Drumma Boy pulls up to the small white and black storefront on Howell Mill Road in his black Cadillac Escalade.
The Atlanta-based rapper and producer recently opened his first clothing boutique called House of Fresh, which carries his own Fresh Phamily clothing line as well as other brands.
Inside, he quickly strolls to a back room of the store and comes out with a chilled Bud Light.
It’s early yet.
When asked about it, he looks questioningly at his visitor and in all seriousness asks, “Do you want one?”
“Man, when I’m running, I can’t eat or do anything,” he says as he leans back on the leather sofa. He’s already squeezed in errands and a meeting so far.
Memphis-born Drumma Boy, aka Christopher Gholson, is excited about the business, which is located near his studio space and includes space for a quick haircut for celebrity friends who might drop in.
“I’ve always been a great salesman,” said Drumma Boy, 34. “I’ve also always had an eye for what looks good. I was wearing everybody else, why not start a store? I’ve been kind of touching people in the same way I do music, only it’s through fashion.”
In fact, his first job at age 16 was at a Just for Feet athletic shoe and apparel store, where he was placed in the so-called “combat zone,” which had the cheaper, generic-type shoes. He calls them “bobos.”
“If you could make it out of the combat zone in a week, then you’re a real salesman. I was the No. 1 salesman in the combat zone in two days,” he said. On the third day, he moved up in the store and started selling the Air Jordan and Nike brands.
“That’s where that competitive edge came from,” he said. “I always want to be the best at what I do.”
The first day, House of Fresh did more than $5,000 in sales.
He wants to franchise the concept and plans to open another location on 14th Street by next summer.
The Grammy-nominated Drumma Boy, though, is best known for his energetic beats.
That reputation goes back to that job at Just for Feet: During slow periods, he would go in the back of the store with other workers and pop a tape in the boombox.
“They said, ‘We’re going to call you “Drumma Boy,” because your beat pattern is crazy.’”
Those beats later led him to work with some of the hottest names in music. He produced “I Put On” (Jeezy featuring Kanye West) and “No Hands” (Waka Flocka Flame featuring Wale & Roscoe Dash).
This has been a busy few years for Drumma Boy, who is sometimes simply called Drumma.
The first song he ever produced for Migos was the 2015 hit “Look at My Dab.”
“It was just amazing to see how we could have this energy in the studio and chemistry together and take that from the studio and push it around the world to this global trend.”
This year, he’s worked with the Atlanta Falcons and also on Keyshia Cole’s “Ride,” Yo Gotti’s “Don’t Wanna Go Back,” Young Greatness’ “We Rollin,” rapper Dolph’s “While U Here,” and Trap Beckham’s “Cold.”
He has nothing but praise for Gucci Mane, with whom he’s collaborated for years, including the “All My Children” single.
“Gucci is just on top of his game,” he said. “It’s just so fun to finally see him get his just due and finally zoned in to what’s meant for him. Gucci’s just one of my favorite artists to work with because of his energy, because of his passion. Now to see him so clear and exact on what he wants is amazing.”
He said he is working with Beyoncé and Jay-Z and wants to get other “OG vets on the roster.” He’s worked on some music with J Cole and Kendrick Lamar.
He’s also working on some Caribbean and international beats and is interested in dabbling in the country music world. “Absolutely!”
His classical music background, though, may come as a surprise to some.
His father, James Gholson Jr., was a music professor and author and played first chair clarinetist for the Memphis Symphony Orchestra for nearly four decades; and his mother, Billie Baker Gholson, was an opera singer and accountant.
He had to win his dad over to his hip-hop music.
Growing up, Drumma Boy learned Bach and Beethoven. He learned clarinet and piano, but he always “wanted to be the conductor.”
“Everybody in the orchestra raised me,” he said.
Does it bother him that his name isn’t always on the front end of a project?
“As long as the publishing residuals come in the mail, I’m happy,” he said. “It’s really about doing what you love and exemplifying what is you.”
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