From crafting certified hip-hop classics for M.O.P, AZ, Cam’ron, Cormega, and others to having his own song get some shine on the hottest TV show Breaking Bad, D/R Period has been dropping the hammer on cats for over 20 years. With a resume as long as Scottie Pippen’s arms, D/R’s placed himself in the upper-upper echelon of producers, in the land of the Primo’s, Pete Rock’s, and Diamond D’s. But don’t tell him that ‘cause really, he doesn’t care. Between managing and mentoring upcoming acts on his Rockboy label, banging out over 15 beats a day, and making sure his beats are the best part of reality TV, D/R doesn’t have an extra second in the day to contemplate his place in the game.
In this exclusive interview, D/R stays up later than usual to not only reminisce on some of his most classic projects and songs, like Smoothe the Hustler’s Once Upon a Time in America to getting Billy Danze of M.O.P behind the mic, but to also talk about his current projects and why his takeover of the game is not complete yet. Don’t miss this candid conversation with one of most respected producers to ever bang out on an MP.
It’s definitely an honor to catch up with you. What have you been working on lately?
I’ve been developing the label Rockboyz as a company. That’s one. I’ve also signed a couple of acts and we’ve been working on getting their music right. We’ve also been working on the publishing side. I’ve been doing a lot of TV placements and a lot of stuff in reality world and stuff on regular TV, stuff at radio, movie trailers, commercials, and all those type different things. I was on Breaking Bad and I’d been working on that project for a year and a half now, doing that. And I’m doing a couple of different things for Love and Hip-Hop and a couple of different places.
The publishing side is what I’ve been concentrating on. Now I got the new D/R Period brand as far as me recreating and reinventing myself as a producer slash artist slash entertainer. I don’t think people got the chance to see that side of me yet. What people got to see was the music side and what I can do creatively and what I can do with artists, how I can make hit records and how I can collaborate with different artists and turn things into multiple levels.
I actually have three main projects. The first project is me being on the Rockboyz as the company and as D/R Period the producer. The second project is as D/R Period the artist. That’s kind of interesting to me because I always knew how to write and rap for years. The songs I’m doing, I see when a lot of artists are coming with and I have my own ideas and concepts. Who’s better to do it than that. And I also got my gospel project that I got going on. Those are three kind of primary projects that I’m focusing on now.
If people know the history of D/R, then they know that I was a production company, always. I came in the game and got my recognition as a producer. I came in the game as an artist but it wasn’t moving like the producer side. It was a hole that needed to be filled so I developed artists and made music with them, and then I became a production company, which was Nexx Level Entertainment. That’s when I stated working with M.O.P and Foxy Brown and all of those different acts then. And then I decided to develop my own project because those projects were affiliated projects. And then I started working with Smoothe the Hustler and I think working with artists and taking them to labels and getting them deals. It was working very good.
My business sense, I didn’t even understand that I was an independent company. I started noticing that I could develop these artists and take them to any record label of my choice. What bothered me for awhile was that anytime I got a new artist, I had to go back to the label and show them why that artist was worthy of a deal and then they would tell me if he was good or not good or whatever the case was, but it just seemed like anytime I came with something new, I had to keep explaining myself. So I thought, why not just develop stuff and put it out? I do all the radio and marking and promotions anyway, the only difference is that I never had the record label title. So now, I decided to say that I might as well stay in that ballpark because that was where I was stronger, working with artists and making new things and putting new things out, taking chances, because some of the companies took chances and some of them didn’t. Some of them felt like they wanted to take risks and some of them didn’t because it wasn’t always successful for them. I didn’t want to be in any of that kind of Fear Factor when it came down to what I do.
So for me to be making platinum and gold records, you shouldn’t have to fear me. You should be more or less taking chances, because what I was told in the game, is once you’re making gold and platinum records, you’re sort of a made man. I felt I was a made man, but what happened wasn’t more my doing but that the company wasn’t ready for some of the concepts I wanted to do. It just made me go harder and make me want to sign artists. I went to Sony Red and got a distribution deal and I can put them out on a worldwide distribution level and do the marketing and promotion myself. I’m already seasoned in that part of the business. I felt like I needed to hear more of the kind of music that I wasn’t hearing.
