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PRODUCER OF THE WEEK: NameBrand

Our first Producer of the Week to kick off the new year is NameBrand! NameBrand is a 38 year old producer, husband, and father who was born in Fayetteville, NC and raised right here in the 804! When he's not making beats, you may see him hosting The Producer Lounge or working with other visionaries under AGM (The Association of Great Minds) and Purple Republic Music Group.

"I'm black yall. I'm blickidy black. Cause I'm black y'all…I'm also an advocate for higher education with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Information Technology from Norfolk State University and a Masters Degree in Management Information Systems from Florida Institute of Technology. And I make some pretty cool beats from time to time." - NameBrand

With over 25 year of musical experience under his belt, there's no doubt that he must have some tricks and tips up his sleeve! Keep reading to learn more about who NameBrand is and how he managed to build up his brand to this day.



Vy: How long have you been producing?

NameBrand: Slightly more than a quarter of a century.


I’ve been producing since 1998 and started when I was 13 years old.


Vy: Who are some artists that you have produced for?

NameBrand: I’ve produced for Michael Millions (my older brother), Radio B, Nickelus F, Cane, Junnie Mac, Troy, Cole Hicks, Easalio, Joey Gallo, Francoise, Flexico, and more.


I do a lot of work within the Richmond music scene. I have never really focused on getting major placements -- I’ve always wanted to see Virginia, specifically Richmond be great. So, focusing my efforts on my city was important to me.


Vy: Did you have any prior musical upbringing/experience before beat making?

NameBrand: Nah no musical experience -- although I could play the hell out of a recorder in the fourth grade.


I sometimes wish I took piano lessons when I was younger.


Vy: What's your producer origin story? Essentially, how did you start making beats?

NameBrand: It all started on a cold stormy night in Richmond Virginia…Just kidding!


Prior to getting into music production I was always a fan of music, specifically R&B. I could appreciate the melody of the lyrics, but more so than that, I always appreciated the beats.

I have a theory that when people process a song, they digest the beat first. If they like the beat then they will tune into the lyrics, and if they like the lyrics then they like the song. But it all starts with the beat.


With that said, I was always drawn to the beat and I wanted to figure out how it was done. Keep in mind I’m a broke 13 year old, so needless to say I couldn't afford a MPC, ASR, or any type of hardware for that matter. But what I did have was a computer in the house, so I asked my mother for some money and she might have given me $50 (probably less than that) and I went to Babbage’s (a computer software store) and purchased my first DAW called HipHop EJay.


It was trash, however, it taught me the basics -- how to use loops and sequence. It was extremely limiting and I outgrew it quickly, but that was the beginning of my beat making journey.



Vy: Briefly describe your sound.

NameBrand: I don't think I have a “sound,” although I have been told that I do. So you would have to ask them.


I grew up in an era where you “HAD” to have a sound, however, I never wanted to be pigeon holed into a sound. I just prefer to make what I like. Being from Richmond, we are the top of the south and the bottom of the north so my sound shows appreciation to all of those influences.


Vy: What inspires you to produce?

NameBrand: The God in me.


Being a producer is the closest experience to understanding what it may feel like to be God. You start with nothing but an empty session, and we are able to create something that is unique to our own experience -- a snowflake in the spectrum of vibrations.


That piece of art then inspires a writer (rapper, singer, etc) to say something that they never thought they would say until they found that perfect beat. Then they record it and release it to the world and it affects the masses.


It's a blessing being able to create a beat in your bedroom or home studio then hearing someone tell you how that song helped them get through a tough time or how they play that song every morning to start their day.


The transfer of energy is amazing. It’s God like. That's what inspires me.


Vy: Who are some of your musical influences?

NameBrand: My absolute favorite producer is Dr. Dre.


Aside from him it’s all my fellow Virginia producers: Nottz, Timbaland, The Neptunes, B!NK.

I will give supreme honorable mentions to Quincy Jones, James Dewitt Yancey (J-Dilla), Kanye West, Salaam Remi, Organized Noize, and Hi Tek.


There are plenty of others that have inspired me, but I’ll leave it there for now.



Vy: Who is your dream artist to produce for? 

NameBrand: Of course the obvious are Jay-Z, Nas, Kendrick, Cole, Drake; however, someone who I really would like to work with is Sauce Walka.


I tend to look at the artist as another instrument. Sauce is versatile and I like the way his voice cuts through the beat. He has an amazing presence on records, not to mention his storytelling is next level!


Vy: What is your creative work process like?

NameBrand: I'm all about having an efficient workflow.


I am a lover of technology being that I am also a software developer. When you have an engineer's mind, wasted movements are a no-no and efficiency is everything.


