Back in 2017, I met a DJ at an EP release party in Atlanta who was on a grind. Fast forward to 2021, he is one of the dopest producers in the game. Recently I caught up with producer Kam Cole better known as Hollywood Cole about his journey into producing, his move to ATL, being organic and genuine in his journey, how he managed to become super successful within the pandemic period, getting his name from Outkast, working with TDE’s Isaiah Rashad, and more. Peep the latest interview on how Hollywood Cole is putting an organic and fresh touch to the music scene below:
EB: Alright so we’re gonna go ahead and hop into it. Kam ! How are you ?
HC: I’m good, I’m good, I can’t complain, about to get some food
EB: Of course you are! So let’s truly take it from the top. Take me back to the days that you’re in school in Virginia and you realized your interest in creating music. What did that day or moment look like for you ? Paint it for us.
HC: Yeah I mean.. It started back in college, I went to Virginia State. I mean really back then, I was fake Djing (laughs). I had this little app on my ipad at the time called Virtual DJ and so what I would do was, me and my boys would throw parties all the time and I would just dj from my Ipad. Around 2011, my homeboy introduced me to this program called FL Studio and basically it’s a program you can use to make beats. He gave it to me and basically I just started messing with that forreal forreal. I had a Mac at the time and FL was more for windows computers and I kinda strayed away from it because it was a little buggy. Then I graduated to using a program called Logic but yeah it all really started in college.
EB: That’s fire! So after attending school, you relocated to THE music capital aka Atlanta . What exactly made you make that kind of transition? And what type of things were you doing early on in Atlanta to strengthen your craft ?
HC: Really, my mom. I mean at the time I was still in Virginia while my mom and my sister got there a year before me. She was just stressing to me that Atlanta would be a great move for me. I had a girl and my job was cool and stuff like that so it was all just going in one ear and out the other. I think when I went to visit my mom and sister for Christmas , I felt like Atlanta was cool and I met one of my homies Naj who’s an exec now at LVRN. Then I ended up landing an internship before I even got there so I think that was the thing that really made me go. I started interning at TuneCore (a music distribution company) . That was cool but I was trying to make beats and it was cool to get that experience of the business. I worked for Phillana Williams who’s an OG in the business and PK at Tune Core . Then I interned for Aaron Reid, LA Reid’s son and that was my first real introduction into actually being in a studio especially with coming from Virginia… I had never been in a real studio before. After that, I got myself into Means Street Studios and that was probably the best internship I could’ve did. I wound up staying there for two and a half years. I was working under Don Cannon and DJ Drama and I got to sit in on sessions, be exposed to the lifestyle, how to move, and gain a lot of relationships. Cannon is actually the one who sent me the G Herbo sample for “Statement” and I ended up flipping it in my own way. All in all, moving to Atlanta was the best thing I did.
EB: That’s really dope to hear that you took on internships and so many opportunities that allowed you to be a jack of all trades. With your mantra being “never forced , always organic” , did that mantra still exist for you even back then when you were grinding and trying to figure out what you could accomplish with your talent of producing ? Or was that a mantra that came about later on?
HC: Yeah I would say that the mantra has always been the same. Before, I wasn’t geeked up trying to get signed or have anyone hear my beats so yeah even when I was interning, I didn’t force relationships or anything. It’s crazy cause you just reminded me that I was at Means Street super late one night .I was 3 months into the internship ,TC let me use the studio one day and I was in there making beats and I remember Cannon walking in . He was like “Yo ! I didn’t even know you made beats”. So that was crazy and I forgot about that until now but it goes to show that I never told Cannon I made beats . He just kinda came in the room, told me to send him some beats, and that relationship really started there.
EB: What’s the studio set up gotta look like for you to be comfortable as a producer ? Is it people chilling or what does that look like ? I know different producers prefer different setups.
HC: I mean personally for me, I rather be at the crib because I like to be comfortable. I mean I like going to the studio but truth be told, I really rather be at the crib to make music.
EB: So with your tag Cole You Stupid , can you break down how that became your tag and how Hollywood Cole became your front facing name in the game ? Are there any ties to when OutKast said “Now who else wanna fuck with Hollywood Cole” ?
HC: So yeah, that’s exactly where I got my name from and it wasn’t from J.Cole which a lot of people think. I was actually listening to Spottie Ottie (the hip hop classic “SpottieOttieDopaliscious”) by Outkast and I felt like the name stood for something. Like “Now who else wanna fuck with Hollywood Cole?” and me just being a layback chill person , I wanted my music to speak for me in a sense. I got my name from that and it worked out because my last name really is Cole so yeah.
EB: To go from DJ’ing to being a producer , how did you start building valuable relationships with artists themselves like Childish Major, Dom Kennedy, G Herbo, and Drake and Lil Wayne ? Like do those relationships sometimes organically happen or is it just one person plugging you with another ? Break it down for us.
HC: The real start was really my boy Quentin Miller. He found out about my beats through my man Pe$o and J Dot Rain who I did a tape with. Q heard the beats and was like “Yo, who is the producer?”. So Pe$o had connected us and me and Q been rocking ever since. He had told The Game about me, Dom about me, and that’s how those relationships started and I would go to LA and kick it with them. S/o to my boy Quentin Miller and then just fast forward, I’m me forreal and I just have solid people around me who want to connect the dots and I do the same in vice versa. Everything’s just been organic. Even with Boi-1da, he reached out first so naturally a lot of things just been coming my way which I’m blessed and grateful for.