Do you wish you had done this sooner?
No. It’s perfect timing. If I was a record label earlier in my career, I probably wouldn’t be around. Or maybe I would, who knows? I’d probably be one of those guys that started off like Jermaine Dupri or a Puffy, where you start off a certain way and then you end up being an executive of a company and you deal more or less on the executive side. If I had dealt with it on that side, I’d probably just be an executive and I probably wouldn’t be as involved with the music as I am now. And with the market being where it’s at now, it’s perfect for me. I can really, really get a lot done. And plus, during this time, it’s a whole different type of attitude towards the music. People are more open-minded towards creativity. Back then you had to have a certain style to be recognized. Now you have to learn more how to brand it, but people are more open-minded. I think it’s better now. Doing it then taught me how to be a better businessman and gave me time to learn about publishing and other things I wouldn’t have time to learn. It gave me a better outlook of doing music and why I do music, and I know the most valuable part about being in the music business.
What do you listen for when you’re checking out new artists, especially considering all the legendary music you’ve helped create?
One of the things is that I always want to hear an artist’s reason for why they’re artists. A lot of them don’t even know why. Some of them just do it because they like music,m and that’s good and that’s a start, but if you don’t have a genuine passion for what you’re doing, I don’t think I’m the guy for you. Whether I’m making a hit record or not, my goal is to make music and that’s what I love doing. 95% of the time, I’m not making it to have a number one hit. It’s more the fact that I love music. I love being creative.
If I’m with an artist that loves being creative, than 95% of the time we’re going to have hit records and the chemistry is going to be there. I look for passion, charisma, character, and a certain attitude. I don’t believe every artist should have a specific attitude, but they shouldn’t be unmanageable. A lot of times artists get caught in their own wave because their own attitude be so crazy that they don’t even understand they’re hard to deal with. I always look for somebody who’s a little more humble and who appreciates when help is being offered to them and that really wants to win. Those are the things I look for that let me know we can work as a unit.
Is more of your energy going to your groups like The Rockboyz versus securing album and TV placements?
It’s a balance. It’s a balance. When you get placements, that helps and then you put out a couple of records. I don’t spend a lot of time chasing anyone because nine out of ten people find me and tell me they’re working on a new project and want me to come on and give them some beats. I started in the music business where your respect level has to be there first. We’re in the game now where the people who remember those rules and principles reach out. That’s why you have a lot of of the older G’s I consider in the game, the ones that’s on top winning, because they all respect the rules of the game.
It’s the younger ones that still have to understand that there’s rules to this game. Not major rules, but certain things that you do and certain things that you don’t do. And if you don’t respect something, to keep that to yourself. A lot of times, that’s helpful as a person too. It’s not a big all-day process for me because I know what records I want to put out. I know if I make a track and I know that it’ll be perfect for Rick Ross and Meek Mill, I’ll send it over to them and they’ll use it. You never know what they’ll might use it for. It might go for their new project or for their mixtape. Artists now don’t have one format for how they put music out but they have multiple ways for how to showcase their stuff. That being said, I don’t spend too much time doing the chasing, but I put a lot of time into trying to develop good music.
If the interest is coming from the Maybach camp or AZ or M.O.P, then we’ll work. But if I’m not doing that, then I’m on the Rockboy side and my artists are becoming so seasoned. Their song making is very impressive. I’m excited about hta because of the music that they’re creating and the passion they’re putting into their music. When they hit, I think these guys are going to be around for a very long time.
Do artists ever ask for another “Ante Up” or “Broken Language,” where artists want you to recreate what you’ve already done?
I get a little bit of both. I get the artists who respect what they love about me and they want that, and then I get the artists who want to know what else I got. I get a little bit of both. It goes both ways on that end. I got artists that just want that raw, underground, hardcore D/R Period sound and then they want to know what else I’m cooking up, and that surprises them. It goes both ways. I don’t get a lot of keeping me in a box because I wasn’t one of those producers that stuck with one sound always.
