Kenya Vaughn of The St. Louis American
On the magical evening of election night 2008, music-producing duo Starstruckk created a beat that they just knew was going to be an instant classic.
“We made that beat, and it was like something took over us,” Monique Hinds, a.k.a. Foxx, said as she reflected on the process. “It was like, ‘Oh, these chord progressions are really great.’”
They had not long before started working together in music, after being co-workers at the Macy’s call center. Something about the partnership and the finished products – this track in particular – felt especially right.
She knew that she and her production partner Rick Tha Rular, a.k.a. Aleric Banks, were doing something big on this special night with respect to their music.
But a funny thing happened when it was time to shop the track. They couldn’t give it away – locally or nationally.
“Jibbs didn’t want it, Yung Ro didn’t want it and neither did City Spud,” said Rick The Ruler. On the national arena, the beat was passed over by Young Jeezy’s camp as well.
They instinctively pressed forward with pitching the beat, and not only did it get sold, but it will almost certainly lead to them blowing up in a major way.
“It wasn’t meant for them,” Hines said. “It was meant for this situation.”
In one of the best instances of divine delay, the beat would be the foundation for a skit – featuring pop music it-girl Rihanna – that would ultimately land them in the running for an Emmy Award.
The Shy Ronnie digital short she did, on the December 5, 2009 show with Andy Samberg, scored a nomination for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics at the 62nd Annual Emmy Awards.
“When she pivoted and turned the corner with those Rihanna shades, I was blown away,” Hines said. “I was amazed. I cried. And me being a girl, I hit repeat a thousand times.”
They spoke of seeing Rihanna perform the song and accompanying skit, written and performed by Saturday Night Live cast member Andy Samberg and his recurring “Shy Ronnie” character as if it were the icing on the cake.
“It’s ironic, because before she became big and was something special I wanted to work with her,” Banks said. “And when I saw it, I was like … wait a minute … I ain’t crazy!”
It was further evidence that the classically trained pianist and daughter of local music legend David Hines and a young musician specializing on trumpet and drums were meant to work together.
A family member – who was also a coworker – recommended that the two collaborate. They began working together with local artist E. Stank.
“I know too many people that just sat on her,” Banks said. “They all passed on her because she was a female – and I thank them for passing up the opportunity.”
He had produced for local artists like Jibbs and Ms. Kryss.
She gave up teaching music to pursue the production/songwriting production side.
Banks had worked with Samberg before, producing a song for his album – which went platinum in Australia – and produced another skit, “Like a Boss.”
Samberg called Banks again last winter asking for more tracks, and the first one the new partnership hit him with was the fateful beat that nobody else wanted.
He loved it. The rest was history.
In June of this year, they got the call that they were up for the most esteemed and coveted award in television.
“I was like, ‘Oh, okay’ and hung up,” Banks said. “I’m sure he thought I was being arrogant. But I didn’t know it was The Emmys. It still hasn’t sunk in yet.”
The 62nd Annual Emmy Awards will air live on August 29 at 7 p.m. CST on NBC. For more information about Starstrukk, visit http://Facebook.com/ricktharular">Facebook.com/ricktharular or http://Facebook.com/foxxstarstrukk">Facebook.com/foxxstarstrukk.