At 8 years old, Rickie Adams fell in love while pecking on a keyboard. His love for music, particularly hip-hop, continued to grow while he shadowed an older cousin who worked as a deejay and performed with a rap group. Over the next several years, this love would flourish in many forms including singing, dancing, rapping and most importantly for him, producing. Nowadays, having created a reputation for himself as one of Jackson's best-known producers, 29-year-old Rickie Adams is known as Dat Boi Drumma, founder of Traxtar Records and Beat 2 Sleep Productions.
Preferring his moniker to his government name, Drumma is easy in character, and shares a laugh reminiscing about his days as a budding producer.
"When I was in middle school, I had a drum machine so I started charging maybe like 50 dollars for a little beat. I guess over the years it just progressed to where I am today. But for a long time, I mainly did beats for my group. I had a group when I was in middle school. I'd do all our beats." He laughs, and asks, "What, you want to know the name of the group?"
Back in the early '90s, with groups like ABC, Kris Kross, and TLC coming onto the scene, most aspiring hip-hop artists were using their creativity and rap skills to show their independence and defiance of authority. Drumma, along with his group, were no exception. "We had a lot of different names, but it was PGU. The letters then meant 'Parental Guidance Unaccepted,'" he says.
Since then however, Drumma has learned about the business of making music. Finding the right partners, who possess an equal amount of talent and business savvy, isn't easy. Drumma found that the sacrifices, along with the schemes that occur so often within the music business, sometimes tested his love and patience for his craft.
Drumma founded Traxtar Records to take responsibility for his success. Now, with three business partners—Rod James also known as Big Dippa, Brandon Thompson of Black Sheep Graphics and Kory Banks of Hardkor Promotions—Traxtar has worked with everyone from Kamikaze to Donnie Money, Boo and Triple Threat.
Despite Drumma's regional success with his company and as a producer, getting to the majors has been a journey with plenty of unexpected twists and turns. In 2005, during BET's annual "Spring Bling" held in Miami, Drumma headed out with hopes that passing around copies of his album to some influential members of the R&B and hip-hop elite would get him just the opportunity he was looking for. Instead, what Drumma got was a listen to a track he produced with no credit.
"Well, my album that we put out last year in February, 'The Life, the Love, the Luxury,' it was a track on there. I actually did the track in '03. It was called 'Fire.' It was number nine on the CD. Pretty much I produced the track, it had samples in it, and we went to Miami for 'Spring Bling' last year. When we went out there, we went out there with a lot of promo CDs 'cause we knew it was going to be a lot of artists out there."
Drumma says he let other artists listen to the track. Later, a suspicious Kwasi Kwa, program director and deejay for Hot 97.7 FM, phoned Drumma about a new track from an artist, who will remain nameless, that was receiving radio play.
"When I listened to it, my jaw just hit the ground," Drumma says. "It's exactly, like verbatim, like my track." Drumma says he then began contacting his lawyers. Since the track contained samples that had not been cleared when he first produced it, however, there was nothing he could do.
Drumma says that this underhanded practice takes place all too often. Now, Drumma uses this as a lesson not only for himself but also as one to tell all of the other up-and-coming producers out there. "For the record, for all the producers out there who are trying to come up, if you're using samples and you can't get them cleared, either try to replay them or don't do them at all," he says.
All the ups and downs associated with the music business notwithstanding, Drumma continues to work hard at his passion. He wants to continue working with his own artists at Traxtar, as well as other local artists who have a heart for music and who truly desire to know the business. Although Drumma does desire mainstream success, he does not necessarily want to come under the hold of a larger record company like some aspiring artists. "If I can be successful independently, I would love it more than signing with a major label," he says.
The album, "The Life, the Love, the Luxury," is available at local record stores like Bebop. Drumma's production talents will also be featured on up-and-coming projects with Mississippi Mafia, Kamikaze and Boo Da Boss Playa. Information for Traxtar Records can be found at www.traxtarrecords.com
Great story, Adrienne. Drumma is one of the success stories when it comes to following your dream. I do have a question: do you have any details about the website. The one listed doesn't work. Thanks.
- c a webb