A lot of people know about what I did with Smoothe and M.O.P but they don’t know what I did with Cam’ron, Jada, Busta, Sting, or all these other people that I done worked with on bigger projects than the hip-hop stuff. But at the same time, when they find out that I’m not just a producer who sits on the MP all day but that I play instruments and that I’m a talented guy who creates, and I write. I’m not saying they want my writing, but my hooks, concepts, and ideas, they know they gotta use that! But I think when an artist uses his full potential, he knows he’s going to be around for a long time.
Jay-Z is a lot like that. He’s a great example of that. He goes to producers that can give him the motivation, concepts, and ideas to allow him to continue writing the right stuff. You have some artists who just want to get the music and go in the corner and do what they do with it and they end up writing the same records over and over and over because they’re feeling the same way and they’re not trying to go anywhere else. Not to get off the subject, but it’s a balance thing. Some people have the vibe about D/R for the hardcore stuff and some people want to know what D/R is up to new and lately.
Have you ever felt pigeonholed because of the songs that fans really know you for?
I feel like if there’s one artist, or two artists, or even ten artists coming, then that’s not that many out of all the artists out there. But this is why I have artists signed so that I can do the kind of things that people are not requesting so they can see what I’m doing. A lot of times people don’t want to go into your catalogue or your vault. They want to get what you’re known for. That’s when you get boxed into your own little corner because you only stay in one level and you’re not seen for your full potential. I don’t get frustrated with that. You can consider me to be a part of whatever you’re doing.
I don’t care what level you’re at. I don’t only work with artists that make gold and platinum records. I work with artists that are good. If you’re good, you’re going to be a gold or platinum artist eventually. That all determines in time how you want to grow. It doesn’t bother me. It bothers a lot of other people. I hear it through the grapevine. A lot of my boys who made banging records are like, ‘Man, people keep asking me to do the same thing.’ You also gotta showcase what else you can do and those might not be the same people to showcase your new style. You might have to get new artists to showcase your new style so people can determine if they like that or if they don’t know about that. You have to work it so that people can see that you’re versatile.
With me, it’s the passion that I have for what I do. I’m not concerned with what’s going on because right now, you have a lot of artists that’s confused on the difference between what they consider a current sound or an old school sound or what’s this and what’s that. When you start labeling what you’re capable of, then you’re always going to look for hydrants to run off of. I stay away from the labels. If I have a new school feel and that’s what they want to call it, then that’s what it is. If it’s old school, that’s what it is.
But I don’t walk into any situation and try to make a certain type of record, like a club record or one of the girls. When you start titling it, then you’re not going to make it as best as it can be. If it’s going to be a girl record and you’re going to label it like that, then let it be the best girl record you ever produced. For me to stay relevant, it’s because I keep reinventing myself and the more I put my face with my music, it’s exciting to me. That’s something I never did in my career. I always let people just see the name. I came in the game when you weren’t supposed to see anything else. Your actions were all that mattered and that’s how I showed and prove. I showed I was dope.
If you were nominated for a Grammy and how you sold, that’s what was important. I accomplished those goals. I went from a nobody to a somebody, from selling no records to selling over 30 million records. I can’t ask for no more. So for me to stay around now and still be having the same passion, I thank God for that, more than anything, because he built a love for me with the gift he gave me. Because I love the gift he gave me, I’m so excited to go into the studio and just keep working. If we’re all making money, we’re all happy. If we’re not making money, we’re still happy. It’s not what we gain from it, it’s just the principle of what we do with it. You have a lot of people that are talented but they don’t do nothing with it. You don’t know if it’ll change your life or if you’d be the same person if you don’t do anything with it. I think that’s my motivation and what keeps me going, is that I appreciate my gift from God.
You talked about how you don’t decide what type of song you’re going to make before you do it. What beats have been most surprising to you over the years?
