When I met Dubba-AA at a Hillsboro Village coffee shop in December, I knew I was in for a lively and engaging conversation. His impressive producing resume features some of rap’s biggest names (think Kodak Black and YoungBoy Never Broke Again) on top of his rising solo career.

Speaking with Dubba-AA, you can’t help but appreciate both his immense technical knowledge and his obvious (and contagious) excitement for music. I questioned him about his early inspirations, and he explained that he became involved with music through church as a child, an experience that taught him the value of community. “You have to have a community,” he told me, “you can’t do it by yourself.” This is evident in his discography; his work is heavy in collaboration, his two most recent singles featuring YK Toon and Bow Wow.

His childhood experience fostered a love for music that he can’t seem to shake. Immersed in first the Florida, then Nashville, and finally the Atlanta music scene, Dubba-AA has witnessed all sides of the industry. “I’ve been behind the scenes,” he told me, “and I’ve seen good, I’ve seen bad, I’ve seen friendly, I’ve seen beautiful.” A reverence for music, he claims, is essential for success. When asked to expound on his creative process, his answers caught me by surprise. “I don’t write my lyrics,” he said, “I freestyle.” This decision is based on his commitment to creating a genuine product. “You’re technically writing a song, but you’re writing it on the beat,” he explained, “the beat has to move me.” It is clear he wants to give his listeners a taste of the real connection he has to his sound. Each of Dubba-AA’s songs is a snapshot of a moment, capturing his organic interactions with a track.

Dubba-AA is no stranger to the effects of a good song. “It makes you feel empowered, it makes you feel uplifted when you listen to a record.” His choice to pursue the life of an artist is motivated by this experience. “Not because I want money or not because I want fame,” he explained, “but the way that my music makes other people feel.” When I asked him where he finds inspiration, he confided in me that he tries not to emulate other artists, describing this common practice as a sort of sound recycling and the reason he finds a lot of modern music homogenous and unexceptional. He did share with me that down the line he hopes to explore “more live instrumentation on the record.”

“[A] live band, it’s a different energy,” he explained, and one that he hopes to capture and share with his audience in the coming years.

As much appreciation as he has for music, Dubba-AA is also familiar with its less romantic aspects. An emotional investment in one’s craft often comes hand in hand with difficulty, especially when that craft is so subjective.  How does he maintain his passion, I asked, without becoming discouraged by the industry?  First and foremost, he told me, “I try not to be married to the record. What I like, you may not like.” Commitment to preserving authenticity requires an open mind to audience opinion and interpretation. Most of all, Dubba-AA’s credo seems to be ceaseless hard work.  “If you wanna do this, you gotta know that it’s not easy,” he said of his career choice, “it’s probably one of the hardest things to do.” However, he remains undeterred. “They say the grass is greener on the other side and it is,” he told me, “it’s just getting to that other side that’s the hard part.”

“You gotta jump the fence, and when you jump the fence it’s got barbed wire on it, and then once you get off that your shirt is ripped and it’s bloody, the dog bit your ankle, and then you stand up and fell, right? Now you stinky.” However, he went on, “once you get up off of that, you’re like ok, this is where I’m meant to be.”

With a commitment to quality product and a formidable work ethic, there can be no doubt that Dubba-AA’s already impressive career is just his beginning.

Listen to Dubba-AA’s solo work here: