The Story so far...
I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, as the son of a church musician. As you can see from the picture, he had me around music from day one. I can still remember how he would allow me to crawl around the floor and plug in midi cables, sustain pedals and tighten up drum snares. My entire immediate family was in music in some way; Pops played keys, drums and the saxophone and was the chief musician and band director for my church, Ma played the flute in college in the band (University of Alabama), my sister played the clarinet through college at Alabama (and was present with the band at the games for 3 championships in her 4 years there!), and my little brother is currently in high school band playing the saxophone.
I couldn't run from it. Pops played all kinds of music at home. Jazz, Gospel, Rock, R&B, Soul, Contemporary Christian, Classical and much more. I started taking piano lessons at age 6 and learned a ton about music theory, classical music and performance. By age 11, I honestly had mentally checked out from doing music, because I wasn't having enough fun anymore. I didn't respect the craft enough to want to be involved. This all changed around age 12 when I made my first beat in our basement. My pops had an Ensoniq TS-10 (google it) and I can still remember in my head my first beat. The feeling it gave was priceless.
This is where everything changed. My pops walked into the room and encouraged me every step of the way. He realized that I just needed the space to create and be myself as opposed to playing everyone else's music. At the time, my biggest influences were creating my favorite music, some of which happened to be the biggest records in the world. Producers like Timbaland, the Neptunes, Kanye West, Dr. Dre, Rodney Jerkins, DJ Toomp, even Lil Jon. These were only a few of the producers I wanted to emulate at the time, because their music was what I played over and over.
To keep a long story short, I worked with that keyboard for the next 7 years. My first time hearing someone on my beat was actually in high school around age 14. Some guys that were seniors (most over 18 lol) said they were looking for beats so I gave them a CD of a few of my hardest, terribly mixed favorites. They rocked with about 3-4 of them and actually put out a CD around the school. Although it was some of the worst I'd ever heard, I was stoked!
This continued locally with other friends, a few rappers and even myself (yeah I wrote a few bars!). When I turned 18, I brought the keyboard to college with me. I still used it throughout my freshman year until I eventually got my first laptop (2009). My now good friend KD Beats who stayed right across the hall from me let me know about Fruity Loops and I was able to finally sample! After listening to all of these Kanye, Just Blaze, 9th Wonder and all of these guys for so long and not being able to even try to do what they were doing, this was a GOLDEN MOMENT for me. I still remember the first song I sampled was "Have You Seen Her" by The Chi-Lites. It was a song I had wanted to sample for years for some reason. I may even still have that beat.
2009 was the year where I really would say I started producing. Up until that point, I was really just a beat maker that would occasionally give my beats away or allow my friends to rap on them. I may have sold a couple here and there for about $40-$50 each, but nothing at scale. Some of my first friends in college were artists and I started really developing sounds for them and guiding them through what I felt was the best execution of their songs. We had some local success around the campus and surrounding college towns.
Fast forward to 2012, my senior year of college. I started an internship at a studio called Audiostate 55 Recording Studios in Birmingham, Alabama, (Ruben Studdard, Stevie Wonder, etc). This was one of the best experiences of my life. I went from interning with the President of the label/studio owner/professor/conductor Dr. Henry Panion and under chief engineer James Bevelle, to leading a music production program for inner city schools that we built across the street from the studio. This is where I really discovered my passion of education and community. Giving these kids a chance to get hands on with something most of them thought was completely unattainable was one of the most fulfilling "jobs" I've ever had in my life.
To this day, I still regularly participate in volunteer efforts to further education in under-sourced communities of color.
2013, despite the opportunity to have my own room at the studio as an engineer, I decide to move to Atlanta to get closer to where all the moves were happening. I was already traveling to and from Atlanta for networking events, beat battles, and showcases. In 2012, I won my first beat battle in the Hustle and Flow competition they were having at Cream Lounge at the time. Although I won, the "prizes" I was supposed to receive (meetings with artists on Grand Hustle, etc) never came to fruition. I chalked it up to the game and kept pushing. Later that year I won the iStandard Producer Showcase in Atlanta and got an opportunity to compete at the national showcase the following year.
This showcase was a turning point. The judges were Sonny Digital, DJ Burn One, WLPWR and Yung Joc. After my set, a couple of them pulled me to the side to say that unless someone else really came with it, I had pretty much won the battle. And I did. This gave me the opportunity to link with WLPWR and his company SupaHotBeats in studio to learn, work on some music and meet new creatives. He now has a podcast that is probably the most informative source for producers right now. Check it out here.
Over the last few years, I've been working directly with dozens of artists, filmmakers, inspirational speakers, and more people on music projects. I'm a student at all times, so alongside the development of these creatives, I've learned a lot from them. Here's a glimpse into some of the music I've produced over the last few years. Today I'm working with the artists and creatives that inspire me most; working to create opportunities for myself, my family and all of those around me.
I still work around education, community and music all the time, but am looking to go full time with those efforts. I'm looking to make the beat store a way for people to gain access to innovative, fresh music outside of their comfort zone. So far, artists have been someone limited in their choices of online music. They've had to either buy cheap copycat beats that don't usually come with much character or personality or pay a premium price to work directly with a producer and create their sound.
I do understand that every artist/songwriter isn't in a place in their career where they can afford production at the highest level, but that doesn't mean they should be subject to stale, copycat tracks. I'm looking to provide a middle ground between affordability and innovation.
I'll give you a peek inside my vision. KTGotBeats is creating a world where we all have the opportunity to express our most authentic selves. In custom production work, KTGotBeats strives to develop artists and build relationships with those looking to change the sound of music. I plan to get to a place where I can build centers and resources for those needing an artistic outlet to spark that drive. Just like the kids in Birmingham that showed so much talent once given the opportunity, I believe our next developers, musicians, designers, painters, activists, and more who shape culture, will come from those younger than us.