In the decade that Darhyl “DJ” Camper Jr., of Mays Landing, has been a professional songwriter and producer, he has earned multiple Grammy nominations and a No. 1 song on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
But, Camper, who has previously worked with artists including Jay-Z, Drake and John Legend, experienced something in his music career for the first time this year.
Camper, 27, sat in a theater and heard a song he produced played in a movie and saw his name roll by in the film’s end credits.
Camper produced the remake of the James Brown song “I Got You (I Feel Good),” which appears in the “Fifty Shades Freed” movie and on its soundtrack and is sung by pop vocalist Jessie J.
“Looking at my name in the credits in the movie theater for the first time in my career, it was very heartfelt,” Camper said.
“Fifty Shades Freed,” the third and final film in the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy, debuted at No. 1 at the U.S. box office and has earned $99.6 million domestically and $265 million at the foreign box office after six weeks.
The soundtrack peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200. After four weeks on the chart, the album is still at No. 23.
“When the opportunity presented itself, I just took it and ran with it. It was a great fit for what it was. I had a great time with that. It was truly a blessing to be a part of a multi-, multi-, multi-, multimillion-dolllar movie across the world,” said Camper, a 2008 Oakcrest High School graduate.
British singer Jessie J is best known for her 2011 single “Domino” and her appearance on the 2014 song “Bang Bang,” with Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj.
Camper said he already was working on a full-length recording project with Jessie J, to be released this year, when he was contacted by the “Fifty Shades Freed” team.
They reached out wondering whether Camper and Jessie J could create something exclusively for them, he said.
“They gave us a direction of what to do, what they wanted and what they needed. We had a couple of ideas (we brought) to the table,” Camper said. “Once we flipped, ‘I Feel Good,’ and we brought that to them, they were like, ‘Oh my God. This is insane. This is incredible.’”
While having a song in a movie was a new experience for Camper, he has had Grammy nominations previously. Songs he worked on were nominated for the 2013, 2014 and 2015 ceremonies.
Camper was one of the co-writers for the No. 1 R&B/Hip-Hop Song “Marvin & Chardonnay” by Big Sean from 2011, but that was not one of his Grammy-nominated tunes.
During the most recent Grammy Awards ceremony that was held in January, Camper was connected to songs sung by singer Ledisi, which were nominated in the best R&B album and the best R&B performance categories. He produced her song “High,” nominated for best R&B performance,
Fellow R&B producer and songwriter Luke Witherspoon, 29, from Atlantic City, said he told Camper “High” was a hit when it came out.
Witherspoon, who now lives in Egg Harbor Township, was also Grammy-nominated this year for his co-production work on the song “Go Thru Your Phone” on the best R&B album nominee, “Gumbo,” by PJ Morton, one of the keyboardists for Maroon 5.
“A few days before the Grammy nominations were posted, I told him that Ledisi would be nominated,” Witherspoon said.
Camper did not win, but his work with Ledisi deepened his relationship with her. Ledisi is a 12-time Grammy Award nominee, who has also placed 12 singles on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart since her recording career started in 2000.
Camper co-wrote and produced the title track to her 2014 CD, titled “The Truth,” and had two songs, “High” and “Add to Me,” on last year’s “Let Love Rule.” Ledisi sang at his wedding March 11.
“She is one of my top female singers of all time. She has something different she brings to the table with her voice that I haven’t heard before, and it was like a breath of fresh air working with her. Even hearing her at first before I even started to work with her, it was like, ‘Man, let’s do something together,’ so when she took interest in me, I took interest in her,” Camper said.
For the Grammy-nominated “High,” Camper created the music, which was more contemporary and hip-hop influenced than what Ledisi normally does, but as the producer, he let Ledisi sing the way she wanted to on the track.
“She had never had a song in that type of style before, so the label was fighting her to put it out and use it as the first single,” Camper said. “They didn’t really understand the vision, so we had to make them believe, and it did what it did, and we pretty much proved them wrong.”