It's 6 a.m. when the hip-hop producer confirms an interview with the reporter. The journalist is just getting up; the hip-hop dude - New London native Josh Adams, aka JBeatzz - is just going to bed.
Yeah, maybe it's a stereotype - the all-night music biz lifestyle - but in this case, JBeatzz has cause for celebration. He's absolutely hit the big time. The 26-year-old, now living in Atlanta, is a long-time protégé of rap superstar Big Boi as a member of the artist's Boom Boom Room production team. And Big Boi, of course, is one-half of the multi-platinum OutKast with Andre 3000.
Now, after a three-year wait involving record label issues, "Sir Lucious Left Foot, the Son of Chico Dusty," Big Boi's second solo album, has hit the streets to massively great reviews. And prominently mentioned is the track "General Patton," which was produced by JBeatzz and Big Boi.
"Wow, it's crazy. I'm proud, I'm relieved, I'm blessed." Adams is speaking by phone from his Atlanta home several hours later. A dog is barking, kids are playing in the background, and the mood is indeed happy.
In fact, Adams was out till dawn on a bit of a celebratory exercise. He describes the occasion as a sort of "welcome to the big leagues" event with various members of the Dungeon Family, the superstar Atlanta musical collective whose members include, besides Big Boi and his OutKast partner Andre 3000, such hip hop superstars as Cool Breeze, Witchdoctor, Mello and Sleepy Brown.
"It's a great feeling, like being a part of the backbone of the Dungeon guys," Adams says. "It's like saying you've got your foot in the door and now let's keep it coming."
Based on the sounds of "General Patton," it's easy to see why Adams has hit a level of success. It's a creative and powerful track and grabs the listener's attention at once. There's a bigger-than-God, slightly eerie choir presence - part Mozart and part "Omen" soundtrack - and an irresistibly infectious beat.
He says he was just going through a variety of sounds when the opera concept hit him, and when he paired it with the massive drum tracks, it grabbed Big Boi's attention.
"We started to work and he recorded the first verse and there it was," Adams says.
Since there's little doubt "Sir Lucious" will be one of the biggest rap albums of 2010, Adams will deservedly reap across-the-board benefits in terms of recognition, royalties and respect. He's already at work on some high-profile recordings, he says, though, for the time being, they must remain anonymous. He says, "I'm ready and excited. Big Boi takes care of all the projects, and there is always more stuff getting underway."
Adams' official job title is in-house producer for Boom Boom Room Productions, which is Big Boi's at-large studio - essentially an artistic and sonic think tank. There, Adams' days are spent in a sort of Willie Wonka-esque search for sonic alchemy: he creates beats, finds riffs or sounds that might create a mood or augment a track, and even hires and conducts session musicians for tunes that might rely on the sort of "live band" approach utilized by the Roots.
"You never know on any given day," Adams says. "I might be recording one day, or mixing, or I could spend the day just listening to samples."
He describes the renowned Atlanta version of the Southern Rap scene as a tight-knit community wherein musical relationships might develop through word of mouth and hard work. Plus, he has the commitment of the life-long music fan. Adams grew up playing drums and listening extensively to East Coast rap. At 17, he decided he wanted to get in the business.
After getting his high school diploma at night school in New London - he also attended Jennings and Bennie Dover Jackson - Adams went to Orlando, Fla., to attend Full Sail University. The school is renowned for a cutting edge curriculum focusing on music, film and video production and other media and entertainment pursuits, and Adams studied audio recording and multi-media.
"Music was always in my head, and I went to school to learn the technical side," Adams says. "It took me years to perfect my craft, and since then it was a question of putting in the work. I've tried to build relationships and work hard, and then part of it's just being in the right place at the right time."
He followed the Full Sail experience by moving to Atlanta because of its extremely successful hip-hop scene, and immediately started working any freelance production gigs he could take. He also participated in producer battles taking place across the city - and, four years ago, some of his beats caught the attention of Big Boi.
"The next thing I knew, I was an intern at the Boom Boom Room, working for Big," Adams says. "I was absolutely not star struck because I'd worked so hard to get a chance, you know what I'm saying?"
Adams thinks part of what stood out about his sound was his confluence of styles and influence.
"I mean, I did grow up on East Coast rap, but I always liked the Southern beats," he says. "Now they say I've got an East Coast sound with a Deep South drum line, and I think it's a pretty good mix."
One aspect of recording hip-hop albums that differs substantially from rock or country music is that any given CD might have several different producers - almost on a track-by-track basis - rather than just one producer overseeing the entire project. Adams says that set up is always intriguing and valuable, and that it's impossible not to listen, for example, to the other cuts on "Sir Lucious" and imagine what he might have done with them.
"Of course I do that," he laughs. "You get to a point where you kinda don't even realize you're doing it because it's just the nature of the job. That's how I'm trained to listen. I overanalyze a lot of the time, and it's weird because you want to just enjoy the track. But I might say, 'I really like what (the producer did here), but I might have done this.' Either way, you sure learn a lot."
Adams says he gets back to New London on a more or less annual basis. Of course, his immediate family - wife Mandy Adams of Montville and their sons, Josh Jr. and JaCodi James, as well as his mom, Susan Burnham - is with him in Atlanta. But he says he loves to come back and see his father, Daniel Adams, and sisters, Melissa, Renee and Amanda.
"I was back in New London in April and it's always great to be back," he says. He laughs. "You gotta get back and see friends and family and the casino."