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Monday, Dec 09 2013 | 16:45 Buy this now at GoodToGo (B2B)

Damu The FudgemunkBorn and raised in Washington D.C., Damu is the son of two classically trained musicians; his mother was a pianist and his father was a drummer. Yet, he wasn’t quick to tell them about his affinity towards music. “When I got to junior high school that’s when I knew I wanted to do music,” Damu says in his calm voice. “Even then I kept it a secret. Your parents are always trying to claim what you get from them. You get their eyes, their nose, etc.” Initially, he started MCing but chances are an introverted MC isn’t going to be heard. Realizing that his passion laid behind the beat, Damu quickly started studying and absorbing every song he could hear-sample by sample and drum pattern by drum pattern.

“Once I understood how hip-hop worked I started doing graffiti, buying records and of course I wanted to DJ,” says Damu, who now owns around 10,000 records. “Some of my [production] influences were K-Def, Pete Rock, Marley Marl, RZA, Erick Sermon-that was the core music I was listening to in 1998. From a sample standpoint, I was into Kool & The Gang, James Brown, Frank Zappa, Bob James … the list goes on.”

Damu’s sound has developed into a welcoming one to fans of the early ’90s Golden Era, but there’s much more to his music than the sum of his influences. Think of Damu’s signature sound like Voltron-taking a piece from every producer to create a beat monster, but with his own mind as the master control. “I took bits from all the greats and compiled it into my style. I really don’t consider my sound a throwback, I consider it a way of production or approach to producing music,” says Damu, who on a good day can create three beats. “I have a bit of every great producer rolled into me. Drums are like A Tribe Called Quest meets Premier. Diamond D and Showbiz, their approach to manipulating drum breaks is definitely what opened up my ear.”

Things began to speed up for Damu once he became the DJ for the prog-hip-hop group Panacea in 2006. A year later he joined forces with Boston, MA rapper Insight to form Y Society. The duo released their debut album, Travel At Your Own Pace, in late 2007. Off the strength of his production on Y’s opus, he started to get recognition outside of Chocolate City. One observer was JNOTA (John), now Damu’s business partner at Redefinition Records. “John reached out to me and he was feeling my stuff so we just kept in contact. We linked up when I was in New York promoting Y Society,” Damu says. “Over time after I had enough trust in him I felt I could start sending him music. After I sent him a lot of beats he was like, ‘Yo, let’s put out a download and get things moving.’ We came up with “Spare Time” and it became a bigger success than I expected.”

These days, Damu has been continuously perfecting upon his production techniques and while he even picks up the mic from time to time, don’t lump him in with the current hipster rap trend. “The whole throwback thing is a gimmick now,” he says. “It makes it harder for guys like me because I was doing it years ago before all these cats came out. All of this hipster stuff is a gimmick. I’m not a part of it.” Instead of following the latest trends or jumping at every opportunity to “sell beats” to any interested buyer, Damu instead chooses to slowly but surely build and cater to his own core audience, through a combination of free downloads/videos and traditional retail releases, all the while making a commitment to quality and staying true to his instincts. He is part of his own personal movement to “release unlimited amounts of good music.”

“I just want to do hip-hop the way I hear it in my head,” he says. “It’s just a mood but it also depends on what records I find. I love digging for records and finding things that you want people to hear. That’s the beauty of this art form. Just being a sonic entertainer.”

“Very refreshing to hear a young cat with that much soul. Exactly what’s been missing from the game … soul.” Marley Marl

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