Atlanta producer Shawty Redd has had success in the clubs, the streets and the charts since he bowed his head in the rap game in the late '90s, working with everyone from Snoop Dogg to Gucci Mane — but his peers were definitely shocked to hear that he was arrested for murder on Friday.
"I really couldn't believe it," producer Zaytoven said. "You hear a lot of rappers going through that type of trouble, but a producer? That's my first time hearing that. I was just shocked."
On New Year's Day, Henry County police responded to Redd's 911 call. According to authorities, he told them that a man visiting his Hampton, Georgia, home, 35-year-old Damon Martin of Detroit, had been shot. After several hours of questioning, Redd was arrested for homicide. Redd, born Demetrius Lee Stewart, is due back in court on January 12.
According to Zaytoven, Redd didn't have a rep for being a troublemaker. In fact, Redd's work ethic and sound inspired Zay, who moved from the West Coast to ATL several years ago.
"I was new to Atlanta," Zay explained. "I was coming from California. He had the sound of what's going on down there. If I wanted to learn how to please the people out here in Atlanta, that was the to-go-by guy. He was the guy to listen to if you were trying to please the artists or trying to sell them beats — he's got the sound. It's very theatrical."
"It's South music," DJ Scream added. "It has a lot of bass. It's always good for the clubs, people's car systems. I think people forget 808 is the foundation of this. That's the reason why they play his records in the club. It's why his songs don't die out. Those bass lines, they're real 'hood and real gutter. He's real music at the same time. That's really the best way to explain. Of course, he's real versatile. He did the track with Snoop to show his versatility."
In 2008, Redd had his most commercially viable production effort with Snoop's "Sensual Seduction," with a sound reminiscent of late-'70s and early '80s funk/soul. Before that, Redd produced the majority of Young Jeezy's first album, Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101, and helped Jeezy turn the mixtape game upside down, helming key tracks from Young's timeless Trap or Die mixtape.
"Classic. Both of them. Trap or Die, that's a street Bible. Everybody plays that to this day," Scream said. "Of course, Jeezy's first album, classic. Even though there were other producers on both of those, Shawty Redd stood out. I think that's the best chemistry Jeezy has is when he gets in with Shawty Redd."
"It has a lot to do with him and the chemistry he's had with the artist," Zaytoven agreed. "It's like Dr. Dre and Snoop — when you get that chemistry, that music can last for years and years to come."
"You always hear his records. The stamp he has made in the beat game, it's crazy," DJ MLK offered. "I don't know no club where you not hearing a Shawty Redd beat. No club. The bass, the 808s, just to feel it as a DJ, to feel it in the club, the club is rocking — a lot of energy."
Redd got his breakthrough as a teenager, on rapper Drama's debut LP, Causin' Drama, with the hit "Left, Right, Left."
" 'Left, Right, Left' — that's my first dose of him. I was like, 'Damn.' Straight progress," MLK said. "You can tell he takes producing and beatmaking seriously. That's his craft. I never would have thought that the guy that made 'Left, Right, Left' made Trap or Die or 'Air Force Ones' or 'Sensual Seduction.' Then the mixtape he came out with, Shawty Redd Reloaded, it is still him. I was like, 'Wow. He's serious. For real, for real.' "
" 'Left, Right, Left' with Drama — that was the first time I heard Redd," Scream remembered. "I didn't know who he was. I remember buying the album, opening the album credits, like, 'Shawty Redd, whoever this n---a is, this n---a is dope.' Then I didn't hear nothing from him until he got with Jeezy. I remember opening the Jeezy album and seeing his name in the credits. I put two and two together."
Before his arrest, Redd was working on a slew of projects, including tracks for radio personality/ artist Stewie Rock, Young Jeezy and members of Jeezy's C.T.E.
"He's definitely among the top of them," MLK said about the producers coming out of Atlanta. "A lot of people f--- with Shawty Redd, Zaytoven, Drumma Boy — those are the names that if you're any type of artist, you try to get that sound. You have to go to those names. There are a few others of course, but Shawty Redd is among those top names. His name is spoken a lot.
"I was shocked, but I never pass judgment," MLK said of Shawty's arrest. "Hopefully, he'll be good. That's all I could say. I just pray for him. Nobody knows the real situation until he comes out and tells it ... but it's shocking."