EB: Wow. Sounds like the people who helped you along your way weren’t even necessarily your own personal team, they were just people that really rooted for you to be in places and spaces you might not have been in otherwise.
HC: Right, exactly!
EB: So speaking of just grinding it out and things just being natural, you know… we are literally still in quarantine and a lot of limits for artists kicked off last year. How did you manage to put in so much work last year given the climate of the world? How did you stay motivated to keep making music? As you know, a lot of foundational music moments like festivals and touring are kinda on a land slide right now so how are you managing to push music and collab with other artists?
HC: For me…I’m not gonna hold you. When Covid kicked in, I was not making music. I was chillin and it took me a minute to even get back in the groove, but I really was just kickin’ it. Looking back, I feel like I was chillin’ for a while and I don’t know what it was but… I just eventually jumped back into the music again. It was just a weird time and I was just chillin and keeping it together. This is when it was early Covid so it hit me like it hit other people. I don’t know what the switch was but I just started making music and going to LA toward the end of the year . Obviously getting tested all the time in between but yeah.
EB: Do you think that break you took was beneficial? Did it feel necessary to take that kind of pause?
HC: Yeah I would agree. I was able to sit back and kick it with the fam or maybe just focus on personal goals. I think taking that break and not worrying about music at that moment definitely helped for sure. I don’t even remember when that switch turned on to start making music again but there were still some pluses in that pause.
EB: I remember you were doing the Instagram lives chopping up samples and making beats at one point.
HC: Yeah I think I was just figuring out what I could do at that time. My pops actually put that idea together to go live to promote myself so that’s how that came about.
EB: That’s ironic because I feel like last year a lot of success for DJ’s came out of doing Instagram lives. You had people like D-Nice and then other dj’s who were kinda hustling and needed to make their money via zoom or Instagram lives. For you, do you think anything came out of doing those kind of engaging IG lives during that time ?
HC: Oh yeah! From those lives, that’s how I got in contact with Boi-1da. Me and Childish Major dropped “Wife You” back in February and I think Boi-1da had followed me and showed love. Fast forward to spring time when I did the live, I promoted the planned day for going live for a week and it was like 50 people in there. It was cool, he joined it, and I remember when I ended the live, I had a dm from him saying to send some beats. I was just thinking … damn this is crazy. If I would’ve never did the live, I probably wouldn’t have been able to seriously connect with 1da. That led to us being in LA a couple months later and me playing the B.B. King beat after we ate dinner and yeah that turned into the track for “B.B. King Freestyle” . So yeah there was definitely a plus of going live.
EB: Wow so with all that being said, what’s been the proudest moment of your career so far and what kept you going even when things weren’t as poppin as right now ?
HC: I have a lot of work to do but I think doing B.B. King was super cool. I was just like damn it’s getting real so that was a dope moment. I remember I asked Boi-1da about how he keeps going because I wanted to pick his brain given everything he’s done and how he stays at it. He was like, “you just got to forget about it”. He said “You do a song, do a record, and be present but you got to forget about it because you got to get another one”. Im blessed people like B.B. King but I know where I’m trying to go and I know my trajectory. So it’s dope but it’s like.. what we doing next ? All the greats got a crazy work ethic so I just make sure to stay in the gym like my pops says.
EB: As someone who really studied their craft and stayed humble and patient , what’s keeping you grounded now even with these amazing placements that you’re seeing ? Like even with the B.B. King Freestyle .. like fam that’s a whole Lil Wayne and Drake placement you know what im saying ?
HC: I think I just come from good stock. I have really supportive parents and they’re just always pouring knowledge into me and they keep me right.
EB: I think that’s amazing though because you just don’t hear a lot of the “my parents supported my creative career” narrative or people that have had that kind of wheelhouse so I think that’s really commendable.
HC: It’s funny cause I was just having dinner with my pops and sister a couple weeks ago and he was just proud that I found what I wanted to do forreal. He was just like “we always knew you were going to do something but we’re just glad you found what you personally wanted to do and stuck with it ”. I felt like I was doing something in making my mom and pops proud so that was a moment for sure.
EB: That’s beautiful. That might’ve even touched you more than the external validation you may be getting so that’s really dope! What’s been your biggest lesson throughout your journey and what’s your biggest piece of advice to fellow producers trying to make shit happen for themselves ?
HC: This is going to sound so cliché but man you just got to stay consistent forreal. If you stay consistent, something has to transpire. I’ve been making beats since 2012 so you really just got to stay consistent and study the producers you look up to and just study music. It’s all really just about consistency. Anything you do consistently like working out to playing the piano to cooking, you’re eventually just going to get better at it. I think just…not stopping . I kept making music and kept making beats and believed in myself of course but it all really comes down to consistency.
HC: Well first, I really want to get in the studio with Rick Ross , Kendrick, and J Cole for sure. Those are my top 3.
EB: Yo, you know that sample you put on your page not too long ago? Please hand that off to either Rick Ross or Freddie Gibbs.
HC: I’m trying to flood the streets and it’s getting crazy so I’m just thankful.
EB: Aww well we’re happy for you especially in watching your journey from the beginning to now. We’re rooting for you in every way so thank you for doing this interview before you get too famous for us and you got the body guards and the PR so thank you for taking time for us on Saturday.
HC: Appreciate you having me on here and doing this interview!