On one hand, you still have the strong lyricists such as Meek Mill and Kur who hit you over the head with heavy hitting bars. On the other hand, you have artists such as Lil Uzi Vert, PnB Rock and Tierra Whack who blur the lines of traditional hip-hop, often utilizing infectious melodies and off-beat subject matter.
But the backbone of the city’s renaissance is the music behind it all. Just as the new age rappers are unique, so are the rising producers. For producer Dougie on the Beat, standing out is key.
“I just have a whole different sound,” he told PW during a recent interview. “I don’t really try to sound like other people. I just do what I do.”
Whether it’s stirring soul samples, or brooding bangers, he’s certainly mastered versatility.
In just a short period of time, Dougie, born Douglas Whitehead, has been on a steady ascent since his introduction into the game. The 21-year-old has produced for a number of artists, including Omelly, Kur and Quilly.
But perhaps his biggest accomplishment to date was producing Meek Mills’ Wins and Losses, released in July. On the project, Dougie inked three production credits: “1942 Flows,” “Issues” and “Save Me.”
Dougie explained that he linked up with Meek through a mutual friend and started flooding his email with beats over the course of a year. His hard work soon paid off after Meek selected his favorites and played them for Dougie over the phone.
“It was crazy because I was thinking my jawns really came a long way,” he said with a laugh. “It’s really somebody big time on my beat.”
Reared in the Nicetown section of North Philly, his hustle was birthed through necessity.
“You know around my way, the crime rate is high,” he said. “It’s a lot going on. I lost a lot of my homies coming up. That really motivated me to go harder. I didn’t want to be another statistic.”
In middle school, his uncle got him involved with a program called Music Explosion for the Youth, which introduced young people to music creation. Initially, he started rapping but ultimately fell in love with production after witnessing the process.
“First I just started messing with all the stuff that [my uncle] had because I didn’t have anything,” Dougie said. “He had an MPC. I was just playing around on that. After awhile, my mom and dad got me a laptop. Then, I just downloaded FL Studio and started making beats. I just locked myself in for awhile.”
During that time, he said he experimented with party beats and continued to perfect his craft and build his sound. In 2014, he shot a beat that featured a sped-up soul sample to Kur and the emcee’s “Upside Down Cake Pt. 3” was born. Shortly thereafter, more artists reached out to work with him.
Now, after his work on Wins and Losses, Dougie said other major collaborations are in the works. Among them are tracks with Meek’s cohort Rick Ross.
For Dougie, the success is somewhat bittersweet, given Meek’s current situation. In early November, a judge sentenced the 30-year-old rapper to two to four years in prison for violating probation.
The decision spurred tremendous protest from celebrities and fans alike, citing it as unjust. The rapper’s legal team is still fighting the sentence.
Dougie explained that while he’s not happy with the situation, he’s confident that Meek will bounce back soon.
“I feel like they doing him dirty for real,” he said. “But I feel like he’s going to come out on top of the situation. It’s opening a lot of people’s eyes. They are paying attention to what’s going on.”
Looking to the future, Dougie said that although he’s scored a list of noteworthy production credits, his dream collaborations would be to work with Young Thug, Yo Gotti, Future, Gucci Mane and Jay-Z.
Though he’s just getting his feet wet in the industry, he’s certainly poised to be one of the frontrunners responsible for shaping the city’s evolving hip-hop sound. As many Philly artists continue to take hip-hop to unchartered territories, one sound, i.e. traditional lyricism from the soul, will forever be a constant.
“The city really has spitters that spit that struggle,” he said. “Philly is known for that pain sound.”