In 24 hours, a 72-year-old man from Chicago went from an unknown, amateur producer to a small viral phenomenon. Last Monday, Arthur DuBois walked into Haven Studio with a simple mission: find someone to arrange and mix the beats his family and friends had written off as an annoying, inconsequential hobby.
For six years, DuBois created trap-inspired beats that could sound at home on any producer’s SoundClick, SoundCloud or YouTube page. When Arthur asked Andre “Add-2” Daniels, a musician who works at Haven — a free youth studio on the South side of Chicago, which teaches children how to record and mix — to listen to his beats, the rapper admits he thought the older gentleman was a prank set up by one of his students.
“When he played me the music I wasn’t expecting it,” Daniels explained. “For him to be playing this style of music, but to be doing it so well. So the first one I was like ‘OK, that could be a fluke.’ Then he had another one and then it was the third one. I didn’t start recording until the fourth one. I was still in disbelief. By that point, I was sold. I was like, ‘This is insane’ — It’s not every day that you see somebody like him, with the heart that he has and the passion he has for music.”
For a decade, DuBois’ rheumatoid arthritis went undiagnosed. “I went to multiple hospitals,” he explains. “Nobody could find it and it took ten years to find it.” Instead of slowing down, he began to look for something to do, and landed on teaching himself how to make rap beats. DuBois learned how to work in production software as he grasped the basics of how to make a beat.
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When Daniels posted the video to social media and the response was immediate, with thousands of people including producer IllMind and former basketball player, Baron Davis showing their support. Two days after his video has gone viral, Arthur DuBois still seems nervous over the phone, stuck between a feeling of vindication and humility.
Bruh!! Today I met a 72yr old producer who makes TRAP MUSIC!! He said the doctor told him to stay in the house but instead of wasting away he used the time to teach himself how to produce beats. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 I'M SO INSPIRED!!! pic.twitter.com/10XIuH8vDe
— Add-2 (@ADD2theMC) March 5, 2019
Where are you from?
Originally born in Arkansas, my family moved to Mississippi and then to Chicago.
How long have you been in Chicago now?
Since I was about three years old.
How did you first start making beats?
I liked music all my life. It was to the point that my mother went to sleep I’d get on the dresser and put my head to the radio and stay up all night.
What type of music were you listening to as a kid?
All music, jazz, blues, they didn’t call it R&B back in those days. It was just music.
Did you play any instruments growing up?
Yeah, I tried many, many, many horns and I wound up liking the saxophone, but I was never really that good at. But I stuck with it for several years, still, I wasn’t that good.
What attracted you to start making hip-hop beats? How does that begin?
It’s a long way. My son, I wanted him, ’cause he make these raps, but I was never meant to hear them. I had tried Fruity Loops and I didn’t like that and I went to another one and I didn’t like that one. I was trying to get his help to set up my computer, but I didn’t know nothing about computers and he kept walking away and walking away. It kind of pissed me off. So I said, “I’ll do this myself.”
So I stuck with it and bought a computer and start working around and I wound up on Pro Tools and that was kind of heavy at the time and then I worked at. I always liked beats. I liked all music, especially James Brown and people like that, everybody. I stuck with it. In the last couple of years, I was able to make me some decent songs and they coming through now.
What drew you to the music? What makes you not sit still and teach yourself a new skill?
I always liked music of all kinds and when they came out with this computer stuff I said, “Let me try that.” I worked on it for a while and the first couple of years was kind of lousy, but then I start getting other samples and putting them together and I come up with what I got.
How did you find out about Haven studios?
Well, I had saw his name several years ago and I was looking ‘round for mixers and arrangers and what not. I don’t know why I skipped over him, but being I saw it again, I said “Let me try this.” The same day, wound up together.
Were you surprised at the outpouring of support after Andre posted the videos on Twitter?
It shocked me. I wasn’t expecting that, and it hit me hard.
What had people said about your music before then? Have you been getting compliments for awhile?
Not too many, because I had some old time friends around my age and all they like is the old school stuff, but I had this one guy, hard to deal with. One day I brought some songs over to his house where he could listen to them and he was all upset, “I don’t want to hear that stuff. I like this. I like that.” I said well, “Just play it” and about five minutes later I caught him tapping his toe.
Who do you listen to? Are there any producers you listen to, to get inspired by when you’re creating beats?
I like them all. I can’t start with the names, Jay-Z to James Brown and everybody sounds good.
Do you have hopes of any artists in a perfect world you would love to make beats or produce for?
I’m not sure, because I still haven’t proven too much yet. [laughs]
Do you think the friends that wrote you off before will be a little more willing to listen to your music or surprised so many people are supporting your new career path?
One of my best friends this past week, I took him some of the songs and he liked them. I got a best friend that lives in Indianapolis. I sent him some. He liked them all. Therefore, he must be right.
What do you want from the future now that you have all this support? What do you want next?
Just to keep making more sounds.