Interview: DJ Burnone
How did you start making music?
Well, I started out as a DJ. I was inspired by a DJ named Dr. Rock, out of Texas. I think I was about 10 and I went to a skating rink and I watched this DJ. He was spinning records and he never looked at the crowd ... He knew by the music he was playing...he didn’t have to talk. I am a behind the scenes person. This DJ never had to say a word, he controlled the crowd, so that is what made me start DJing. And from DJing I graduated to Producing.
What was the first big record you would say you produced?
The first BIG record? It depends on what you consider “BIG.” ...The biggest record, I would have to say, was “Ms. Jackson.”
How did that come about?
We had just come from a wedding. Big Boi, Dre, and I went to a wedding, and on the way back from the wedding we were talking about how... It’s crazy how marriages always end. So in the song, when we got back to the studio, if you listen to the pianos, the DUN DUN DA DUN, DUN DUN DA DOO DOO DOO DO...Well, as the piano starts to fall, that symbolizes how relationships sometimes fall off. So, the song was inspired by a wedding we went to.
So, you and Dre just came up with the beat?
How long do you think it took?
This song from start to finish took about three week. Then another three months before it got mixed and got finished.
What about the record “Art of Storytellin’?”
That shit came by coincidence. We were at Purple Dragon Studios, I had my beat machine on, and we were just sitting there and started hitting this sample. I put it on 16 level and it started making some music, so we just started recording it...and it was born. It just came about. That was one of those ones. That record took maybe two hours.
What really inspired your drums? Because I know with those two records definitely in particular...
I just go with how I’m feeling at the time. The things you take in kind of dictate what you put out. Around that time I was listening to a bunch of different music, so when I went in to make music, it’s just how it came out.
What about “Bombs over Baghdad (B.O.B)?”
Well, Dre kind of did most of that. I did some of it, but Dre did most of it. That came about because we were at war. The world was at war. I think we had just dropped the first bombs on Saddam Hussein and them back then. It was inspired by that. We almost didn’t put it out because the label was afraid that it might be too political. It almost didn’t even make it out. It almost never saw the light of day.
Let’s talk about some of the artists you’ve worked with. What about common?
Cool dude. Focused dude. Perfectionist. I had a good time with him. We worked for about three months on his album. I did half of his album, “Universal Mind Control.” We travelled. He was dating Serena, so we got to go to the tennis matches, I got to meet Serena...all that good stuff
Who were some of your other favorite artists to work with?Lenny Kravitz was interesting. When I went to Miami to work with Lenny Kravitz, that shit was pretty interesting... He taught me a few things.
What song did you do?
“See You Again.” Wonder if I...ever see you again...that song. I can sing too.
How did you get connected with Big and Dre?
I met Big and Dre through my cousin Rico Wade, who was one of the members of Organized Noize. They were the production team that started OutKast. My cousin started to produce the album for OutKast, and I said, “I think they need a DJ. You should let me be the DJ for them.” So, he spoke to them and they were like, “Yeah ok, cool, you could be the DJ.” So, I started out as the DJ.
We started touring. We started doing everything you saw as OutKast. By the first album, while we were on the road, we bought us some music equipment and we would set up our little studio in the back of the tour bus while we go city to city and we would...make beats. And we would be imitating our big brothers, Organized Noize, because all we used to do is sit around and watch them make beats, until they made a beat for the album. So on the road, we started making our own beats. And “Elevators,” Dre’s like, ”Hey man, check this beat out.” I went back there and... Bpp bppp khhhh,bpp khhh. And it was the “Elevator’s beat.” We were like, “that shit fresh as hell!” So we couldn’t wait to get back to Atlanta, because we really didn’t have equipment to record vocals. We just had beat machines and shit. So when we got back to Atlanta, we went in the studio and we recorded “Elevators.” And that was the beginning of us starting to produce the albums, making the albums ourselves, along with Organized Noize – but at this point we were now contributing music. So, we started producing more and more and we realized we were kind of onto something.
