A rapper with a hands-on and visceral approach to his writing craft, Jamie Drastik is an upstate New York homeboy whose fledgling repertoire already boasts collaborations with Pitbull, Kelly Rowland and Flo Rida. His upcoming high-octane tune, "Chasing Shadows", featuring Pitbull and Havana Brown, boasts hooks that stick like glue to the aural senses. A certified club-banger that will be taking airwaves and nightclubs all summer. Drastik sits down with VIBE for an exclusive interview about his writing process, working with music's big league players and more.
VIBE: How'd you link with Pitbull?
Jamie Drastik: I had a record playing on my two hometown stations WSPK and WPKF both stemming from the top DJs in my area Ted Dillinger and Mr. Vince. After the record was in rotation on both stations, I started generating interest from the major labels. After a few dead end meetings I was approached by Pitbull's business partner, Robert Fernandez, about doing a deal with Pitbull's own imprint. Around that same time, Pitbull and I were both on the bill for WSPK's summer concert called K Fest, he got to see me perform and we got to meet and wound up doing the deal shortly after. After the deal I appeared on his album with a record that featured myself and Kelly Rowland called “Castle Made of Sand”.
What rappers inspire you artistically?
I draw more from my surroundings for artistic inspiration than other rappers. I'm a fan first so I'll be the first one to say I'm a fan of a number of different artists but I try to listen just as a fan. I always say I let my surroundings write my songs I just make them rhyme. I like to watch people’s detail. Most times they don't even realize they are showing me their whole hand by detail of how they carry themselves. A lot of songs are written from that point of view.
What about EDM producer-DJs?
I find inspiration in producers and DJs. Some of my favorites are Ta-ku and Flume, both from Australia, and Solidisco out of Buffalo, NY. I also really like the duo TNGHT, Lunice and Hudson Mohawk... trying to catch one of their shows soon.
Being from New York and the fact that "Chasing Shadows" is 'club-friendly', what are your fave nightlife spots in the Big Apple for music?
Well I'm from upstate NY, so a hole in the wall bar with some good drinks and some chill females is cool with me. But I've been coming into the city to record, party, get in trouble, and at one point live, so when I do come in to party I usually go to WIP and Greenhouse mainly because management has always been super cool and accommodating. I like Kiss and Fly, TenJune, Griffin, and a L.E.S spot called The Box. I used to do all the hip-hop showcases in NYC. At one point my winnings from them were paying my rent. Until they told me there was a three-time winning limit.
Do you write raps with certain producers in mind or do you just go off the dome? What's your technique?
I record by myself a lot, no engineer, I hit record and see what happens. A lot of times I will record to just a basic drum track and then send it off to a producer to build around what I did vocally. With “Chasing Shadows” I had the verse from Pit[bull] to a basic drum track, brought it to a producer we work named Matty C and started building a beat around Pit's verse. While we were building the beat I wrote my verses. At that point we still needed a hook, so I asked my friends Kinetics and One Love who wrote “Airplanes” for B.O.B. to see what they could come up with for a chorus. After they sent what they wrote, I sent it to Pit and he agreed with me that it sounded like a smash. He then asked Havana Brown to sing the hook for us, and she couldn’t have been any cooler about it. She knocked it out and here we are now. That took about 10 months to complete, so I hope you guys like it.
What's after "Chasing Shadows"?
I have a record out there right now with Flo Rida and DJ Suss One called “Single for Tonight” that’s doing really well for us, but after “Chasing Shadows” comes a full project called “Bikes at Night”. 12 – 14 songs. This project will be a more forward approach to sounds that may not be known to the mainstream audience. The imagery will have a lot of BMX bikes in it and the culture of BMX. It is due out in August of this year.