For “Studios Sessions,” we delve into the stories behind the long hours in the studio and all that goes into making an album by talking with artists, producers, engineers, photographers, and more who are intimately connected to the recording process with some of the biggest artists in the world. These are the stories that rarely leave the booth.
Bizness Boi makes music you can feel by telling a story with his production. Whether it’s PARTYNEXTDOOR’s “Don’t Know How” or Lil Nas X’s “Kick It,” his beats have a sort of emotive weight that makes them heavy. So, when you hear Wale and 6lack shed their feelings on “Expectations” from Wale’s new album, the beat was made from the same emotions.
“I put a lot of emotions into my beats. A lot of times when I work with artists, they’ll say what’s on my mind. These past few years, these artists are writing what I feel on these beats,” Bizness Boi told REVOLT TV. “It’s crazy. Everything Wale was saying and 6lack was saying on this record was shit we go through.”
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the producer reflects on Wale, 6lack, getting Mary J. Blige and Elton John’s approval, the status of a new PARTYNEXTDOOR album, and more. Read below.
You produced ‘Expectations’ on Wale’s new album. What are the origins of that song?
My bro Ye Ali put me on to this new artist, Tropics from London, and said I should sample some of his music. I was like, ‘Aight, bet.’ I always trust Ye Ali’s ear. Back at my old apartment in Hollywood, TH3ory pulled up and we cooked up after listening to one of his songs. We made the beat in the kitchen in a little over an hour. It went by pretty quick. I think it was September 4 . It was probably before that. I named it ‘6LACK PND EXPECTATIONS’ because I originally made that beat for 6lack and I wanted PARTYNEXTDOOR on there.
Originally, the record was supposed to go on East Atlanta Love Letter... 6lack loved the record, it just didn’t fit with the other records. So, 6lack sent Wale a couple of records that we had. Then, Wale just went with ‘Expectations.’ It’s crazy because one day I was on Twitter and said, ‘Somebody connect me with Wale.’ This is before 6lack sent him the record. Wale saw it, followed me and we exchanged contacts. He told me he was working on an album and then 6lack sent him the record. It was crazy the timing of everything.
He told me to pull up to the studio at Westlake [Recording Studios] and hear the verses. This was December 7, 2018. We have another record, too, that’s crazy that I might put out myself.
Before we delve into that record more, since the beat was originally meant for East Atlanta Love Letter, is there an unreleased version with just 6lack?
I think he just did one verse. Hold on. (Plays 6lack vocals) Ahh, yeah. This is the second verse. He got two verses on that beat.
So, there’s a 6lack verse on that beat we haven’t heard yet?
We’re going to need that. When it comes to the Wale record, what’s different about that version?
6lack’s version was super, super crazy. Then, Wale just took it to another level. He added backgrounds, female vocalists and all. He amplified the song.
What is Wale like in the studio?
Wale is one of the coolest, realest people I’ve ever met in my life. I pulled up to the studio and he’s showing love ASAP. We’re pouring up champagne. We’re toasting. We’re making crazy records. He’s showing love. I don’t even worry about retweets. I get online and genuinely show love, and he’ll retweet it, and make sure people know who I am. He’s a real one, literally. He’s one of the realest I’ve ever worked with.
He wanted me to hear the record in the studio and was like, ‘Let me know if you have any more ideas or want me to change something.’ He did different versions of his verses. He switched his first verse and re-rapped it. But, I was like, ‘Yo, keep this version, cut out some of the words you want to say over. But, this verse was it.’ I was just married to that first verse. It was just that first verse, originally. Then, he came and did the second verse a few weeks later.
You and Wale got another record in the chamber, right?
Yeah, we got another one. I’ll probably release it as ‘Bizness Boi featuring Wale.’ We made that record around January... I was pulling up on him. He would come to L.A. and be like, ‘Pull up.’ I’d just drop off some beats and we’d vibe out. The other song’s vibe is like some 80s, dancey, summertime feel for the women.
It’s so interesting that ‘Expectations’ was meant for East Atlanta Love Letter. You produced a few records on that. What’s the sonic connection between that song and the rest of 6lack’s album?
I just try to make sure that whatever I produce has a lot of emotions in it even if it’s uptempo and a club banger. I put a lot of emotions into my beats. A lot of times when I work with artists, they’ll say what’s on my mind. These past few years, these artists are writing what I feel on these beats. It’s crazy. Everything Wale was saying and 6lack was saying on this record was shit we go through... We deal with stuff, we be in our heads a lot. Online, we’re going to tell y’all what’s good. But, sometimes real life hit us.
Your beats feel heavy. ‘Loaded Gun’ sounds like some black Western score.
6lack and I are good friends. So, we’ll go in the studio, chop it up about life and I’ll play him beats. He chooses the right beat every time. I’ll send him heat all the time, but he’s going to pick the right vibe. I sent him the [beat session] and he does his thing. 6lack isn’t the type of person that wants a lot of stuff around his beats because his voice is so powerful and he wants the music to be kind of simple, but you feel it.
