“The Pipeline” – An Interview with Drumma Boy

photo credit: Hannibal Matthews

Drumma Boy has been a part of some of the most successful Southern hip-hop records to this date. He has contributed to Young Jeezy’s two albums, which garnered multiple Grammy nods, Rick Ross’s Trilla and Deeper Than Rap, and a plethora of crunk bangers from Gucci Mane, among other artists. One would think after all these contributions you would start to see the occasional reward or benefit. After all, Drumma Boy is one of, if not the most resilient and successful producers in America right now, not just in the south. But hell, he still doesn’t receive enough recognition for the weighty contribution he’s made to the New Era hat fund. Drumma has one of the most impressive cap collections, and he wants you to know it.

What have you been working on lately? I heard you’re doing a record with Wayne and Gucci for Tha Carter IV.

I’ve been working on a lot of different stuff, man. There’s a lot of records I don’t even know I’m working on. As a producer, you’ve got music out to a lot of different artists, so it’s hard to say what you’ve got coming out. It’s a lot of surprises. It’s a lot of records you forgot you gave people. It’s a lot of lingering beats out that you might have given to someone, or emailed them. It’s hard to say. I did like three records with Gucci when he first got out. Been doing some stuff with Jeezy, TM103, Travis Barker. I got one on Jagged Edge. I got one on Musiq Soulchild. Really just working on as much as I can, especially R&B stuff, Mary J. Blige.

I heard you’re doing a collab album with DJ Paul.

Yeah, yeah. We’re working on that album, called, Clash Of The Titans. Got some crazy records on that. I got my personal mixtape dropping on 8/11, The Birth of D-Boy Fresh. There’s so many different projects, like Back of My Buck Shit Vol. 3 with Young Buck. Just did some shit with Big Sean, the “Oh My (Remix)” with DJ Drama coming soon.

Three 6 Mafia was one of your influences, right? How’s it feel to be working with your role model?

That shit is crazy. I pretty much grew up on orchestra music and all of that, but my first piece of hip-hop was Three 6 Mafia, as far as my town goes, Three 6 Mafia and 8Ball & MJG. Gotti and I came up together, so it was like a run. I remember listening to Warren G and Snoop for the first time, and first hearing “Regulator.” I was like eleven or something. That record motivated me so much to be an artist, to be a producer, to just be in the game. And then Three 6 Mafia just get you crunk. Coming up from Memphis and seeing the impact they really had, like a lot of people haven’t seen the impact Three 6 Mafia has had on the south, or certain cities, like New York you might not get the impact, L.A. you might not get the impact, and you’re like, Who? Three 6 who? A lot of people haven’t even heard of Three 6 Mafia. But if you grew up in Memphis and really saw that impact, you had to be motivated by crunk music, just getting buck, tearing the club up. We’ve been saying ‘crunk’ for so long, and that’s why you can find footage of Lil Jon saying crunk a long time ago. Shout out to Memphis and the originators of crunk. That was like a phrase, a slogan, just like certain dances. We’ve been doing a lot of that shit.

You think you can hear any of their sound in your production?

Yeah, a little bit. And then a lot of it, it’s just an orchestra/mafia/gangster sound is what they’ve always aimed for, and part of the orchestra comes out in my shit. And of course, a lot of the crunkness comes out of my shit. Definitely. Like DJ Paul is a good friend of mine, Juicy J, good friend of mine, Gangsta Boo. Just the whole Three 6 family, the family within the family will always have love and respect. I came up paying homage to a lot of OG’s and making sure I pay homage to those who did it before me, and those who inspired me to do it. Even when I see Quincy, it’s all love, it’s all respect. I told him I’m a fan of his, and he’s a fan of me. You never know until you speak up, until you holler at somebody, like Yo, man, I love your work. So many people are intimidated by their peers that they never speak or let them know who they are. They’re just so shocked they’re meeting them. Everybody’s a human being. We’ve all got the same brain. We’ve got the same heart. Everything in this industry’s about relationships.

I really like your record, “Lose My Mind,” and it earned that Grammy nod. It kind of snuck in there though, among some of the more obvious nominations…

Right, yeah, “Lose My Mind” was an out-of-the-blue record. It was something I gave Jeezy, and Jeezy ran with it. Next thing you know he put it out. It surprised me, because it wasn’t one of the beats I thought he would have selected. Just to hear what he did with it, I was like, okay, cool. The energy’s crazy, with Plies’ verse on there. I thought the record would definitely go Top 10, and when we got the Grammy nomination, it made me understand how much people miss Jeezy. That was the main part I got out of that message, like, man, people are really waiting on this TM103 project. And for me to be the one who kind of iced over the situation, maintained his impact in the game, was cool. I bought him some more time.

You seem to have a lot of success with Jeezy, records like “Put On”.

