Ron Feemster Becomes Top Songwriter and Producer, Working With Eminem, Jay-Z, 50 Cent and Dr. Dre

Rom Feemstar with Eminem.
Rom Feemster with Eminem.

Ron Feemster (aka Theron Feemster and ‘Neff-U’) has quickly become one of the hottest, young writer/producers in the hip-hop and R&B fields. Only 22 years old, Feemster co-wrote several cuts on two of the biggest-selling albums of the past year: Eminem’s The Eminem Show and 50 Cent’s Get Rich Or Die Tryin’. In addition, he has written and/or produced cuts with Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Bono (from U2), Will Smith, M.O.P. and Xzibit. Also, he composed the music score for the upcoming movie, Death Of A Dynasty.

It’s unusual for a young writer/musician to achieve success at such a fast pace. But Feemster has demonstrated to many hip-hop stars that he is an exceptional talent. Currently, he is working on additional projects with Dr. Dre, Jay-Z and Eminem, plus he is discovering and developing new artists for Drama Family Records, a label he has launched with his manager & uncle, Big Chuck (aka Charles Stanton).

Feemster grew up in a small town (Grover, NC), where his family was very active in the local church, and several family members were musicians. ‘My mom and dad were both talented musicians, and they played (piano & organ) and sang in church,’ recalled Feemster. ‘They encouraged me to play music at a very young age; I learned how to play piano and drums.’

By the time he was in the seventh grade, Feemster was playing music in his school band and orchestra, and also at church. ‘It was during this period that I started to take music seriously,’ explained Feemstar. ‘I began reading music, and learning different styles of music. I played timpani, xylophone and bass drum at school, and I became choir director at church. I also started writing contemporary gospel and Christian songs. I had a small Yamaha keyboard which I used for writing music and making beats. That’s when I caught the fever of making beats.’

Following high school, Feemster had an opportunity to audition for the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston, MA. He flew up with his father to Boston, where he auditioned and won a scholarship to attend Berklee. This was a breakthrough for Feemster; it confirmed his musical talent and gave him further confidence. He then moved to Boston and attended Berklee, where he continued to develop his writing and producing skills.

‘After two-and-a-half years at Berklee, I figured out what I wanted to do,’ said Feemster. ‘I made up my mind, to move to Los Angeles and start working in the music business. I discussed it with my father; he believed in me and supported my move 100%. I moved out to LA (in 2001), where the only person I knew was my uncle, Big Chuck.’

Feemster arrived in Los Angeles, and wrote and recorded rap and R&B demos using his only instrument, a Korg Triton keyboard. ‘I started recording with just the Triton in my apartment,’ he explained. ‘I played these demos for Big Chuck (who is a successful manager who has represented Eric B. & Rakim, Big Daddy Kane and New Edition). He liked the demos, so he started hooking me up with music projects. I got my first cut with (rapper) Mack 10.’

Soon after, Big Chuck helped Feemster get his big break, by setting up a meeting with Dr. Dre. Feemster played tracks, and played piano live for Dr. Dre, who was so impressed that he immediately brought in Feemster to work on his projects. In fact, the first artist Feemstar worked with Dr. Dre on, was none other than Eminem.

‘It was great working with Eminem, his vibe and talent is amazing,’ said Feemster. ‘We started writing and recording in Reno, then we went to Detroit. Then we finished working in LA. It was a lot of fun. Dre would do the beats, Eminem would write the raps, and I would work on the music with Mike Elizondo (on three of the songs). I helped dress up the music with piano, strings, harpsichord and other instruments.’ Feemster co-wrote four songs on The Eminem Show album, which has sold eight million units in the U.S.: ‘Business,’ ‘When The Music Stops,’ ‘Say What You Say’ and ‘My Dad’s Gone Crazy.’

After Eminem’s album was completed, Feemster worked on three other projects with Dr. Dre: a Coors Light commercial, a song for Xzibit called ‘Lose Ya Head’ (which featured a rap by Snoop Dogg), and a special song with Bono of U2. Then on his own, he began working with another rap superstar, Jay-Z. He co-wrote ‘Diamonds Is Forever’ with Jay-Z for the Blueprint 2 album.

It was also during this period (in 2002) that Feemster had the opportunity to compose the music score for the film, Death Of A Dynasty, which stars Jay-Z, Dr. Dre and Damon Dash (CEO of Roc-a-Fella Records & Films, who directed this film), plus cameos by Carson Daly, Mariah Carey and Lorraine Bracco. ‘It was great scoring a movie for the first time,’ said Feemster. ‘I would like to score more movies, and also create music for commercials.’

Then in the fall of 2002, Feemster began working (with Dr. Dre & Mike Elizondo) on two other, top projects: 50 Cent’s Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ album, and Mary J. Blige’s new album, Love & Life. ‘We started working with 50 Cent and Mary J. Blige about the same time,’ recalled Feemster. ‘Dre hooked me up with 50 Cent, and we worked with 50 through the end of the year and into 2003. I [co-wrote] two songs with 50, including the single ‘If I Can’t.’ Dre, Mike and I also worked with Mary, on the song ‘Not Today’ (which is a duet with Eve).’

At the end of 2002, Feemster entered into a publishing agreement with Zomba Music. He said he was happy to sign with Zomba, and to be working with the Zomba staff, including Lisa Piacenti (Creative Executive) and Richard Blackstone (Senior Vice President).

Now in 2003, Feemster continues to write & produce at a non-stop pace. He has worked with several rap and R&B artists, including Dave Hollister, Yolanda Adams, Aftermath rapper The Game, and new Universal R&B artist, Sha’Liek Rivers. Also, he has been working on two, high-profile projects: Dr. Dre’s new album Detox, and Jay-Z’s next album. In addition, Feemster and his manager Big Chuck have launched their label, Drama Family Records, and they are discovering and signing new artists.

‘Things have been going great; I’ve been getting calls to write & produce with artists, to score movies, and to work on music for video games,’ said Feemster. ‘I feel really happy and blessed to be able to create, and express my music to the world. I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank my manager & uncle, Big Chuck. He has been the most important person in my career. We are a team, and I’m very thankful to have him in my life as my manager and my uncle.’

Dale Kawashima is the Head of SongwriterUniverse and a music journalist. He’s also a music publishing exec who has represented the song catalogs of Michael Jackson, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Motown Records.
Dale Kawashima