Don’t lie. We know you’re one of the few thousands of people in their car belting out pretty much all the lyrics to Bruno Mars’ “That’s What I Like” or dancing your butt off to “Finesse.” Or maybe you’re a fan of Fifth Harmony’s “Deliver” or Lil Yachty’s (featuring Stefflon Don) “Better.” We’ll stop you right there. No need to front and no need to feel embarrassed about it. It’s hard to NOT like those songs.
BUT! Do you know who produced/wrote majority of the major hits you know and love? Get to know them NOW and thank them later. We’re talking about the GRAMMY ® Award-nominated Los Angeles production and songwriting team, The Stereotypes: Jonathan Yip, Ray Romulus, Jeremy Reeves, and Charm. Oh, and you read that right. They recently received THREE Grammy nominations for Song of the Year, Best R&B Song (both for their work on “That’s What I Like”) and Producer of the Year, Non-Classical.
These four are the reason you’re slapping all the good hits right now and it can only go up from here. In fact, they just teamed up with Pitbull and released “Jungle” which also featured E-40 and Abraham Mateo. Hot off this release and their nomination announcement, we had a chance to chat with Jonathan Yip to hear about their humble beginnings, working with different artists, and how they’re about to attack 2018.
The Young Folks: The music you guys make are all hits. One after the other. So how did it start from the beginning? What is your guys’ origin story?
Jonathan Yip: Well it’s kind of a long story, but we started in 2003 with Jeremy and I who are both from Sacramento. I was living in LA working at Interscope Records and Jeremy was working at Guitar Center. I went to Sacramento for a random visit and went to Guitar Center to pick up some gear when Jeremy overheard that I worked at Interscope and was looking for a discount. Jeremy then came up to me, said he made beats and asked how can he get put on. He played me dope stuff and teamed up soon after.
We had an artist that we took to New York to get a record deal where Ray was an A&R at Def Jam. He ended up signing him, but unfortunately didn’t have much success. Luckily we were able to build a great relationship through that process and started making music together. When Ray got laid off in 2007, he said he wanted to move to LA and recommended we join forces and try to take over. Shortly after, I met charm in 2010 while he was living in Sacramento. He just quit his job working at the Capitol to make music his full time job. I asked him for 10 of his best beats and one of those ended up being a placement for tank featuring Drake, “Celebration” and we been rockin’ ever since.
TYF: How were you introduced to the world of music production in the first place?
Yip: Well, we all share a love for hip hop, which emphasizes beats. We all figured out a way to make beats, whether that meant accompanying our raps, imitating our favorite music in our own way, or just making the beats we’ve always wanted to hear that didn’t exist yet. That taught us song structure, dynamics and overall sonic mastery.
TYF: From the beginning to even now, how do you guys go about deciding what ultimately stays in a song and what goes?
Yip: Each song literally passes through each of our ears. That’s the beauty of having 4 of us; our product literally has to pass a four tier inspection every time.
TYF: You’ve all worked with impressive artists and each could be very different from one another. Having said that, how do you get yourself familiar with an artist’s music to make sure it stays true to your sound and their sound?
Yip: I think that varies depending on the artist. Sometimes we research the artist we’re working with. Sometimes we’re already of fan of the artist or vice versa. Certain artist’s have stronger identities/visions for themselves and direct us specifically on what they want but some of our favorite ways to stay authentic is that element of surprise: literally not knowing anything about the artist until that moment we meet and work with them.
TYF: I read that The Stereotypes were going through a tough time in your guys’ career and uncertain about the next steps. Can you elaborate on what exactly happen (if possible) and how you four overcame this obstacle?
Yip: Yeah it’s true we hit a rough patch. It’s tough when you experience some mild success and think that it’s always going to be that way. Reality set in quick for us. We were at a point where we wanted to only be creative and took our mind off the business side. That was the biggest mistake we made and also the best lesson we learned. It taught us to never let go of the reigns of your business and that no one will look after it better than yourself. During that time, we were even contemplating if we should continue or go find a job, but luckily we stuck with it. Poor management led us to figuring out how to survive on our own and managing ourselves. I believe that was most important period of our career and it molded us into what we are today.
TYF: Back when you were kids, what kind of music were you into? What would be the first song we’d hear you playing on repeat?
Yip: This one is different for each one of us, but for me it was definitely hip hop and R&B. My favorite song was “93 til Infinity” by Souls of Mischief. Charm’s was “Regulators” by Nate Dogg and Warren G. Jerms was Snoop Dogg’s “What’s My Name.” Ray Romulus’s is Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T.”
TYF: What’s your go-to dance song whether it’s during a wedding or at the club (other than your own songs)?
Yip: I’m gonna go with Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September.”
Charm’s – “Candy” by Cameo
Ray Romulus – “Outstanding” by Gap Band
Jerm’s – “Crank Dat” by Soulja Boy
TYF: Dead or alive – who would you want to work with to produce/write music?
Yip: Stevie Wonder
TYF: Huge congrats on the Grammys. i won’t want to jinx it by asking who you would thank if you won but what will be your go-to songs on your playlist while you’re getting ready for the big night?
Yip: “We Major” – Kanye West
“Trophies” – Drake
Rocky Theme Song – “Gonna Fly Now”
TYF: What will The Stereotypes be doing in 2018 and further along in the future?
Yip: Going harder than 2017!