Producer Amadeus Gives Trey Songz ‘Vision,’ Teams With Diddy
Bronx-born producer Amadeus has a success story that aspiring beatmakers should follow. The 30-year-old's tenacity and tireless work ethic, beginning at age 15, has blessed him with the opportunity to craft sonic backdrops for lyrics from the likes of 50 Cent ('It Is What It Is), Danity Kane ('Welcome to the Dollhouse Intro'), Talib Kweli ('A Game') and Fabolous ('What Should I Do'), among others.
Scoring high-profile names has been a combination of innate talents and his work under the umbrella of Diddy's production camp, the Hitmen. In 2008, Amadeus joined forces with the Bad Boy Records founder with a wealth of tracks behind him. Yet, like with any collaboration, the union has opened doors in different musical directions. Known for his hip-hop heavy beats, the producer took the chance and moved into the pop and R&B lane when creating songs for the group Danity Kane. His versatility worked in his favor, when he landed a track on their celebrated sophomore album, 'Welcome to the Dollhouse.'
While his teaming with Diddy is widely recognized, it's Amadeus' other hustle that may surprise R&B enthusiasts: he serves as Trey Songz' musical director. Since 2007, this jack-of-many trades has been traveling around the globe with the crooner, helping to bring his musical vision to life. Read on as the veteran drum player shares his history with Foxy Brown, explains his partnership with Diddy and reveals the story of how Trey trusts him to run show.
What is your role as Trey Songz' musical director?
I'm basically responsible for all of the music aspects of Trey Songz' live show. I've selected the band members. I schedule rehearsals. It's my job to present Trey with set list ideas. Set list ideas meaning the songs performed at the shows in regards to the order, what songs we do, how we start the show, how we end the show. It's my job to make sure that the sound is correct, the vibe and the atmosphere is correct. So basically just taking Trey's vision in regards to his live show and seeing that it comes to pass.
How did you land that coveted position?
We actually met at a studio in Houston. I was actually producing a few songs for Mike Jones who was signed to Warner Bros. at the time. And Warner Bros. and Atlantic is kinda connected. He said, "Yo, I need to get a male R&B artist on this track." We went back and forth with different ideas. Omarion's name came up, Chris Brown's name came up, Tyrese's name came up. Then Trey's name came up. It was kinda a no-brainer. There wasn't too much politics involved so we were able to make it happen immediately. Trey came down, we got the record done. When we were mixing the song, there was a drumset in the studio. And I was like, "I play drums." Trey and Mike were like "Yeah, right." I was playing drums before I was producing records. I've been playing drums since the fourth grade. A year later, I got a call from [Trey Songz'] manager at the time and he asked me if I was ready to put a band together for Trey.
Why do you think Diddy chose you to join the Hitmen?
Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie was one of the producers in which I met first when I got my first placement. We've always stayed in contact. He's been somewhat of a mentor to me as a producer. I always had that connection, I always had that in to Bad Boy through D-Dot. And I had the opportunity to meet [Bad Boy President] Harve Pierre and Conrad Dimanche who was the head 0f A&R at the time. So I was always in the loop, always submitting for projects until finally I landed a song on Cheri Dennis' album. And also landed a song on Danity Kane's album so that kinda pretty much sealed the deal. He was always aware of the talent I possessed and everything I had to bring to the table. And the topic kinda came up in which me needing producer management. And that's exactly what Bad Boy Hitmen is, producers managed by Bad Boy and Diddy himself.
What was one of your first placements you recall as part of Diddy's Hitmen?
I produced a Young Jeezy record with the Clipse called 'Illin.' I produced a record for T.I. called 'Whether You Like It or Not.' Those definitely are two that I'm reminded of when I first came on board.
Is there a beat you've been impressed by recently?
I'm definitely loving the 'Watch the Throne' album. And it's hard to really choose a favorite. I really like and am impressed by the way 'Otis' was put together. You know, it's definitely a real hip-hop vibe. It's similar to a style of mine that I had years ago when I first started. I had a few different artists and colleagues of mine reach out to me and say, "Yo, that 'Otis' sound like you back in the day." When I was really sampling heavy and chopping things up. I mean, at first we thought that sound was gone; a lot of artists and labels would run from samples. So it would force me as a producer to not do it as much. So when I heard 'Otis,' I was like, "It's back!" 'Cause it only takes for someone of that level -- a Jay-Z or a Kanye West -- to open everybody's eyes again and now everybody's on it.
Do you have any other new ventures you're involved in?
I actually have my own production company and label, Platinum One Music Inc. I have my own artist and her name is Tiffany Mynon. And we call her the Angel of R&B. She's born and raised in Harlem, N.Y. We're finishing up her project right now. And she's been signed to Epic to a group called Assorted Flavors, a few years ago, and she's toured the world singing backgrounds for Jay-Z, Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, Jill Scott. So she's very seasoned, been in the game. I have a few producers and songwriters in the camp as well. You can't do everything yourself these days.
I'm tapping into a lot of different things. I'm endorsed by drum companies, drum stick companies. I have my own drum stick. It's Vater drumsticks. They're based out of Boston. It's a signature stick and it has my full name on it. And we call it the Platinum Boy edition. Every time we do a show, I give out at least five or six pairs. Branding and keeping the name out there. In Africa, I gave out like 10 pair. I just wanted to be a blessing to those people. I'm also working on my own sneaker. There's so much you can do in the game besides just make music. I definitely take pride in working with different companies. I've got a lot going on.
Was hip-hop the genre you mainly wanted to stick with when producing for artists?
I appreciate all genres. My parents loved music and always had all different music on when I was growing up in the house. But, I was definitely fascinated with hip-hop. So everything I created when I first started producing was all hip-hop. I started at age 15, real young. I graduated from high school and attempted to go to college.
I attempted to go for studio engineering at Mercy College. No one informed me I would have to go for four years and no one informed me I probably wouldn't deal with anything in regards to my major until like the second or third year. So I'm in there taking theology class and math and English, and I'm like, "Yo, what does any of this have to do with getting in the studio, music, A&Ring this new Jay-Z album?" So one day I was bold and I went to the dean's office and I asked to see the studio. He took me to the studio. And I said, "This is the real studio?" So I told him I wanted to withdraw because I didn't like the studio. The studio in my house was probably bigger than that studio, no disrespect. I was ready for my career then and I didn't have time to wait, like no two years. So that day was my last day. [The dean] said, and I'll never forget this, he said, "I'm supposed to talk you out of this and not let you walk out of my office, but I feel like this is what you're supposed to do." It was the best thing I could have done because I'm where I'm at today.
What was the first placement you landed when you began creating beats on your own?
The first placement I had was with Nucci Reyo who was signed to MCA Records at the time. Don Pooh was the vice president of A&R and the song featured [Nucci] and Ali Vegas, Jinx Da Juvy, who was signed to Def Jam at the time, and Lady May, who was signed to D-Dot at the time. So that was my first time being in the studio, my first placement. It wasn't the first release though, because the album never came out. My first release was two songs. One was a street record, Foxy Brown's 'Get Off Me.' And it was actually a diss record towards rapper Eve. I'll never forget that coming on the radio, on Hot 97, and knowing that I produced it. And also, [another] Foxy Brown record I produced called 'Cradle 2 the Grave,' which was the song and soundtrack to the movie of the same name, which featured DMX and Jet Li. That actually presented me my first gold plaque.