Milwaukee Producer Derelle Rideout has been through the highs and lows, but stays steady as he continues to grow
Music has been flowing out of Derelle from a young age, beginning when his grandma gave Derelle a set of drums at age 5. A musically inclined individual herself, she played piano as well as being active within a gospel group with her friends, she saw the talent that young Derelle possessed. Derelle’s earliest introductions to music comes while being surrounded by family in church. His grandma was one of his biggest influences from the start, pushing him to develop his talent through consistent practice as well as becoming involved more at the church. By the time that Derelle was seven, he was playing drums on a regular basis for his church as well as scoring a gig with his grandma’s gospel group. As the years passed and Derelle continued to progress in his abilities on the drums, the time came to follow his interests and continue expanding. Naturally, it was his grandma who gave him his next musical instrument gift of a keyboard, continuing to follow her down the classical music path. After banging around for two years, Derelle’s uncle presented him with the instrument that would set him down his beat making path, a Casio keyboard. The year was 2000, and beat-making and recording was becoming more and more intertwined with technology, with Casio keyboards boasting the ability to change sound with the flick of a button and in essence, create beats by just messing around. Immediately, Derelle took a liking to the new abilities presented to him, putting in hour after hour on the keys, listening to his creations through the two tinny speakers on each side of the main panel.
Although his fledgling career in music had a solid foothold in the church community, Derelle was wanting to explore the rest of his abilities in the world outside of gospel. The Casio keyboard gifted to him by his uncle was key in that transition, as it allowed him to create beats and record them. A year after receiving the keyboard, Derelle sold his first ever beat to a Milwaukee group named The Crunk Boyz. This was in 2001, and while crunk had been present in the music space for a few years, it was just beginning to reach the type of mainstream success that allows Lil Jon to continue to be a cultural figure decades later. This taste of success enthralled Derelle, as he saw the opportunities that could be had by continuing to put in work on his beats. The next year, when he was 15, Derelle stepped into a full-studio for the first time, taking his newfound talent to the next level surrounded by professional recording equipment. The experience also opened Derelle’s eyes to the techniques of recording live instruments for use within beat-making. It is not an easy process, but Derelle’s years spent playing the instruments as well as messing around with recording his beats from the Casio gave him a little bit of a head start. He didn’t just hit the studio to sit in the back and watch either, Derelle dove right in, getting his hands dirty from the start while going through years upon years of music to build his sample library. Not long after that, when Derelle was 16 or 17, his uncle bought an MPC machine, which for those who don’t know, was one of the most game-changing pieces of technology when it first came out in 1988, simplifying and somewhat economizing the beat-making process. Derelle was hooked immediately and the first thing that he did with the MPC was hook it up to a DVD player and flip the Pokémon theme song about three different way.
The day that Derelle knew a 9-5 wasn’t for him came when he was 19. He was working at Menards to keep the family around him satisfied, while continuing to play drums at his church every weekend and getting paid a little to do it. The music was going alright, he had consistent customers in The Crunk Boyz, but Derelle could feel himself half-assing it either way, feeling stuck and unable to progress in any direction. Then while on a day off work, Derelle got fired. It was out of nowhere, but it felt like a message from above that it was time to focus on the music and nothing else. Kizmitly, Derelle’s mom had sat him down not long before that to tell him that it was time to make a choice and focus on one thing or the other, if he was going to work then he needed to work and if he wanted to do the music then it was time to get his ass on it and put in the work. So, he said fuck it, and created a Facebook page with his music posted on it, back when Facebook wasn’t simply a cesspool of shitty political opinions filled up by family and old friends most go out of their way to avoid. The page took off, and people around the city were fucking heavily with the beats that he was posting, in such a frenzy that even Derelle was surprised. It was in 2009 that Derelle made a beat that would help him take a major step forward in his career, when he made the beat for the “Bow” by Ray Nitti, one of the most significant and long-lasting songs to come out of the Milwaukee hip-hop scene. It wasn’t like Derelle was trying to create a beat to go crazy in the clubs, nah, he was just “making beats for the college girls at the parties to dance too”. His cousin DJ Willy Shakes had introduced him to a guy named Big Homie Mel, who immediately took a liking to the young producer. Mel told Derelle to put slap some beats together on a burned CD, and it so happened that when Mel got the beats into the hands of Ray Nitti’s team that it caught Ray’s ear, the rest was history.
