WACO, Texas — Members of the Waco music community are teaming up to help music producer Denero Degrate recover after someone broke into his studio on August 14.
The robbers stole all of his recording equipment.
Degrate said he first realized there was a problem when he noticed a crack in a piece of wood in his door. He knew at that moment someone had tried to break into his studio.
“I was like, ‘Okay, they stole something, they probably didn’t steal everything,'” he said. “But, when I walked through the door everything was gone.”
Degrate said the thieves stole his computer, keyboards, microphones, mic stands and even his clock and phone charger. All that was left were wall decorations, a piano and some chairs. Degrate said none of it was insured.
“It was devastating to me, you know. I mean, that was my life’s work,” Degrate said.
The break-in was not only a blow to Degrate but also the entire Waco community.
A hard drive containing hundreds of unreleased songs by local artists disappeared along with the rest of the equipment. Waco rapper Jerry Williams, better known as J-Will, said he was one song away from finishing his album, but every other completed track was on the hard drive.
“If we don’t get that hard drive back, then I’ve got to start again from scratch,” J-Will said. “I was pretty much done. I had one song left, and we were about to ship it out. Now, I’m just back to square one.”
Degrate has worked with several Waco artists in his studio over the last 15 years. He helped rapper Big Binky release multiple albums.
Now, that group of rappers and hip-hop artists are working together to help Degrate bounce back from the devastating loss. Several artists have reached out to Degrate on Facebook, offering to loan or donate equipment. Others have started trying to track down the thieves in an attempt to recover the hard drive of music.
Radio station 94.5 The Beat dedicated its programming Saturday afternoon to Degrate’s music.
J-Will helped organize a GoFundMe page for Degrate.
“Under the circumstances it was bad,” J-Will said. “But it was good to see all the love he was getting from the city of Waco, and even the surrounding cities.”
Degrate said it will take a while for him to get his studio back to the level it was before the break-in, saying he accumulated his equipment over more than 15 years in the industry.
“It ain’t cheap,” he said.
Still, he told 25 News he has no plans to quit producing music, even if it means running a bare-bones operation until he is able to buy new equipment.
“Although my equipment and stuff is gone, that’s not what makes me me,” Degrate said. “What’s up here [in my head] does. They may have got my equipment, but I’m the brains behind it.”
So far, Degrate says there are no suspects in the case. He is offering a $500 reward to anyone with credible information about the thieves.