A side hobby turned passion has given Darius “D.Woo” Wooten more than he expected. Not too long ago, he was producing music on and off out of his home, hoping to work with a major artist one day. After working with one of the NBA’s top players and one of hip-hop’s most poetic rappers this year, his dreams are quickly coming true. 2019 is D.Woo's year, and the rest of us are living in it.
Wooten was born and raised in Dallas with his four siblings. His parents divorced when he was young, but upheld a solid co-parenting relationship. His father lived in Oak Cliff, and his mother in Cedar Hill. Wooten saw the “best of both worlds,” as he was able to indulge in South Dallas’ culture during the week and enjoy the calm outlying part of the city on the weekends, which he says helped him think outside the box.
There was production equipment lying around his father's house from when his father and uncle made music in the late '80s, and his older brothers learned how to produce music using their dad’s vintage equipment. They made a big wave in the city in the early 2000s with the song “Like a Pro,” which they produced, wrote and rapped a verse on, and which would become a local hit.
They later made another recognizable song during the jig era called "Geekmanship" with Dallas rapper KBZO, who Wooten would work with later. All the music made by the siblings was produced and recorded in their home.
Influenced by his brothers, Wooten made his first beat in the sixth grade. Music became a hobby, while he kept his eye on the ball, with basketball as his focus. Still dabbling in production, he sold his first beat to a rapper for about $125 when he was a sophomore in high school, and began steadily making beats for his classmates. One day, Wooten's art teacher asked him to sample a song. He immediately got to work and let his teacher hear the sampled mix the next day during class. He remembers his teacher's reaction, which was pulling out his wallet to ask how much the beat would cost.
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These two moments changed the way Wooten looked at his future, as he realized that becoming a full-time producer was a realistic means of employment. After graduating from Kimball High School, he attended the University of North Texas, which he says enabled him to build strong relationships with industry peers.
“That school brought so many people into one environment that I would’ve never came across,” he says.
During his last semester of college, Wooten had the opportunity to work with a Washington, D.C., artist named Chaz French — who was also affiliated with Wale at the time — by producing the song on French's album These Things Take Time. The project did well, and made it to the ears of an A&R executive named Derrick “Lottery” Hardy, who liked what he heard. This project would eventually land Wooten in the studio with Wale.
A year later, Wooten produced the beat now known as “Sue Me,” which sampled the Mississippi Children’s Choir’s “I’m Blessed.” He grew up in church and was hesitant about using a church song because he didn’t know who would work around the beat and how they would treat it, but the beat fell into the hands of rapper Wale, who heard it and fell in love with it. After recording his verses, the artist added Kelly Price’s vocals and the song was done in 2018. Now, Wooten just had to wait.
When he finally saw the track list for Wale’s latest album Wow…That’s Crazy, Wooten was surprised that his song was selected as the album's intro. He hadn't envisioned it as one and wondered if it would be considered as less than a complete song.
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Wooten anxiously waited, with a bottle of Champagne with his roommate, for midnight to strike on the project’s release date, when he would hear the final version of his song. Once fans heard it, Twitter went crazy. Even Wale tweeted, “'Sue Me' is one of the greatest beats of all time.”
“This is the first song I’ve made that people are tweeting things like the beat almost made them cry,” Wooten says. “You don’t imagine that when you’re making the song. It was overwhelming.”
Through his growing musical network, the producer's music reached NBA star Damian Lillard’s team earlier this year. Wooten was asked to produce the song “Dre Grant” off Lillard’s third studio album Big D.O.L.L.A. Wooten even got the chance to be in front of the camera when the music video was made.
“This is that year for me,” Wooten says excitedly. “Things are coming out around the same time, and it’s all based off the work that’s been put in. God definitely had his hand on the timing of things."