Philthy Drummond on Beat Battles, Organizing Emcees and Paying Dues

Posted by Justin Boland on Aug 11, 2009 | 0 Comments

Fresh Coast battles DVD cover

JB: In retrospect, what are the biggest factors behind the successful growth of the Fresh Coast scene?  What are the core ingredients to making that thrive?

Philthy Drummond: Unity and mutual respect for skill and competiton, organization, popularity of battles and Hip Hop in Cali/on the Coast, population of Cali and the Bay Area, economics and education as well as culture in CA, which is linked back into economics and history of the Bay.  The dedication of Hip Hop activists…I put in tons of time and used resources at my university and worked my ass off to get every dope battler into EVERY battle I could find.  I constantly advocated for any dope emcee I knew from anywhere…I was responsible for hooking up the Fresh/West Coast emcees into Jumpoff and gave their contact info to Harry and gettin them into Spin the Mic, WRC, etc.  (I HIGHLY suggest you read my blog entry on the Fresh Coast and my role in it, because I typed up the history and chronology there). 

I honestly think that many years of my hard work contributed to the scene.  I became the go to person for battles/getting battlers whether it was helping out Kevin Beacham, Harry from Jumpoff, Ren from True Skool, Dj Delivery from Freestyle Olympics—-I helped anyone doing battles and posted any battle I found on Dedication and our nerdish dedication to battles (we all love to watch battles and break them down).  Tourettes Without Regrets served as a reliable battle and forum where everyone could meet every month.  The video footage I provided, the forum of Scribble Jam and without a doubt and the forum. Grindtime has more recently played a role, the internet and youtube along with soulseek (on which I shared battles, had contact with Australian battlers).  Passion for Hip Hop and battles.  Demand for this, especially as died off.


JB: Do you have a personal system for keeping samples and media organized?  How do you keep track of your work, in addition to all the video footage you’ve collected over the years?

Philthy Drummond: I create folders for all the songs/records that I sample by artist, then by album.  I also keep all my drum sounds and loops, guitar and other instrument stabs, licks, etc. in organized folders.  I label all dope songs in Itunes with 5 stars so I can easily find them again if I want to sample something I put in there.  I have a folder called “samples and drums” and I save all samples I take from vinyl into there which then get divided by artist name.  I also have a “Movie samples” folder and sound effects folder for various random stuff I come across, and a folder for anything that pertains to emcees I know or samples I find that mention “phillip drummond” in them.  Every so often I back up everything…all my beat zips, VST’s, installers, mp3’s of beats, etc.

Video is more scattered, but I gave lots of footage to Lexorcist to make “Served 3” and I gave my entire archive to Avacado to make the Fresh Coast DVD.  I have all the tapes centrally located and keep everything and back up most of it.  I’ve put tons on the internet and the computer.  I did that for years.  I’m obsessive about collecting, storing, backing up and protecting what I have.  I don’t smoke weed so that helps a lot.

JB: Now that you’re working on an album with Franco and a second release with Lush Won, what have you learned about preparing for an album?  Have you made any changes to your process?

Philthy Drummond:I learned it takes a lot longer than you think! Always back up your beats, because when your hard drive crashes it’s a real pain.  To make albums, especially good ones, takes awhile.  You can’t force it, you need let the emcee do their thing, especially with Franco and Lush.  I think it’s good to do other side projects and not put all your energy into one project if the emcee isn’t doing that.  Stir fry or other fresh food and blunts makes Lush write good songs.

We did early tracks like “High times,” “Music for dope runs,” and a bunch of other joints that aren’t on the album, then Lush was going through some shit and we were making tracks less often. Then June of last year, we were like “the time is now” and we finished off the othrr 2/3 of the album in about 2-3 months. Lush became an absolute beast…I’d make lunch, he’d smoke a blunt and I’d tell him “put this this and this in here and I want a Big Lebowski reference in there.” He’d write a song in half an hour to an hour and rap it to me, I’d tell him to make changes to certain parts.  So it was fast and slow…done at different points in time.