When I was younger I would go to the record store with my mentor, Ark, to dig for samples. I don't do that much anymore as I simply do not have the time. Nowadays, I will open up Youtube and play music for hours. As I come across good samples, I will convert the YouTube video to MP3. I typically start with the sample or melody and then I go to the drums.


I keep my beats fairly simple. What I have learned is simplicity is key. I think all producers go through a period of overproducing and not leaving space for the writer to do their thing.


When I make beats I rarely finish them. I will have a verse and hook section then move on to the next beat. I try to get as many ideas out as possible in the shortest period of time. I don't want to impede the creative process because I need to find the perfect snare…


(The perfect snare that no one will care that I spent 2 hours or days trying to find…) 


Vy: What’s your “why”? Why do you do what you do?

NameBrand: My why is because I love it.


This beautiful relationship is 25 years in the making. Music has been there for me throughout the many highs and lows of my life. Music is the best-est friend you could ever have. 



Vy: What was the hardest project that you’ve worked on, and how did you overcome it?

NameBrand: I’ve never had a “hard” project… if music is involved I am always having fun and it doesn't feel difficult. I have worked with some difficult artists, but that was mostly because they didn't prepare. That’s part of the reason why I don't engineer sessions much anymore.


Recording people isn’t fun to me. When I was living in Hampton, VA, I had a studio in my apartment and I would be recording people all day and night (many times for free) and spent my week mixing. It was so time consuming, and prevented me from doing what I loved which was making beats. 


Now, I much rather make the beat and send it to an artist for them to write. After the song has been recorded, I’ll come back for post production.


The post production phase is where the real magic happens anyway. When you work with an artist that is used to writing over two-tracked beats, their mind is blown when they work with a producer who will customize the beat around their vocals. It takes the record to a different level. I’ve had artists cry listening to the song after post production was complete. It's the ultimate satisfaction as a producer.

Vy: What is your favorite beat that you’ve made and why is it your favorite?

NameBrand: It’s probably a beat that I made last week. Hot Pizza (a new beat) is always better, but honestly that's a tough question cause I love all my babies.


Laced Weed and Walls Of Jericho are up there on my list because I was able to collaborate with Nickelus F, who is an amazing producer himself and doesn’t have to collaborate with anyone. When those two records are performed people go ape shit. The energy is insane!


For a long time those records were his top two songs on Apple Music. Which is a testament to how well we work together. Don’t believe me? Go listen to our project “Stretch Marks” -- arguably one of his best projects…but of course I’m biased.


However, every few times a year I am reminded by random folks of how good it is.

  


Vy: What advice would you give to producers just starting their musical journey?

NameBrand:

"Have fun. Try to impress yourself first. Make beats for yourself, and if someone else just so happens to like it too then appreciate God’s alignment and keep it moving. Never wrap up your value into someone else's opinion of your music. And I can't say this enough, HAVE FUN!!! If you’re not having fun, get up and try again another day. Don’t force it!"

Vy: Do you have any new or upcoming projects you'd like to talk about?

NameBrand: I laid a lot of eggs in 2023 and they are due to hatch in 2024, so just stay tuned.


I am continuing to push the Producer Lounge Platform and I am excited to see where it goes. Go follow the YouTube channel if you would like to get introduced to some really dope producers. Also follow the Producer Lounge on Instagram and pull up on Thursdays at 7PM to our live and vibe out with us.


I also plan on starting a podcast soon where I'll be interviewing some dope producers and having good talks around music production.


Vy: Lastly, what's one fun fact about yourself? It can be anything!

NameBrand: You remember how I said I would like to work with Drake?  Well, I almost had a song with him years ago before he was “Draaaaaaaake” (insert Soulja Boy Voice).


I honestly think I inspired the “singing” Drake because the beat he picked was very R&B’ish, and prior to that he was the rappity rap type of rapper. I know he recorded it, because I sent him the stems to the beat so it could be mixed, but I never heard it. Dah well…


It was such a pleasure getting to know NameBrand through this interview! I really appreciated the detail and care he took into answering each one of my questions. His perspective on music is unlike anyone that I've ever met and I definitely learned a couple life lessons along the way.


Individuals like NameBrand are the exact reason why I started this segment and why POTW is so important to me.


Producers are often overlooked in the music scene, when in reality they really are the creators who lay the foundation for the artist to build on. There's always people out there working hard behind the scenes, and NameBrand as well as so many other producers all deserve to get their flowers. Especially the ones actively repping and supporting their city!


Be sure to tune into the Producer Lounge and look out for NameBrand's upcoming projects that are due to hatch anytime now!


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Written by Vy Truong, @avocavy on IG

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