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Damu Da Fudgemunk
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Damu is not an entirely fresh newbie to the Hip-Hop game as he made his initial mark as the DJ for the Rawkus / Glow-In-The-Dark duo, Panacea. And his live MPC productions on Youtube garnered a resounding respo..

A D.C.-based newcomer, Damu the Fudgmunk, recently teamed up with MC/producer Insight to form the group Y Society. Having only met face to face twice, it was when Damu produced a beat tape crafted specifically for Insight that the foundation for Y Society was laid. "I saw his potential. He studies and takes the time to understand," explains Insight.

Damu is not an entirely fresh newbie to the Hip-Hop game as he made his initial mark as the DJ for the Rawkus/Glow-In-The-Dark duo, Panacea. And his live MPC productions on Youtube garnered a resounding response from the web community, getting tens of thousands of views. And though Insight's production abilities are fully capable, Damu takes on the role of sole producer which frees Insight up to focus on rhymes alone.

Ground Lift recently spoke with the Chocolate City beatsmith for a quick vinyl dime drop and a short interview. Topics covered are sampling as an art form, jumping into the spotlight, and the state (or lack thereof) of D.C. Hip-Hop…

D.C. isn't really known for Hip-Hop, you had Nonchalant back in the day, and now it's Oddisee and yourself doing it big. With so many other East Coast cities with larger, more appreciative scenes, what's keeping you in town?

You're right DC isn't known for Hip-Hop, but like just about every location in the world it exists in this town. The scene is wack. It has its highlights and talented people, but the atmosphere is not enough to inspire. That's funny, I saw Oddisee today on my lunch break just chillin. He's doing it big, not Damu. D.C. is not the place for this art form and honestly I can't think of any place in the states as a good environment for the culture. Look at the music that the masses consider Hip-Hop. That's what dominates the country. Until the music industry changes, D.C. and many other cities will continue to go with the flow. Right now I'm not even thinking about it as my city, it's just the place where I live. I have a job and four younger siblings keeping me here.

I've found some heat down at the D.C. and Alexandria Flea Markets. While many producers are moving away from using samples, what your motivation to stay digging?

Digging is what makes beat making fun. The art assembling songs from records, that is how I learned [to produce.] 'You needed a record to make a beat' was my early understanding of production. I stopped producing these last few months, but I've still bought mad crates of records. They're sitting around now, but the day I begin again I'll put them to use. I can't sleep at night knowing someone else is at a spot buying the records I want and it's probably a wack cat. It's an instinct. I've been digging since I was 14 ya know?

When talking about music and the musicians that Hip-Hop producers tend to sample, you've stated that we need to respect them first before looking for reciprocation. How do you feel about older artists who don't consider Hip-Hop or sampling a creative endeavor?

It's a misunderstanding. Those artists have a right to feel that way because they are the creators, but if they're open minded and observe the creative process, I'm sure they would recognize it as an art form. DJing and Digging makes you a music historian. You follow these artist's careers through the records you find. People are unaware how much knowledge is gained from this. Since the Hip-Hop artists haven't collaborated or personally reached out to the older musicians, they will perceive it as just 'sampling' and nothing more. I appreciate the musicians that respect what we do.

I'm sure if they witnessed one of your street performances they'd have different opinion about Hip-Hop. What's the biggest difference between playing on the street for strangers and playing in a beat battle for headz?

I don't know what its like to play for 'headz.' That would be nice one day. I've played for mixed crowds at battles and it's not very rewarding to any of the best producers. I prefer playing on the street because I don't have to consider a crowd. I just play what I feel and it's on my time, it's mad fun exposing my city to real Hip-Hop. At battles I have to examine the audience which generally means playing the beats I least care for. Since I DJ, I know what wins crowds and I hate dropping that stuff.

The "Never Off" 12inch features a remix by Insight but other than that, you handle all the production duties for Y Society. Has bearing the weight of an entire album's music changed your outlook on producing?

It hasn't changed my outlook. It's what I envisioned from the beginning. My favorite producers did full lengths that I reference as the soundtrack to my life. I prefer it that way. I was ready for the challenge and making complete songs was my goal. Honestly after finishing this album, I'm satisfied with my production. I have so many joints in the archives; I won't need to make another beat again. This officially made me a producer. Working with Sight is a perfect match. His beats are ill as well.

