Da Grindaz, LLC
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Da Grindaz, LLC

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The best kept secret in music


"Duo Lands Production Gig"

By Darryn Simmons

Between Bao "Classic" Pham and Stephen "H2O" Holdren, you got skills on the cello, saxophone, violin, piano, guitar and other instruments.

The duo has combined their music backgrounds to form the hip-hop production duo Da Grindaz. They recently had their biggest success with a co-production credit on the number one album in the country, T.I.'s "T.I. vs. T.I.P." They worked on the song "Watch What You Say to Me," which features rapper Jay-Z.

"It's a blessing," Holdren said.

Pham agreed.

"You got T.I. and Jay-Z, you can't get any better than that," he said.

Da Grindaz first hooked up in the place they spend much of their time now, Atmosphere Recordings on Wares Ferry Road. You could almost say their career path was pre-determined.

The two spent their childhoods surrounded by music. Pham's father is a self-taught guitarist and his mother plays the mandolin, while Holdren spent his youth playing the violin. Later, Holdren joined the Alabama State University marching band and Pham played with both the Montgomery Symphony and Tuscaloosa Symphony orchestras.

However, both were looking for something less structured.

"With classical music, you have to play everything to an exact tee," Pham said. "I wanted to create something of my own."

While Holdren grew up listening to Duran Duran and artists from various musical genres, it was hip-hop that moved him.

"It was fresh and a change of pace," he said. "It was music for the community."

The two both started producing tracks at Atmosphere and eventually met. After listening to each other's material, they saw a chance to combine forces.

"We figured if we fused our sounds together, we could have a trademark sound that could take over," Holdren said.

The rest is a partnership the two hope will make history.

"We want to show people that you can come from the streets and still do thing with a sense of class and style," he said. "We want to break the one-sidedness of the music here. I doesn't have to be all gangster."

Pham said with all the history in the city, the music should be more diversified. Da Grindaz attempt to show that in their music by going beyond the usual samples and drum machine beats rap is known for. Many of the songs they produce feature live guitar, percussion and other instruments.

"Our sound is a gumbo," Holdren said. "We can mold it around any artist or style of music."

Pham admits the group wasn't initially in to the southern hip-hop sound that is the most popular here, preferring a more East Coast vibe. However, they have adjusted to fit the preference of the many artists they work with.

One act they are collaborating heavily with is Atlanta rapper Shock Dollar. Some of the songs they did for his project feature the duo performing live on the tuba, snare and bass drums.

"We don't do beat making, we produce songs," Holdren said. "We never limit ourselves because we feel we can do any style."

The duo jumped on the idea to work on the T.I. project when it was brought to them by Kevin "Khao" Cates, a Montgomery native who is head of production for T.I.'s Grand Hustle label.

"We just have to take this and build on it and push our brand," Pham said. "We need to stay focused and humble. Like our name says, we got to keep grinding."

The future is promising for Da Grindaz. They're continuing to work with Shock Dollar (due out in 2008) as well as with UpFront Megatainment, an Atlanta record label started by Devyne Stephens, which features hit singer Akon.

"When you hear our stuff with Shock Dollar, you'll hear the stuff we did for Jay-Z and T.I. to the third power," Holdren said.

http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070723/LIFESTYLE/707220328/1004/NEWS01 - MontgomeryAdvertiser.com

"T.I. Vs. T.I.P. Press Review"

By Neil Drumming

After a convincing performance in the underrated 2006 film ATL, T.I. seems to have acquired a flair for the dramatic. Literally. The Atlanta native breaks his fifth album, T.I. vs. T.I.P., into three acts depicting an ideological battle between split personae: the irascible thug T.I.P. and the nouveau-riche recording artist T.I. It ain't Shakespeare, but the dual protagonists make for an intriguing bout.

When it comes to charisma, the rapper's darker half trumps the dandy. T.I.P., raspy even in double time, holds his own alongside veteran acrobat Busta Rhymes on ''Hurt.'' And on the bluesy ''Watch What You Say to Me,'' featuring Jay-Z, T.I.P. drawls ferociously, freely swallowing consonants in a contest of callous intimidation: ''I'm known to make a mountain out a molehill/You don't want to get your folk killed.''

Act 2 essentially exists for the platinum playboy T.I. to buy stuff — clothes, cars, and women — liberally rubbing excess in the face of unspecified haters. Though the guy can land cocky punchlines all day, rapwise it's nothing new.

By part 3, some much-needed conflict is introduced. There, T.I. confronts T.I.P., scolding him for jeopardizing their success with his recklessness. This climactic clash raises a big, gritty question: How long before his bad-boy routine gets them both killed? Hip-hop's seen its share of tragic endings. Hopefully, this time it's all just an act. B - Entertainment Weekly (www.ew.com

"Inner Demons got Inner Demons got a Green Beanie"


Things to think about:
... Keith Mack (”My Type”) and [Da Grindaz] (”Watch What You Say To Me”) deliver two of the stronger beats on the record... - XXLMAG.COM

"Production Breeding Ground: Da Grindaz"

By Dynasty Williams and Almen Jones

The creative mind of a producer is usually an untamed, uncompromising beast. That being said, it is easy to see how one could, at times, harbor the craft as his own, with contributing team members from time to time. Few have successfully formed a productive team that could produce cohesively as an intertwined hit-making unit. Da Grindaz are striving to stake their claim among the few successful production teams that have made significant marks before them.

The duo, consisting of Bao "Classic" Pham, a trained musician who plays the bass, guitar, keyboard, piano and the saxophone, and Stephen "H20" Holdren, a master percussionist who is also a wizard with chopping and looping samples, compliments each other's talents perfectly. It is this union that has landed the Alabama natives a placement on the king of the South’s new album TI vs. TIP.

