. There isn’t any disrespect, or no diss. It’s just like I got children for real, and if you got children, what do you do with them? You raise them. So that’s why I’m so hands on with producers and so into the producers and giving cats knowledge.
That’s why me and Zaytoven do classes so you can come learn this and come learn that. I wish there were classes when I was coming up. So there isn’t no disrespect like that, it's just I’m an OG for real and I’m raising cats because I got the knowledge, I know what to do, I know how to be successful. So the ones worthy, then we might be able to give a little information but to the ones who don’t know how to pay homage, then guess what? They might fall on their face a couple of times.
Do you have any input on Gucci’s new album coming out? With "All My Children," can we expect more of you and Gucci?
It was last minute for me and Gucci, so Gucci wanted to definitely put his hands on all of the producers that he could. “All My Children" is the only song produced by me on the album, but definitely stay tuned. He has a plethora of music from me now, and I’m sure he’s working on a follow-up album as well as another album. This album right here is going to be crazy.
This album I think is going to be a best of the beats album, like all of the best beats on one album because he put one from Drama, a couple from Zay, a couple from over here, a couple from over here. You don’t know what to expect and it’s so colorful even when you see the artwork, it’s just like wow. Gucci is in the zone, he’s artistic, he’s flavorful, he’s energetic, and he’s in a complete cloud 9. I’m looking forward to the album, can’t wait to push play and put it on repeat. Can’t say too much, but definitely stay tuned. The boy going in.
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