It all began with a name. “Originally the meaning was we’re the types for your stereo,” recalls Jeremy Reeves (aka Jerm Beats) on the origin of the Stereotypes’ name. “Then as time progressed it made more sense with us breaking stereotypes in music as a multi-cultural group to go by Stereotypes,” he continues. “We’re also not producing generally what you’d think.” The collective is comprised of Jerm Beats, along with Ray Romulus (aka RayRo), Ray Charles McCullough (aka RaCharm) and Jon Yip (aka Jon Street), who came up with the Stereotypes name.
Jon simultaneously fell for rapping and beats during high school. “It was just me and a couple of high school homies,” he says, and they worked in one friend’s basement using his dad’s production equipment. Once Jon reached college, he could afford his own sonic gear and would craft the beats for he and his rap group to rhyme over. “I wasn’t even thinking about getting stuff on other people’s projects at the time,” he admits. “It was always about making stuff for myself.”
Following graduation, the Chinese-American and Sacramento native - who was armed with an Economics Degree he planned on never using - moved to Los Angeles, landing a long-term temp job at Sony Music. “I was trying to get into the label to hustle off my own music, still never trying to hustle beats,” he explained. “A year passed by and I was like, ‘this isn’t working. At least not right now.’” Reaching a crossroads, he chose production over rapping. “It was really to hone my craft as a producer and to somehow get placements doing what I love.”
Jon left Sony Music and was hired full-time by Interscope Records as an A&R admin. One day while perusing Guitar Center in his hometown, Jon met Jeremy Reeves who was working at the Center. “I actually wasn’t helping him,” Jeremy explains. “I was ear hustling though,” he jokes. A beatmaker since the age of 12, Jeremy would study other producers and determine what they were using and find less expensive means of mimicking their sounds. “I figured out what everyone was using and did the best I could,” he says. “But of course the budget I had was no budget.” While working at Guitar Center, Jeremy would keep his beats on a memory card to insert into keyboards as demos for customers. When Jon told Jeremy he worked at Interscope, Jeremy slipped the memory card full of beats into a Yamaha Motif and pressed play. A friendship was born.
Across the country, Ray Romulus was making moves of his own in New York City. A self-taught drummer since the age of four, Ray also trained under The Fugees’ drummer Donald Guilliame and recalls moments as a kid where he would play for Wyclef Jean. “That kid’s good!” Ray who is also of Haitian descent recalls hearing Wyclef say about his drumming. He left college in 2002 as a Communications student and started interning at Bad Boy Records where he made it his mission to build a working relationship with Sean “Diddy” Combs. He even ran the marathon with Diddy just for the opportunity to converse with him while they trained together. Ray also befriended a Bad Boy in-house producer who after hours would help him perfect his production skills. However, he also had his eyes on the business. “My goal was to be an A&R,” he explains. Diddy’s personal assistant later introduced Ray to Jermaine Dupri, who hired him as his personal assistant where he worked for two years before becoming the youngest A&R in Def Jam’s history at 22-years-old; Teairra Mari’s “Make a Girl Feel Good” and Rihanna’s “Unfaithful” are A&R credits on his C.V.
Three and a half years later Ray was unexpectedly laid off by Def Jam. Feeling burnt out by the business, he decided to return to his passion for performing and making music as a career. While catching up with Jon, who regularly sent Ray beats while he was still an A&R and who’s artist Three he even signed, he asked Jon if he would be open to the idea of allowing him to join the Stereotypes. A month later with one suitcase, Ray relocated to Jon’s guest bedroom in L.A. to join the production team, a move that would change all of their lives.
2007 marked the year that things started really happening for the trio. Previously, the Stereotypes made beats for the likes of Marques Houston (“Wonderful”), as well as Keyshia Cole (“Don’t You Trust Me” remix with Tupac). Then in ’07 with Ray as their newest member they made the beat for Danity Kane’s “Damaged” which skyrocketed them to the Top 10 of the Billboard Top 100 Charts for the first time. Instead of spending that money on cars and jewelry, they reinvested it into building their own production studio. Things were happening, but the irony was that Jeremy was living out of his car, often couch surfing – landing mainly on the sofa of Philip Lawrence (Bruno Mars producing partner with Smeezingtons). He also made the commute from Los Angeles to maintain his job at Guitar Center in Sacramento to survive, as “Damaged” was playing over the store’s speakers. “Every time it would come on they’d go, ‘Uh oh there’s Jerm’s song!’” he says. “It makes me appreciate where I’m at a lot more for sure.”
Back up in Northern California, Jon caught wind of an up and coming producer he heard about on multiple occasions. Enter Ray Charles McCullough, aka RaCharm, the last member to join the group. He learned to craft beats at an early age from a Playstation game called “Music Generator”. After graduating from the University of Pacific with a degree in music management, Charm moved to Sacramento to continue juggling work at the State Capital for the summer and becoming the top selling producer on popular beat battle website RocBattle.com (hosted by Da Rockwilder). After several missed attempts they finally met in Sacramento. Coincidentally he was living a mile down the street from Jon’s parents house, so a meeting was eminent.
To date, the Stereotypes have produced for some of music’s A-list artists. They were instrumental in the rise of Far East Movement, executive producing their debut album (and facilitating their Cherrytree Records/Interscope deal in conjunction with their production company Stereotypes Music). Recently they’ve had success oversees in Asia with the Korean & Japanese pop music scene. Working with top artist’s Girls Generation (“XYZ”), BoA (“Kiss My Lips”), Super Junior (“Devil”), EXO (“Transformer”).
Other credits include Ne-Yo (Grammy-nominated for their production credit on Year Of the Gentleman), Mary J. Blige (“Good Love” feat. T.I.), Bow Wow & Omarion (“Number One’s”), Melanie Fiona (“The Bridge”), Travie McCoy (“We’ll Be Alright”), Justin Bieber (“Somebody To Love”), Chris Brown (“Beg For It”), Tank (“Celebration” feat. Drake), Clarence Coffee (from the motion picture soundtrack Home “Run To Me”), Nico &Vinz (“Fresh Idea” Nestea TV Campaign) along with rising acts like rapper Tyler Thomas, in addition to, Riley, Nick Gardner, and Far East Movement who are all signed to their production company Stereotypes Music.
Success is just brewing for a crew who credits their biggest inspirations as The Neptunes, Timbaland, and of course Diddy. The method to their madness is that they have no method. “Really, the formula is that there is no formula,” Jon explains. “We just go in and have no boundaries. Sometimes Jeremy will start drums or I’ll start with a melody or sometimes Ray will get on playing drums or sometimes I’ll just find some weird noise. It usually starts with one thing and we just play off that.” Their fascinating process for making music is one that draws artists in and makes them repeat customers.
As the Stereotypes continue their journey to the top, they proudly boast that they’ve done it together. They’ve since moved on from their humble make shift recording studio in Jon’s guest bedroom into their own private state of the art recording facility, Short Bus Studios in Century City, LA - but the organic heart of their sound still remains. “I feel like this all is a movie,” Ray explains. Jeremy finishes, “It’s definitely a good story to tell.”