Posted by: Daily Times, Written by: Colin Ainsworth
CHESTER — In a city rife with accomplishments in music performance and production, Jahlil Beats became the first Chester native to bring home the industry’s top prize of peer recognition on Sunday at the 61st annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.
Beats received the honor for his production work on Anderson .Paak's “Bubblin'," which tied with Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Future and James Blake’s “King’s Dead” for best rap performance.
“Chester – we did it; we on the map, baby,” Beats said by phone Tuesday. “It’s a long time coming. We got more work to do.”
“Bubblin’” brought .Paak his first Grammy win, after 2017 nominations in the Best New Artist and Best Contemporary Urban Album categories. Beats helmed the production based around an original composition from Antman Wonder, who also received a Grammy for his co-production credit. Famed hiphop producer Dr. Dre, president of .Paak’s label Aftermath, mixed the record.
“It’s a dream; we worked for this,” Beats said of the win. “It’s my first nomination, so I’m one-for-one. It means the world to me, my team and my family – we work hard for this.”
The award means recognition of “artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry” by his industry peers. For genre-specific awards, members of the Recording Academy (formerly the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, or NARAS) are directed to vote only in their areas of expertise.
Beats, born Orlando Tucker, learned audio production in his father’s home studio. “I was born into it,” he said, noting his father, also a producer, earned his Certified Audio Engineer credential in 1988, Beats’ birth year. “At the age of 10 or 11 got me into production.”
“My dad gave me an old mixer… and mic,” Beats said. “I was recording on his mixer in my bedroom, selling (recordings) in (Chester) high school. I was making mix tapes; recording all the best artists in the city of Chester. That was my first start.”
After garnering national attention for work with singer Chris Brown, Beats’ breakthrough success came in 2011 with Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill’s “Ima Boss,” which spent 17 weeks on the Billboard Hot Rap chart. “I played it for Meek Mill by mistake,” Beats said, as he intended to give the track to another rapper. “That record put both of us on the map.”
Beats’ win marks the first competitive Grammy win for a city native since the award’s creation in 1958, though several Chester musicians have been recognized by NARAS in other capacities.
Singer Ethel Waters, who had three recordings posthumously entered in the Grammy Hall of Fame between 1998-2007 following her 1977 death. City native and current Springfield resident John Vanore – jazz musician and record producer, current Widener University artist-in-residence and retired director of music and recording technology – is a longtime voting member of NARAS.
The city’s greatest presence on the Billboard charts came before the institution of the Grammys. In 1954, traditional pop vocal group The Four Aces had seven Top 40 singles, including the number one “Three Coins in a Fountain,” and two of the year-end Top 30 records in retail sales. The same year, Bill Haley & His Comets’ released “Rock Around the Clock,” which after an inauspicious start as a b-side would explode the following year with an eight-week run at number one. The song made history as the first rock ‘n’ roll record to hit number one on the pop charts.