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Happy Perez

Most parents would scoff at the idea of their child dropping out of high school to chase a music career. But when HAPPY PEREZ told his father that very thing, he embraced his son’s dreams. "His thing was, 'Look, if you're gonna drop out of school to make beats, then don't bullshit with it. Go forward 100% with it, don't let me catch you being lazy,'" remembers Happy, who took that advice to heart. "Within a matter of time I brought him home a gold record, and he still has that gold record on his wall to this day." It would be the first of many plaques.

At the time, Happy was living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and was already making beats for local rappers C-Loc and Young Bleed. "Nowadays kids can look at other rappers from their city and be like 'Oh shit, I really have a chance' but when we were doing it, it was just us doing it," he remembers. "We didn't have anybody to model ourselves after." So Happy and his collaborators carved out their own sound - drawing heavily on the work of Dr. Dre and Pimp C, but bringing a distinctive and often ominous melodic sound to their trunk rattling approach. He did, after all, get his start playing the guitar, having been weaned on the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn. It didn't take long for the sound to catch on. Bleed's Happy-produced local hit "How Ya Do Dat" caught the ear of Master P, who promptly signed the rapper to his then flourishing No Limit Records imprint. With P's blessing, the single quickly went national and propelled the accompanying album, primarily produced by Happy, My Balls & My Word to Gold status.

Migrating to Houston in the early part of the decade, Happy linked up with H-Town underground favorites like South Park Mexican and Baby Bash, with whom he cooked up an acoustic slice of hip-hop called "Suga Suga" featuring crooner Frankie J in 2003. The record went on to be a multi-national mega-hit. "That just started a whole new era; life changed drastically," says Happy. "We all moved, bought houses, and then we made another song!” Bash, Frankie and Happy's follow up, "Obsession," proved to be another smash, and these records opened the industry doors for Happy, who proceeded to collaborate with Chamillionaire, Flo Rida, Juvenile, Ruben Studdard and win a Grammy for his work on Ludacris' 2006 Release Therapy.

Today, Happy works primarily out of a home studio in his garage and is focusing on helping to break new artists. "Any producer can get a [hit with a] Rihanna placement - and that's fine, I want the same thing too," he says. "But I've had more luck with people that were virtually unknown before we made our music." This artist driven approach seems to be working. Recently Happy has blessed crucial tracks for rising R&B phenoms Miguel (Jive Records) and Frank Ocean (Def Jam Records). Miguel's Happy-laced "Sure Thing" is currently climbing the charts while Ocean's more grassroots mixtape-driven approach is paying its dividends in critical acclaim. Other projects on the deck for Happy include placements with industry veterans like Mariah Carey (Def Jam Records) and more work with developing acts, such as Elijah Blake (Def Jam Records), K. Michelle (Atlantic Records), Daley (Motown Records) and Deon Young (Epic Records). A part of one of his unreleased instrumentals even ended up on Kanye West's "Power," landing in Yeezy's sample bin by way of a beat CD that was floating around. Though Happy's name did not appear in the album credits, he's satisfied with the musical acknowledgement alone. “Just to know that Kanye heard my work and liked it enough to sample is a compliment."

This response is reflective of both Happy's humility and his plight. "A lot of people just don't really know [about me]. I don't want to call myself a weirdo, but I stick to myself; I stay in the studio," he laments. "You're not gonna come to Houston and find me on the club scene. I'm a workaholic, and I love being in the studio." Happy lets the music speak for itself. And right now it's speaking loudly.

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