Da Grindaz sat with AllHipHop.com to discuss their roots in Hip-Hop, their work ethic, and the circumstances that led to them working with the largest rapper in the game right now.

AllHipHop.com: So you guys are from Alabama, what's the Hip-Hop scene like down there?

Bao: It's not an industrial outlet down there and so it's kind of hard for folks to get out. You got a few cats that came out of there, like Dirty, Duece Komradz, thats been on the underground scene for years, Small Tyme Ballaz that had a single deal with Universal, Chason Dreamz of NuNoiZe Productionz and Khao both came out of there.

Stephen: Rick Rock, with The Federation; He's really a big influence I know on myself. Him and the guy who helped Dirty get their start, a guy named Dr. Fangaz. As far as producing-wise, them cats, they were like the late ‘90s. They were hard on like Wu-Tang [Clan] and stuff like that. It was like more of an underground thing.

When I got into it, it was like early ‘90s and it was poppin'. The only thing about it was that we was trying to chase a sound because we were from the South, but influenced by what BET was showing. BET was showing the East coast joints and we were from the South, and we go to the club and they playing Rob Base[and DJ E-Z Rock.] So it's like we were fusing the two. We never had a distinct sound. It's good because it's a melting pot for everything.

AllHipHop.com: How did you guys start out producing music?

Bao: Well we've been doing stuff on our own for a good bit and we just linked up about a year or two ago. I know myself, I've been in music since I was four, playing piano, guitar and bass. My dad had a band and I was basically into music my whole life.

Stephen: Myself, I've been kind of like the same thing. I started small and developed a passion for percussion. I went to elementary, junior high, [I was in] the marching band. When I went to college, I was in the marching band. I felt like I really wanted to pursue music. When I got to college I was like, "I'd rather pursue music," so I dropped out of college and started to grind from there.

AllHipHop.com: Who are some of your influences in Hip-Hop?

Stephen: Wu-Tang [Clan], Biggie [Notorious B.I.G.], Pete Rock. That ["They Reminisce Over You"] joint is still bananas today. Even like now we listen to the old stuff. People always say that our stuff has soul because a lot of stuff Bao plays guitar on. If we do a sample, instead of truncating the baseline, he'll play it live.

Bao: I kind of had a late start, I used to listen to alternative s**t. Like '91, I was on that Nirvana s**t, like Stone Temple Pilots, Smashing Pumpkins and Soundgarden. I was on that. Nirvana was the s**t to me. Until my homeboy, Arthur James Poole, Jr. a.k.a. Bo Bo, that dude is credited for giving me my first Hip-Hop CD, and that was that Ready to Die [by Notorious BIG]. When I listened to that s**t, man it was just over with.

AllHipHop.com: How do you guys work together when you create music?

Bao: It's kind of crazy, we got two different types of styles. How it's been working is that I may be busy and he's doing some stuff or he's busy and I'm doing some stuff, or we do it all together. I'm more like melodic, like playing bass and guitars and the melodies. Steve, his sh*t is on some sample s**t, some Hip-Hop s**t. We just coming from that ‘90s, East coast Hip-Hop, when it was good. Not to diss New York or anything. [Laughs]

AllHipHop.com: You recently were fortunate enough to get a major placement on the T.I. vs. TIP album. How did that come about?

Bao: Well we had a relationship with Khao a couple years back. We submitted some tracks to him and he walked it in and got it placed, and made it happen.

Stephen: It's a good look on both ends

AllHipHop.com: Now on the album, you're credited with co-production on the song with Jay-Z, "Watch What You Say to Me." What work did you do with the song to earn that co-production credit?

Bao: Well we contributed pretty much the groove of the track. Like I said, we submitted some things and - AllHipHop.com>Features>DJs & Producers 7/13/07


Production Credits:
T.I. (T.I. Vs. T.I.P., Grand Hustle/Atlantic) - Watch What You Say To Me Feat. Jay-Z

Shock Dollar (Shock Dollar, UpFront Megatainment) - Shock Dollar and many more songs; album due First Quarter 2008


Feeling a bit camera shy


It’s a new era in hip-hop music. Some say it is dead, on life-support, on hiatus, or lives in the South. Whatever your opinion is, one fact remains undaunted: music eras comes in cycles, and once in a while, the face of music changes and exceeds to a higher level. Enter Da Grindaz, LLC. Comprised of Bao Pham aka Classic and Stephen "H2O" Holdren, DG offers an unprecedent amount of talent and skill to the table; albeit Hip-Hop, R & B, Funk, Soul, and even Jazz & Blues, whatever your occasion, DG fulfills past the artists’ standards. From live instrumentation (Bass, Guitars, Keyboards, & Drums) to sequenced instrumentals, they are the professionals’ professional. “Our standards are much higher than where the industry is at right now,” Bao states. “ There’s a lot of producers out here that say they’re producers, but are really just beatmakers. There’s a MAJOR difference that a lot of up-and-coming artists don’t know about.” That difference is quality and production that you will only be able to find on a Major level: every instrument is tracked-out, in ProTools HD3 Accel system with a vast amount of power and flexibility you cannot get on a ProTools LE system. Not to say that hits are not made on lower level systems, it is just that DG is on another level, period. Based out of Atmosphere Recording in Montgomery, Alabama, DG has worked with numerous local and independent artists such as E Boi of Southern Playaz, Killa Kat of Small Tyme Ballaz , Rann, Classic, and Lucky; also Grand Hustle/Atlantic Recording Artist T.I., Def Jam President/Roc-a-fella Recording Artist Jay-Z, and UpFront Megatainment Recording Artist Shock Dollar, just to name a few. When it comes to quality and consistency, the DG brand IS the NEW standard in music production. For more info on prices for Majors and Independents, please email or send a message on the myspace link. Stay Tuned…