The next few years passed in a whirlwind as Derelle settled into a routine living at a house with a bunch of other up and coming producers/artists in Milwaukee, creating new music and improving every single day. He intelligently surrounded himself with like-minded individuals on the same mission as himself, and even more importantly, guys that helped push each other on a daily basis. In 2012 Derelle and fellow Milwaukee producer standouts Bizness Boi, 808, and Deonte Hays came together to create Elusive Orkesta. Together they were able to take their individual talents and push it even further, receiving placements on a Cyhi the Prince project as well as Freddie Gibbs ESGN. “It was a collective of dope producers trying to make something happen, “Derelle reminisced, and this became yet another significant notch under his production belt. As happens with groups, the members eventually drifted away from the collective focus as their own lives and careers pulled them in separate directions. At the time, Derelle was traveling a lot, posting up in studios across the country and putting in work with different artists and producers. Derelle had begun working regularly with one of Milwaukee’s best-kept secrets the rapper Pizzle who has been pushing out top-notch music for a long while, and in Derelle’s opinion, “one of the best rappers that I’ve ever heard or worked with” and who would lead him to his next major stepping stone. Pizzle was working with the well-known producer, Honorable C.N.O.T.E. down in Atlanta, and when Pizzle showed C.N.O.T.E. a few of Derelle’s beats, C.N.O.T.E. immediately took a liking to the younger producers work. They quickly got in the studio together and stayed there, locked in, as Derelle soaked up knowledge from the more-established producer and continued to push himself as an artist. It was also around this time that Derelle was gifted a laptop from a homie loaded with FrootyLoops, marking the first time that he used a computer to make beats.
In 2015, after spending a while working in Atlanta, Derelle needed to get away from it all. He has suffered from anxiety and depression from a young age, a defining memory associated with it being a weed-induced paranoia attack that ended up with him in the hospital. When we’re young, we make decisions without thinking of the full consequences, often leading to issues arising years later, and Derelle was no different when he moved down to Houston. The Honorable C.N.O.T.E. always had his back, and pushed him to keep going even where Derelle couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, when the demons of his past shrouded the light and enhancing his anxiety and depression. By any measure, he had been successfully working as a producer for over a decade at that point, but still the doubts and anxieties gnawed at his mind, appearing from the dark recesses at all the wrong times. Through it all, he continued to make beats and send them back to C.N.O.T.E., getting placements here and there. One day C.N.O.T.E. hit him about a beat that, at the time up and comer, Kodak Black heard and fell in love with which became “Can I”, one of the biggest stand-outs of Kodak’s early career on his 2016 EP Lil B.I.G. Pac. Not long after this success, Derelle was scrolling through Twitter when he came across a freestyle Lil Uzi had posted over one of his beats. Scrolling through the comments, Derelle found that people were fucking with the beat as much as the freestyle itself, and after someone let Uzi know that Derelle was the one making the beats, Uzi slid into Derelle’s DM’s and told him to “send him some fire” which was exactly what Derelle did. They ended up making a song together which ended up on Luv is Rage 1.5, and when Derelle saw his name credited on Wikipedia as being the producer, it was more important to him than any amount of money he had made from producing thus far. All Derelle wanted was for people to understand how seriously he took music, and this was a significant milestone in that journey.
As the years continued on, Derelle stayed steady in his support for the Milwaukee music scene. His love for the city runs deep, as with the rest of his old Elusive Orkesta family, and he does his best to continue to work with up and coming artists as well as more established ones out of the city. He produced a full-length project with El-Shareef, worked with one of Wisconsin’s biggest exports Munch Lauren and even was fortunate enough to have a song of his and Pizzle’s featured in a 2014 Milwaukee Bucks commercial, a huge moment for any hometown kid. Local standouts like RichieSlims, LeanBeatz, IshDarr and Yung Dev have caught his ear in the last few years, and have helped solidify his thinking that Milwaukee has a great vibe right now that hopefully will result in it finally getting the attention it deserves. One thing that has been incredibly important to the entirety of Derelle’s career is the power of positivity, staying focused on the end goal and not worrying about the results until they come through. There has been numerous instances, such as an NBA commercial, where Derelle wasn’t even aware of the placement until he heard it from someone else or in passing. It is an important lesson as well for young producers, to continue putting in the work even if there isn’t immediate recognition for the work, because if one stays dedicated and focused the results will come. Outside of music, fashion has been a major part of Derelle’s life. His long-time idol, Pharell, showed him that by being unafraid to buck trends and create your own, you can have an impact much larger than you ever intended. Growing up in Wisconsin, one thing every child learns early is that no road is smooth, you must endure potholes and cracks, dodging outside dangers while just trying to safely get home. While Derelle has certainly not had a smooth path to the top, dealing with his own mental health especially, there is not a single thing that he would change about the journey as it has taught him about life. Derelle Rideout’s career is still on the rise, as he continues to rotate through Atlanta and Milwaukee, putting in hour after hour in the lab. Another major milestone for Derelle was producing a song in 2019 for Gucci Mane & Quavo that ended up on arguable the best Christmas album in the past decade, East Atlanta Santa. And no big deal, but he is still waiting on his platinum plaque from another Kodak collaboration off of his Painting Pictures project, “Feeling Like” featuring Jeezy. He has currently been working on an upcoming project entitled F.E.A.R., a compilation project which stands for False Expectations of Reality in reference to the anxiety that he has dealt with his entire life. Derelle wants to show his versatility as a producer, and will be looking to make a splash with that project by the end of 2020. Make sure to follow him on all the socials, up the streams of the artists that he has worked with both nationally and locally, and keep on the lookout for F.E.A.R. because it is sure to be an absolute ear-grabber of an album.