Since garnering three Grammy nominations for the 2018 awards, the production team Stereotypes have been riding a high of disbelief and excitement. The four music-makers who make up the hit-making production team are nominated for Song of the Year, Best R&B Song and Producer of the Year, Non-Classical. “Definitely still in shock,” producer Jonathan Yip admits of hearing the Grammy nominations. “We weren’t really thinking about it and when the news came, it was like being hit with a tidal wave.” Yip is one of the four-man collective, and has been since its inception in 2003. The group has evolved over the years, losing and gaining team members, shifting gears creatively and working to find their place in the business. “The music industry is tough. We saw some early success in 2008 but we’ve had some really down times,” Yip says of the group’s history. “Like, we’ve been at crossroads where we didn’t know if we were going to continue doing this.”
Yip continues to say that Ray Romulus of the Stereotypes gave him permission to tell a personal story. With my interest peaked, he describes how Romulus attended the Grammy Awards two years ago with his publicist wife. Sitting behind superstars like Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez, artist-friend Bruno Mars came over to greet him right before he received a devastating message from Wells Fargo Bank. “The bank told [Ray] that he had no money in his account,” Yip says. “To go from experiencing the greatest night to the lowest point of wondering how you’re going to get home is crazy.” Yip says that Romulus’s wife leaned over to him and assured him that in a couple of years he would be back here as the one receiving the Grammy nominations.
The team may have experienced some of the lowest of lows but Yip tells me, “Without those lows, we wouldn’t know how to appreciate the highs. We’re here right now and we’re humbled knowing that this can all go away at any moment.”
Luckily, Stereotypes persevered with vengeance gaining credits on music by Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber, Fifth Harmony and most recently, Pit Bull. The team was also rightfully recognized on Variety’s 2017 Hitmakers list.
The team’s multi-cultural backgrounds create a melting pot of talents and musical flavors, resulting in the diverse collective that is the Stereotypes, a foursome comprised of Asian, Haitian, African-American, Samoan, and Caucasian ethnicities. Yip is quick to joke around about the team’s current blend of backgrounds saying, “We became these poster-children for a Benetton ad for music. It didn’t happen on purpose like, ‘Hey! We need to go find a Samoan guy!’ but, it works.” He continues to say how together, the four guys are the ultimate echelon of people to have to go through before music is approved. Starting out in his bedroom making beats by himself, Yip knows the hardship of not having anyone to bounce ideas off of. “You might think something is amazing and then you play it for someone and they’re just like, ‘this sucks,’” he says. “The fact that there are four of us, if one person says it sucks, it probably does.”
The past year, the echelon has proved to be successful. Working with Bruno Mars on his Grammy nominated album 24K Magic offered them the opportunity to make upbeat music that has made waves across the globe. “We’re in an era right now where I think not everything is fun. People are serious and they want to appear cooler than life,” Yip says. “I want people to hear our music and have fun. Maybe it doesn’t make you want to dance but it puts a smile on your face.” From “That’s What I Like” to “Finesse,” the music of Bruno Mars does exactly that. “The one thing that Bruno said to us in the beginning was that he wants people to dance again in the club,” Yip shares. “When we were younger, there would be a soul train line or a dance circle at the club. Now, everyone sits at tables with bottle service, watching each other.” The music on 24K Magic is a collection of songs that offer good vibes, nostalgic beats and a genuine feeling of fun. “Let your hair down! You might not have hair but let it down,” Yip says with a laugh. “Put your 9-to-5 up on the shelf. That’s exactly what we’re trying to do.”
Stereotypes have recently teamed up with Pitbull on a new song “Jungle,” putting them in front of the camera and offering them the chance to release records with complete creative control. With the Grammy Awards a few short weeks away, Stereotypes will continue savoring their successes from 2017 and will be busy in the studio making more hits for listeners to dance to in 2018. Watch the official video for “Jungle” below.
Main image credit: Mike Selsky