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.
Every song has an origin story and YNG Josh has crafted many of them. The producer turned three YNW Melly freestyles into three of the best tracks on the rapper’s Melly vs Melvin album. He’s also turned the memory of a beat he made years ago into the sonic backdrop of Nipsey Hussle’s “Keyz 2 The City 2” on his Grammy-nominated album, Victory Lap. The latter changed his life in more ways than one.
“I can say this, I brought a nice car because of Nipsey. I got a Benz. I’ve been living off something I love to do for the past seven years. I got a couple of big checks,” Josh told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” YNG Josh explains how he recreated a seven-year-old beat in order to make it on Nipsey’s last album, learning from the late rapper, and how quick YNW Melly makes songs.
How did you first connect with YNW Melly?
I was working at a studio in Houston called 21 Studios. I was engineering there and they called me to work one night at two in the morning. I didn’t know who it was for. I just showed up to work. When I showed up, I thought he was going to have a producer there or he’d have some beats in his emails. But, he was calling around asking for beats. I got that small window of opportunity to play him one of my beats. The first beat was ‘Adam Sandler.’ He liked that and he was like, ‘What’s up with some more?’
You produced ‘Billboards,’ ‘I Ain’t Lying,’ and ‘Adam Sandler.’ Did all three of those songs get recorded in that first session?
Yep. He probably recorded ‘Adam Sandler’ in 30 minutes. He probably recorded each of them in 30 minutes. It took me longer to get the arrangement together and everything. He would go in the booth, freestyled and we would put it together. We did that early January 2019.
What is Melly like in the studio?
He’s full of energy. He’s fun and very creative. When I was on my way to the studio and they told me who it was in the session, I didn’t know who he was. So, I looked him up and the first song I heard was the ‘Mixed Personality’ track with him and Kanye. I was like, ‘OK, this dude sings. He’s very melodic.’ I do it all, but the sound I like to do is melodic. I had a lot of melodic beats, but I didn’t have the right artist to match with the beats. So, when he came, it was a perfect match.
Did he have any input on any of the beats?
The beats were already made. The one thing he did say that was very clever was there was this musical riff at the very beginning [of ‘Adam Sandler’] and we had the same idea to have that riff go throughout the whole song. He suggested I do that before I told him I was. It was crazy we were thinking the same thing.
The first time I heard about you was after I was bumping that Victory Lap album. You produced ‘Keyz 2 The City 2.’ What was it like in the studio with Nip?
It was inspiring. The conversations that we had and the vibe were great. He used to play video interviews with Dr. Sebi.
How did that song come about?
I was working with TeeFlii for a year before that song. He already knew Nipsey and they had a great relationship. So, Nip reached out to him like, ‘Hey, let’s see if you can make the album.’ I was already TeeFlii’s producer because I was with him every day. I went with him to Nipsey’s spot and did what we do. We worked on this a year before the song dropped. It was probably in January. It took the album four or five months to be mixed and mastered.
What changes from the original beat you presented Nipsey was changed for the final version?
I did the first half of the beat and only heard the first half. Nipsey recorded the second half and I never heard that part until the mixing and mastering. Even when I heard it during the mixing and mastering, I thought the second half was an additional song. I made that beat four or five years before I played it for Nipsey. I played him about 10-15 beats that night before he picked four or five of them. I had to actually remake that ‘Keyz 2 The City 2’ beat before he recorded on it because I had lost the files to it because it was four or five years ago (laughs). Nip was actually on my head about that (laughs). He was like, ‘Aye, cuz. You need to find those files.’ During that process, he had given me a little station inside his studio, which led me to be there every day. I was there to find those files.
How do you recreate a 5-year-old beat?
Honestly, I work with a great group of guys. My other bro Josh is amazing at what he does, so he knew exactly what he did on that beat. He’s a genius. I sort of knew exactly what I did, as far as the drums. I did find the drum samples. I just revamped it.
So, after the beat was remade, how was Nipsey’s recording process for the track?
I did the beat and then TeeFlii did his part. He sent me to the store to get the Backwoods. I came back and I heard Nipsey in the studio recording. I was stunned when I came back.
You said he picked four or five beats from you. Did he record other songs to your beats?
I believe he recorded to one of my other beats, but I never really heard it because I actually moved back to Houston for a quick second. I wasn’t really around a lot after that session, but I know he recorded one other song.
In a relatively short time, you’ve had some legends on your beats. Did you know Jeezy and T.I. were hopping on Lucci’s ‘Trap’ that you produced?
I didn’t actually work hands-on with Lucci. I just sent the beat over to my bro and he called me like, ‘Yo, T.I. and Jeezy are going to be on it.’ He sent me the unreleased song about two or three months before the release and I was like, ‘Damn. This is crazy.’ I grew up listening to T.I. and Jeezy.
You’re also working with this Japanese Yurufuwa Gang group. How did you link up with them?
I met them in New York and we did something. Then, I flew back to L.A. and we did some music out there. I guess they fell in love with me and the process. Other people were gravitating to it, too. Everything happened spontaneously. They want to bring me on as their main producer and we might be able to get this group a major deal, which is still pending. Everything is still pending with that group because they have to get their visas. I didn’t know how hard it was for them to get their visas, but that costs a lot of money. It’s over ten grand each. That’s going to happen hopefully by the summer.
Is the recording process with that group different than your work with American-born artists, due to the language barrier?
It is different. I can’t understand what they’re saying, but I know it feels good. It’s definitely different from working with Melly and Nipsey. But, it’s the same as with any other artist in a way. I just find that mutual bond with them and we just build.
You said your songs with Melly and Nipsey didn’t come out until about a year after you first started them. Are there any records you’re still waiting on coming out?
To be honest with you, I’d be so fucking scared (laughs). I’d be so fucking nervous. I was telling my PR, ‘I’m not going to post anything until I’m sure.’ It was the same thing for Nipsey. Within that six or seven months right before they released Victory Lap, he had mega producers come in like MikeWillMadeIt, Alchemist, Timbaland, and other heavy hitters. He had Diddy listening to it. I didn’t know if I was going to make the album or not. I knew he’d been working on that album for seven years and he told me he had over 200-300 beats that he’s been listening to. So, it was kind of scary.
Have you got a big check from producing?
I got a few of them. I got my money held up right now, but I’m not going to say who from (laughs). I can say this, I brought a nice car because of Nip. I got a Benz. I’ve been living off something I love to do for the past seven years. I got a couple of big checks. I haven’t seen a million dollars yet (laughs).
What’s coming up in 2020?
(Laughs) Honestly, a lot is coming. I can’t say too much, but I can say I’m working and learning from Tommy Brown. He’s Ariana Grande’s producer and a big name in the industry. He was responsible for the main hits in 2019. He’s helping me a lot. He’s being my big bro in the industry. I can’t say a lot about what’s going on. But, I’m trying to take my career to a whole different level. I know I can do other music than trap or rap music.