DJ Toomp Tells All: The Stories Behind His Classic Records

T.I. "Big Picture" (2010)


Album: No Mercy
Label: Atlantic Records, Grand Hustle Records

DJ Toomp: “This is a song that was done after Tip was arrested for the gun charge. I wouldn’t say it was more difficult working with him at that time, but he was more busy. He was spreading himself pretty thin, he had a few things going on, like movies—which was good. But our working together for this track wasn’t as organic as it was [before the arrest], where we’re just sitting there working. He was more in-and-out now, like, 'We got to get this done, we got to turn this into the film people, we got to get this in cause I got to go back to LA and work on this…' When an artist has more stuff going on, it’s definitely going to be different. We got the songs done but it just wasn’t the same chemistry because you got to create the same environment for that, and that’s kind of hard to do when you got new things going on in your life.

“But we wound up doing that track in LA. It’s amazing how sometimes just being in a different region can help you come up with a whole ‘nother sound, something that you might wouldn’t have done down in Atlanta. I haven’t figured out why yet. I’m a real in-tuned person, and I can just feel energy for real. But when I’m at the crib making a track, sometimes I close the blinds and just have darkness. Sometimes I’d open the blinds, see the skyline, and that would just put me in a whole ‘nother state of mind.

“That’s when I’d just pull up some ol’skool albums and just go through those and listen to the arrangements. I think I listen to more ol’skool stuff than modern stuff. That’s why I hit the clubs every once in awhile, just to see what’s happening. I pay attention to what the strippers are responding to, watch their reaction; watch the reaction of people in the club when a song drops, maybe the first few bars… I pay attention to crowd’s reaction. I don’t really go to too many young spots though, unless it’s a showcase, if I’m looking for talent. I don’t really hang out at those young spots like that because those little 21-year-old girls can be a little aggressive.”

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