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Dem Franchise Boyz put the ‘snap’ in rap

‘They put the fun back in rap’ says producer Jermaine Dupri
/ Source: The Associated Press

Gazing out a window of a 34-story building in downtown Atlanta, four young men looked over the city and noticed the historic Stone Mountain in the distance.

“We went from unknown to known fast, and now we’re seeing our town from above,” said Buddie, one-fourth of Dem Franchize Boyz. “We might buy this building.”

Jizzal Man, Parlae, Pimpin and Buddie first got together in 2000. Now they’ve started an urban anthem and helped build a massive trend in “snap music,” which has evolved into a dance accessible for any age or race.

Many were initially drawn by the catchy beats, irresistible hooks and accessible finger-snaps. Producer Jermaine Dupri saw the potential in DFB and signed them to his label, So So Def Records.

“They put the fun back in rap,” Dupri says.

The foursome grew up together in Atlanta. They built a close friendship in high school before Buddie, Pimpin and Parlae attended Barber-Scotia College in North Carolina.

Jizzal Man often visited to record music, which is when they recorded “White Tees.” Parlae said the group was surprised by the attention the song received, only because they didn’t spend much time on it and wasn’t their favorite.

“We were just having fun when we put that together,” Parlae said. “It was easy. That’s how it’s always been.”

Smaller label offered more freedomAfter the song hit the radio, the three dropped out of college to pursue their rap career along with Jizzal Man. Six months later they signed with Universal Records. But their first album tanked — Universal refused to release “I Think They Like Me” as their second single — so DFB moved on.

“We had to leave Universal,” Buddie said. “They didn’t see our vision, but JD did.”

Dupri’s remix of “I Think They Like Me” claimed the No. 1 spot on the Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop singles list. Now their second album, “On Top Of Our Game,” has sold more than 500,000 units.

“Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It” brought even more recognition, bolstering their prestige in digital download sales. DFB has sold more than two million ringtones of four different tracks from “On Top of Our Game.”

Parlae, who produced “Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It,” believes the song put them on a higher level with other hip-hop artists. He said the entire production was short, taking him around 45 minutes.

“It’s not too many folks out there who can make a hit song in a short time like that,” Parlae said. “Now, we’re on top of the world right now and kings of the snap.”

Originally made for strip clubs, snap “is a smooth, laid-back crunk,” Jizzal Man said. “It’s the kind of movement where no one spills their drink.”

Others from the rap industry have caught onto snap music. DFB, who call themselves the originators, don’t mind if artists such as Lil Jon with “Snap Yo Fingers” or Cherish with “Do It To It” use their popular dance.

Unless you’re rap group Down Four Life (D4L).

Buddie called them copycats for releasing the smash hit “Laffy Taffy.” But Parlae says he couldn’t care less and insists there’s no animosity between the groups. Still, there are traces of hard feelings toward his adversaries.

“They ain’t got nothing to talk about,” said Parlae of D4L. “They had ’Laffy Taffy’ and that’s it. It’s over for them. For us, we’re going to keep it moving.”

Now DFB wants to branch out into the music categories. They teamed with rock group Korn on the remix “Coming Undone Wit It.” It’s a combination of DFB’s “Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It” and “Coming Undone” by Korn.

“We blended with them well for just the first time meeting them,” Buddie said. “Everything that we’ve wanted, we’ve gotten it so far success-wise.”