66th Grammy Awards will be a day of appreciation. The producer already has it all mapped out.eputy suspects that his appearance at the
“I’m probably going to be somewhere with a stylist to make sure the fit is right. An afterparty, for sure,” Deputy shares with Rated R&B over Zoom. “But, for the most part, I plan to be in the moment and not allow myself to overthink anything. A lot of people can’t say that they’ve experienced or been nominated for Record of the Year, so that whole day is get fly and stay in gratitude — win or lose.”
It is early December and Victoria Monét’s “On My Mama” has topped Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart. It’s another personal milestone for Monét who is riding high off the success of the Chalil Boy-sampled track, which Deputy produced with Jeff “Gitty” Gitelman, with additional production from D’Mile. The hit song, lifted from Monét’s debut album, JAGUAR II, is nominated for Best R&B Song and Record of the Year at the 2024 Grammy Awards.
Deputy learned about his Grammy nominations after a flood of phone notifications woke him. “My mind wasn’t even thinking about the Grammy nominations,” he recalls. “I didn’t even know that that whole process was even happening. It was a fire surprise.”’
Prior to being the catalyst behind Monét’s banner year, Deputy had already experienced another unexpected moment in February 2023. Global icon Rihanna performed at the first-ever Apple Music Super Bowl Halftime Show at Super Bowl LVIII in Glendale, Arizona.
During Rihanna’s 13-minute set, she performed several of her smashes and fan favorites, including 2015’s “Bitch Better Have My Money,” which Deputy produced. He was unsure if Rihanna would perform the track at the event, despite receiving synchronization (sync) requests, though not guaranteed for usage.
To Deputy’s surprise, Rihanna kicked off the anticipated performance, where she revealed her second pregnancy, with the song that reached No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. “It was a fire moment,” he recalls. “I loved it even more because I didn’t expect it,” he adds.
Deputy learned to control his enthusiasm to avoid disappointment, long before his Grammys nominations and Rihanna performed the song he produced at the Super Bowl. “I have a lot of industry trauma, bro,” he shares. “Don’t get too hyped. Just wait. If it comes out, amazing. Then you go crazy.”
Born Jamil Pierre in Brooklyn, New York, Deputy first developed a strong affinity for R&B and soul music, largely due to his older brother’s influence. His brother exposed him to artists such as Michael Jackson, New Edition, SWV and Mary J. Blige, which deepened his love for the genre.
“You couldn’t tell me I wasn’t going through a heartbreak or I wasn’t going through something real. At least that’s how it felt ‘cause that’s how the music connected with me,” Deputy reflects with a couple of laughs in between.
Deputy didn’t immediately pursue a career in the music industry, although he had made strides in a steel band orchestra for a number of years. Instead, he sought help from his brother and secured an entry-level position at Morgan Stanley, a global financial services firm. While working there, he continued his studies at Pace University and later at Medgar Evers College and eventually climbed up the corporate ladder to become a market data analyst.
Deputy never rested on his laurels. He eventually moved on from Morgan Stanley and began an internship at the now-defunct Jive Records. Born from that stepping stone was Deputy’s first break in music. He co-wrote and co-produced the song “Breathe (Let It Go)” for Nivea’s 2005 sophomore album, Complicated. He worked in collaboration with hitmaker The-Dream, who has worked with everyone from Beyoncé and Mariah Carey to Rihanna and Ciara.
Drawing inspiration from production forerunners Quincy Jones, Timbaland, The Neptunes, Stevie Wonder, and Teddy Riley, whom he considers the greatest of all time, Deputy further carved a name for himself in the 2010s. He signed with Roc Nation and thrived with rappers outside its aegis such as Wale, Nas, and J. Cole.
Deputy’s blossoming alliance with J. Cole, the head of Dreamville Records, led him to work with its frontwoman, Ari Lennox, on her 2019 debut album, Shea Butter Baby (“Broke”), and subsequently on the Revenge of the Dreamers III compilation (“Got Me”) that summer.
With everything seemingly falling into place, Deputy sees recent celebrity as further assurance that he’s still on the right track. “It solidifies more my contribution to the industry and to music,” he notes.
Deputy continues, “Seeing success before and seeing it now, strengthened my gratitude, understanding that none of this is promised. It also solidified that Dep knows what he’s talking about. Then the world can see consistent success. That brings the phone calls and all the acknowledgment from the industry of peers and executives and so on and so forth.”
He also hopes headlines pave the way for him to work with beloved artists. “I would love to do a song with Mary [J. Blige], Jodeci, Dru Hill and Bobby [Brown]. Those are forever people who have infinity stones, meaning, they have songs that no matter what, their joints gonna go to infinity — no matter what.”
In Rated R&B’s interview with Deputy, the producer discusses his musical journey, his experiences working with Victoria Monét and Rihanna, processing newfound success and more.
Victoria Monét has had the biggest year of her career as an artist in part to “On My Mama.” What are your thoughts on growing star power following the embrace of this record?
I love it for Vic. I know how hard she works. I know how passionate she is about her craft — seeing her being tedious in the studio and particular with how things sound and how it’s presented. She is the real deal and the full package. Seeing it all come to fruition for her is amazing to witness. I’m so happy she’s receiving this moment on the level that she’s receiving it, understanding her journey and even understanding when we started this whole JAGUAR process to like what it is now. It’s well deserved.
Apart from achieving No.1s on urban radio and Billboard, “On My Mama” also has earned you your first pair of Grammy nominations. One of the nods is for Best R&B Song, a songwriter’s award. How do you perceive yourself as a songwriter?