Oh, I had a lot. A lot of my underground records, for them to get on the radio, that was shocking because those records were designed because that was just where we were at. We were on the block so we made records that just fit the energy of the block. So we do those records and they fit the energy on the radio and we’re overseas and to hear about it being on the radio, those were the most shocking records that I did because I didn’t think they would ever get beyond what we’re doing. Being that I wasn’t rapping, my music felt like the third member or fourth member in an M.O.P song because the beats were so rugged.
I was shocked for that kind of sound to be accepted in mainstream music. I had a lot of shocking moments. Even with the placement game, to even make a record like “Ante Up” and then it’s in 60-70 movies and my records are being placed in practically every movie that’s coming out. I’m like, ‘Wow, this record is getting a lot of placements!’ I never would have thought that when that record was made, that it would have done what it has done to this day, how it’s still standing on its two feet like we just made the record. And sometimes when I go out, and some DJs, they do recognize me and they’ll throw the record on because they see me in the club. And then a whole different generation is hearing the record and going crazy for it like it just came out yesterday. Those are shocking moments! When I see all this, it’s just amazing.
Fat Joe recently used the same “Soul Sister, Brown Sugar” sample that you used on “Ante Up.” How do you feel when you hear that sample touched today?
To me, hip-hop is built on that. Hip-hop is built on music that motivates. When I hear that simple, I’m very well-registered and I support it. From a business standpoint, I’m still good. For someone to want to still use that, to me, that’s art and I appreciate it because they could use any record. To me, it’s not cheating and it’s not biting. It’s hip-hop. A lot of the records Big Daddy Kane and Rakim rapped to were taken off of old R&B songs that they chopped and turned into hip-hop. A lot of records are built off of musical vibes. I don’t think any record should be made and never touched again. I mean, if you’re a bad artist and you touch a classic, you just kind of destroyed that classic. But if you’re a good artist and people accept your version the way they accept the original, then that’s an exciting moment. I get excited when I see stuff like that.
Do you have a favorite movie scene that “Ante Up” has been in? Do you even keep up with all the movies?
I mean, I get the calls from the publishing houses. They’ll be like, ‘Hey, can you give me clearance on this record because we want to use it for this movie?’ And then I’ll go look at the movie and go, ‘Wow, this is crazy.’ Every time I see it in a new movie, it shocks me because I know there’s a billion songs out there and for my songs to keep being picked to be in the newest or the latest commercials or reality shows or whatever, to me, that’s dope. I can’t ask for no more than that. So I definitely be checking. Lately what I’ve been doing is I’ve been getting the clips for a lot of the movies because what I’m going to do is a video blog of all the placements that I’ve been in. It’s just something I’m going to release on a YouTube level so people can see everything I’ve done. That just opens up doors for my new music to get placements and my new music is getting a lot of placements. It’s a very exciting moment for me right now.
Do you have a favorite scene with a D/R Period production?
One was You Got Served. They start dancing to the song. I thought that was funny but it was dope. Nothing was ever done on the music like that. I’m used to people doing the screwface in the clubs, but to actually see a whole routine built around it and the song speeding up and all that, that was one of the oddest things I’ve seen that was done to it! (laughs)
You also had your song “Money” on Breaking Bad. Were you a fan of the show?
Yeah. I’m a big fan of Breaking Bad. When I was watching the show, I wanted to have my music in the show and we made it happen. And not only that, the record went into the show and then I had to make it into a song. That wasn’t the original plan. I just wanted to be in Breaking Bad because I loved the show. Then it got in the show and I started reading the comments on YouTube and how excited they were, and they wanted to see the video to it. I didn’t have a video guy to shoot the video so we just had some fun with it. We shot it and did the green screen and just had fun with it. And it actually took off. So when I look at the view total, I’m up to a million views on record and that’s the biggest video I’ve had on YouTube. This record is outshining pretty much anything I’ve ever done on YouTube. And then when I look at the sales, and it’s still going up, I just want to thank everybody for the support because it’s unbelievable. It’s dope. It really showed me how I can do it different and do it my way. People always told me I should do things a certain way but I didn’t want to be that serious. I just wanted to have fun. It’s a fun record and people are supporting the record so let’s make a fun video.
