Even if you’re not a fan of Justin Bieber, there’s no escaping his presence on the airwaves, partly because the teenybopper has a slew of great producers supporting his sound. His recent Usher-assisted single “Somebody to Love” was crafted by the multi-talented trio the Stereotypes, comprised of Jonathan Yip, Ray Romulus, and Jeremy Reeves.
Besides the young crooner’s tune, the Stereotypes are the creators behind hits like Danity Kane’s “Damaged,” Mary J. Blige’s “Good Love,” and Ne-Yo’s Grammy-nominated “Why Does She Stay?” Still haven’t heard of them? Understandable, since typically many producers do a lot of the work without receiving much of the glory. But they’re not complaining. The three are a humble bunch.
Rap-Up.com got a chance to catch the L.A.-based team, currently in the studio with JoJo, between sessions to find out who they’ve been mastering beats with, which producers they’ve been accused of stalking, and the secret formula to their success.
1. Who have you been working with lately?
Jon: We just did a song with Musiq Soulchild. We just did a bunch of records for this artist from the U.K. named Alesha Dixon, and we’re starting to develop a couple artists of our own, including Far East Movement.
2. How did you get “Somebody to Love” in Justin Bieber’s hands?
Jon: Basically, it was originally made for Usher, and he cut it and everything, but I guess the label didn’t know what they wanted to do with the record. So the same day we were actually creating the record, we had Perez Hilton in the studio. He was like, “Ya know what, that would be good for Justin Bieber.” And we were like, “Hey, we’d love for it to be for Justin Bieber as well.” So the minute that Jive wasn’t sure what they wanted to do with the record for Usher, we backtracked and went to [Bieber’s manager] Scooter [Braun] and told him, “Yo, do you want to cut this for Justin?” and he was like, “Yup.” So that’s kinda how it happened. Usher’s now back on the record, on the remix, so we can’t really complain. It’s now Justin’s current single.
3. You work with a lot of different artists. Who are your favorites?
Ray: [I] love working with Ne-Yo. He’s very talented, works very quickly. Musiq Soulchild is definitely one of our favorites because he’s just one of the best vocalists to ever work with. Those two would probably be my top favorites.
4. What about favorite producers?
Ray: My favorite producers are The Neptunes, Kanye West, and Timbaland.
Jeremy: I’d also have to agree with The Neptunes and Kanye, then also throw Dr. Dre in there. Timbaland’s cool too!
Jon: I have to say The Neptunes as well. I don’t want it to be taken the wrong way, I mean the last writer that interviewed us made us look like we were stalking The Neptunes! [Laughs] But they are definitely some of the best producers that have been on the scene in the last 10-to-15 years. So I’d definitely say The Neptunes and Kanye West.
5. Are there any beats created by other producers that you wish you had done?
Ray: Damn, there’s a few of those! [Laughs]
Jon: I’d probably say “Flashing Lights” by… I don’t even think it was Kanye, I think it was Eric Hudson. “Flashing Lights” is one of the doper beats I’ve heard in a while.
Ray: I don’t know who produced it, but “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See.” I wish I produced that Busta Rhymes song.
6. What do you consider your big break?
Ray: I’d probably say that [Danity Kane’s] “Damaged” was our biggest break. That was the song that charted top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and basically made people go, “Who are those guys?”
Jon: It was the song that got us out of making music out of a spare bedroom.
7. What is your biggest guilty pleasure?
Ray: Damn! This interview just got real! [Laughs] My biggest guilty pleasure, man, I don’t even know if I wanna say it ’cause my mom might read this. I would say, spending a lot of money on sneakers. If this was a different [website], I’d probably say something else, but I’m sticking with sneakers.
8. Describe a typical day in your life.
Jeremy: A typical day would be to wake up…
Ray: Really? Wake up?!
Jeremy: To open my eyes. Wake up, hit the gym, get to the studio by 1 p.m. or 2 p.m., and grind it out until 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. That’s basically it, depending on what we’re doing that day, depending on if we have a session with writers or just creating tracks for upcoming sessions. It definitely varies, but that’s a typical day for us.
Ray: But during the sessions, there’s a lot that goes on. We have our studio set up so it’s like a grown-up’s playground. We have basketball courts, ping-pong tables, video games. During our sessions, we might start playing HORSE or start playing basketball games or whatever, so it’s just a fun-filled day as we create.
9. Do you have a formula for success or do you just wing it?
Jon: I’d like to say that we kinda wing it, but then we also kind of have a formula too.
Ray: Our formula is winging it!
Jon: Yeah, our formula is winging it. It depends. It could be any of us starting the track out, but Jeremy and Ray both play drums, so usually they’ll start the track out. From there, Jeremy might start playing a melody, and come up with the main melody of the song. Then maybe I’ll come in and throw a couple of ear candy leads on there, and then we’ll sequence out the beat. That’s maybe a typical one, but knowing the song structure to the beat to the verse and all that, we’ve got a pretty good formula.
Ray: Yeah, nine times out of 10, we all agree on where the tracks should go, what sounds we should use. We’re usually on the same page on where we’re going with the track.
10. What was it like being nominated for two Grammys with Ne-Yo?
Ray: It was incredible. It was our first trip to the Grammys, and it was just like, we’re amongst our peers, and it felt good to be recognized for the work that we’d done.
Jon: I guess you’d like to say that this is what you do it for, the accolades, other than making a living, but if Grammys are supposed to be our NBA championship, we’re going for the title I guess. And even though we didn’t win, we realized it was pretty early in our careers, so I think we have quite a bit of time to try to get a couple of those Grammys on our shelf.