So, we decided to form this production team called Earthtone 3, which would be me, Big, and Dre. And from there it just flourished. We started to produce more and more of the albums, and just more and more in general. We started working with other artists and started to branch out. So, that was kind of the Earthtone 3 round. We ran for about seven years. It was pretty successful. I think we won over nine Grammy’s. I was blessed to win two my self. It was a good run.
We watched Organized Noize. They were the forefathers. They were the shit back then. They produced Waterfalls. They produced a lot of the biggest songs... ever.
How was it working, production wise, with Big and Dre?
Oh, it’s all good! Everybody does their own little things, so the chemistry is good. Everybody does something different. Everyone has something different to offer. So, together, it makes good chemistry.
What were everyone’s roles?
Big was more of a hook person. Big was more of the hook/melody kind of person. Dre was more lyrical, the words...actual words. And I would be the musical element. So, together is kind of what makes it work.
What was it like, in Atlanta, before and after you got put on?
I think we made it safe for people to want to represent Atlanta. I think at that point people were proud to say they were from Atlanta. There were people before us that did music that were on a major level that kind of brought some sunlight to Atlanta, no doubt. But I think that once we came out, I think it made people proud to be from Atlanta. And then those people that did things before us, they weren’t afraid to be from Atlanta, because they were moreso pretending to be from New York or L.A. Because that is what was hot back then. We were the first one’s to really represent Atlanta. But everybody contributed: the people before us, the people after us. It’s a continuing thing.
Was this a passion when you were younger?
Man, I had no idea. I never thought about being a music producer ever in my life. I didn’t even... I used to like Michael Jackson. So, I just liked music. I used to listen to all kinds of music... I guess it was just a natural step. I never knew I would be producing music for anybody. Didn’t even know how to work a beat machine. I never grew up playing keyboards, never grew up playing anything. I played in a band in High School, which I guess played a part. But I never dreamed I would be producing music on a major level...ever. •
1997-“Hoodlum (Original Soundtrack)”- Elmer Bernstein -“Jazzy Belle (Remix Clean)-“ OutKast-Organized Bass”- Kilo All-“Screaming”- Mr. DJ
1998-“Aquemini”- OutKast-“Still Standing”- Goodie Mob-“They Don’t Dance No Mo’”- Goodie Mob
1999-“Crow’s Nest”- Jim Crow-“In Our Lifetime, Vol. 1”- Eightball & MJG -“Thunderdome: The Best of ‘98”- -“World Party”- Goodie Mob
2000-“Any Given Sunday (Music from the Motion Picture) -“The Skinny”- Slimm Calhoun
2001-“Down South Bounce, Vol. 2”- DJ Jelly -“Essential Mix (2001)”- Pete Tong -“Reminiscing”- Mr. DJ
2003-“A.D.I.D.A.S/Rap is Dead”- Killer Mike -“Dirty South Classics”- Goodie Mob
-“Enquiring Minds, Vol. 2: The Soap Opera”- Gangsta Boo -“Monster”- Killer Mike-“Speakerboxxx/The Love Below”- OutKast-“Wooden Leather”- Nappy Roots
2006-“D’Soca Zone 6th Wukk Up” -“Idlewild”- OutKast-“The Charm”- Bubba Sparxxx -“Thunderdome, Vol. 17” -“Wood Work”- Da BackWudz
2007-“Break the Pot”- Rich Boy-“D’Soca Zone: 6th Wukk Up”- Kevin Lyttle
2008-“50 Hardcore Tunes, Vol. 2” -“Ultimate Hardcore (Cloud 9 Holland) -“Ultimate Hardcore, Vol. 2” -“Universal Mind Control”- Common
2009-“Change Is Now: Renewing America’s Promise” “Hardcore Top 100: Best Ever”
2010-“Sir Lucious Left Foot...The Son of Chico Dusty”- Big Boi
2011-“Nappy Dot Org”- Nappy Roots
2012-“Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumours”- Big Boi