Having fun in hip-hop is a taboo subject for some artists.
Yeah, especially for a guy like me who did a lot of hardcore music. When they see me smiling and having fun, they’re like, ‘Hold up, this is the same guy who did the “Blue Steel” record?’ They’re looking at all my history of gangster hip-hop and think I’m supposed to be always talking crazy with a gun in my hand, talking about how many people I’m going to lay out. To me, that’s not hip-hop. Some people who do that, that’s what they do, but I don’t have time to sit around and threaten people or time to sit around and scare people. That’s too much time to be taken up when in my real life, I gotta work. I gotta get some things done and I got a lot of growing to do and a lot of development to do. There’s a lot of things to do than to give people that kind of energy. That ain’t what I’m looking for.
Smoothe the Hustler is still putting out new music. Are you guys going to get back together?
We talk but we haven’t gotten into the studio yet. Our timing just has to mix. He’s doing what he’s doing and I’m doing what I’m doing. Eventually we’ll get back into the studio. I look forward to working with Smoothe. I think he’s a talented guy and I don’t think people know how dope he is. To hear he’s coming out with projects, that’s dope. I know he’s going to do his work and he knows how to put the right people around him to make things work in his favor. That’s a good thing. I’m definitely rooting for that to happen. I would love to get back in the studio. I know it’s going to happen. I can’t tell you when, but I know it’s going to happen.
Do you stay in touch with guys like Trigger and DV Alias Khryst?
I do. I don’t stay in touch with Trigger as much because you have to catch him when you can catch him. DV and Smoothe are always picking their phones up or texting back. I try to keep as much communication there as possible because I believe beyond the music, we’re friends. Even if we ain’t making music, I still want to know if you’re okay.
Do you think an S.M.G. reunion could ever happen again?
It’s never too late. It’s just a question of where everybody is at with their life now and what everybody really wants to do. The reason why everybody is doing what they’re doing is because they’re reinventing their thoughts and their ideas. Everybody is in that creative state. I guess once they get enough of what they personally want to do, then I guess we’ll come back together and we’ll do more creative stuff. But I don’t think they’re far from giving that up. I think they should continue on doing that and I think it’s going to happen, but I think it’s going to happen when everyone is ready for it.
Did you know Smoothe the Hustler’s Once Upon a Time in America would be the classic it is when you were making it?
One thing I did know – I knew we were going to do something. I knew we were going to get this project completed. When me and Smoothe first started working on that, we had a lot of things in our way, things that would have made the average person say, ‘You know what? This is not going to work.’ I recorded that on an 8-track. I didn’t even have the proper studio setup to do those kind of records that I made, but because I knew what I had and what my equipment could do to the best of my ability, you couldn’t tell where I did that record. So at the end of the day, I didn’t have no clue that that record wasn’t going to come out and actually hit the Billboard charts and hit number nine. I didn’t know we were going to hit radio like that and that it was going to hit so hard.
Plus we were dealing with a smaller company, Profile, and they weren’t putting a lot of money into their artists. They were going to put us on mixshows and make some money and that was going to be it. I didn’t think it was going to blow up. We weren’t even thinking like that. We just wanted to make some banging music and that’s all we concentrated on and we actually made an album that was, ‘Wow!’ People to this day are still talking about how they’re bumping it and how much they love it. That’s dope. That’s the prime example of having passion for what you do. At the time, Smoothe just wanted to show everybody that he could rap. He didn’t care about being the top rapper or being the best. He just wanted to prove to himself that he was an artist and I just wanted to prove to everybody that I could make some music and that I could get busy. We both had the same motivation and just due to that motivation, we ended up creating a classic album.
That’s probably a big reason why it is so classic.
