Author: Joycelynn Okezie
DJ Grumble is a well-known DJ and producer. His instrumentals have been used all over the world by different artists and content creatives. Throughout the years of beat making, DJ Grumble has developed his own unique sound. At the top of the year, CAQ got the pleasure of speaking with the talented chemist and beat engineer:
Can you explain a bit about who you are and where you’re from?
I describe myself as a DJ, Producer, and Chemist. I grew up on the east coast in the Boston area. Right now I’m currently finishing my Ph.D. in Chemistry at Washington, University in St. Louis. I live in St. Louis now.
How did you find time to start producing and still have time for Chemistry?
Well, beat making has been my hobby since 8th grade. My motto is to make one beat a day. That’s how you improve and get better. It takes that kind of practice. My way of relaxing at the end of the day is getting home to make beats. I’ve been making beats since I was 13-14. The science aspect feeds into it because it challenges myself and crosses over into the beats by discovering sounds and flipping samples. There is creativity in both sides of what I do.
How did the name DJ Grumble come about and stick?
I was a teenager trying to come up with a DJ name for myself. “Grumble” just sounded cool. I don’t particularly grumble a lot. I’m not like a grumbly person. It just kind of rolls off the tongue and you can abbreviate it easily. I started DJ’ing a lot of parties in high school. The name just kind of stuck when I started using it.
Who would you say some of your music influences are?
My dad is a huge Jazz head. He had a lot of Jazz records. Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis and stuff like that. I had a pretty strong Jazz influence and I took classical piano for eight years while I was younger. I discovered hip-hop by listening to “Linkin Park”. The first hip-hop album I purchased was by The Executioners “Built From Scratch”. In terms of beats, I bit DJ Premiere the hardest. When I started making beats, I was really trying to copy his style and how he got his drums to sound so fat. Again, that’s how the science and music go together. I like to study how people put together their beats and how I can learn from them.
Talk about the “Freestyle Tools” series and what inspired that to come about?
Back in 2007, I was in college at Cornell University in New York. I had connected with the local rappers in town in Ithaca, New York. The local rappers and I would get together and listen to beats and have freestyle sessions and that’s where the idea popped out. I was always the guy with the beats. I was like man “why don’t I just put together albums of beats and call them “Freestyle Tools” because that’s what we do; “get together and freestyle on the beats.”
How did you and Ari Lennox start working together?
“Cold Outside” is the first song I heard Ari do over one of my beats. I was like man “this chick is really talented.” From that point, we started corresponding via the internet. I would send her beats, she would send me songs. She had a whole album worth of songs over my beats on her Soundcloud at one point. It was basically a chance encounter. She happened to find a beat of mine on Soundcloud, sang on it, and I was amazed by her voice. We just kept working from there.
Are there any other artists of producers you dream of working with?
Oh yeah! So basically how this all went down with Ari and Dreamville; Last year, me and my best friend Alex, a huge hip-hop head were coming up with a pack of beats to send to Ari. We’re going through the beats and he’s like “Send that one.” This was the beat to “Backseat”. I was like “I don’t really like that one” and he was like “just put it in there anyways.” So we put it in there. Ari liked the beat and sang “Backseat” over it.
Then, I get a call from J.Cole’s manager Ib. He’s like “yo man, we really love the sounds and “is it cool if we remix it and put it on Revenge Of The Dreamers II? A compilation album with J.Cole.” I was like “yeah that’s cool!” That’s how the single “Backseat” and Ari’s signing came about.
My dream is to eventually work with J.Cole. He’s one of my favorite rappers. I would really love to work with him and the other people on the Dreamville roster like Bas, Omen, and Cozz. Dreamville has such a great team, I would love to work with all of them. Even someone like Drake. I feel like I have beats that would suit almost any rapper. I try to be versatile and make beats that will fit with different moods. I have beats that will work with Gucci Mane and beats that will work with Drake.” My dream is not to work with any specifically but create the perfect mood and atmosphere for the song. That’s what we did with “Backseat” and why people like it so much” I just really like creating music that puts people in a certain mood and collaborating with artists that share the same vision.
What pieces of advice would you give to upcoming producers?
I would say “practice, practice, practice.” Make one beat a day. Don’t do it because you want to work with “50 Cent.” Don’t do it because you want to be rich. Just do it because you like it. Build your fan base as well.
Is your SoundCloud the only place people can follow you at? Do you have any other sites online?
I’m also on iTunes & Spotify. You can check out and beats and purchase “Freestyle Tools” on iTunes or Apple Music or stream it on Spotify as well.
Check out Freestyle Tools 2017 by DJ Grumble: