I swear, it felt like I was Doug E. Fresh,” recalls 27-year-old Joseph French about 7 years ago being pulled from an audience to provide live beatboxing for the legendary KRS-One. “KRS was in shock at some of the stuff that I was doing.” This impromptu performace may have been first brush with large-scale stardom, but Joseph French has been receiving attention for his creative strentghts for as long as he can remember. Raised in church, French got a serious headstart on his career by picking up drumsticks at the age of three (!) and discovering his love for hip-hop a few years later, his ears and mind permanently impacted by the sounds of early-’90s giants like Pharcyde and A Tribe Called Quest, as well as the genre-mixing work of Prince. A faithful band student all the way through high-school graduation, afternoons and weekends fround him in the family basement punching buttons on his Motif-7 keyboard in pursuit of his truest love: beats. Learning the production ropes in the early ’00s, French gravitated toward the sounds of Timbaland and the Neptunes, whose boundary-smashing, carefree party tracks inspired him to develop his own dormant beat genius. French especially keyed in the vibe of N.E.R.D.’s In Search of… debut, its high-school nostalgia reminding him of what was then his daily life: “I was one of those guys in school that was cool with everybody. From the geeks to the jocks to the in-crowd, I was there.” This likeability has followed French from the classroom to the studio, where he has already worked with a diverse array of Midwestern hip-hop and R&B artist-from tough street-rappers NAPPYVILLE to sultry chanteuse Denise Williams-on behalf of his Johosophat Productions outfit. Armed with an exciting beat style he calls “Bunken,” a new-millennium revision of the classic, hard-hitting 808 sound, chances are good that French will soon be hitting it off with the likes of Dr. Dre and Jermaine Dupri just as he did with all those kids at school.

Waka Flocka Flame – Rumors Instrumental (Produced J French)

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