That’s one of the things that I always tell my artists. I say, “I don’t want to go in here and over-produce you.” I don’t want to do things that I don’t know how to do. A lot of the time, artists go into the studio with a marketing plan and I don’t think you’re going to make your best music because you’re already planning who you’re going to sell it to. You’re already limiting yourself because you can’t sell it to everybody then. If it’s going to be a big pop record, but you want it for the underground, then it’s going to stay in the underground. The last thing I always tell people is to forget what they’re going to do with the record. Let’s make the music and then talk about what we can do with it after. That was the most important thing for me, basically making sure that when we make music, let’s make the music first and worry about the business later. That’s why it’s called the “music business.” Let’s do the music part first, and then talk about the business part of it later. That’s where it all makes sense.
You had such an instrumental hand in crafting M.O.P’s sound. What was it like working with them as new artists? Did you see that potential in them?
What’s so funny about that project is that when it first came out, M.O.P wasn’t a group when I was first working with them. I was working with Laze. That’s their manager. And he had a situation where he had a compilation out called The HIll is Real. And on his compilation, he had Fame. He had Lil’ Fame. He wanted to start working on Fame’s solo project. I was going to get involved and see what we could come up with. Me and Fame went into the studio and we started working and that’s when Bill was there. He wasn’t saying nothing and I didn’t even know Bill knew how to rap. We worked on one record with Fame as a solo artist and it was a good record, but it felt like it was missing something. Something didn’t feel right.
The second record, I was just going through the beats and Bill kept humming out different melodies. I asked him if he rapped and he said, “Yeah.” I told him to go in there and say something and he did. Then Fame started saying some stuff, and that’s how we came up with “How About Some Hardcore.” That was the actual first record we did as M.O.P as a group. That was the first record we did. That was the first record that got signed. And that was the first record that got M.O.P started on the recording side.
When that fell into place, we took that to the label and they knew they had to sign it. We kept getting phone calls about how the record was taking off in the club and in the streets. Select signed it and then it came out on the video and everybody was debating who was going to shoot the video. It was some real high-profile video guys. Hype Williams came to the treatment. This is before he was Hype Williams. He was like, ‘Yo, check this out,’ and everybody was like, ‘Let’s roll.’ It was dope. We got to launch Hype Williams hip-hop career with M.O.P. Everything was in place because everyone had a passion for what they did.
What I think made M.O.P special was because these dudes loved what they did. They didn’t care what they were saying because that’s what they felt. That’s what they were living and that’s what they were seeing. They were about that life. We could all relate to it and people could identify with them. It was like, ‘Where are these dudes coming from?’
It was dope. We ended up doing a whole album but one song, “Guns and Roses.” That was the only song I didn’t do on the album, but the whole album, I ended up doing and it was an amazing, classic era. From there, every time I get with M.O.P, we were coming up with great music. I got a chance to ride with them through that whole process, from Loud to Relativity to Rocafella to G-Unit to Sony. I was on everything. It’s been an amazing ride. Like right now, we’re working on a new album and we got that project coming.
Did you see Lil’ Fame turning into such a great producer in his own right?
I always knew Fame was a producer because he was a DJ too. A lot of people don’t know he knew how to DJ. Music is in his blood. Music is in his rhythms. If you’ve ever watched him walk, Laze used to say, “Look how he walks. He’s walking on beat. It’s like he’s walking to some music!” (laughs) We used to always make fun of him, like this dude is walking on beat. We knew he had something in him and when I would be in the studio making beats and he would come in the crib, he would come in and I’d think he was going to drop some vocals but he was just watching me. Then he’d go to another studio. He was just soaking it all in. When he finally got his hands on a drum machine, there was no question that he got it. He has just been amazing from there. I always knew he had that in him.
You’ve worked with AZ throughout his career, starting with his seminal debut Doe or Die. Are you working with him on Doe or Die 2?
