The Stereotypes Can Thank Hip-Hop for Their 2018 Producer of the Year Grammy Nomination
Being able to see your dreams come to fruition is a definitive moment in hip-hop, especially for a producer looking back at the grueling road they endured to get there. That much can be said for The Stereotypes, the four-man production team who have been nominated for three 2018 Grammy awards.
The Stereotypes—comprised of Ray Romulus, Jeremy Reeves, Jonathan Yip and Ray Charles “Charm” McCullough II—are currently up for Producer of the Year (Non-Classical), Best R&B Song and Song of the Year for their extensive credits on everything from Bruno Mars' "That's What I Like" to Lil Yachty and Stefflon Don's "Better."
Romulus recalls a time when life wasn't so sweet. “Two years ago, I’m at the Grammys with amazing seats ’cause my wife, she’s a publicist and got us some good seats,” Romulus tells XXL. “And we’re broke as hell, ’cause I get a text from Wells Fargo saying ‘There’s no money in your account.’ But she was like, ‘Yo, don’t worry about it. You’ll be back here in a couple of years.’ And I can’t believe it’s literally two years to that day, and we’re nominated.”
The production-writing team is nearly 15 years in the making. Jeremy and Jon both met in their hometown of Sacramento, Calif. around 2003, and, after overhearing Jon discussing record labels, Jeremy decided to shoot his shot. He told Jon about his production skills, which led to the two of them teaming up to work with artists.
Fast forward one year later, and the two of them were sending their artist’s demo to Ray, who prior to The Stereotypes, was an A&R at Def Jam. Romulus was laid off from the label in 2007, but due to the relationship he built with the guys since their initial meeting, he packed up and moved West. There the trio flourished, catching their big break with Danity Kane’s “Damaged,” which they co-wrote and produced. Two years later, Charm joined the gang, and the rest is music history.
XXL caught up with The Stereotypes' Ray Romulus to discuss the group's Grammy nominations and musical collaborations over the years. Read about their days in the booth with Bruno Mars, Kyle, Miguel and more below.
XXL: First off, congrats on your Grammy nominations. You’re up for three. That’s an awesome feat. How did you all find out?
Ray Romulus: We woke up in the morning [and] we just knew that the nominations were gonna come out super early, like 5 something in the morning. I got up, and our manager Larry Wade just texted us and said, “Uh, guys, you really pay attention ’cause the first nomination for Song of the Year came out,” and we’re super excited. Then the R&B one [Best R&B Song] came out, was even more excited. And then I was floored when we heard about the Producer of the Year nomination. I just couldn’t believe that one.
How did you all react to the news?
We had a conference call and there was like 10 seconds of silence. We took that moment in and then we just all kinda went crazy after that. Like, we can’t believe this.
And how is it working with Bruno Mars?
Well our relationship with Bruno spans back over 10 years. He used to be one of our go-to writers, just running through the songwriting circuit of trying to get song placements. Him and Phil Lawrence were a writing team, and we would literally, every day in Jon’s spare bedroom—which was our studio at the time—would just be in there creating, and trying to get placements.
A couple years went by and he did a song with B.o.B, the “Nothing on You,” which he produced and features on, and that came out and that was like the beginning of his solo career.
What’s an interesting story you have with Bruno Mars?
Man, we used to this Stereotypes TV webisode series, and you can actually see how we used to create songs, and it was always a good time. There’s an actual clip where you can see us co-producing the song for Travie McCoy, “We’ll Be Alright.” And you can see us in the booth recording live claps, and it’s me, Bruno and then Phil[ip Lawrence], and we were just clapping our hands [laughs]. You gotta watch it; it’s hilarious.
Which artists are you working with right now?
We currently released a song called “Jungle,” which is us and Pitbull featuring E-40 and Abraham Mateo. It just came out, so we’re really excited about that. We had a great session with Nicky Jam, ’cause we’re out in Miami right now working. And then also kinda focusing on developing a couple acts as well.
"Jungle" is the first time people are seeing you all as artists. Why did you all make that decision?
I mean quite frankly, we’re so used to making records for artists that are signed to different labels, so you got A&Rs coming in and giving us direction—“This is where we kinda wanna go, and blah, blah…”—so we usually have to cater to what they want. And ultimately, that’s what we want to deliver for people, exactly what their vision is and kinda help them with that. But with this, it was like, yo, let's just make something that we love. We wanted to keep the party going, especially after being a part of the Bruno project, and [“Jungle”] was one of the tracks we started making.
