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Former Mays Landing resident earned first Grammy Award statue in February

Former Mays Landing resident earned first Grammy Award statue in February


Darhyl “DJ” Camper Jr., who has had multiple Grammy nominations over the years, has met many starry-eyed teenagers who want to have a career as a recording artist.

But, H.E.R., a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, was different than the average 15-year-old who aspires to make it in the music business.

Camper, a former Mays Landing resident, decided to work with H.E.R. six years ago.

Their work on the 21-track compilation album, “H.E.R.,” which was released in October 2017, earned them each their first Grammy Award statues in February in the category of Best R&B Album.

“When they finally called our category, I just cried in my mother’s arms, and I thought about everything — where I’ve come from, where I’m about to go, where I’m at,” said Camper about being inside the Staples Center in Los Angeles, for the ceremony. “I’m still trying to process everything.”

Camper, 28, brought his mother, who lives in Ventnor, as his date to the Grammys. She wore a gold, off-the-shoulder evening gown. He also took his three brothers and his sister, who all reside in the resort.

Camper, who moved last year to New Brunswick, Middlesex County, was back in Ventnor recently for the first time since winning his Grammy.

Over the years, Camper has either written or produced songs or done both for acts that include rappers Big Sean, Jay-Z and Nicki Minaj and R&B artists Tamar Braxton, John Legend and Mary J. Blige He also produced a song sung by pop vocalist Jessie J. on last year’s “Fifty Shades Freed” soundtrack.

Camper, a 2008 Oakcrest High School graduate, chose to work with H.E.R. because their personalities meshed, and they caught a vibe when they decided to see how they would jell in the recording studio.

In 2016, H.E.R., who sings and plays bass, acoustic guitar and electric piano, put out a seven-song extended play release that included four songs co-written by Camper. In June 2017, H.E.R. issued another extended play release, where Camper co-wrote four out of eight songs.

Songs from each of the extended play releases were combined with six new songs, of which Camper produced one, to create the compilation album, “H.E.R.,” which was the Grammy winner.

“I always knew she could sing. I always knew she was special. I just had to figure out the sound,” said Camper, who some say has created a modernized version of the throwback R&B sound for “H.E.R.” “I saw something in H.E.R. It caught my interest. She impressed me.”

One of the songs Camper co-produced and co-wrote with H.E.R., “Focus,” reached No. 1 on the U.S. adult R&B chart.

The urban adult contemporary radio station WTTH 96.1-FM, based out of West Atlantic City, put “Focus” into rotation last year and still plays the song at least five times daily on weekdays, said Rob Garcia. WTTH’s director of programming.

“We love the song. It was certainly doing well on the charts. That’s part of the reason why we added it,” Garcia said. “Overall, it is a very good song. It fits the format well. It fits the station well.”

Camper attended the Grammys in a custom made, double-breasted, two-button lavender tuxedo. The word “dad” was written in Hebrew and embroidered into the suit in tribute to his late father, Darhyl Anthony Camper.

During the live Grammy telecast, H.E.R. won in the best R&B album category. In a clip that has been viewed more than 2 million times on YouTube, you can see H.E.R. invite her whole team to the stage. Camper is the first one of six people on stage and sticks out with his lavender suit.

From the stage, H.E.R. said she won for a release that is not her full-length debut album, which has not been released yet, but Camper will work on it. He will receive his Grammy statue in March. He said he will leave it with his mom.

“I’m an underdog that won,” said Camper, who compared himself to Michael Jordan being on the Olympic Dream Team with older basketball legends. “I’m learning to accept my new role in life. ... I’m that guy in music right now.”

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