Taurian “Adonis” Shropshire is a name you may not know, but probably love. Why? Because he, along with his partner Bryan-Michael Cox are responsible for some of the most popular music in the last decade. Since getting his start as a songwriter for Sean “P-Diddy” Combs’ BadBoy Entertainment, he has written songs for various artists including Usher, Mariah Carey, Ciara, and Chris Brown. Adonis has a string of hits and a wealth of information for anyone looking to get into the industry. Get to know the Tennessee native who will surely go down in history as one of the greatest writers in the game.
Singersroom: How did you get into songwriting?
Adonis: I was an artist back in the day and I used to write songs for my group. Then one day my manager was like “Yo, you’re kind of good at that.” So it became a thing I did in the group. Like, we’d still get songs from other people but he wanted me to work on enhancing it and making that part of my role in the group. After the group disbanded he just started sending songs out to shop. He knew this lady that worked at Puff’s label and he was sending her the songs but Puff never liked any of them at first. One of the last songs sent in was a ballad and Puff liked it. He flew me up there and made me write a song on the spot for Jennifer Lopez. I got signed after that.
Singersroom: Being a writer who started as an artist, do you ever think about going back to that side when you see artists blowing up from your songs?
Adonis: Not really because I feel like everybody brings something to the game. There’s room for everybody, even the people who aren’t music makers. When I see other guys in videos I’m glad, because there were dudes before them that made it possible for them to do that.
Singersroom: So we’ll never see Adonis, the mad writer?
Adonis: I love music to the fullest and music gives dudes opportunities. Like ni**as ain’t on the block right now, having to look over their shoulders. Whatever a ni**a is doing that’s positive, I’m with it. Ni**a be in that video (laughs).
Singersroom: What are some of the projects that made the biggest impact on your career?
Adonis: There are two projects, that were recent that mean a lot to me, Usher’s project, “Confessions,” and Mariah’s new album that’s coming out soon. The Usher project was special because I’ve known dude since we were nine years old. We grew up together. Like that’s my ni**a. That’s like my brother. So to see what he became after knowing him for so long was crazy to me. Then I got the opportunity to write a record for him and for the “My Boo” record to do what it did was crazy. Two little ni**as from Chattanooga were making it big.
The Mariah project affected me a lot because I learned so much. Like, everybody likes to act like they know everything but I’m one of those people who’s always learning. I feel like there’s always something to be learned. Mariah is one of the dopest songwriters I have ever worked with. Writing with her was an experience in itself. A lot of people have talent and can come up with something hot but they don’t know the formula. There’s a formula to this shit and Mariah knows the formula. Like she is great at figuring out what it takes to make a hit record. A lot of people don’t know the formula. She knows it. I mean look at her record. She wrote 19 number one singles. She tied the all time record with Elvis, I think. If she gets one more she’ll have the most number ones of all time.
Singersroom: What is your process when writing songs?
Adonis: Most of the time songs come from conversations. R&B music is supposed to touch your soul. So to create a record I sit down and have a real conversation with the artist about things they’ve experienced or dealt with. And it’s not forced conversation just so we can make a record. We just chill for the first couple hours and just talk and after, those conversations are usually what the song ends up being about. You can’t just make something up, there has to be a connection. There has to be something that’s personal to the artist, because when it’s personal to them, they’ll bring it fourth on the record. Like on “Be Without You.” Mary was going through shit and people thought her and her husband were getting a divorce. That song and the way she brought it fourth; that was her telling the world “I can be without this ni**a. Ya’ll must be out of your minds.” It was easy for her to do that record because it was what she was going through.
Singersroom: Today, songwriters and producers are getting almost as much shine as the artists. Why do you think that is?
Adonis: Writing has become almost a sub-culture. Like it’s cool now to be a songwriter. Before, if you were the songwriter you were the least important person on the totem pole in the scope of label, artist, and producer. Back in the day the label chose the producer and the producer chose the songwriter. Now, in most cases, the label gets beats from producers then chooses the writer they want to write to that beat. It’s rare to find teams of writers and producers like me and Brian Michael Cox, or Tricky and Dream, or Johnta and Jermaine Dupri. Those situations are rare.
Singersroom: In your opinion, how important is the role of the songwriter?
