He’s best known for rocking the party – no matter what era you speak of. He owned the 90s Atlanta scene under the moniker DJ Smurf, contributing to the Down South booty-bass movement. But best of all, Michael Crooms, best known to the current generation as Mr. Collipark, has found a way to flip his raw talent, and make new groundbreaking sounds for each generation. Though some may only take his music for booty-popping pleasure, VIBE.com caught up with Collipark to explore the evolution of his craft, which resulted in some top charting Hip-Hop records – believe it or not. So whether it was the slowed down, customized bounce beats that paved the sound for ATL duo Ying Yang Twins, or his shot at sampling Earth Wind Fire jams for Louisiana animal Hurricane Chris, Collipark has proven his need for respect. Enjoy these studio stories, as Collipark tells it all. – Diane “Shabazz” Varnie
DJ Smurf “Hold Up (Wait a Minute)” & “Oh Lawd”
Well, my biggest record as a recording artist was a song called “Oh Lawd.” That was like my breakthrough record that was on Ichiban Records and that video was probably one of the first independent records out of Atlanta to make it to BET back in that time. So, that was like everything to me. So when I got away from Ichiban after that album cause of a bad contract, I got away from Ichiban and kind of tired to recreate the party that I had with “Oh Lawd.” I was being heavily influenced at that time by DJ Kool and he had a song called “20 Minute Workout.” So I said “Let me take that,” ‘cause you know back then, Hip-Hop has always been about other influences – we’ll just leave it at that. So I said “Let me take a little piece of the DJ Kool influences and make a Bass record out of it.” That’s how “Hold Up (Wait a Minute)” kind of came about. Back then it was just me and MC Shy-D, who I was a DJ for before I started making music as an artist. So he was like my hype man when I was a rapper. He was on the “Oh Lawd” record also. I would basically just do all the music myself at home in my momma’s basement at the time. I would know the parts I wanted him to do and I would just ask him to come and do them and that’s how we did most of my records at that time.
Ying Yang Twins “Whistle While You Twerk”
That song right there changed music period because the influences of that record went and spread to so many people that will never give credit for it. But, that record right there, Bass music was not what it was at that time that I did that record right there. The hottest songs out at that time – and I don’t even know if they were national at that time. I remember “Back That Thing Up” by Juvenile and “I Need a Hot Girl,” I think that record was out too at that time. The New Orleans bounce sound, coming off the Master P stuff, Master P was already out flooding everything and I think the Hot Boyz and Cash Money were just now starting to break and those records right there was huge. So originally if you listen to music in “Whistle While You Twrek,” if I could dissect that record for you, it has sounds that we kind of use in Bass records. I originally programmed that record to be a Bass record, like it was like 138 BPM. I said “Bass music not working anymore,” so for this record for Ying Yang – which was my first group – I just slowed it all the way down, and I kind of said “Well I’m a be the Hip-Hop beat behind the music,” which to me was, “Paid In Full.” If you listen the kick pattern of “Whistle While You Twerk,” that’s “Paid In Full” and also “Down For My Niggas,” which was also big at that time. So in my mind I had all this DJ going on in my mind of me trying to take elements of different things to try to put into that record. That’s how “Whistle While You Twerk” kind of came about because what made it go was the original essence of it being a Bass record. That’s why you couldn’t call it like a New Orleans type of thing because the energy wasn’t bounce, it was actually Bass. But the lyrics they put on top of it made it more of a cross between Atlanta and New Orleans, and New Orleans has always been a heavy influence to that style of my music. So that’s “Whistle While You Twerk.” It was a big melting pot of things going in my head.
Ying Yang Twins “Wait (The Whisper Song)”
That was history. I don’t think that song gets the recognition [that it deserves]. At the time it did, but when people start thinking about… When you do an all-time greatest Hip-Hop song list, how could you not put “The Whisper Song” in there? I’m sorry, it was history, and it was historical. It changed and went against everything everybody knew about music, not just rap but music period. I ran into Pharrell somewhere – I don’t even know if he remembers this – and I told him that his sound had me so throwed at that time with that Snoop Dogg “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” That was like my favorite beat in the world and that was my influence going into “The Whisper” track. But the beat that you ended up hearing was the beat and couldn’t put anything on top of it. Every time I tried to put something on top of it, it took away from it. So that’s kind of where we left it at. When I got with the twins, I literally like did the beat with my mouth. They wrote that without even hearing the track. We were in New York and by time they heard the track, we had already came up with the idea of whispering and all that, just by me doing the beat from my mouth. So that’s kind of how that track came about.
Young Jeezy “Trap Star”
You know what? When I did that beat right there, I was such in a free mind set of just doing music. I played trumpet in the band in high school. So even if you hear the “Half Time” record did for Ying Yang Twins, you hear some of the records that I’ve done and people don’t even pick up on that – even the “I Want It” track that I did for B.G. I’m heavily influenced by horns, powerful horns. I don’t like horns that are just – a lot of rapper producers they just put horns in tracks just to have them in there ‘cause we got to have horns in the track. But, I like defined horns with big sounds on them. So “Trap Star” was just… I didn’t even do that beat for Jeezy. I did another beat for him and gave him a beat CD and he wound up picking “Trap Star.” I was like “Wow he’s picking ‘Trap Star’.” I had a lot tracks like that back then and I just wasn’t messing with a lot of rappers who came to me for that kind of stuff. But Jeezy knew me from like the Ever J days – I think I used to mess with his cousin back in the day and I didn’t know we actually knew each other that. So he was like a fan of my work as DJ Smurf, so he just wanted to work with me. Like it wasn’t even on no “Give me a Ying Yang type record” or nothing like that, he just wanted to work with me. I was a fan of his just because of what he was doing in the streets so I was like “Yo, this ought to be interesting enough just for me to go hook up with him at the studio.” So I gave him the beat and he came back with “Trap Star.“