When I got a call in the middle of a long day for an interview in the heart of the city with the guys who make up the production trio known as The Stereotypes, it was a no brainer since Parlé is all about spotlighting the biggest names in the industry no matter what side of the business they represent. My photographer and I met them at their hotel for drinks later that night, so even though I knew a lot of background information on them, I had never seen a picture of them. I’ve seen it all but I didn’t necessarily expect to be meeting up with the oddest combination of talent since The Black Eyed Peas, because The Stereotypes are comprised of an Asian (Jon Yip aka JonStreet), one Black (Ray Romulus aka RayRo), one White (Jeremy Reeves aka JermBeats). It didn’t take me long to figure out why they call themselves The Stereotypes.
An avid listener of music, I take notes of the little things people may miss like the way producers introduce their songs with a drop these days. Some of the most notable, to me at least are, ‘oh la la Bangladesh’, ‘This is, this is’, ‘So Incredible’ and of course ‘Stereotypes’. Having heard the latter on many a single and album cuts in the last few years, I’ve become very familiar with their music over the last few years. They’ve worked with everyone from Ne-yo to Usher to Mary J. Blige to Justin Beiber but the grind really took off just a few years ago when their manager got Danity Kane to use their beat for their hit single, “Damaged.” At that point they were still making beats out their bedroom when their manager Jerome called them up and asked if they were trying to get paid. He sent the track to Diddy who liked it so much that he flew the trio out to Miami to be featured on the show “Making The Band.” It’s been an uphill climb ever since, both on the charts and in their careers.
With every success story comes a journey, and for these guys, every time their drop makes it to the radio, it’s a reminder of just how far they’ve come on this journey. They weren’t childhood friends, didn’t even know each other until a few years ago. In fact, if not for a few chance meetings there would probably be no ‘Stereotypes’ drop at all. Jon rapped and did his production thing while working at Interscope Records. One day he just happened to walk into a Guitar Center hoping he could get an industry discount. Jeremy worked at that Guitar Center. Although he wouldn’t give him a discount, the guys did exchange info after discovering that they both had a passion for music production. Shortly after, the duo formed the Stereotypes. That was 2003.
Ray first appeared in the equation when the producers were shopping their first artist for a record deal in 2004. Ray was working at Def Jam at the time as an A & R and the act that The Stereotypes were shopping became Ray’s first signing. The artist will remain unmentioned because he flopped and the situation went no where. Fast forward to 2007, the first year things became really hard in the industry. Jon lost his position at Interscope and Ray also lost his position at Def Jam. Ray called the production duo telling them that he was interested in moving to L.A. to pursue music further. Having had learned to play the drums from playing in church for years, Ray told the guys that he would like to get into production with them if they would let him. It wasn’t long after that the Stereotypes would become a trio. Ever since they’ve been on the grind like they had something to prove and the success has followed. “It says it all in the name, I think our main goal is to break the stereotypes of what music is supposed to sound like, what it’s supposed to look like, who makes it,” the guys explain of their mission in music. “We just want to prove that music can be a multi-genre sound. There can be an R & B, Hip-Hop, Electro, Country song. It’s a weird song, but it can happen.”
The guys have not only found success behind the boards, but they have also proven that having a good business sense is essential in this business. They’ve gone on to sign their first successful act to a major label deal; thanks to Cherrytree/Interscope, the Stereotypes have helped launch the career of Far East Movement. The guys give glory to God for providing the connections which have proven to be successful. “When I used to work at Interscope, 2 of the guys in the group (Far East Movement) used to intern there,” Jon explains of how the partnership came about. “We’re all Asian so we kinda had that thing like ‘Sup man, we’re all Asian, we’re in the industry, I should know you right?’ We just kept in contact until 2007.” In the meantime, Far East Movement was making underground Hip-Hop and creating a buzz for themselves, but it wasn’t until The Stereotypes created the group’s electro sound that the guys began to see serious radio play. The guys collaborated to create the song, “Girls On The Dance Floor” and it became the number one song in L.A. Enough said.
The Stereotypes hope to continue their journey upwards as producers and executives. The goal is to find as many ways to stay alive and paid in the business because as they explain it, “You have to learn to make revenue off more than just the music.” The guys hope to work with more big names in the industry such as Kanye West, Cher, Lady Antebellum and Taylor Swift to say the least, they will get there as long as they stick to their own words on wisdom. “Just do you. Know your competition. Study the charts, know who is on the chart, who’s winning right now and why? Don’t stop working and make sure you have a great team.”
Look forward to hearing that ‘Stereotypes’ drop for years to come, because these guys have the everything it takes to remain one of the biggest things in Hip-Hop. So next time you hear it, you know the story behind the hits.
For more info check the guys out at Stereotypesonline.com
Images by Donald Lee for Parlé Magazine
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