Adonis: Without us there is no song. There’s just a beat and an artist. How were we viewed as the least important? It’s not a bad thing for writers to get shine but, at the end of the day, we all need to remember we’re all part of the creative process. Like I can’t even lie, it was difficult for me at first to see a producer rolling in whatever he’s rolling in and wearing whatever he’s wearing and people are like “Yo, you’re the greatest. I love that song you did.” And I’m like, I wrote that! So it became a thing because you start wanting your credit. And not even wanting to be recognized but just to give credit where credit is due. The producer is very important, always. And when you have a producer that knows how to create hit records, give them their accolades but, at the same time, if you’re giving accolades for the song, give it to everyone involved in creating the song.
Singersroom: What advice can you offer aspiring songwriters?
Adonis: Understand that this is not for everybody. Everybody will not make it as a songwriter because we go through the most bullshit and receive the least amount of credit. The producer gets the credit, the check, and the looks in the videos and we just get publishing, which is cool as long as those checks keep coming in the mail. But just remember that you’re going to spend so much time with the artist, talk with the artist, eat with the artist, and then the artist gets on TV and says the producer’s name. It will leave a sour taste in your mouth because it’s like what the f**k ni**ga. I spent all that time with you helping make the record! But, at the same time, the joy of it is when that artist has a concert and the audience is singing your lyrics. Or when you go to the club and n**as is singing your words because ni**as can’t sing the beat. So you have to get your joy wherever you can get your joy from. I get mine from being in a club and hearing my song come on and every ni**a in there goes crazy. I love that energy, I love for people to feel something from my music. So if you can deal with being in the background, but still getting a check, then cool.
Singersroom: As a writer, you have a different perspective of things when it comes to the business side of the industry. How do you feel about the industry being more single oriented?
Adonis: I love music as a whole. Every facet of music inspires a different lane. Music is like a child. It goes through what it goes through in order to develop. Like, you raise your child, you nurture your child. You praise it when it’s good and chastise it when it does something wrong but it’s still your child. Music is in a crazy state, because everybody just wants to get on the radio or on T.V. Nobody takes their time and make a great album anymore and that’s why when after most of these artist come out they don’t come back around.
Singersroom: You said music is in a crazy state. What would you like to see happen in the industry?
Adonis: Like I made the reference to the child earlier, when a child is bad and you reprimand them the child gets back to being good. The music industry right now is being reprimanded by low album sales, by labels doing deals where they want part of the artist’s tour money to get the money they’re not making off these album sales. Or they’ll offer single deals or ringtone deals. The industry is so crazy right now. And now everybody is focused on that one song. Ni**as got everything they need in their homes now. It’s nothing to do a song in your house and take it to the strip club. Then the DJ at the club probably works on the radio so he takes it to the station and put it on a program like dig it or dish it and if ni**as dig it, your song’s on the radio. It’s so easy now. Everybody has taken the work out of it. Once we decide that we’re going to get back to making good music and supporting the people making good music then it’ll be aight but right now, music is dying because ni**as ain’t trying to invest in projects because of low album sales. What’s saving most labels is their rock acts. Every label has at least one marquee rock act and those acts are helping them get back the money lost on the urban acts. Any time I do a panel or convention I urge artists not to be doing music just to get on the radio. Make quality music and I swear to god it will get played. Don’t be so eager to do something stupid or something crazy just to get out there.
Singersroom: What are some things you’re working on in regards to taking your career to that next level?
Adonis: I got a couple acts I’m trying to get serious situations for. I have a publishing company I’m developing where I can sign artists to me and make sure I can give them fair deals. I’m trying to give deals where people will still be able to work and not have to worry about their money running out. That’s a real issue out there. Dudes sign publishing deals and get that check. Then they go buy a car and their broke again. So the way I’m going to structure mines is that you won’t have to worry about that. Because people don’t understand that when you sign those publishing deals it takes a long time to see any of that paper. It takes like a year and a half to two years after placing the song to see any money. So what are you going to do for paper? You need money to live so you can continue to work otherwise you won’t be putting any songs out. So you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. So I’m trying to structure my deals so that my writers always have money so they can always keep working. On top of that, I want to eventually be an executive at somebody’s label. Either my own or one of the majors. So I’m putting that plan into action and plan on having that completed in the next two years. —— By: Interview By Haaron Hines