Music for Dope Runs

JB: How has the response been for the MFDR remix contest?

Philthy Drummond: MFDR has been quite good, I think we have well over 100 remixes and counting. I’ve been aggressive in recruiting and encouraging producers and it’s been a lot of fun. 

JB: Do you strictly work with artists you believe in, or do you also sell beats?

Philthy Drummond: I sell beats.  Licensing is especially where it’s at…I have a lot of beats in skate videos, especially “Strangenotes” which is for free and they do 100,000 units of them. I put it up on youtube and blam I got a whole new audience of skater kids across the country.  I generally won’t work with people who I don’t really like as artists unless I think it’s a good way to reach a new audience and I think the artist is at least pretty good.  I’m trying to expand more and work with more folks but honestly, I have so little time to make beats these days I don’t just throw them out.  You have to bring something to the table like being extremely dope and unique, having an audience I couldn’t/wouldn’t normally reach, or have cash. I’ve spent too much of my own time and money.


JB: What’s been working for you the most in the past year, in terms of online promotion?

Philthy Drummond: Myspace, getting people to remix MFDR acapellas, youtube in a huge way…I have near 500 subscribers and tons of people see my events, music etc. that way. I always edit my beats and songs into the beginning and end of battle vids, so peeps can hear my music.  I think facebook and the like are good promo tools.  I haven’t caved to Twitter yet because I don’t need another thing to check and waste time on, but it would probably be great.  Doing promo at shows, I dirt hustle CD’s and I let people hear songs for free.  I’ve posted up my album for free and linked people to the bootlegs folks have done.  Having a music video on youtube helps, too.  The battles help get my music with Lush attention, no doubt, and having all the battlers who have core fan bases on our album helps as well. 

JB: On the flip side, is there anything that you’ve stopped doing in the past year?  Are there any sites or tools you’ve concluded were a waste of time?

Philthy Drummond: I dunno, I’m always learning.  Maybe adding friends on myspace? Maybe not though. 

Arguing with kids on the internet in bulletin boards/forums is a waste of time and so is getting upset with haters, you could be doing other stuff instead and I don’t think people with big/fragile egos realize that.

JB: As a beat battle veteran, what are the most common mistakes you see producers making their first time competing?

Philthy Drummond: You have to play hype, hard hitting beats…smooth beats don’t cut it unless you’ve created the equavilent of a Dre or Dilla beat.  I think image, how you dress and look also affects your chance, unfortunately.  You gotta be able to dance, or at least look kinda cool because typically it’s just as much about your image and how believable you are. You gotta have fans that make a lot of noise or be able to tap into and read the audience. 

In the Bay, especially in larger battles, you really need kinda Hyphy keyboard sounding beats at least part of the time.  If you’re a good MC or charismatic it helps tremendously.  And being able to dance…Cambo told me he won Red Bull by dancing. He was joking but it’s actually partially true.  That’s why I like my new beat battles with sample flips, it sets a baseline and tests the skill and imagination of the producers.

Also, hosts can greatly influence the audience and bias the crowd against or for someone.

JB: Do you think the field of hip hop production is over-saturated, or is there still room for talented artists to make a name?

Philthy Drummond: Both. Recently I spent a week downloading producers’ beat tapes and I found some really talented cats.  I’m a fan—-I should say I am passionate about music—-first and foremost. So I thank the internet for allowing me to find so many dope cats.  Of course there was a lot of stuff that I wasn’t blown away by and there is a major saturation.  My goal is to bring talent to light, to expose and appreciate it.  I do my part. 

So even if I don’t like someone, if I think they’re a jerk, I’ll still give them their props, put them on and be honest about their talent.  And if I am not a big fan of what someone has done I’ll try to help them build and become better.  Ultimately, with the right connections, hustle, luck, etc..there is some room for talented artists to make a name. Hopefully I can help with that, and I believe I have done that, even if only in a small part. 

And take it with a boulder of salt.

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Music by Justin Boland