We’ve done some great music. I look forward to TM103. “Flexin” is out right now, with Yo Gotti and Fabolous. I produced that record, picking up pretty heavy right now. A lot of my fans support what I got going on. I got a lot of DJs out there who support or pretty much play whatever we’re putting out. It’s crazy. We’ve got records from mixtapes that are blowing up, like Rocko’s “Goin Steady”, “No Hands”, like I leaked that record from a mixtape, “Beat It Up” by Trey Songz and Gucci Mane. There’s a lot of things I’m doing in terms of marketing, making sure these records get a chance to breath.

I also read you were working on a drum kit with Dallas Austin?

Yeah, we’re working on a drum kit, Dallas Austin’s new beat machine, called the Beat Thang. I think the drums are going to be coming out sometime in either September or October. So stay tuned. A lot of people are waiting on that. A lot of people are inquiring how they can get their hands on the new beat machine. That’ll be good.

I always see you in interviews, or in pictures, you always have a new hat on. Do you have a big collection?

Yeah. [laughs] That’s crazy you picked that up, man. Not too many people pick up on my hat game, man.

Yeah, you and B.o.B.

Yeah, shout out to B.o.B. I just did a crazy session with him. But I’m just a fan of hats, man. I love hats and shoes. That’s probably the spot of my outfit. If I don’t wear a hat, then I’m probably in a blazer, or a polo, a button-down, something like that, or just a clean T. But normally you’ll see me with a hat on, some kicks to match the hat. I think I had on a Japan hat the other night. We did a party out in Memphis, hosted this party with DJ Smallz. I had on this blue and red Japan hat. That shit was crazy. I just collect hats from everywhere. [laughs]

I was on your Twitter the other day. I saw you wrote, “I-20 to 78”. That’s in Alabama, right?

I-20 is the highway that connects from Memphis… not really Memphis. I-20 is the highway that goes from Atlanta to Birmingham. I-78 is the highway that goes from Birmingham to Memphis, Tennessee, and we call that the Pipeline, because I can’t imagine how much money I’ve brought from Atlanta to Memphis feeding my town. It’s almost like some Peter Pan shit, like going to get the bread and coming back home, seeing Mama, like, mama, you straight? And then going in all the hoods, East Memphis, North Memphis, South Memphis, West Memphis, checking on everybody. Like just really making sure the whole city’s straight. I got the key to the city by the mayor, AC Wharton. I’m holding my city down, man.

Do you find Hip Hop is becoming more widespread, like it’s not so easy to pin down a region based solely on its sound?

Yeah, definitely. The game is wide open for you to just make good music. It’s so wide open for a lot of people to make impacts and be heard, and all of that good stuff. To me, the game is in the best position that it could be in, as far as new and upcoming people, those who are really trying to get into the game and make an impact. But at the same time there are so many people that it’s intimidating, and as far as having a sound, even though there’s so much music coming out, there are very few that have their own sound. There are so many people blending in right now. Those are the people that aren’t really going to make the greatest impact. You might be making an impact, enough to do shows and you got your small regions on lock, but does that turn into moving units?

And longevity.

Exactly. People who stay relevant for longer than a year or two.

What kind of contribution do you think you’ve made in the south, musically?

Man, I’ve made some great contributions to a lot of great artists. I contributed to Rocko’s first number one. I’ve contributed to Birdman, “Money to Blow,” his first number one. I contributed to Plies, “Shawty,” T-Pain’s first number one. I’ve contributed to Jeezy’s first two Grammy nominations, only Grammy nominations. I contributed to T.I.’s Grammy-nominated album, with four tracks on the album, “My Life Your Entertainment,” “You Ain’t Missin’ Nothing,” “What Up, What’s Haapnin,” and “Ready for Whatever.” Just to have so many people’s first number one is a blessing. I don’t really look at it like I’ve had the most influential impact. I just look at it like I do my thing. Like I’ve had a great impact on producers, in America, like the next generation, 25 and under, I think I’ve had an impact on all of them.

I’m a huge fan of the south myself, but my second favorite part about the south, other than the music, is the food. I’m a Chick-fil-A and Waffle House fanatic.

Oh, you said the Waffle House. [laughs] You’re a Waffle House fanatic, ouch!

Yep, what’s your spot?

Man, there’s so many. I have to start out in Memphis, hometown favorite spot for food, A and R BBQ. Favorite spot in Atlanta, I would have to say Busy Bee’s, which is like this real country cornbread, oxtail, baked chicken, fried chicken, whatever you want, it’s soul food, top notch. As far as worldwide, or American favorite restaurant, I would have to say Houston’s.

Cool, I’ll check it out.

Definitely, and follow me on Twitter, @IAMDRUMMA, and check out the website, www.drum-squad.com. Stay tuned, man.