Dem Franchize Boyz Interview
|Artist:||Dem Franchize Boyz|
|Next Project:||Da Point of No Return (Mar '08)|
|Website:||Dem Franchize Boyz's Website|
After scoring major hits with the singles “White Tee’s,” “Oh, I Think They Like Me,” and “Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It,” the rap group Dem Franchize Boyz are back to prove they aren’t just snap music-era wonders.
With the recent success of artists like Soulja Boy and Hurricane Chris, the Atlanta foursome of Parlae, Pimpin’, Jizzle Man and Buddie understand they must continue to be trend setters and are preparing to do just that on their third studio album, “Da Point of No Return,” set for release this March.
In an exclusive interview with DJBooth’s DJ “Z,” DFB member Buddie steps inside the booth to talk about Jermaine Dupri’s departure from Virgin Records and how it affected the group, why the latest job cut at EMI won’t effect the status of DFB’s upcoming album, and which popular veteran artist has been “talkin out the side of his neck” lately.
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Dem Franchize Boyz Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on ya’ll? It’s your boy, ‘Z’, doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is one member of a rap group who is about to embark on a point of no return. Talking to me via phone, not out the side of his neck, my man Buddie of Dem Franchize Boyz - how you doin’?
Buddie: What’s happenin’?
DJ Booth: What’s happenin’ is digital download and ring tone sales are the new moneymaker, and you guys really started after you sold a million ring tones before the release of your debut album. Do you consider yourself a digital pioneer, Buddie?
Buddie: Yeah, we always considered ourselves trend setters. That was just another trend that we had in the making.
DJ Booth: In recent times, Soulja Boy just went over the three million mark for digital sales. Did he send you guys a ‘Thank You’ card in the mail?
Buddie: Nah, he didn’t send mail, but I’m quite sure he do appreciate what we started, and I appreciate him for keepin’ it goin’ on.
DJ Booth: When formulating the moves that went into his popular Soulja Boy dance, I noticed a little “Lean wit It, Rock wit It.” Do you feel he bit off your success at all?
Buddie: I wouldn’t say he bit; like I said earlier, we’re trend setters, man. We make it do what it do and we expect people to follow and copy, however you put it - add their little twist to it, but give us our recognition.
DJ Booth: Speaking of trend-setting, what do you have in store for 2008? I don’t want you to give everything away, but reveal for me what you guys have up your sleeve.
Buddie: 2008? We’re more mature this go-round. We know that this is a business, and we’re startin’ to understand the business aspects of what’s goin’ on in the music industry, and how to handle things. We’re more mature now - we’re grown men. We’re also tryin’ to brand ourselves. W got Franchize Records as a parent company, but under that each one of us has got our own individual thing goin’ on. Parlae makes movies, he scripts ‘em out. Pimp makes beats. Me and Jizzal got a barber shop. Me and Parlae own Tee Entertainment, which hosts a lot of artists. We just try to brand ourselves as a label.
DJ Booth: Speaking of labels, you guys are signed to Virgin Records, which merged with Capitol, and they’re all owned by the parent company EMI. Just recently, EMI announced that they’re cutting between 1,500 and 2,000 jobs, so are you four safe from getting that pink slip?
Buddie: In my eyes, I feel like I’m safe, but I ain’t the boss - I can’t tell you whether I’m safe or not. But in my eyes, I’m safe, I’m comfortable with what’s goin’ on and how it’s goin’, how they backin’ us right now. It seems as if we ain’t goin’ nowhere.
DJ Booth: Let’s talk about that. The press release that EMI distributed stated that they’ll “fundamentally restructure the recorded music division in order to respond to the needs of artists and consumers.” From the vantage point of an artist, Buddie, who will benefit more from this restructuring?
Buddie: I would say the artist. I’m hopin’ that they give us more power and more hands-on with our own projects, due to the fact that everything people want to put out they’re not able to.
DJ Booth: Do you feel that EMI has responded to the needs of Dem Franchize Boyz?
Buddie: So far, so good. We had new president Ronnie Johnson pass away at the beginning of the year; that kind of slows things down. - R.I.P. Randy Johnson - he was a good friend and a good mentor to us, me and the rest of the guys, and for the music industry. But other than that, they still holdin’ their ground, they still doin’ what they doin’, and I appreciate everything that’s goin’ on.
DJ Booth: Let’s talk about the new album, “Da Point of No Return.” It is the only urban project on your label’s release schedule for the foreseeable future. How does it feel to know that you don’t have to compete with a glut of priorities in order to get promotional and marketing work done on your behalf?
Buddie: Competition really wasn’t a factor. We never looked at the competition, but there’s always competition, not due to whether we’re on the same label or it’s on another label - we’re still gonna have to outdo somebody or something.
DJ Booth: Do you feel, though, that it’s in the group’s best interest not to be on a label that has, let’s say, ten to fifteen priorities?
Buddie: Oh, yeah, it’s in the group’s best interest due to the fact that we’re the biggest fish in the sea, you know?