Tres Records seems to be mining the ranks of younger producers for their releases, first with DJ Alibi and now yourself. What was the process like in getting signed/discovered by Tres?

I hit them up through email and they responded summer of '05. When Panacea shot the first video "Starlite" in Los Angeles, Chikara came to the shoot. I gave him some music and my first 12inch. He had heard my stuff before through Jaysonic of Time Machine, but he didn't know it was mine. He expressed interest in my talent, but didn't want to drop an instro LP. He said, "get an MC and Tres will work out a deal."

So Insight was that MC right? But strangely enough you both have only met face to face twice. How did your partnership come about?

He was on tour in 2004. I felt he was one of the last artists that would respect what I did. I respected him a lot. I loved his beats, his rhymes, and his whole vibe. It was important that he heard my stuff when he came to town. I was too young to get into the club that night, but he came out and we exchanged math. He kept in contact throughout the year and I would send him beats when I had twenty or so finished. In December '05 I hit him up after I met with Tres. I had instrumental albums, but they wanted me to work with a MC, so I called the best I knew...

Check out Damu Da Fudgemunk at his various homes online: Myspace & Y Society's Artist Website

Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth
Mecca & the Soul Brother
(Elektra) 1992

Changed my life, the perfect album. They were in their early 20s when this was made. I can relate to this at times because I'm the same age. Probably the greatest Hip-Hop LP of all time.


Gangstarr
Moment of Truth
(Noo Trybe) 1998

Another perfect album. I can listen to this all the way through. Rhymes were on point and Premier was at his best. Definitely a quality LP. I love all of Gang Starr's albums really…


Pete Rock
Soul Survivor
(Loud) 1998

Loved every beat. I was in 9th grade when this dropped and I had just started digging. I knew I wanted to make music like this. I loved this period when Pete and Premier were hitting you right and left with their new styles. I miss that.


A Tribe Called Quest
Midnight Marauders
(Jive) 1993

This got me through some tough times. It's a classic, hands down. This made me more analytical when listening to records.


Ugly Duckling
Journey to Anywhere
(1500 Records) 2000

They saved Hip-Hop in 2000. This was the best thing to come out during high school besides Petestrumentals. I bought the CD first and played it over and over. Then I found the vinyl for $2.99 brand new, on clearance. So, you see how Hip-Hop records were selling back then in D.C. Classic LP as well as Fresh Mode. Einstein was inspiring; Andy and Dizzy were killing it. Around this time I was getting my turntables and later my first sampler.


Leaders of the New School
T.I.M.E.
(Elektra) 1993

A mesmerizing album. I listen to this faithfully, it was way ahead of it's time. I love their debut, but this was a good example of taking it to the next level. I regret that this album never blew up.


Lords of the Underground
Here Come the Lords
(Pendulum) 1993

This record inspired me to make beats. "Chief Rocka" was out in '93. I loved that beat so much. I would wait by the TV until they would play the video on Jukebox. When I studied this record, it helped give me a better understanding of breaks. It as also, a huge influence on my scratching.


World Renown
How Nice I Am 12"
(WB) 1995

Love this song! The beat… Oh that beat!!! K-Def is one of my biggest early influences. I can relate to the rhymes of this track, very well put together overall. You can't front on this song…


Jeru tha Damaja
The Sun Rises in the East
(Payday) 1994

I played this until my tape popped. I had to buy the tape 3 times because I played it so much. Jeru knew the time and Premier was so raw on this one. He used an updated formula from Daily Operation. "Jungle Music" gives me chills because he's speaking to kids like me. Jeru will always have my respect, one of my favorite MCs of all time. I also have to mention "Invasion" from his second LP.


EPMD
Business Never Personal
(Def Jam) 1992

This is my top group of all time, love all their records. They have influenced the game so much; the industry doesn't even recognize it… The beats were sick. They were original and nobody could do it like them. "Chill" went into "Nobody's Safe Chump" and then into "Headbanger". "It's Goin Down"… aww man!


-- DJ TREW

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