One word that describes Damion Bertram is “rugged”. Judging solely on appearance, one would expect Damion to have a rough, commanding, intimidating demeanor. However, the true meaning behind his name “Rugged” can be viewed as a way of life for Damion. He redefines such word into an acronym that supports his philosophy of life to live “Righteous Under God’s Gift Every Day”. He believes everyone is given a gift through God and given opportunity to use that gift wisely to bring blessings into their own life.
Rugged further defies such a stereotype in his alias by his display of endurance through his life experience. Newark, N.J. was the birthplace of Damion Bertram, but after his family relocated to Far Rockaway N.Y., Damion began to spend most of his time immersed in the hip-hop culture, in the home of none other than Biggie and Jay Z.
As Dj Rugged became familiar with hip-hop, he quickly developed an affinity for MCing and deejaying. First as an MC, Rugged diligently wrote rhymes and freestyled along with his members of his crew “Source Life Entertainment” The collection of family and childhood friends known as Source Life Entertainment consists of MCs, DJs, and singers. All things considered, with this talented group, Dj Rugged’s exposure to deejaying would later serve as the stepping stone to his true passion for producing. Rugged never really put the mic down, from time-to-time he still spits a few bars, but producing timeless music is his main focus.
Damion has not only found his family to be a great influence on him, but honors his Jamaican-born parents as being the main source for his musical inspiration. Amongst the feel-good vibes of Bob Marley, Freddie McGregor, Luciano and Dennis Brown but Damion would often hear his mother belting out notes on a regular basis the sounds of Damion’s father playing the bass and drums could also be heard throughout the household.
Although hip-hop was Dj Rugged’s reason for his rhyme and soon-to-be flourishing career as a producer, one can hear the heavy presence of Reggae music in the beats he creates. Like his predecessors, such as DJ Premier, Dr. Dre, Diddy, Jay-Z, Swizz Beats and Kanye West, Rugged looks to break-in new talents. When considering production in hip-hop, there is a dichotomy between beat makers and producers. One would say that beat makers simply make beats for artists, whereas producers help bring new talent to the forefront through a complete music making process. With his past experience working at DEF JAM doing promotions and marketing and witnessing firsthand the business aspect of the music industry has further encourages and led him to have strong interest in producing and honing talents. Rugged is proud to profess that he had recorded and engineered sessions with the likes of Reggae veteran Frankie Paul, andhip hop artisteslike Mr. Cheeks, Keith Murray and a host of other local artistes within the industry.
Rugged is the epitome of a dj/producer. Currently working on new projects building on his Rugged International brand as well as helping to develop new talented artist; Rugged is putting forth a valiant effort towards an enduring venture in the music industry.