Is there a life moment that inspired a beat of yours?
I booked a ticket to Toronto just to go out there to kick it with my bros and work on music. Literally, I woke up and something told me not to go. I literally wasted my money and missed the flight. The same day I made ‘Let Her Go’ [from East Atlanta Love Letter]. If I would’ve caught that flight that song wouldn’t have existed. That’s the last record that made it on the album. That’s why I believe in God, time, and intuition. That shit never happened to me before.
When I missed the flight, I hit up [David] Prep [Hughes], that’s PARTYNEXTDOOR’s engineer, and asked him, ‘What y’all on today? Y’all want to cook?’ They were like, ‘Yep’ and they pulled up and we worked on that beat. When I sent 6lack the beat, he hit me ASAP. He was like, ‘Yo, this shit is crazy. We got one.’ Two or three months before that he told me what he was missing for the album. He was like, ‘I got all the vibey shit. I need something uptempo.’ The whole label was telling me, ‘Yo, 6lack needs something uptempo.’
Let’s go a little further back into your history. You produced Mary J. Blige’s cover of Elton John’s ‘Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word’ from his Revamp album in 2018.
Hell yeah. That was random. Somebody already produced the record, but they needed something modern. My homie Eddie [Fourcell], who is Mary J. Blige’s A&R, hit me. When you’re thinking of Mary J. and Elton John, you’re trying to keep it contemporary. You’re not trying to do too much. He was like, ‘I need you Biz.’ I was like, ‘Send me the acapella. I’m going to work on this ASAP.’ My guy TH3ory was over here and we made the beat around the acapella.
We sent it back to Eddie and he was like, ‘This is amazing. I’m about to send it to Mary J. Blige.’ She loved it. Then, they sent it to Elton John and he was fucking with it. But, mind you, they had five versions from different producers to choose from. This took a few days. But, Eddie hit me like, ‘Elton John loves yours the most, so we’re going to go with that.’
You produced ‘Kick It’ on Lil Nas X’s album. Have you both been back in the studio since then?
We had a session and the shit was dope. But, he’s really on some reset vibes. I think today is his last day in Hawaii. He’s just resetting and then we’re going to start on the album when he gets back. Before that, we were in the studio and then we went go-kart racing. That’s really my little bro.
I first heard about you through your work on PARTYNEXTDOOR’s P3. What is he like in the studio?
PARTY changed my life and he’s one of the coolest people. He’s the one who really got me lit. Those four records on P3 really got me lit. 6lack followed up in the next few months and Free 6LACK dropped. He takes care of his family. He takes care of his people. He takes care of the squad. He makes sure everything is fair. He gives us different records. If it doesn’t go to him, he’ll shop it.
He’s just a real one. We were in Mexico celebrating his birthday a couple of months ago. He’s in a good space. He’s always been in a good space, but now he’s in a greater space. He’s happy.
When are we getting a new PND project?
I can’t say too much, but just know he’s working. He’s always working. We stay cooking up. We were in the studio together a month or two. He be at the crib. He lives 50 minutes from me. Sometimes, I pull up and then sometimes, I send him beats either everyday or every other day. He’ll hit me like, ‘I need this vibe.’ Everybody thinks he’s low-key, but he’s really one of the hardest working people.
What is the most impressive thing you’ve ever seen done in the studio?
PARTY and I had this session, and we were in there from 7:00 p.m. until 9:30 the next morning. That was the morning I got nominated for a Grammy. He was going in. His work ethic is unmatched. The only person who I’ve seen work like that was Jessie Reyez... We did like five records that night. This was earlier this year.
What are you and Jessie like in the studio?
We’ve linked up. I met her at the Grammys last year and she was super cool. We kept in touch and I was cool with one of her managers, and then they finally made it happen. I played her some beats, she knocked out one record so fast, it was crazy. Then, for the rest of the session, we just cooked up from scratch. My guitarist friend, Priest from Sweden, was cooking up the guitar and I’m doing the guitar, and the bass, and whatever else is needed. Then, we knocked out another one. Then, another one.
She’s looked at me like, ‘Biz, you good? You want to keep going?’ I’m a grinder, so I always love the challenge. So, I was like, ‘Hell yeah. Let’s keep going.’ I was tired as hell, though.
You always connect on an emotional level with the artists you work with. Did that happen with Jessie?
Yeah, man. We were chopping it up about real stuff in the studio and she just relates to me. She followed me on Instagram. I posted this book, The Maxwell Daily Reader, which is 365 days of insights to develop the leader within you. She started reposting that for a week straight and brought the book.
Who is on your bucket list to work with and what sort of emotion would you want to get out of them?
I still want to get in with JAY-Z. I want to get him on a joint where he just spits some wisdom on, and then I want to give him a banger with a hard beat — and [have] him going crazy. I want to work with H.E.R. and give her some 80s vibes that you can really dance to. I want to give her some disco, ‘Soul Train’ type of vibe. I would also love to work with Kanye [West]. I would give Kanye an 808s & Heartbreak type of vibe, but modern.