We were going to go into the remaking of stuff. With A, you don’t know. Sometimes you just have to sit back and wait to know exactly where he wants to go because A is a real creative dude. He’s one of those deep thinkers. He goes in and he thinks about what he wants to do and then he moves on it. With him, it’s, ‘Let me know what you want me to do.” Then he’ll tell me what he wants and I’ll get it to him. He’ll do it, but you don’t know if he’s going to use it for his album or if he’s just going to keep it in his catalogue or put it out in a placement situation. So you just gotta keep on feeding A music and then when it comes to an album, that’s when you know. But all the projects, I think he was just trying to find the energy of the companies who was really going to understand where he was going with the music. A lot of times with people like AZ, who’s such a high profile artist, they don’t know exactly what to do with a guy like that. They tend to think that A wants to do everything big and he might just want to do it a certain way.
But to answer your question, I did music for it, but I think it was just him saying he was going to re-release the anniversary of certain songs. I think that’s probably what happened, because he just released it from what I understand. I think he put a little stuff out and then pulled back with it. You never know what happens with A because A is a creative guy. When he’s ready to come, he’s going to come with that fire. A’s one of those guys, like Picasso. He draws a masterpiece. His wordplay and his penmanship, he’s the best with that. Nas is the master too. Those are the only two artists that I can literally say I watched them in the studio and write like they were writing an essay to pass a course and they had to make sure everything was in pocket. They’re geniuses when it comes down to their pen game. A lot of the stuff people see with those artists, I don’t think people know. I think they know they’re dope, but I don’t think they understand how incredible those guys is.
You did some great work with Cam too, both on Come Home with Me and the Diplomatic Immunity album. Do you have more work with Cam?
Cam’s my man. When we first worked, he was really going for the whole Dipset thing. He was really building it and everybody had the passion for what they wanted to do and that’s how I felt. I’m a person that’s driven off the music. I was at the studio called Sugar Hill in Jersey. I was working on the Queen Pen album, doing a couple of songs for her album. Cam was in the other room and he came over and was like, ‘Yo, what’s up, B?’ I said, ‘What’s up, Cam,” and we talked. He told me about the situation he was working out with Rocafella and to come through. I knew everybody up at the Roc and we talked.
That situation ended up with me getting over there and working with them. And then I’m getting in the studio and I’m just hitting Cam with mad stuff. They were big in the mixtapes too at that time. A lot of the stuff I did, like “Facts of Life,” they put out on the mixtapes and they got crazy feedback. Then we just started making records and everything just took off. Cam, Jim, and Juelz, they were really in that mindset. They really had something special. And that whole Dipset situation just grew. I watched that situation just grow. I felt real good that I gave him one of the biggest records in his career. That made me feel good because that record won ASCAP awards and we got the BDS awards for Most Spins. That “Hey Ma” was a big record. And I guess once everything happened with them doing solo projects, I guess they were trying to figure out what was the next move. I don’t see any place where everybody was trying to figure out their next step so I was going to wait on them and do the music, because that’s what I’m really here for – the music.
That’s more time you can spend making beats too.
Yeah. If I don’t gotta sit around talking about what’s going to happen, I can get more work done! (laughs) Plus I’m a neutral guy. I have great relationships with all of them. I don’t want to hear one thing that’s crazy about any one of them. I would rather just work with you the way I know you because to me, that’s where it’s going to matter. That’s when you’re at your best with me because we’re working on one level. There’s not all those extra thoughts and unnecessary stuff going on. I always root for them and hoped that they could come back to a situation where they could come back to the music and tear it up.
You’ve stayed working with Cormega too, from The True Meaning up to his last album, Born and Raised. What’s it like working with Cormega?
I love Cormega. You know, one of the things about Cormega that I like is that he listens. I thought he was gonna be one of those guys that you go and play your beat and then you leave. No. He listens. He wants to know what you think and he’s a true artist. I had a lot of respect for him ever since then. He told me about the new album and I went there and played some beats. I gave him some ideas too. I like to give him the ability to listen to beats. I just play non-stop beats for him and he picked what he liked and then he’ll ask me what I have in mind. I’ll put on another set of beats and tell him what I had in mind. He’d be like, ‘Yeah, that’s crazy, that’s dope. I’m gonna take this, that, and this,’ and then he’ll take it and narrow it down to what he wants.
