Reclining on the patio of the Rainbow Bar and Grill, producer Scoop DeVille is the picture of calm. Eyes already half-lowered, he pulls from a blunt and gently scrapes the whipped cream off his hot chocolate. He smiles lazily.
Last night was a different story. "In the studio with Common, I was nervous. My finger was shaking as I pressed the button to play him beats," he says.
Coming from an artist who grew up with a famous rapper for a father, had a record deal with Jerry Heller by the time he was 15 and currently has a couple songs on what will be named one of the best albums of the year -- Kendrick Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d. city -- jitters seem a little out of character.
See also: Kendrick Lamar's Mood Music
Scoop, who just turned 25, was born Elijah Blue Molina, but he was never called by his real name. In fact, his father, the pioneering Latino rapper Kid Frost (remember "La Raza"?), wrote in the credits of his first album, "I wanna give a shout out to my son, Elijah Molina, who will be known as MC Scoop." The "Deville" part came when he was a teenager. "I was big, chubby, so [my father] would be like, 'You're big bodied like a Cadillac DeVille, so 'Scoop DeVille' is gonna be your name," he remembers.
As a child, he was immersed in music. His grandfather was a pianist, so not only was he surrounded by his father's producer and rapper friends, he also was exposed to live musicians. Often, his father took him on tour and put him onstage with a microphone.
"I played sports when I was younger -- baseball -- but I wasn't focused on anything else, this is what I wanted," he says. "I'd watch [my dad] pacing back and forth on the phone making deals. When independent shit was just barely kicking off, he'd have, like, a hundred grand in a backpack type of shit. All that was motivation." (As is his father's still-active career -- while Scoop was in the studio with Common, Frost, who's now 50, was performing at L.A. Live's the Conga Room.)
When he was 15 his father hooked him up with Heller, who gave him a "little $30,000 MC deal." But his big break came at 17. His father came in his room one morning and said, "You might wanna miss school. We're going to [Snoop Dogg's] 'Vato' video shoot."
Scoop sent a bunch of beats to Snoop and the calls kept coming back, "Hold this one, hold that one." Scoop moved to Las Vegas for a year just to make beats, and Snoop ended up taking plenty of them. Several, including "Life of da Party," wound up on 2008's Ego Trippin'.
"That was the first one that popped off for me," he recalls. "It changed my life."
It was the languid beat sampling Twin Sister's hazy "Meet the Frownies," however, that really helped him blow up. Rapper Stat Quo heard the track and told Scoop he wanted to play it for Dr. Dre. Within an hour, Dre had called to claim it, and it became "The Recipe," the first single to be released off Lamar's debut studio album, good kid, m.A.A.d. city. The bustle to work with Scoop only intensified when one of the most radio-ready songs off the album, his slithery, Janet Jackson-sampling "Poetic Justice," broke.
"I remember hearing Planet Patrol's 'Play at Your Own Risk,' and it gave me a teary eye," he says. "You hear a certain tone and you get that feeling, you know?"
We do. And his nerves last night? For naught. "The music came on, and Common was vibing to it," he says. Guess he knows it, too.
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