Arthur Dubois, a 72-year-old Chicago resident, stunned hip-hop producers and a lot of people online when he mustered up the courage and walked into a local recording studio this week.
Dubois is a father to two kids in their thirties and forties and a grandfather to teenage grandchildren. About six years ago, he taught himself how to produce hip-hop beats as a hobby.
“I was tampering with it but I wasn’t doing too well and stuck at it,” Dubois told BuzzFeed News. He said he grew up loving music, but had never thought to pursue it.
In his sixties, he discovered trap, the subgenre of hip-hop that rose to popularity in the late ’90s/early 2000s. “They didn’t have it in my day,” said Dubois. However, he said it “sound[ed] good” to him and he was drawn to it.
On Monday, after years of “tampering” with and creating trap beats for fun, Dubois said he mustered up the courage to finally take them to a professional producer for feedback.
He walked into a nearby free studio called Haven Studios, a youth mentoring music studio in the south end of Chicago. He asked the owner, a 32-year-old rapper and producer named Andre “Add-2” Daniels, if he could play some of his music for him.
Daniels told BuzzFeed News he was hesitant at first. “I told him it was a studio for the youth, but I could point him in the right direction to reliable people who could help that I personally know,” he said.
However, he noted a “sincerity” in Dubois’ voice, so he said OK. One track.
After his jaw dropped the first time listening, Daniels recorded the encounter.
“When I heard his music I was in complete disbelief because you wouldn’t expect him to make this style of music, to be able to do it well, and to appreciate it as music, where sometimes our elders don’t see it as music,” said Daniels.
You can see Dubois was equally shocked by Daniels’ reception of his music.
“I know it sounds good, but I hoped he thought it sounded good too,” Dubois said.
His music, up to this point, was mostly a hobby he kept to himself as a way to keep himself learning. He said at times his children and grandchildren will give him notes on his production.
“Reading is a good thing,” he said about learning how to produce. He read up on all the basics to hip-hop beat-making, downloaded apps like Pro Tools and Mixcraft, and got to work.
At some point over the last six years, he came across one of Daniels’ videos on YouTube about his youth studio, and noticed it was not too far from where he lived.
He had saved Daniels’ video and name both to his computer and memory — and this week he decided it was time he would finally walk over.
“He said he gathered the courage to finally step outside of his comfort zone and ask if I could help him mix and arrange his beats,” said Daniels.
Daniels was so blown away by what he heard that he brought other musicians and producers in his studio over to listen. He recorded their stunned reactions as well.
Daniels was then compelled to share these recordings on Twitter, where it’s gone viral.
People online were also stunned and impressed. Many noted that for an average person who grew up with this genre of sound, “making beats isn’t easy,” someone commented. “It takes mad time to really learn these programs. thats wild.”
Others noted that Dubois’ beats were surprisingly on trend with current sounds.
People were simply inspired that he was inspired to try something new at his age.
“Mannnn I’m crying 😭 my dad and this wonderful man are the same age. Wish my dad could find something to keep him going,” someone wrote.
Dubois told BuzzFeed News he was overcome with emotion when Daniels showed him his tweet and everyone’s reaction to him and his music.
“It mess me up...I wasn’t expecting all of that,” he said.
He said he had heard about Twitter, but wasn’t too familiar with the platform and how it worked. “Now I’m going to use it,” he said, laughing.
Over the past few days, Daniels said Dubois has been coming into his studio nearly every day so he could help him arrange and mix his songs. He’s also helped him set up his own Twitter account (@BeatsByArthur)!
“His original goal was to get his songs mixed and arranged, so while the attention is good, I don’t want him to lose sight of his original goal. I know pretty soon he’s going to have a bunch of rappers knocking down his door,” Daniels said, laughing.
He’s been touched by his chance encounter with Arthur, and it’s mostly taught him a valuable lesson.
“It’s never too late to pursue your dreams [and] how music breathes life into all of us and how music can bring different generations together,” he said.
“I feel like I just became his unofficial grandson. I want to see him live out his dreams.”
For Dubois, while he’s a man of few words, he does have a message to anyone his age or otherwise about keeping passions alive:
“A person can do whatever they want to — if they want to do it, let them do it,” he said.