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"A lot of producers send out a lot of beats [to different artists]," says Drama, "but he goes in and makes a sound that's appropriate for the specific artist."
While flying solo can be difficult — especially come payday — remaining independent has its rewards, adds Drama. "When you don't have a big team," he says, "there's pluses and minuses." And Bang's ability to indulge his own artistic eccentricities is definitely a plus.
Indeed, he's gone off the reservation when it comes to fashioning albums of his own, each of which sound far outside-the-box for a hip-hop and pop beatmaker. The first of his two unfinished, unreleased solo projects features alternative and rock elements, he says, and is comparable to the Beatles. The album will incorporate his own singing and is intended to be performed with a live band; he predicts it will throw folks for a genre-bending loop, much like Andre 3000's The Love Below.
It doesn't have a title yet or a release date. Nor does his "producer album," which will pair new beats of his with big-name rap and R&B performers. He promises his efforts won't amount to a typical celebrity producer cash-in collection, but will be rather organic and cohesive. "It's going to sound like the artists were in a room together when they recorded it," he says. Guests will include Ice Cube, Ke$ha, Jazmine Sullivan, as well as Kelly Rowland "singing aggressive, out of her element." Other tracks will have twists as well, like those with T-Boz, Monica, and "Real Housewives of Atlanta's" Kandi Burruss (formerly of Xscape) rapping. "The whole thing with the album is to bring [out] what the artist wouldn't really do on their own," he says. "You have to create shock value."
Speaking of shock value, Bang riffs rather candidly about many of his collaborators. There's his beef with Cash Money over "A Milli" — which came off of Lil Wayne's 2008 Tha Carter III album, went platinum and dominated radio and blogs for months. Bang says he's taking the fight over uncollected payment to distributor Universal. He was told the delay is due to the song's use of an uncleared sample, but alleges that excuse is bogus. "That's not true because nobody on the album was getting paid!" he claims. Last year, in an interview with Rap-Up magazine he went particularly hard on Cash Money co-founder and rapper Bryan "Birdman" Williams on the issue. "He has his kids in furs — they're 2!" he said, proceeding to reference Williams' hit song "Money to Blow." "You do have money to blow, 'cause it ain't your money!" (Cash Money's publicists did not return calls or e-mail requests for comment.) Producer Jim Jonsin, meanwhile, claims to have been similarly stiffed after producing another Tha Carter III hit, "Lollipop," and producer Mannie Fresh told Hip Hop Weekly last year that his time with Cash Money was tantamount to "slavery."
But that hasn't stopped Bang from teaming up with Lil Wayne again, this time for the buzzworthy "6 Foot 7 Foot." The song features an accelerated sample of "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" — "six foot, seven foot, eight foot, bunch!" — and, like "A Milli," is the perfect platform for Wayne to go all in with a flurry of stream-of-consciousness rhymes. The song has also become a blog smash, and is supposedly the first single off of Wayne's upcoming Tha Carter IV, though his albums are often subjected to long delays.
If it seems odd that Bang would want to work with Cash Money again, keep in mind that it's hard to avoid Wayne's juggernaut these days if you're a rap producer; Nicki Minaj's top-selling Pink Friday album, for example, was also released under the label in conjunction with Wayne's Young Money Entertainment.
Bang is also frustrated with Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane, for whom he supplied memorable tracks "Stupid Wild" and "Lemonade" to 2009's The State vs. Radric Davis. The latter song in particular, which is built around a high-end piano riff and a chorus of singing children, goes perfectly with the rapper's playful style. Yet Gucci spurned him when it came time to pick beats for his latest album, The Appeal: Georgia's Most Wanted. Despite pledging to work with him again, Bang says, Gucci chose superstar producers including the Neptunes (Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo) and Swizz Beatz instead. (Ironically, the album was coldly received, largely on the basis of its lackluster sound.)