DJ, producer, composer, and arranger Robert “Waajeed” O’Bryant has four titles but speaks in triads. Things aren’t dope; they’re “dope, dope, dope.” Something isn’t heavy, but “really, really, really” heavy. It’s symbolic of his passion for just about everything in life, which is tempered only by the reality of growing up in the city of Detroit.
Professionalism has taught Waajeed the importance of self-control, but it was a timely lack of restraint that ignited his career in 1998. He was an accomplished visual artist on scholarship at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies, and a few childhood friends who had formed a hip-hop group, signed their first record deal and were embarking on a European tour.
Upon returning to the States, Waajeed was mentored by late Slum Village rapper and producer James Yancey, better known to the world as J Dilla. Inheriting an MPC 2000 from Yancey, he began producing on his own, recording some of his first songs with fellow Detroiters Elzhi and Dwele, and contributing heavily to Slum Village’s Trinity album in wake of Yancey’s departure from the group.
In 2003, PPP released its debut “Ridin’ High”/“Open Your Eyes” single, and two years later, the full-length Triple P. Triple P, with production contributions from instrumentalists Mystro and Mark de Clive-Lowe, and features from Sa-Ra Creative Partners, Steve Spacek, and hometown MCs Ta’Raach (aka Lacks) and Invincible, earned the duo widespread industry acclaim as well as aided in launching the careers of Georgia Anne Muldrow and Tiombe Lockhart. On Abundance, the 2009 follow-up to Triple P, the talents of up-and-comers Coultrain, and Jamila Raegan were on display as Waajeed expanded the group’s sound in reflection of inspiration garnered from countless remix projects, world tours, and collaborations with artists such as Cee-Lo, Estelle, Jazmine Sullivan, Raheem DeVaughn, and Daniel Merriweather.
2010 and beyond finds Waajeed still in lofty collaborative company, musically (Diddy, Mayer Hawthorne), but also broadening expertise in videography and continuing his work on the lecture circuit, including a four-year relationship with the Red Bull Music Academy and an appearance at the 2010 Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival’s Bodega Education Initiative in support of his mentor and friend, J Dilla. The forthcoming PPP3 album and projects with “Mad” Mike Banks, Karizma, and Invincible are certain to keep the still-emerging producer grounded and on the right path, no matter how much the business of music and its frustrations occasionally threaten to expose rugged, Hockeytown roots.