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.
A great producer has to be a great observer and discern even the most minute qualities of an artist’s creative process in order to obtain the best results. 30 Roc has seen how anti-social Roddy Ricch can be and how spontaneous Lil Yachty can be, while working. So, he uses that knowledge to get the best out of both. Before he gave Roddy “The Box,” he was helping Travis Scott construct Astroworld.
“Honestly, Travis doesn’t record like any other nigga I’ve seen. We could all be sitting there. This nigga rolling blunts, he has the mic in front of him, and he’s spitting out his ideas while we’re making the beat,” 30 Roc explained to REVOLT. “He’s one of the artists that will come and touch the keyboard to tell you, ‘Hey, play it like this.’ It was definitely interesting.”
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the producer breaks down how he made a Billboard top 3 hit for Roddy in 15 minutes, what Quality Control artist he has enough songs with to make a collaboration project, and the advice he’s gotten from Mike Will Made-It. Read the interview below!
How did you connect with Roddy Ricch and make ‘The Box’?
I remember when I was in the studio with Roddy a few years ago before he had ‘Die Young.’ They were trying to find Roddy’s style. I was always like, ‘I got to get a single with him. I got to get on this album or something with him.’ The first year passed by and we locked in, but we didn’t get anything out of it. The second time, we came in (in 2019), he was like, ‘Bruh, you know what was so crazy? I was going to call you for the album.’ I was like, ‘Damn, I’m here.’ I left a couple of beats for him. We had just finished the record with him and Fabolous called ‘Time.’ I ended up coming back to Atlanta, and I and my producer (Squeeze) were in the studio. ‘The Box’ and ‘Roll The Dice’ were literally the last two beats we made. I was like, ‘We have to make some beats for Roddy because they were asking for some to finish up the album.’ I sent the beats over there (in November). Roddy hit me back and was like, ‘We got one, bro. We got two, but we know for sure that we got one (laughs).’
I knew Roddy was going to come sideways on that shit. I knew he wasn’t going to sound like him. That don’t sound like Roddy. I knew he was going to do something different. Listening to that beat, I knew it would change both of our lives (laughs). Lately, I’ve been sending artists beats that I know they wouldn’t do. I’m trying to force them to be in a different lane and shit.
What is he like in the studio?
I ain’t going to hold you. Bro is real anti if he doesn’t know you at first. My first couple of visits with him was like that. Now, it’s all love. I fuck with how he is in the studio and how focused he is in the studio.
How long did it take you to make ‘The Box’ beat?
It didn’t take long. When we’re in a vibe, it’ll usually take us a good 10-15 minutes.
So, is it safe to say that you made the beat to a top 3 hit record in 15 minutes?
It’s safe to say that. All of our hits have been created in that span of time because it’s me feeling the beat. I already know where I want to go with the beat. I already know who I hear on the beat. So, it normally only takes 15 minutes.
When did you first hear the finished song?
I didn’t hear the song until the day the album came out (laughs). It was crazy. I was supposed to go back to L.A., but I ended up staying in Atlanta. We were in the studio cooking up and was like, ‘Oh shit, it’s midnight.’ So, we stopped everything and turned it on. At first, we thought it was live and we listened to the album. We listened to ‘Roll The Dice’ and was fucking with that more than we were fucking with ‘The Box.’ We went back and listened to it, and we were like, ‘Goddamn. This shit might actually be the one.’ It turns out it was the one.
You also produced ‘Gangland’ on Future’s Monster mixtape, which really restarted his career. How did you get to be a part of that?
Me and my boy Bobby Kritical and DJ Plugg were in the studio one night. Plugg ended up giving the beat to Future. One of the other producers that’s signed to me sent me the link and said, ‘Yo, you got one on Future’s Monster tape.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, right.’ That was the time when everyone was trying to get with Future. The song that really put me on the map with Future was ‘King’s Dead.’ We won a couple of Grammys off of that. That’s what really sent my career in a different direction.
You worked on that ‘King’s Dead’ song with Mike Will, correct?
Yeah, that’s like my brother. Basically, my producer and I were in the studio one night making beats, and I had sent it to Mike Will. Mike made some changes and he played it for Jay Rock. Next thing I know, Mike called me back like, ‘Hey, bro. We got one. I promise you it’s going to be crazy.’ He would not tell me who it was. Next thing I know, I’m riding in the car and I hear the song come on the radio and I’m like ‘Oh shit.’ I didn’t expect all those people to be on it. It was a blessing. My producer and I did the whole first part of the beat before the change up.
One of the other songs that you got a Grammy nomination for was ‘Stargazing’ by Travis Scott from Astroworld. How’d that song come about?
I met Sickamore (Travis Scott’s A&R) at a Warner Chappell writer camp. We were in Vegas in 2018. I had a session and they kept telling me Travis Scott’s A&R is going to pull up. I met him and he told me, ‘Send me some beats. I’m about to link up with Travis right now. I’m about to get on a plane in an hour.’ I did the outro to ‘Stargazing,’ which is the part the crowd goes apeshit at. I sent him the beat and Travis was like, ‘This shit is so fucking crazy.’ Maybe a week or two later, they flew me to L.A. and we finished up the ending part for the song. Then, Cardo [Got Wings] and I turned around and did the ‘Who? What?’ song with Migos on it. We did that beat live right there.
