Daru Jones has been a highly sought-after drummer in the hip-hop sphere in the last decade, working with fellow legendary artists such as: Jack White, Nas, Talib Kweli, Sturgill Simpson, Kim Burrell, Ski Beatz & The Sensei’s, Raekwon, Curren$y, Slum Village, Black Sheep, Digable Planets and Camp Lo.
Alongside these artists and many others, Jones has performed at some of the most celebrated musical events, including: One Mic: Hip-Hop Culture Worldwide! A 20th anniversary celebration of Nas’s debut album Illmatic, the 2013 Grammy Awards, Austin City Limits, Rock The Bells Festival, and the Montreux Jazz Festival. All while receiving rave reviews from: Rolling Stone Magazine, LA Weekly, and USA Today. Jones has also appeared on several national and international television programs, including: The David Letterman Show, Jools Holland, Saturday Night Live, and MTV.
In 2015 he performed on “Lazaretto”, the first single from Jack White’s second solo album, and played a massive part in earning White a Grammy for Best Rock Performance.
Jones is also a producer and boutique label owner who develops talent and releases music through his imprint, RUSIC RECORDS, LLC. These accolades, appearances and collaborations have all earned Jones the title of being one of the most respected drummers in the hip-hop game of his generation.
We caught up with Daru Jones last month before he played the Souler event at Miami Art Week. Souler is an online store connecting influencers and brands
You have worked with many amazing musicians/producers over the years, who were you seriously impressed by as far as musical talent goes? Who stood out the most?
That’s a really tough one. But, I’d like to shine some light on some recent amazing musicians I had the pleasure of working with such as, Isaiah Sharkey, Jon Bap and Mark Noxx. I also wanted to add working with Queen Latifah was quite a cool and amazing experience.
Producer wise, of course Pete Rock, Jack White, Salaam Remi and more. Jack White stands out because of the diverse sessions and live work I did with him from many genres from Rock, Hip-Hop, Sou and Country.
Is there anyone you still wish to work with in the future?
D’Angelo, Beyonce, Jay‑Z, Sting, Bob James just to a few or more.
Who would you love to work with again?
Although you were in Pittsburgh, you were able to go back to your roots and work with Detroit based legends you knew so well?
Yes! During the time I started playing in Slum Village band I was living in Pittsburgh, PA at the time.
Before you started working with Jack White, back when your influences were mostly hip-hop/jazz based (e.g. J Dilla, DJ premier, RZA) did you ever see yourself working with someone like him?
Did that take some adaptation on your part or did it just come naturally to play integrate into that musical style?
Naturally because Jack higher me to bring my flavor and style to what he was doing so it was no pressure.
You had a lot of influences growing up, with gospel, soul, hip-hop etc, What were some of your favourite records growing up?
For Gospel it was, The Rance Allen Group, Commissioned, The Winans, and The Clark Sisters.
Soul: Stevie Wonder
Hip-Hop: LL Cool J, Eric B & Rakim, Geto Boys, NWA, De La Soul, A.T.C.Q. , Gangstarr
Who’s an up and coming artist you’d like to shout out who you feel like needs more love?
Would you consider yourself a hip-hop “traditionalist” or are you always trying to find new ways to combine with other genres and evolve your sound?
I’m always looking to find new ways to evolve and add to my signature sound and style.
What are your thoughts on where hip hop is currently going?
Musical wise, I love the direction on producers using more real live musicians to create and add soulful authentic elements. I like that fact that is going back bars and speaking on real global issues.
Is it mostly positive or negative?
Would you like to see the genre shift in a certain direction or revisit some old styles?
I’d like to see some 80’s and 90’s styles revisit for authenticity and originality
Are there any gigs you regret not being a part of?
In 2014, I went to the legendary D & D Studios (NYC) a week before it closed to meet with one of my favorite hip-hop producers, DJ Premier.
He invited me to join his new band he was forming to do a short tour in Japan 2015. Right after I confirmed I was available, the follow week I received the tour schedule for Jack White and found out we were playing Madison Square Garden on the same day as Premier Tour started and unfortunately I had to back out.
A week later, I was asked to join bassist, Pino Palladino and one of my favorite vocalist, D’Angelo for a rehearsal jam-session in regards to touring with him but due to my schedule commitment with Jack White and etc. that opportunity fell through. I was pretty bummed at this point that 2 of some of my musical hero’s were interested in me working with them.
Other then that, No regrets because I believe everything happen when the time is right.
Or for the most part did you take full advantage of all your opportunities?
Yes, I did. At the same time, I’m grateful for each opportunity and being able to do me and bring my vibe/style to each work situation.
How often do you meet other drummers/musicians in general outside of the genres you normally work with?
On a regular basis.
Do you think there’s anything you can learn from, say, metal or Latin drummers?
Of course, I’m always in the school of learning.