Behind the Beats: Ramon “REO” Owens
As an up-and-coming producer, having Kanye West, Nas and Drake pass up on your beats can be dejecting, but Ramon “REO” Owens proves that persistence pays. After crafting a beat nearly three years ago, the 30-year-old finally got his instrumental placed on Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter IV as the deluxe bonus track “Mirror,” featuring Bruno Mars.
“Kanye heard it, Drake heard it, and it already had the Bruno [hook],” he said. “Basically, Nas had it for a while, and it just ended up in the hands of Wayne and he loved it.”
With the help of Atlantic Records A&R Mike Caren, REO, who producers in tandem with his group the Soundkillers, was able to get his beat in the hands of some heavy-hitters. Originally, his goal was to land placement on ‘Ye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy but had to settle for Tha Carter IV instead. REO said his placement boiled down to one thing: luck.
“It’s to the point that they record so many songs over the time period that they’re making the album, so you just hope to God that your song resonates with everybody that has to yes it,” he told Mixtape Daily.
While many online reports are crediting Bruno Mars’ production outfit the Smeezingtons with production on the track, REO insists that by the time Tha Carter IV is released at midnight after the VMAs — where Wayne will also perform — and the CD’s liner notes revealed he will be properly credited as the producer and the Smeezingtons as writers on the song.
Though REO was informed that his song had made the album, he didn’t believe it until C4 leaked Wednesday, and he still doesn’t quite believe it. “I’m still kinda paranoid until I pick up that damn CD myself,” he said.
On the aptly titled track, Wayne gets reflective. The sample-free instrumental features an eerie wail in the background and a smothered kick- and snare-drum pattern. Its appeal isn’t in its intricacy, but rather in its driving emotion. “I had to listen to it a few times because I’ve just been hearing my beat for so many years, and I was like, ‘Yo, this guy got off on that sh–,’ ” he said of Wayne’s performance.
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