And we happened to meet up with Pitbull around the same time, and we played the track for him and asked him to put a verse on this, and that’s exactly what he did. Originally it was just gonna be part of a project that we were gonna do, but Pit was like, “Yo, I would really love this for my Greatest Hits album.” And he’s the big homie, so that’s exactly what we did. We got E-40 on it, we were in Miami taking a meeting with Sony Latin, and they played us Abraham Mateo for the first time. We were like, “Yo, this kid’s voice is incredible.”
So we had an idea for the hook and Abraham was like, “Man, I definitely wanna be a part of this,” and that’s how that song came about. And our Stereotypes project gives us freedom to make music that we love to make.
Do you have a release date for that?
No, there’s no release date. This song is kinda like our launch pad for starting to focus on our artistry.
What was it like working with E-40 on "Jungle"?
Ah, man. Again, another legend. These are guys that we really look up to and opened the door for us to even be able to do what we do. It's an amazing honor and pleasure to work with legends like E-40.
The music video is super funny, too. You have the comedian Renny in there. Were y’all in Miami for that?
Yeah, we were in Miami for that. We’re huge fans of Renny, as well [laughs]. He definitely adds a comic relief to that video.
Are you working with any other hip-hop artists right now?
Yeah, we just worked with SuperDuper Kyle featuring Miguel [on] “Sunshine” that just came out.
What a collab.
We’ve been a fan of Kyle for a minute, back when he even put out his first project. This is like, years ago. And we just always kept in contact and watched his evolution and develop into an amazing artist. We happened to be working with Miguel a week prior to going back in with Kyle, and Miguel threw a hook on the track that you guys are hearing. He was like “Guys, I gotta go,” but we had the hook, so when Kyle came in we immediately thought “I think he gon' mess with this.”
So when we played it, Kyle was like, “Guys, you really know me, ’cause is this is exactly the direction I kinda wanna go,” and jumped in and started working on the verses.
How are Kyle and Miguel in the studio?
See the thing with us, when we work with people, it’s usually amazing energy and chemistry and amazing vibes that you don’t even feel like you’re working. It feels like we’re just kickin' it, you know, just having a good time with music playing in the background. And what you guys are hearing is basically a transcript of what happened in that room. Like, we were just having a good time.
That sounds dope.
Yeah, it doesn’t feel like work, know what I mean?
As a team, you also produced Lil Yachty’s “Better” with Stefflon Don. That’s such an unexpected sound from him. How did that come together?
Yeah, to be honest, that’s the thing I like about Lil Yachty because he’ll pick tracks that you wouldn’t necessarily think he would like or wanna jump on. So we got in the studio with him and played him like, 10 or 15 tracks, and that was one he just went crazy over. And we were kinda shocked, and he really wrote an amazing song to it.
Right. How long did it take for that to come together?
It was pretty quick. From mixing the track and him jumping in, the song was done—at least his part of the song—in a matter of four, five hours. We kinda went, remotely, back and forth, just fixing vocals and editing; stuff like that. But yeah, the creation of the song didn’t take long.
No, we actually didn’t. That’s a song we kinda did remotely. We sent her the track, and Verse Simmonds was one of the co-writers on that song as well—he’s a guy that we work with a lot, and he happened to be in the studio with Iggy and was like, “Ayo, guys, can you send me that track you guys played me a while ago?” So we sent it over to him, they were in the studio vibing out to it, and they sent us back the song. We were like “Oh, this is crazy. We did our edits and that was a basically a remote creation.
And which artists would you like to work with that you haven’t already?
I mean obviously the greats. JAY[-Z], Kanye would be amazing, Big Sean. Anybody that’s great, we’re totally down.
What do you have planned for the new year, as a group?
Just to continue. Continue to keep on filling the gas, and take up every opportunity that is offered to us that we can smash. Just keep the momentum going, honestly.
We’ve had ups and downs, success early. We felt like we were making great music, but you feel a little defeated because sometimes the results are not what you want them to be, But we stayed resilient, we had a bunch of losses together, and we just thank God that we’re at a place where we’re starting to see the fruits of our labor.
And now you’re up for three Grammys.
Now we’re up for three Grammys.
Go Behind the Scenes With Kyle at the 2017 XXL Freshman Cover Shoot