Tennessee is not known for hip hop acts. Even after Three-6 Mafia, Gangsta Boo and even Young Buck, the Volunteer State still struggles for an identity of its own. Perhaps it is because of the multitude of styles and genres that merge in the state – from country to hip-hop. Christopher Gholson may best encompass the entire flavor found in the state. Hailing from Memphis and Cordova –and better known as Drumma Boy – Gholson was born to a professional opera singer for a mom and a professional clarinetist and music professor for a dad. Suffice to say he was exposed to music in a way most of us can only dream. “Orchestra is very complex. If I could learn that I knew I could learn anything.”
In between attending classes at the University of Memphis as a Music Business Major, he would shop his beats to Gangsta Boo or travel to Texas to work for Scarface or Bun B of UGK. And after relocating to Atlanta in 2004, his career took off. Merging all of his music influences, from Beethoven to Dizzy Gillespie to Quincy Jones, with the current direction of music today, and you have a sound that is unique yet surprisingly familiar. His production credits read like a who’s who of today’s music: Jeezy, T.I., Kanye West, Lil’ Wayne, Nelly, T-Pain, Gorilla Zoe, Drake, Gucci Mane, Ludacris, Plies, Young Joc, Rick Ross, E-40, Rocko, Paul Wall, Lil’ Jon, Travis Porter.
Not one to hog the spotlight as many producers can be accused of, Drumma was by and large a behind the scenes player until he participated in the reality series, Welcome to Dreamland. Alongside Jazzy Pha and Def Jam recording artist Vawn, he competed with Pha to groom a new artist and prepare them for superstardom. Originally aired by local Atlanta television station Peachtree TV, the series was picked up nationally by BET. “I feel as if my background in music helped me to win [the show]. I stuck to real music. We used live instrumentation with [contestant winner] Leaf. I think that gave us the edge.”Drumma credit’s the show with helping to “increase the visibility of my brand. It’s all about branding,” he explains. “People didn’t know who I was. Now people can match a name to a face. Now I’m in the studio with Christina Aguilera. I’ve been working on most of Jeezy’s TM103 [Thug Motivation 103].” His work is all over the radio, from Gucci Mane’s “Beat It Up” featuring Trey Songz to Young Jeezy’s “Lose My Mind” featuring Plies.
Drumma Boy is quick to affirm just how much having learned about the music business beforehand helped him manage his own career. “Accounting is so important and the industry is mostly a business,” he explains. “I founded Drum Squad [his umbrella company that’s comprised of Drum Squad Productions which represents producers and songwriters, along with Drum Squad Records] in 2003. And now we are one of the most sought after [production] companies in the business.” His success earned him the love of his native Memphis, having recently received the key to the city. Drumma offers his formula, “Success is about branding. You have got to give people and this industry a way to remember you.”