When you think about Hip-Hop in Harlem, New York, of course names like The Diplomats, Mase, Jae Millz, Immortal Technique, and the late great Big L are probably amongst the first ones to roll off your tongue—but just because you don’t use a microphone as your tool of choice doesn’t mean that your accomplishments should go unnoticed.
Harlem-bred producer Damon “Dame Grease” Blackmon uses studio equipment for his trade, and people like The LOX, DMX (before all the drama), Jay-Z, Nas, Kelis, NORE, Young Jeezy, T.I., and Rick Ross can all agree that he excels in that field.
Not one to be on the forefront of fame, the man who is literally always heard but seldom seen is more than comfortable in his executive role these days (and this brief conversation asserts just that), as he helps to nurture in the new sound of young producers on the rise, while maintaining his own platinum status that he built from the ground up dating back to 1997.
Besides, when you’ve sold over 30 million records for your career so far, there’s really no reason to plaster yourself on every single television set, because people lie—numbers don’t.
iHipHop.com: What have you been up to lately?
Dame Grease: Well I’ve been working, and I put out my own mixtape, Goon Musik 1.5. So besides that, I’ve just been trying to keep really busy, you know what I’m saying?
iHipHop.com: Who’s featured on that project?
Dame Grease: I got Max B on there killing it, along with a lot of other people as well, like a few people from Vacant Lot. Right now I’m just coming in, you know what I’m saying?
Right when we first put out Goon Musik, it sold over 5,000 copies, and we had to go back to the presses with it. You just have to have some interesting product for the people to buy, because that is what makes your sales. The mixtape game is still bumping, but only if you have that sh*t; and that’s because the streets are going to f*ck with that real sh*t.
iHipHop.com: Have you changed any of your methods producing wise from when you first started to now?
Dame Grease: Yeah, it’s changed… It’s funny because to me, it seems like yesterday. But it’s a different game, and there are a lot of up-and-coming young producers. As for now, I’m not just “producing” tracks, I’m executive producing them as well. I’ve been a boss forever, so that part of the game really isn’t new to me. So right now, it’s my job to put the right sh*t together, and still have my ear to the street.
iHipHop.com: Is an official album showcasing your production, in the near future?
Dame Grease: You know what, I’m going to say this, and make sure you put it in print: “I would never do some effortless sh*t like that…” [Laughing] Just a bunch of beats, with n*ggas rapping on it; HELL NO! I take pride in my work, and I take pride in my music, you know what I’m saying?
I treat the artist with the utmost respect, and I would never just splash sh*t together. Just to have artists on beats is stupid; it has to be a song that complements the artist, and the track. I’m not really a show type of dude when it comes to that.
iHipHop.com: Do you think that hurt you a little by not putting yourself out there more?
Dame Grease: Yeah it did hurt me now that I think about it—I’m going to keep it real. At the beginning of my career when I started producing big songs, I was into a lot of different things, and I really couldn’t put myself out there like that. But now I’m more of an executive now, and that’s really been my true passion. I do not only build music, but I’m the force behind putting new sounds out.
Of course that did do some damage, because I’m not a super household name to everybody out there in the world; like Kanye [West], Swizz [Beatz] and Pharrell, but on a different note, I’m a label also. I put out my own music, and I do mainstream as well. So in a sense you can say it hurt, but in a sense, you can say that it valued me like a mothaf*cka.
iHipHop.com: Is there anyone out there you haven’t worked with but want to?
Dame Grease: I f*ck with everybody, I want to work with Ludacris. I don’t f*ck with the carbon copy rappers, I f*ck with the original dudes… [Laughs]