Words: Raeven T. Bostic
Influenced by classical masterminds like Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, it may be hard to believe that a man born in the deep south could consider orchestral musicians as an influence and then later become one of the biggest hip-hop producers of this generation. However, when it comes to Memphis, Tennessee native Christopher Gholson, better known as Drumma Boy, the mastermind behind Waka Flocka’s “No Hands,” and Young Jeezy’s “Put On,” this is just Child’s Play. Crafting electrifying bangers for years, the Grammy-nominated producer has also created hits for Usher, Chris Brown Wiz Khalifa, and Lil’ Wayne…just to name a few. The multi-platinum award winning musical genius shared with us his musical inspirations, the process behind creating a hit masterpiece, his new venture with movies, and much, much more.
IMC: So what have you been up to lately?
DRUMMA BOY: Man, just staying busy. Working on music, working on some new things. I just finished scoring a few movies that will be releasing soon, so I just been busy. Working.
IMC: You are one of the most unique producers of this generation, and as you know, ‘No Hands” was one of your many big hits. When you really sit back and listen to your songs, there are so many elements in your beats. Where does that come from? Who are some of your influences?
DRUMMA BOY: A lot of times I find myself listening to Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield – a lot of the oldies but goodies type of music- Earth, Wind, and Fire, and The Temptations. Sometimes I even go back to the Mozart and Sebastian because I come from the orchestra. But just merging different kinds of music and being motivated in different ways of some of the previous great work. More recently, I’ve gone back and listened to the Chronic album by Dr. Dre or 400 Degrees by Mannie Fresh, Cash Money and Juvenile and even Outkast. But it’s just different elements we remember you know? I’ll go back and listen to Snoop [Dogg’s] Doggy album and see what different flows were rocking then and seeing what elements were present.
IMC: Ok. So I have to ask you… What are your thoughts on the music scene in regards to the east and west coast emerging with more talent than the south? It’s somewhat of a debate that has some saying that the east and west coast sound is influenced from the south and that the south is still very much present today as it was a few years ago. What are your thoughts on that?
DRUMMA: It’s time for all coasts to represent, east, west, south, or wherever you’re from, you can be heard. Right now is the best time to be heard because you have different channels and avenues and it’s room for everybody. It’s kind of one sided when all you hear is east coast or all you hear is down south or all you hear is west coast music. So, I think as deejay’s, the music brand, and in Hip-Hop, we’re supporting all good music, and that’s what it’s about! It’s about making you move, making you hype, making you smile, making you feel good, making you wanna do art to my music, it’s about expression and motivation. You got Kendrick Lamar, YG, Problems, School Boy Q, A$AP Mobb and all these new cats coming out finding their own lane, so right now is the best time.
IMC: What is the process like when you’re creating for an artist? How long does it take you to create that sound that you’re looking for?
DRUMMA BOY: Really, it’s just vibing out and seeing where the artist is, listening to their music and understanding who they are and what they represent, and then we go from there. I’m very therapeutic so I like to dissect and see what it is that you need, what you have, what you don’t have, and then I present to you the things that I feel will improve you or better help your campaign and give you your best chance of winning. Me as a producer/therapist, it’s about delivering what you need and what you’re going to be happy and confident about.
IMC: So following that, how long does it take you to create what you’re looking for?
DRUMMA BOY: I don’t have a set formula, I just dive in and which ever way I come up, I come up! It’s weird. Sometimes, I might start the beat off with guitars, or a dope drum loop, sometimes a keyboard, or I might have a musician and just create something off of them. It’s no limit! Sometimes the artist will have a hook or a song that they’ll start singing and I’ll make the beat around it.
IMC: You’ve scored some movies in the past, the most recent being Blood First. How did that project come about?
DRUMMA BOY: Well some homies that I know in Atlanta hooked me up with these cats from Pittsburgh that told me they were doing the movie and wanted me to score it and do the soundtrack. I really wanted to show and represent what I was capable of, so I used this as an opportunity to show people that I could do the movie scores and soundtracks. I want to show up and coming producers that you can do more than just mixtapes and doing stuff for free. You can do something and get paid for it and everything like that! Also, it’s going to be a good movie. It reminds me of a Paid In Full or Belly, so it’ll be dope.
IMC: Can you share and tell us what the movie is about?
DRUMMA BOY: It’s basically about a dude that’s in the streets hustling and on drugs and what not. He has two kids that want to be like him and it’s just showing the trials and tribulations of what the kids are going through trying to be like their dad. You gotta check it out! We got some of everybody on the soundtrack too like, Big Krit, Project Pat, Turk, 8 Ball & MJG, Young Dolph, Young Quest, Gangsta Boo, Crunchy Black… it’s gonna be crazy.
IMC: Is there anybody that you would like to work with in the future?
DRUMMA BOY: Man, it’s several artists! Of course Beyoncé, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus- I have so many plaques on the wall from men so I’m definitely aiming to work with women. Jennifer Hudson, Keyshia Cole, and Ariana Grande.
IMC: Will we be hearing anything new from D Boy Fresh this year?
DRUMMA BOY: Absolutely. I just did some new stuff for August Alsina’s album. I did a record called, “F*ck My Life” but that’s August featuring Pusha T and School Boy Q. It’s something new and a little different! And I also produced his next single, “No Luv” so stay tuned for that! I’m also working with Chris Brown, Sebastian Mikeal, Adrian Marcel, and I also did a new record with B. Smith called “Alley Oop” I also have a mixtape online that you can download, Drumma Boy’s NBA All Star 2k14 Playlist!
“My advice is to brand yourself!”
IMC: Most definitely! So what’s going on with Drum Squad? Is there anybody new that we should be looking out for?
DRUMMA BOY: Well, we got a group named All City-they’re three brothers- they doing their thing. We also signed a young kid named Tony. He plays the guitar and reminds you a bit of how Usher came in the game with “My Way. But yeah, Tony’s more like a Tevin Campbell, Brian McKnight mix.
IMC: We know you have your own fashion line, Fresh Phamily. Will you be adding more to the collection this year? What’s next for the brand?
DRUMMA BOY: Yea. We got some new members coming on board and just focusing on design and putting together the best product we can. It’s not about flooding the street with a whole lot of this and that, but yea. Stay tuned for our look books! We got a couple of things up our sleeves…[laughs]… literally! So just stay tuned!
IMC: What producers are you feeling right now?
DRUMMA BOY: Mike Will of course. He’s been doing his thing! Outside of him, my homie, Lil Izzy the Producer who’s been working with my boy Young Dolph. It’s always love for them.
IMC: Any advice to up and coming producers?
DRUMMA BOY: Two words. Brand Yourself