DJ Booth: Jermaine Dupri signed the group to Virgin when he was the president of urban music at that label. After he left, he took the same position at Island Urban Music. How did that affect the group?
Buddie: It didn’t affect us, but then, in a way, people expected it to affect us. J.D. signed us, we had already had chemistry amongst ourselves, and we just came together. J.D. [saw] something hot, and he put us on. No disrespect to J.D., but we’re gonna maintain, we’re gonna hold our value. Pimpin produced, “Oh, I Think They Like Me,” and “White Tee,” Parlae produced, “Lean wit It, Rock with It,” so all our number one hits came from within the group. We still got our same chemistry and our same family goin’, so we’ll do what we gotta do.
DJ Booth: When J.D. did flee over to Island Urban Music, was following him ever an option? Or were you guys just stuck with Capitol?
Buddie: Everything’s always an option. But we sat down and we thought about it. With the negotiation for four to six months between J.D. and the heads over there at Capitol, we ended up at Capitol, which, we’re happy about. We was gonna be happy with whichever situation we winded up in; ‘cause we know what we gotta do: we gotta maintain, and bring a more business minded [attitude] to the table this go-round.
DJ Booth: If you had gone over with J.D., if the situation was right, do you feel you’d be in the same place you are now, about to release a new album?
Buddie: Yeah, if not already released. ‘Cause when J.D. was the president, we made music - he was always feelin’ certain songs, but he departed, and we got a new president. Ronnie Johnson, he brought something else to the table, let us know it’s time to grow, it’s time to show people that we’re mature and we’re very versatile. So we restructured the thing a little bit, and now here we go.
DJ Booth: Lead single off the project is the Bangladesh-produced “Talkin Out Da Side Of Ya Neck.” Who do you feel has been doin’ the most talking lately?
Buddie: Z, I can’t really point no fingers, but Nas did name his album, “Hip Hop Is Dead,” and I feel like, I could never speak with Nas on a one-on-one basis to see why he named it or how he really felt towards it. But, the people who say hip hop is dead, and Franchize is part to blame, I feel they’re just talkin’ nonsense. Like I say, if you ain’t talkin’ ‘bout no money, man, we ain’t even really tryin’ to hear you, so just keep your words to yourself.
DJ Booth: Were you disrespected in a way that can never be changed?
Buddie: No, no, no. Disrespected, no - I want to address the issue. If I feel disrespected, I’m not the type to bite my tongue. I say what I want to say. I do what I want to do. And I’m quite sure the rest of my group members do the same and feel the same. So we weren’t disrespected; he told us his opinion, that’s how he thought about it. He never came to us or pointed no finger - no one has ever just said, “Okay, Dem Franchize Boyz, face to face,” you know? ‘Cause disrespecting us is not an option.
DJ Booth: Do you think the new project will make the people who said those things change their minds, or are you at a point where you don’t even care?
Buddie: I mean, really I don’t care. Eventually, they’ll jump on the bandwagon. Like I said, we’re trend setters; they’ll follow suit one day. We’re leaders; we’re real leaders of the new school. Call us “The” generation.
DJ Booth: T-Pain’s been on everybody’s stuff the last year, and I read in your press release, he will be one of the limited guest features on the new album, in additional to Pleasure P, formerly of Pretty Ricky. How’d you guys go about deciding who you wanted to collaborate with?
Buddie: The Pleasure P thing, we’re still tryin’ to fan that out, due to clearances and all that. But T-Pain, that’s a go. T-Pain, that’s our homie. When we came out with, “Lean wit It, Rock wit It,” on the “On Top Of Our Game” album, T-Pain brought out his “Rappa Ternt Singer.” We was on the road together, to where we built a relationship - kickin’ it with each other, maintainin’ and getting’ to know each other better. Yeah, that’s a good look. I’m happy for the guy.
DJ Booth: Let’s delve into the title of the album, “Point of No Return.” What does that mean for specifically the four of you? Where will you have reached by the time this album drops in March?
Buddie: Bein’ successful businessmen. We gonna brand ourself. When I say ‘brand ourself,’ you gonna know Dem Franchize Boyz as a group, a label - as a successful brand. We make money. Anything we touch we’re gonna make money on.
DJ Booth: Do you feel like you guys have been slept on by the majority of the hip hop consuming public?
Buddie: I ain’t gonna say they’re sleepin’ on it. They just find it hard to believe. But after this album, they’ll understand, “Okay, they’re versatile. Any track we throw at them they’re gonna be able to do, or they’ll be able to handle.”
DJ Booth: Give everybody a website or a Myspace page so they can find out more about what Dem Franchize Boyz have in store.
DJ Booth: Buddie, I wish you guys nothing but the best of luck in this endeavor, with the brand new album, and of course the single, “Talkin Out Da Side Of Ya Neck.” Do it big in ‘08, my man.
Buddie: Appreciate the support and the love that you givin’ us, DJ Z. Hope you continue to support us like that.
DJ Booth: Definitely. I’m wearin’ my white tee till the day I d-i-e, my man.
Buddie: That’s right! I still in a white tee, man. What they know about?