There is no one way to catching a big break as a producer—just ask DJ Burn One, the Atlanta-based musician whose name has appeared in the credits for individual tracks and full-length projects from A$AP Rocky and Gucci Mane. In the third installment of P&P Pro Tips, the accomplished instrumentalist details his strategies for nascent producers.
Inspired by Three 6 Mafia when he was first starting out, Burn One would try to mimic their production style until he chiseled away and developed a sound of his own. “I came into the game as DJ and so the only reason I started making beats was because I reached a point where I got with artists and none of the music was inspiring me,” he says. “So I was like either I can complain about it or make something I want to hear.”
He did just that, working with Pill on his 4180: The Prescription mixtape in 2009 and continuing on to fully produce Starlito’s Renaissance Gangster mixtape the following year. Since then, his cachet has grown to the point where he now owns his own production company, Five Points Music Group.
Burn One credits his success to working with rappers who know what they’re doing, which in turn makes is production work sound stronger. “The advice I give to aspiring producers is to find an artist who makes your beats sound better than they actually are,” he says. “There are a lot of times where artists will try to go to the top, we see Drake or we see T.I. or see whoever and it’s like, ‘We gotta get this beat to Drake!’ What about the dude in your hood who’s grinding and getting it in and gonna push it? As an artist, you have to find someone with talent and drive. Y’all can make something happen. You got a lot better chance of doing that then sending beats off of Drake or T.I. or some of these people. If you make a name for yourself, they’ll come to you.”
Watch the third installment of P&P Pro Tips above.