DJ Toomp Tells All: The Stories Behind His Classic Records

Wale "No Days Off" (2011)


Album: Ambition
Label: Warner Brothers Records, Maybach Music Group

DJ Toomp: “Everybody was going crazy over 'Legendary,' the first track I had done for Wale. So around that time Wale asked me, 'What else you got?'

“I was going through some beats and came across the song that became 'No Days Off.' I was making that track for Young Jeezy at first. But I didn’t even put drums on it because sometimes when I put a track together, I’ll do the drums first but that’s one of them songs where I just did the music first. I heard these sets and I don’t know where they came from, but I changed the octave later throughout the beat. It was real musical at first.

“A lot of times when producers go through their iTunes, an artist will hear us skip through a song and they might just hear one horn sound and will be like, 'Hold up, hold up, what was that? Go back to that one!' That’s kind of how it was with 'No Days Off.' When I played it and Wale heard the opening beat, he was like, 'Oh my God, it’s bout to break down!' and I said to him, 'See, that’s the problem…it’s not going to break down because I haven’t done anything to it.' So he said, 'Man, you finish that right now. I got a song for it.'

“Next thing you know, right there in the studio, everybody watched me put the beat together, and I get people talking about that record right now cause they were actually there to witness it. The music was done but I had to put the beats and the bassline on. It was about eight people in the room watching. Some producers say they can’t even have one person in the room when they’re working. But I love it, because I was a DJ before I produced. Not to mention, I came in djing in like 1982. Around that time, djs really use to pick up the mic and have like a 16-bar verse about how good they were on the turntable. I’ve been on the entertainment side of it: DJ battling and tour djing where you’re onstage in front of three, eight thousand people doing tricks on the turntable… it’s all performing. So as a producer I can bang a nice beat out in front of a crowd, right on the spot. I know a lot of producers who say they can’t do that.

“Wale went in [the booth] and knocked 'No Days Off' out within an hour. There was never a time I wasn’t there in the studio with him. That’s what I love about that project. Wale showed a lot of respect [to me] too. He definitely was checking to get my approval on everything, which I appreciated. He wanted to get my approval on everything, even the songs I didn’t produce.

“In the studio, Wale is an artist who has rhymes in his head. I would just see him pace around the room just saying stuff and then he’ll look at everybody, and just be whispering, and next thing you know he’s in the booth. He just walks in a booth and kill it. He’ll do like the first eight bars and then just go back in the booth. You’ll see him pace around in the room again, and be like, 'Alright, run it' and then fill that eight bars and then he got sixteen with no problem. When you’re an artist like that, that’s when you really don’t have no problems getting features on stuff.

“Even for remixes, you already got a verse for it. You got some cats who may need about a day, sometimes days to write a verse, but Wale always got one right on the spot. Tip the same way, Jay-Z the same way. Kanye also. Like, they can hear a beat for about twenty minutes and have at least thirty percent of the song together, right there. These kind of artists write very rarely. Matter-of-fact, I ain’t never seen Wale write... wait, I actually have seen Wale write a little bit. He’ll write just to get it started, and from then on, he’s gone.”

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