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.
D. Hill’s life changed during a pandemic that put most people on pause. Over the last seven months, his production on Drake and Future’s “Life Is Good” went seven-times platinum, and he’s been featured on Lil Uzi Vert and Future’s first ever collaboration album, as well as a Drake mixtape.
“I love the pandemic, dawg. I told Kristina (his publicist), ‘[Artists] can’t do shows, so they’re going to be recording more.’ If they’re making more music, I need to be making more beats,” D. Hill told REVOLT. “I was right because I got most of placements during the pandemic when artists had nothing to do...”
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the multi-platinum producer explains how he first found out he was on Drake’s Dark Lane Demo Tapes, advice he got from Future, and working with TM88. Read below.
What was the first studio session where you felt like you made it?
When I first met Future in real life. I got one of those calls to pull up to the studio and really got to see one of those creative processes of one of your favorite artists. It was life-changing and that’s how you know it is. That was the first major artist and it was very inspirational. It was last May when I met him after working with Guap Tarantino for two or three years consistently. One day, he hit me and said, “Future said send a pack.” Ever since then, we’ve been going crazy.
What do you remember the most about being in the studio with him?
The amenities that were available. The snacks, joints, and the alcohol. It was a comfort zone that had a real studio vibe. The vibe is more inspirational because you have this man who has come from so much still working hard like an upcoming artist. It’s hard to believe and f**ks with you for a little bit.
Was that session around the time you sent him the beat for your part of “Life Is Good”?
Yep. That was in May before the session. I saw him record to four of my beats back-to-back... He did four songs right in front of me. He’s a machine. It probably only took him 10 minutes per song to make those. He likes my production a lot. It’s a blessing because a buddy of mine — one of my brothers — is working with Pluto now, too. He was actually in that studio session and got to see it. We were inspired by it.
What were your other songs he recorded that night besides “Life Is Good” and “Desires”?
They haven’t come out yet. We already gave them both sides. We came with the trap and the R&B vibes. Those [unreleased] songs are more on the inspirational vibe. He was really talking about inspirational things. I remember relating to a line he said. I can’t remember it now. The inspirational vibes are the only things they haven’t heard from us.
What was the sound of those unreleased songs?
Those inspirational songs have chord progressions that are more upwards rather than a trap beat, which is usually the same all the way through. Listen to “Rockstar Chainz” [from Pluto x Baby Pluto]. Torey Montana produced that, but that’s the guy who really saw my process, so I’m using him as an example. That’s the closest thing I can compare it to.
You tweeted about how artists will share a snippet of a song on social media to test fan reactions, and if the reaction isn’t good, the song won’t come out. Has that happened to you?
Yeah, there are a few snippets that’ll probably never come out. Future put it on his story and no one can reply to his story. He really don’t know anyone’s reaction. A lot of artists do that. I can’t necessarily say Pluto does that, but a lot of artists will put it on the internet to test the waters. Some days the algorithm may not be in their favor. They may have posted it at the wrong time of the day and not get that much attention.
Artists drop snippets to see the fans reactions to it. If the algorithm just so happens to not be in that artists favor that day & it doesn’t get the reaction they expected the song is probably going in the black hole of unreleased music— d. hill (@dhillprod) August 4, 2020
You produced “Sleeping on the Floor” and “I Don’t Wanna Break Up” from Pluto x Baby Pluto. When did you know you were going to be part of the album?
I’ve been knowing. Most of these things I know about months ahead of time. So, I know to keep my mouth closed and to keep working. Everything came together perfectly. DJ Esco did the tracklisting, which helped make it a great body of work. The songs they picked had production that was top tier. A lot of the music.
Were you in the studio with them?
Nah, but I was there when they made some other stuff. I was around Uzi when he was working on the song “Bussin” with Doe Boy produced by Southside. I remember that day because the beat was so hard. I saw Uzi put the headphones on and knock out a verse in 10 minutes or less.
Besides that, you said there’s an alternate version of Future and Uzi’s “Over Your Head,” produced by you and TM88, correct?
Absolutely. That version was supposed to come out first, but they decided to use my version instead. I think they shot the video with the TM version, and then decided to put the single out with just my version. I do like the TM88 version more because it added another dynamic to the song.
My first album plaque. Future you da goat. Kept all ur promises thanks for the opportunity ⛰— d. hill (@dhillprod) May 15, 2020
You also tweeted that Future kept his word after you got your first album plaque from him. What conversations did you two have?
Man, so much. He’s a man of his word. He told me he got me. He told me I’m going to be a star and I’m going to be going Billboard crazy. He didn’t know that, in the process, he’d be going as crazy as he’s ever went. That’s nothing but God. He didn’t know he was helping me build. He just put all of his resources into me and focused on making me that guy for real. He told me to keep working, keep the faith and never change.
How did the pandemic shift your 2020?
I love the pandemic, dawg. I told Kristina (his publicist), “They can’t do shows, so they’re going to be recording more.” If they’re making more music, I need to be making more beats. I was right because I got most of placements during the pandemic when artists had nothing to do...
When did you know your beats for “Desires” and “Life Is Good” were coming out?
I knew about “Desires” probably in October of last year. I actually didn’t know until they dropped it because “Desires” leaked by accident. I knew about it from a leak, but they did alternate versions of it and released it formally on Drake’s Dark Lane Demo Tapes. I’m highly blessed for that because when songs leak, they never come out. We got a lot of music, but the world’s only going to hear so much of it.
I saw you linked up with TM88 in the studio.
When I first met TM88 was with DY Krazy. He’s a fellow 808 Mafia member. I was over at TM88’s house before I had any big releases. DY is like my big brother, he took me under his wing and introduced me to a lot of people. My first time meeting TM was at his house, his studio, and I got to see what hard work really gets you. His home studio looks like a studio that’s not even at his home. It was a motivational experience.
You were also in the studio with Moneybagg Yo. Did you learn being around him?
Most definitely. That was about two months ago in late September. I was in there with my bro YC. That’s Moneybagg’s go-to producer. Moneybagg reached out to me for beats earlier this year. YC and I collaborate a lot and over the months, we’ve developed a great chemistry. When I was in the studio with them, I was learning and taking notes. Moneybagg had just got his tooth pulled, so he wasn’t able to record. But, listening to the music he was making, I was still able to learn. He’s a hard worker.
What do you have coming up?
I have a lot coming up. Everything is going to be totally because Drake announced he’s dropping in January. Around the 4th quarter this year, a lot of people are going to be releasing music because they know they have to release before Drake. On “Life Is Good,” he said the infamous, “N**gas gotta [move] off my release date, huh?” So, we’re in a situation where that’s going on. There’s a lot of music being produced by me and my teammates. That 4th quarter about to go crazy. Me being a student of the game, it’s odd [that] some of the artists I’ve been in the studio with are dropping around this time. I think they know we gotta drop before Drake.