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.
Jenso Plymouth has sacrificed sleep to make sure the world can "Drip Too Hard." The 26-year-old engineer from Brockton, Massachusetts helped Gunna record more songs during his Drip or Drown 2 sessions than he can remember. 21 Savage's i am > i was and Rich The Kid's The World Is Yours 2 albums both have Jenso's crucial contributions, as well.
“From the setup to the breakdown, I do everything I can to make sure the best music gets made and the artist is happy with their work," Jenso told REVOLT TV.
In this installment of Studio Sessions, Jenso explains what Gunna needs to record songs, home studios vs. traditional studios, not seeing sunlight while making music, and more.
What’s the story behind you engineering Gunna for his ‘Drip Too Hard’ verse?
It was probably the third or fourth song [we did that night]. I’ve worked with Gunna before. So, he came in when the entire YSL Record label had the whole studio booked out. I was in a room with Gunna. We did about three or four songs and it was late, like 3:00 a.m. He pulled up the song Lil’ Baby already started. We did the verse and I sent it to [Lil' Baby]. I completely forgot I did the song until it went out. The way we work includes long nights, random times, and you do so many songs [that] they get lost in the mix.
How long after you sent Gunna’s verse to Lil' Baby was it released?
About two to three months. Gunna recorded that verse in maybe 30 minutes. That night, we did so many songs. I’m blessed to [have been] able to work on that song.
You also recorded Gunna for his verse on 21 Savage’s 'Can’t Leave Without It.' How’d that come together?
He came with the beat and I think it was our second song of the night. They were getting a few ideas together to send to 21. He sent the verse to 21 and 21 liked it. Then, he ended up putting Lil’ Baby on it. I got to hear it with just 21 and Gunna first. Then, 21 put a new verse and put Baby on it. Wheezy, the producer, let me hear the song as it progressed. The song pretty much came together from the producer Wheezy and Gunna coming together to make a song with the intention of getting 21 on it.
Were there songs from those Drip or Drown 2 sessions that haven’t come out that you feel could’ve made the album?
Yeah, Gunna and YSL record about three to four songs a night and they’re in the studio all the time.
What does Gunna like in the studio to make sure he creates the best music?
Usually low lights with drinks and snacks on hand. He’s pretty chill. He doesn’t come in demanding or egotistical. If the vibe’s right, he gets in that zone to make the songs.
There’s this trend amongst rappers like Young Thug, Quavo, Lil Baby and more who record in the control room next to the engineer, as opposed to in the vocal booth. Do you prefer that?
From an engineering standpoint, the booth is definitely ideal. But, the way these guys work, it makes sense for them to see and make changes. For me, it’s always about what makes the artist go in their zone to get the best performance. I’m lucky to work in a million dollar studio (Crosby Recording Studios). So, we get the quality done. It’s a little more stressful when you have the artist right over your shoulder looking [at] what you’re doing.
Another trend that has been popularized this decade is recording in homes. Whose home have you recorded in?
Rich The Kid. His setup is a little home studio. I may bring some headphones. But, he already has everything else ready to go. He’s right next to you when he records. It’s a little more chill in the fact that he’s at home and is more comfortable. He may step out and go hang with his kids. He may handle something real quick and then come back. The biggest difference is that unless the home studio is treated as a studio room, you have to trap the sound in right.
Do home studios make the traditional studios obsolete?
I think with the gear now, you can get a home studio and record at high quality. It’s really expensive to get a room that actually sounds like a studio room. That’s why people still go to a studio. When you walk into a studio room, especially if you’re trying to mix, you can really tell the difference from your voice to the music. You hear how things really sound. I think the biggest thing studios provide is that hospitality aspect -- the runners and assistants. If you need anything necessary from a studio, you’ll be catered to. I think that’s what studios provide that you can’t get anywhere else. But, you can get professional quality in a home studio if you have $15,000 in gear and even for less.
You recorded Rich The Kid for his 'The World Is Yours 2 (Intro)' and 'Save Me' from his latest album, The World Is Yours 2, in his home studio. What do you remember about the process of making that song?
Those two songs were the first two songs I did with Rich, I believe. I drove to Calabasas. He picked me up from this spot and drove me to his home. He told me, 'I’m finishing up my album.' We did four songs that night. Two of those songs ended up being on his album. For those, I had a little time [for] throwing effects into it -- little reverbs and delays. Those are engineering tricks that people may not notice.
What’s the longest you’ve been in the studio?
Without going outside period or any sunlight? Well over 12 hours. Anywhere between 12 - 16 hours without going outside to see light. These guys are really hard workers, so I may fall asleep at my chair for a bit and then get back to work.
What’s the most star-studded session you’ve been a part of?
That’s tough. Lil Uzi Vert was there. 21 was there. Thug came in for a bit. Wheezy was there, too. All of them in one room. It’s tough to say because Thug and Gunna bring out so many people.
More from Keith Nelson, Jr.: