You always have to look out for the quiet ones. DJ Scream, the Atlanta based DJ, label executive and on-air personality began, his career as a humble bedroom DJ but literally turned up the volume when he brought his talents to Tuskegee University. Between classes the math and engineering major would DJ campus parties and his more aggressive alter ego would take over.
“I’m an in the cut dude, I’d be in the back with my backpack,” he recalls. “But when I got on the turntables here comes DJ Scream, ‘Everybody put their hands up!’ So the name is a little ironic. When it becomes time to perform I get this energy from music, which is something I love, and this character comes out.”
The code switching paid off nicely as he parlayed his DJ skills into mixtapes, shows on Atlanta’s Hot 107.9 and XM Satellite Radio, as well signing onto Rick Ross’s Maybach music imprint.
However, change is part of the game and though DJ Scream is still affiliated with MMG, he has recently gone independent in order to focus on his own imprint Hood Rich and its stable of production talent HPG. The first look at his yet-untitled EP is the posse cut “Grippin Grain,” featuring Big KRIT, Scotty ATL and 8Ball. During a recent trip to NYC DJ Scream sat with WatchLOUD to talk about making the song and southern hip-hop royalty.
WatchLOUD.com: The “Gripping Grain” video looks like a lot of fun. How did that come together?
DJ Scream: It’s a real country rap tune. Shout out to Big KRIT, Scotty ATL, 8Ball and Cory Mo on the beat. Soon as the guitars come on the aim is to put you in that nostalgic vintage southern mode. The authenticity comes from it because Cory Mo produced for Pimp C and UGK. When I heard it I knew it was the type of music I came up on and wanted to do it.
I read a few comments where people said Pimp C would sound great on it.
Hey, you never know with technology. Stay tuned. Tupac is still doing remixes, so Pimp might. No guarantees though. I just might be talking [laughs].
How did you meet Cory Mo?
I met him he was telling me about his website and the countryraptunes movement and I went to his crib one day and listened to what he had going on. The time was right now.
When was the first time you heard the phrase “Gripping Grain”?
Mmm..90s, probably UGK’s Ridin Dirty CD. I didn’t know what they were talking about so I asked my older siblings. I was like 10 years old, it just sounded good. Now you can imagine having that pinky ring on and putting them diamonds up against that woodgrain steering wheel. That’s just part of southern culture. All of use have either had an “old school” or drove one.
What was your first car?
It was a Ford Taurus. There was no wood grain on it. There was no air conditioning. It’s what you call a college trap car. I bought it for $800. It lasted me about a year and a half and the engine blew up on the highway and I left it there.
What are you pushing now?
The Escalade is the current car. I’ve been blessed to have a lot of luxury cars but it’s a little frustrating to pay a note when you’re not really home enough to enjoy it. Seems like only time I drive it is to take it for service.
How did you get everyone together for the song “Gripping Grain”?
I told em we were doing it for the south, just to show that we can come together. Even the treatment wasn’t no big thing. We got some cars and some chicks and just kick it for some hours, out our grills in our mouth and let the camera man do what he do. It was real organic. It’s from an untitled EP coming. When it gets right and it’s something you can play over and over that’s when we’ll drop it.
How much have you recorded for it so far?
Hood Rich HPG (Hoodrich Production Group) is my imprint along with RIP and DJ Spinz who co-produced hits for Ty Dolla $ign, Rich Homie Quan and Future this year and all our other producers, 1K, Danny Wolf and Durdy Costello. So there are so many records in the hard drive that I could drop something tomorrow. But I want to zoom in and drop the right combination of records together. Then figure out what’s missing. I want to make sure I’m happy with it. I want to show my versatility.
What do you think people are expecting of you?
If you’re familiar with “Hood Rich Anthem” with 2 Chainz, Future, Waka, Yo Gotti, and my other records, they are 808 heavy. I am part of trap music, but now it’s the “cool” thing to do. I have tons of trap records. I could put those out all day. Before there were all these labels like “Crunk” and “Trap” it was just southern music when we weren’t getting embraced by the media and industry. I just want everybody to flashback to that era. Everybody gotta flashback with NWA with the Straight Outta Compton movie and you saw the vintage sound and fashion, well this is what it was before the new southern sound—which we love and embrace—I just wanted to do as DJ Scream what makes me more comfortable.
Speaking of “Compton,” if you could pick a group to do a hip-hop biopic, who would it be?
Wu-tang Clan Forever. Somebody gotta play Ol’ Dirty right. Put that out there. Look at what they did for the culture, internationally. To this day you see hipsters wearing Wu-tang shirts and sweaters. They revolutionized it. They did what could probably be never done again. And I’m sure even in all their unity they had their issues. When the money comes there are issues but you gotta stick together for the fans. Just make it for me. You ain’t gotta show it to the whole world.
Maybe it’s my regional bias but I was expecting you to say UGK or Outkast.
I would love to see that but I think being from there I knew what it was. A lot of West Coast people knew what was going on already with “Compton.” I wanna know what was going on in Staten Island. How did some dudes from Staten Island make it? Everything was Brooklyn, Queens or The Bronx when you think of hip-hop at the time. We knew ODB was from Brooklyn etc, but these were some hard Staten Island dudes. They was kicking everybody’s ass. Shouts to Wu-Tang forever.
What is your relationship with MMG now?
The affiliation with MMG is always there but I recently went independent. Shout out to Atlantic Records though. We put some dope records out. Anything that Rozay does I respect and support it. I was just with him a few weeks ago. I got to hear the “Black Dollar” tape before all of you [laughs]. That’s just a guy that the amount of respect is nothing I could put into words. He called me at a certain point when he didn’t have to and helped me take my career from one place to another. But as a hustler and entrepreneur he respects that what’s dear to my heart is Hood Rich productions. I just want the world to know about that, too. Get ready for the 2016 Hood Rich HPG takeover. We got some big things coming.
Let’s talk about that. For your first single you have three great rappers and producer create the song, so what exactly did YOU do? And more over, what is the the role of the DJ in 2015?
I think to be the visionary and be the person to bring those people together is one thing you gotta respect. I do co-produce as well. I may not make the beat but I will orchestrate and executive produce it. We’ll come in at the end and change stuff around. Puff is the goat of all that.
So where do you see the mixtape game now with streaming and download sites being seized by the FBI?
I think mixtapes now are real edgy, for independents. There was a time when the labels would call you and say they’d want their artist on your mixtape, but it’s hard to let that fly now. Now they’re like A&R tapes filled with independents. I think the mixtape game is still strong but we have to respect it evolving into being more digital.
Follow DJ Scream @DJScream