Grammy-winning artist and producer Drumma Boy has worked with some of the brightest names in the rap and hip-hop worlds: Gucci Mane, Ludacris and Outkast, to name a few. But everyone starts their journey somewhere. For Drumma Boy, it began at home where music was woven into the fabric of his formative years. His father was a member of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, his mother was an opera singer and his older brother ultimately became a producer. He first set foot in a studio at 13 and by 15, he and friends would sell out 500-seat local venues. His first song to earn radio airplay was Tela’s 2002 “Tennessee Titans,” which triggered a wave of offers from other artists.
He has worked with a range of talent, but among his most prolific pairings has been his nearly 20-year collaboration with Young Buck. “He was one of the biggest artists in Tennessee when I saw him coming down an escalator in Nashville,” Drumma Boy recalls. “I walked up and gave him one of my CDs—I always carried them with me. He called me two weeks later and I got a track on Back on My Buck Shit Vol. 1. It was so successful that we did Volume 2, which is one of my most classic mix tapes. Our relationship is strong because of good business and [standing by your] word and follow-through.
“Famous or not famous, it’s about making good music,” he asserts. “It’s about pulling out the artist’s story; it’s like a therapeutic process where I ask them questions such as where they’re from or where they’re based. I either get them in the zone or cater to the zone or emotional state that they’re in. I want to go into detail about why they feel a certain way and then express it. The music has to match the artist’s emotion.”
Drumma Boy writes with virtually every artist with whom he works. Indeed, he views it as an essential part of a producer’s job. “People want lyrics, not beats,” he says. “You could mute the music or the beat at a party and people would still sing the words. That’s how I came to understand how important a song’s lyrics are. As a producer, I can make beats and get placements. But when you start writing, you have the power of the pen. It becomes more important that you’re in the room when the record is made. There’s also a better payout.”
Fame and talent are both undeniable assets to any producer. But neither unlocks a secret passage to success. “The main thing I’ve learned as a producer is how important ownership is and the power that you have,” the producer observes. “We are the bottom of the barrel when it comes to getting paid, but the top of it when it comes to creative. Now I distribute and market my own music and hire my own PR people. When an artist gets dropped from a label, they don’t know what to do. But I’ve always understood the importance of having each essential piece done in-house.”
Recently he’s expanded his repertoire to include film scores, such as Trap City. His latest record, Drumma Boy and Friends, is planned for a summer release and will include contributions from artists such as Wiz Khalifa, Gucci Mane and Ty Dolla $ign. 2019’s My Brother’s Keeper was his first solo rap album and was inspired by the 2018 shooting death of his brother Ferrell Wayne Miles. “When that happened, I decided to respond with music,” he recollects. “I think I motivated a generation of kids to respond [to similar things] in the same form.”
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