I perceive myself as a songwriter in terms of understanding the flow of how a song is made. As a producer, it’s our responsibility to see a song through. Sometimes it’s lending suggestions on the songwriting side. I’m multifaceted in that way when I need to be in terms of, “Yo, what if we said it like this, or what if we changed this word into this word?” I’m always trying to find another perspective or a deeper layer to say the same thing that everybody has already said. For this [song], while Vic was going through the hook in her head, in my head, I heard the “On My Mama” sample and started singing it to her. So it’s just a process of understanding how to see a song through and where you can add value on the songwriting side. Vic took the words and created her own melody and here we are.
What about as a producer?
I see myself as someone who follows the whole process through. A producer, to me, is beyond just doing the beat. I don’t just go in there and present a beat. I have, and I can, and I probably will, but as a producer, it’s something different when you go in the studio and start something from scratch right in front of the artists. You have a conversation, and they’ll either tell you where they are, what frequency they’re on, what vibe they would like to create, and their intentions.
As a producer, it’s up to me to figure out a musical landscape and what that looks like to create that world for that artist. To me, a producer can find all the parts, find all the instruments and the sounds to create this sonic landscape for the artist to then do what they want to do and what they feel.
You produced the title track of JAGUAR alongside D’Mile for Victoria Monét. What’s the story behind it?
When I produced “Jaguar,” it was Vic and I in the studio and this was my very first time working with Vic. She was saying that she wanted to embark on a journey sonically of ‘70s soul. I remember we got high and I just interpreted what she told me. And what came out was “Jaguar.” That was a magical session. We make a joke that we got to smoke that same weed again because whatever was in that weed created that whole song (laughs). Once we did the song, her and D’Mile went in and added the horn section of the song. But that whole process was initially just Vic and I in the studio experimenting.
The frequent use of the words “disrupt” and “urgency” in your social media posts caught my attention. Could you explain what these words mean to you?
If we go back to the question of my favorite producers, they all had their identity and they all disrupted music in some sort of way. Timbaland and his weird syncopation and his weird sounds. Pharrell and The Neptunes with their drums sounds and their ability to make a pop record sound hard. It’s all these different things of just going against the grain and the rules that I feel like I want to bring to the table. It’s who I naturally am.
When I did “Bitch Better Have My Money,” my whole purpose was to be disruptive. I was in an angry state and that’s just what came across. So disruptive is just thinking outside the box. And I feel like we are in a moment in music where there needs to be a lot of that happening ‘cause there’s a lot of the same songs, same beats [and] same cadences.
The urgency part is what’s your intention when you sit down and do a record. My intention is no longer to just do a song to just do a song or what I would consider ‘a vibe.’ I have respect for everybody who does a vibe or wants to do a vibe, but I want my joints to be urgent. When you hear it, you know exactly what it is. It’s intentional. This is for the radio, or this is to get you in a certain mood. But for the most part, I’m off the vibe. I’d rather my music to be urgent. That’s my intention.
In terms of preparing for the future in this business, what’s your advice to new and emerging music creators?
Be intentional with everything they do. Really perfect their craft because your talent will open doors for you. It will set your journey off if you know what you’re doing. Be professional. [Don’t] take this music industry business personal. As creatives, we tend to have or think we have an emotional connection with whoever we get into these contracts with because they have invested in us. Somehow, we conflate that business investment with emotional investment. Half the time, as creatives, we’re not able to detach the two. So I would tell people, if you’re coming in this game, it is just business. These people are not your friends. You are another creative. They will sign another one and another one and another one. So keep emotions to your chest.
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Going back to Rihanna, what memory stands out the most about creating “Bitch Better Have My Money”?
I remember where I was in my career. I was in a dark place. I had seen success, but I didn’t see the big success. I was dealing with a lot of frustrations. When I went to do the beat, which became “Bitch Better Have My Money,” I’m finding aggressive sounds that nobody will never use. I’m really experimenting. I remember going to the studio with Bibi [Bourelly] and we did another song. I remember going through more tracks, and I played that track for like three seconds and skipped it, not thinking that Bibi would’ve thought it was something. She was like, “Go back to that track,” and we did the song. I remember going back to my apartment at the time and writing on my vision board: Rihanna record, “You Owe Me.” I didn’t call it “Bitch Better Have My Money.” I think Rihanna did that. But they were trying to have me give it to other artists. In my mind, I’m like, “Nah, this is a Rihanna record. I’m gonna just wait.” I’m happy I waited.
You mentioned being angry and experiencing frustration with the industry. How have you gotten to a place where you no longer feel those emotions?
I got to that place when I realized you can’t control nothing. All I could control was showing up to the studio, doing a song or doing songs, and the rest is out of my hands. I can’t control how someone is when you send them a record. There’s so many variables you can’t control. What I also realized was I wasn’t allowing myself to be grateful for all the things that really mattered. I still got my health. I got an apartment. I’m alive. I have family. I have love. I’m doing all these other things. The minute I started to do that, everything opened up. I no longer allow myself to fest in this frustrated mode.
Is there anything exciting you want to mention about what you’re working on in 2024?
I’m excited to go back in with Victoria. I have some Selena Gomez songs that I’m looking forward to. [I’m] just trying to figure out where she’s at or where the label’s at in that process. I feel confident about those two [artists], let’s say that. But there are other things that I have in the pipeline. I have a Coco Jones record, too; just trying to figure out what we’re doing with that. [Also,] looking to build with new talent. I’m getting a gang of phone calls right now.
Listen to Victoria Monét’s “On My Mama” below.