How involved was Travis in the process of working on those beats? What is he like in the studio?
The vibe is crazy. Honestly, Travis doesn’t record like any other nigga I’ve seen. We could all be sitting there. This nigga rolling blunts, he has the mic in front of him, and he’s spitting out his ideas while we’re making the beat. He’s one of the artists that will come and touch the keyboard to tell you, ‘Hey, play it like this.’ It was definitely interesting. For ‘Who? What?’ We did that song right there. It took us two days to do it. Travis sent it to Migos after. That song is a prime example of him telling us where to put certain sounds. I was going through different, random sounds and was playing around on one of the synthesizers. Then, he was like, ‘Hey, bro, go back. That sounds crazy and put it right there.’
What’s it like being a producer signed to Mike Will’s Eardrummaz label?
It’s definitely a process and it’s definitely interesting. I’ve learned a lot through being at Eardrummaz. Swae [Lee] and [Slim] Jxmmi were the first people to get me in a situation to get me here. It was off of Twitter. I was at work one day, I saw they wanted beats and I sent them beats. They showed my beats to Mike Will and he was like, ‘Who is this nigga? I need to meet him.’ It’s been love ever since.
What’s the most impressive thing you’ve seen him do in the studio?
I’ve seen that nigga take a nap, wake up and make a hit. When he did the whole Gucci project, Everybody’s Looking, when he got out in 2016. Seeing him pull up his laptop and come up with these weird-ass sounds was impressive.
What advice has Mike Will gave you?
He always told me to be me. He told me to create something I want to create. He told me to make sure those drums are banging.
What’s your chemistry like in the studio with Casanova? You two worked on the Free At Last project last year.
That’s my brother. Anytime they come in Atlanta, I can expect to not wake up the next morning on time fucking with that nigga. I was in the crib around January last year and he told me to send him some beats, so I sent him some beats. He sent me a couple of records back that were on the album, actually, and he was like, ‘Bro, we have to do a project. Come to Atlanta next week, we can sit down and go through them.’ We sat down and went through them. I made changes to a couple of them, while we were in the studio. I took his vocals, rearranged them and redid certain beats. He played me the song ‘2 AM’ with just Tory [Lanez] on it and I told him, ‘If we want this shit get on the radio and do some numbers, we need to get a nigga like Davido on that bitch.’ He was just with Davido a couple of days before, so he called him. Davido was in Africa. Davido finished the song that night and sent it back to us the next day. We got a remix on the way, too.
What was the quickest song you both did on that project?
‘Relapse.’ When he originally played it for me, it had the old school New York drums on it and I was like, ‘Dog, we got to switch it.’ I took the vocals and told my engineer, ‘We’re going to reverse this sound.’ That’s why you hear the choir reversing. Then, I added some down south drums to it to give it that bounce. That song was done in no time.
The Quavo Huncho album was 19 songs long. How did you make it on that packed album with ‘Biggest Alley Oop’?
I literally made that album a couple of days before the album was being turned in. I was at my crib and Cubeatz sent me some loops. I’m the type of nigga who likes to make my own melody. But, I listened to some of their shit, I plugged it in and made the beat around that, and changes... I sent it to Quavo the same night I made it. Rel (Migos’ manager) hit me that Quavo wanted to get in contact with me. He gave Quavo my number and Quavo called me like, ‘Hey, save this one. It’s going on my album.’
Is it ever nerve-racking for you to come into an album so late?
I always tell people I’m the clutch king. I always come in the clutch. For some reason, I’m always in the position of fixing shit right before the album comes out. When we did Kash Doll’s album, that was a last minute change due to the sample limits. We had to change stuff. I had to go in there and make my voice animated.
You worked on Kash Doll’s ‘Busted.’ What was her process for making that song?
That process was definitely long because I was in Florida at my dad’s house with no speakers. I had to change certain shit. I had to fly back home early to get with my engineer and record certain stuff. That’s all because of the sample that we chose. But, her process is dope. We actually get on the phone and talk about what needs to change in a song. The track we did had three different versions. We had about three different beats and had to make up our minds on which one to go with. One of them wouldn’t get cleared at all. The other one got cleared, but they wanted too high a percentage [of the royalties]...
You also have a bunch of placements on Lil Yachty’s Lil Boat 2 and Nuthin’ To Prove. What’s it like working with him?
Working with Yachty is amazing. That’s my brother and I call him my best friend. We are on the phone all the time. Right now, he’s like, ‘Why can’t we get in?’ Niggas got songs for days. We probably don’t have to work together again because we have a whole bunch of songs. He and I have been going back and forth for the last two years about how we need to drop a project together. Right now, it’s about timing and we’ll do it when the time is right. Our process is always me bringing him the beat and him being like, ‘Oh my god, this fucking beat is crazy.’ He freestyles in the booth, he comes out and then we fix certain shit. Our formula is staying in the lab and going crazy all day.
Do you have unreleased songs that may come out this year that you’re anxious to get out?
These next two Yo Gotti songs are going to be some for the books. He and I haven’t linked since we did ‘Rake It Up.’ He called me and said, ‘I want this song.’ I flew down to Miami the next day and finished everything I needed to finish. I’m actually finishing up today and sending out the files. I definitely have some NBA Youngboy on the way. It’s so much shit that’s on the way.