That was a dope moment for me because I see him being an artist that’s going to be around for a long time. He listens and he’s got his own independent state of mind. That’s dope. He really ain’t caring about what the big guys are doing. He just goes about doing what he has to do and that’s dope. You don’t find a lot of artists that keep their mind focused on what they gotta do. They just keep their mind on what other people are doing and he doesn’t care about any of that, who has the jewelry or the car or whatever. They worry about everything with everyone else and they can’t get anything done themselves. He’s dope and he’s a good lyricist.
Can you take us through the D/R Period production process?
For me, when I start, I’m an early in the morning guy. I go to sleep before everybody. I’m one of those guys that gets up and I come to the studio and I play records, ‘cause you know I’m still into the vinyl. I know you can put it all on the hard drive, but I like to listen to the album. I like to look at the art cover. And I get motivated watching the pictures and listening to people playing instruments. And then by 8:30, I’d say, I’m ready to start creating. And then I’ll start creating and the next thing you know, it’s 12 or maybe 1:00 and I got about 15-16 joints done. That’s from Monday to I’d say probably Friday, sometimes Saturday, ‘cause Sunday I don’t work. I take the day for the Lord. That’s it. But Monday to Saturday, I grind out. So I make out, on a real good day, 15 beats. On a slow, moody day, I make about eight or nine beats. And that’s per day. So from eight to probably 10-15 per day.
I’ve never talked to anyone with that kind of output.
I do a lot of placements and I’m very big on catalogues. My thing is that when you do reality show placements, you can hear literally 40 beats played through one episode, and that’s with spaces for commercial coming on and when the show comes back and someone’s walking down the block and then this girl walks into a store. The beat changes every five seconds. When you’re dealing with those kinds of formats and those kinds of TV shows, you have to have a catalogue. You have to have a thousand or two thousand or maybe three thousand beats. You have to have a catalogue like that. The goal is to make 50 a week if you can. And that’s my goal. If I can get close to 50 or no less than 35, I’m good. I’m good for the week, ‘cause I know some days I might double that 15 and it might be a 20 or 30 that day, or within two days. It goes up and down with me, but guarantee I get nothing less than 35-40 or maybe 50 beats per week done, guaranteed.
Are there any that get tossed or put to the side?
The thing about me, every beat I make, I use. I don’t sell beats to artists only. I sell beats online. I sell beats for movie placements. I make every beat count. I never have a beat sitting around doing absolutely nothing. I’m not that producer that has a hard drive full of beats and doesn’t have any work. I send my beats out to artists and I don’t care if they don’t use them on albums. They just have to use them. Any time my beats go out through commercial use, my beats are registered and I get paid. A lot of producers don’t know how to get paid on the registration side. A lot of producers don’t know how to register their work properly so their stuff can really be of value to them so that when it gets used, they get paid. It’s not like I’m going to get $10,000 for every beat. Some beats I might only get a $500 or $350 for a beat from it being used on a website, but those little checks, $200 here, $300 there, that all adds up on a quarterly basis when you start looking at your royalty statements, and you’re like, ‘Wow, that’s a nice check!’ And that’s money that you make while you sleep. A lot of these producers got a lot of work to learn about how you get that money when you sleep. That’s a whole ‘nother conversation! (laughs)
What are your goals for 2014?
I have a new site I’m going to be lacking and that’s going to be exciting because I actually started shooting movies. I got producer movies and beat making movies and a lot more D/R Period footage, the face, the personality, the man, to showcase this year. I’m having fun. All this I’m doing, I want my gospel project to really surface the proper way. I want my Rockboy artists to really surface. I really want to get the label Rockboy to have a mark in the game. We need to be recognized as a go-to label.
And I’m really looking forward to bringing a bunch of new artists with hit records. That’s the goal. And TV and film, that’s the new music business for me. Straight up! (laughs)