Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Rising Producer Rome Stays Fired Up
24-year old Los Angeles native, Rome speaks about Hip Hop like he’s been studying the game for decades. Despite being a new face on the rap circuit, Rome’s been in the background for years, producing groundbreaking records for Interscope/B.Y.I. artist Omar Cruz. But now he’s hungry for his own voice in the game, and he won’t stop until the world hears what he’s got to say.
“My older brothers were always into Dr. Dre, Biggie, and Wu-Tang. An 8-year-old listening to ‘C.R.E.A.M’ and yelling out ‘Cash rules everything around me’ was kind of rare I’m sure, but that was normal to me.”
It wasn’t long before Rome was writing his own rhymes and started making beats in his garage. To fund this new passion, Rome and his brothers started a graphic design business out of the house while Rome was still in high school. “Me and my brothers would sit in our room trying to figure out how to make some money. Any money we would make would always go back to the music. I never had brand new shoes on, but I had some dope ass speakers and a subwoofer! To me that was cool.”
A chance encounter with music industry veteran Luis “LuLu” Torres, owner of B.Y.I. Entertainment, changed Rome’s life forever. “I met LuLu through one of my brother’s friends. He was working The Clipse at the time, and he needed a flyer done for a B.E.T. party. When he came into the room, he said, ‘Yo, do you guys know of any rappers? I’m looking for hot rappers.’ I told him to check out my music.” While LuLu wasn’t too enthusiastic about Rome’s persona as an MC at the time (“I could tell he wasn’t too fond of it,”) he was very impressed by his production skills. “LuLu told me, ‘I like what you guys are doing over here. I’ve never met young cats grinding like this.’”
Over the next couple of years, LuLu took Rome under his wing and brought him in the studio with producers like The Neptunes and Cool & Dre. “When I was in the studio with Pharrell, he told me, ‘Yo man, when you make your beats, make sure that they’ve got that certain swing to them.’” That swing became Rome’s signature “Latin soul” sound. He would go through his mother’s old Spanish records, chop them up, and add a hip-hop spice to them.
Rome’s big break came in 2006, when the “City Of Gods” mixtape by Omar Cruz that he produced caught the attention of Interscope Records. Shortly afterward, B.Y.I. signed a 50/50 joint venture deal with Interscope to release Omar Cruz’s album “Sign Of The Cruz”, and Rome was positioned to produce the majority of the record. “The experience I’ve had working with Omar Cruz has no price tag on it. It’s almost like a rapper’s internship. I picked up how the game worked.” With “Sign Of The Cruz” set to drop later this year, Rome has also been busy in the studio, working with Rick Ross, Jim Jones, and Busta Rhymes among others. But now, Rome’s taking it upon himself to step up to the mic and pursue his number one desire. “I’ve made a lot of beats, and I’ve done a lot of records, but I really want people to hear my story now.”
Rome makes new records every day, and releases nothing but free music online with a sole purpose of gaining a loyal fan base. “I could have zero dollars in my pocket, but have the biggest smile in the world on my face, because I know I’m working toward my future. My mom would always tell me, ‘Today we’re going to eat tortillas and beans, but tomorrow we’re going to go to that buffet you guys like.’ That’s how I live my life. I’m gonna sacrifice today for a better tomorrow.”