Drummer Blog: The Drum Coaches’ Damani Rhodes Talks Urban/Gospel-Style Drumming

Urban/gospel style drumming has been one of the most sensationalized styles of playing in the last five to ten years. Many people recognize it as “gospel chops.” Although gospel music has a lot of groove in it, it’s mainly recognized for the aggressive drum fills associated with it. It’s even spilled over into other genres of music. Drummers who grew up playing gospel music in church are now the drummers for hardcore rock bands. I believe it’s safe to say that even if you have no intentions of playing gospel music, it’s a good idea to learn and understand some urban/gospel concepts.

My name is Damani, and my partner is Stixx. Together we’re the Drum Coaches. We both grew up playing urban/gospel music in church and in the gospel scene in Northern California. We started teaching on YouTube in 2012 with our shows “Drum Fill Friday” and “Drum Tip Tuesday.” Last year we launched our website TheDrumCoaches.com where we provide drummers the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of urban/gospel drumming concepts. We take what has confused many drummers and break it down into simple concepts. We not only teach the chops and the grooves, but we also teach some of the not so conventional techniques like the “underhand hi-hat technique” that a lot of urban/gospel drummers use when they play.

At the end of the day music is music and drums are drums. Believe it or not, it’s all the same stuff, but it’s not just what you play, it’s about how you play it. You have to bring that “swag” and “feel” to what you play, and that is what we teach at TheDrumCoaches.com.

Today we’re going to take a simple eight note pattern that most intermediate/advanced drummers will find easy to play, and turn it into something that will make you sound more advanced. The pattern is R L L R L L R L. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this pattern. It’s a head turner. Remember, it’s not about what you play; it’s about how you play it. We get creative with how we orchestrate the pattern around the entire drumkit, cymbals included. The goal is to demonstrate how you can take something simple and transform it into something that can be used in a song or during a drum solo.

At the end of the video below, Stixx and I will demonstrate a drum shed. This is when two or more drummers play together and take turns soloing for a set amount of measures. I look at drum sheds like a mastermind group for drummers. It’s the place where you go to share and benefit from drumming ideas that you and others have been working on.

We use a drum-less play along track called “Go Go Grab N’ Go.” It’s one of seventy drum-less play-along tracks available for download on DamaniRhodesPlayAlongs.com. If you like, you can have it for free at here.

Enjoy the lesson, and if you want to go deeper into more urban/gospel concepts, join us at TheDrumCoaches.com.