Who are some of your favorite people to work with?
I would say Gucci Mane, YoungBoy Never Broke Again, and Jeezy.
What stands out about those three people?
Jeezy always knows what he wants. Every time we’ve worked he always has a vision, he sees it, and he just needs music that motivates him. So it’s always dope working with someone who knows what they want.
Gucci is just a fun … doesn’t matter if it’s raining, if it’s sunny, if I make it to the studio early, make it to the studio late. We’re always going to have fun. Never getting mad, there’s always a way to laugh it off, joke about it and then make some hits. And I love that about Gucci. He’s always joking.
YoungBoy was dope just to see his direction, and able to coach him at such a young age. For him to write a verse for Birdman, and then deliver that verse…I haven’t heard Birdman sound like that in years. And for him to deliver that, just how they put it together coincided with each other and just were so … just the communication that they had between each other. And again, his vision, it just really shocked me to see him produce. To be able to deliver those type of records is what I do it for. “We Poppin” is at 35 million plus views on YouTube.
I want to ask you about some specific deep cuts over your career. Scarface’s “Never.” When you think of that song, what do you remember?
Crate digging. Going through a thousand samples. He was like: “Give me something dope, something different. Get some samples and go crazy. I want something that you don’t normally do.”
People still get surprised when they hear I produced that. No tag, no nothing. Just straight hip-hop, you do the research. If you read the credits, cool. If you don’t, cool. It was just really about digging in crates and getting that respect from a city that I’ve always loved and had a passion for: New York City.
When I did that record, I got a lot of New York support, and a lot of DJ’s like “Yo, I didn’t know you sampled. I didn’t know you did beats like that, man. Fuck. We want some of this.” When I met RZA for the first time, that was the first thing he said.
We know the story of “Put on.” So how about Jeezy’s “Hustlaz Ambition?”
“Hustlaz Ambition” immediately reminds me of Tupac, of course. “Put On,” “Hustlaz Ambition,” and “Amazing” were all done back to back. And those were three out of five of the beats that I sent Jeezy for that project.
You said earlier that Jeezy is very specific. Did he tell you what he wanted before you sent those beats?
Nah, he was just like “I need some yams. I need the hot plate.” That’s the lingo. “I got some greens and some cornbread for you, bro. I got the yams, I got that hot plate. Where you at?”
T.I.’s “What Up, What’s Haapnin’?”
When I made that beat, I thought that beat was gonna be for Twista. I was making some stuff for Twista, and TIP heard that beat, he was like “Ah-ah-ah. I need that. I need that.” It’s one of the beats that I actually was going to skip and not play for TIP. And soon as he heard it come on: “Ah-ah, what is that?” “Ready for Whatever” was the first song he did when he got out of prison. And then “What Up, What’s Haapnin'” was the second song.
This might be random: but Gucci Mane’s “Drummaguwopuhhh” off of World War 3, where you sampled Master P’s “Ice Cream Man?”
Me and P have done so many things together, that’s the homie. He’s given me a lot of knowledge and different bags to pick up.
Gucci loves P and looks at Master P as motivation. It’s like damn, I can do that. I can put out artists. I want to start signing artists and putting artists out like Master P. Gucci would always say that, and anything that we’ve sampled, especially myself, I make sure I have a relationship to clear it. So it’s like, “Yo, if I sample this record, can I clear it?” You know what I’m saying, because if I can’t clear it, I’m not going to use it. I’d rather ask for permission ahead of time.
That’s the thing about longevity and respect. People respect you more when you reach out beforehand. It’s business 101. It’s simply insurance so you don’t have more problems and it doesn’t cost you or bite you in the ass in the long run. You know what I mean?
Amd finally Waka Floca’s “No Hands?”
I made “No Hands” on the spot. That was when Gucci Mane got out of jail. It was a celebration. He had the A Room; Waka had the B Room. There were 200, 300 people in the studio. It was complete madness. 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks, all these different artists, girls, homeboys, and everybody.
There’s so many people in the fucking studio, I can’t even touch the keyboard with two hands. So I just started making a beat in front of everybody. There’s talking; there’s noise. All kinds of shit. I didn’t have a pair of headphones, but I turned the speakers up just a little bit with everybody running their mouth.
I made the beat in literally fifteen minutes. The whole video was on YouTube and Worldstar for a minute, the whole beat-making process. But nobody was really paying attention to the beat. The only people I saw who was really paying attention was Wale and Roscoe Dash. I noticed them out of 200 people. I see Roscoe Dash in the corner just shaking his head.
Roscoe Dash was like, “Man, I think I got something.” Roscoe Dash goes into the booth, and literally the first word: “Girl…” It was just like every girl in the room just started looking back at their ass and all that shit, and it was literally a movie. Now, all of a sudden, Waka coming up with a verse in his head. Wale over there, and everybody else is like, “Let me get on this.” Now you want to get on it? Wale already got a verse. Waka got a verse. Roscoe Dash got a verse. I’m done. It’s too late.
I got Waka’s permission to put the record out on my 2010 NBA All-Star playlist, the first playlist I ever did. I put all the records, big songs I produced at that time on that playlist. The label called me a week after and cut the check.
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