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.
Bradley “DJ BJ” Whitaker might be the single most important person to Young Nudy’s sound. As both his DJ and engineer, he’s made sure the Atlanta rapper puts on a good show and puts out an even better song. After working on Simeball 3, Sli’merre, and Anyways, BJ knows how prolific Nudy is in the studio — sometimes to his own detriment.
“One of the biggest things I always tell him is he needs to take breaks, so he doesn’t burn himself out. Some nights, he’ll get in the studio and he won’t have anything to rap about, and he’ll get frustrated,” BJ told REVOLT. “So, I push him to take breaks. It just so happened that the Coronavirus pandemic forced him to take a break.”
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” Young Nudy’s engineer and DJ explains the rapper’s recording process, how the Coronavirus pandemic is affecting Nudy Land 2, and how Nudy ended up on Lil Uzi Vert’s Eternal Atake.
Before Anyways dropped earlier this year, Nudy’s Sli’merre project with Pierre Bourne was still being talked about. How did that come about?
I started recording Nudy right after Nudy Land, when he went on to Slime Ball 3. There are only two people who record him — me and this guy Verne. For Sli’merre, we recorded on tour, but none of them made it on that project because they were recorded with other producers. Right after the “Nudy Land Tour” ended in December , we just went to Miami for a month. It wasn’t recorded in a studio. We recorded it in his hotel suite. We recorded almost every song on Sli’merre in that suite except “Extendo,” “Long Ride,” and “Joker.”
When we first got to Miami, the studio that we go to was booked up, but I always carry around a mobile rig. Sometimes, he’ll record in different cities because he likes the vibe and he liked the vibe in Miami. The suite we were in had a good view, a balcony, and it was all glass, so he could see out of it. That night we ended up four songs and the next night, we ended up doing two or three more. This was all right after the Dreamville sessions in early January. I know the Dreamville sessions started on a Sunday (January 6, 2019). We went to the Dreamville sessions that Monday and Tuesday. When we left the Tuesday session, we drove down straight to Miami.
What was Nudy’s recording process like in the suite?
We had a lot of Fingalickin’. He would go to Fingalickin’, get the seafood rice with lobster tail. He’s always smoking and the hotel had a balcony. So, he could smoke without having to worry about getting charged. Other than that, it was a small group. It was four people. It Nudy, me, his homeboy, and his manager. That process was fairly simple. We only had the hotel for a couple of days and then, we got an Airbnb. Most of Sli’merre was recorded in that hotel suite over two days.
What were the quickest songs recorded for that project?
The quickest song we recorded was “Shotta.” He did that in one take. He gave me time to find a hook and arrange it.
What do you mean you found a hook?
Pierre notoriously sends beats in 30-second snippets. If you listen to “Shotta,” and the whole album, every couple of bars you’ll hear his tag over and over because I had to keep looping the beat. Before Nudy started recording for “Shotta,” I looped the beat for four minutes straight. He recorded for four minutes. Normally, when he’s recording, I’ll mark different sections in ProTools for things I think could be a hook or is a good part. Sometimes, in his mind, he’ll know what that hook will be before he even starts recording. He gave me time to listen back to find the hook. It might be a freestyle from 30-40 bars and I’ll split it up into two separate verses.
So, when did Megan Thee Stallion get involved with this record?
That’s the funny part. We recorded that in January. We were in Miami for the entire month of January. For the second half of the month, we had people from the label and different producers coming in to hear the album. One day in the studio, we were thinking of features. When we recorded “Shotta,” Nudy told me to leave a section open because he felt a woman should rap on it. In the studio, we were brainstorming different women to get on it. Some people mentioned LightSkinKeisha, Mulatto, Kash Doll, and I informally met Megan Thee Stallion when she did A3C [festival] in 2018. I suggested her for the feature.
This is in January . So at first, Nudy was like, “Who the hell is that?” I pulled up a couple of her YouTube videos. I think I pulled up “Freak Nasty” and that one freestyle video where she’s freestyling in the middle of the street. Off of those two videos he was like, “Oh, she needs to be on it.” So, I reached out to her mom, who was her manager at the time. This was just right when signed with 300 and no one knew it yet. I sent them the song, they liked it, and they cut it in about three days. Around April, when she shot the video, she had about a million followers. When the album released in May, I believe she was at two million followers. It worked out really well.
Arguably, the biggest song on Sli’merre besides “Shotta” is “Extendo” with Lil Uzi Vert. He was already a megastar by that point, so how did you get him?
We had a show in Philadelphia on [January 31, 2019]. The concert venue (Voltage Lounge) for that show was downstairs and had this group of studios upstairs in the building that the venue was in. Uzi was in one studio and we had the other studio booked. After the show, we went to get cheesesteaks and then, we went to the studio with Uzi. He was recording, finished, and then played it back for us. Surprisingly, when he played it back for us, he told Nudy right there, “I got a song I want you to get on.” Pierre was there, too. That’s how “Money Spread” came about on Eternal Atake. We did “Money Spread” the same night we did “Extendo.”
For Nudy’s vocals, do you have a template of plugins and effects?
I have a template, but Nudy isn’t big on effects. He’s better with it now. When I first started recording him, he hated reverb and delay. He just really liked dry vocals. I kind of helped ease him into it. We have a template, but it’s literally just a compressor, EQ, reverb, and delay. For Slimeball 3, I suggested some reverb and delay on “Do That.” That was the first song I ever recorded for him. That night we did “Do That” and “A.B.M.” off of Slimeball 3, and we did his feature for Playboi Carti’s album (Die Lit) called “R.I.P. Fredo.” On those three songs, he told me he wanted no reverb, no delay, and just dry vocals.
How has your relationship with Nudy in the studio evolved over the years?
He gives me a lot more creative control now. That night when I first recorded him, it was just him and Pierre. At that point, he was only recording with Pierre. He came in like, “I like my stuff this way,” and that was it. I already had that relationship with him as a DJ, but when I started deejaying for him, he didn’t know I could engineer. I never told him that. Over that year, we got fairly comfortable fairly quickly because he’s always in the studio. When it came around for Sli’merre, he gave me a lot of control. When it came down to the features, finding hooks, and putting the songs together, he let me pick the Meg feature and DaBaby feature. He trusted my opinion.
Anyways is the latest project. How did that come about?
We were recording on the “I Am > I Was Tour” with 21 Savage. We would get off the tour bus, get to the hotel room, and we’d record in the hotel room. When we got done with touring in August, we went to L.A. in September for a week or two. That was the initial time we had a tracklist for Anyways. It was about 16 songs and a lot of the tracks that made the album were in that initial tracklist. We recorded in L.A. for seven days straight, 12-hour sessions. We were sleeping in the studio at one point. That week was really a workweek. He brought me, his other engineer Verne, and his two producers Coupe and Rocket. After that, we did a whole bunch of homecoming concerts for schools. So, we weren’t really sitting back down to record again until late November, early December.
When we started recording on tour, I was sitting there talking to him and he was like he wanted to drop a mixtape. It’s very funny because he actually fucks with a lot of UGK and Houston rap. He was like, “Nah, I want to do a mixtape, but I want to host my own mixtape.” If you listen to the intro “Understanding,” they’re structured like how those older mixtapes would be: beat comes in, slow voice interlude in the middle. As time went on and we kept recording, he started saying, “Yo, this is like album material.” He only said mixtape because he thinks the grittier music he makes like Slimeball 1 and Slimeball 2. The more he recorded, the more the songs were more melodic and started sounded like album material.
When was the last time you two were in the studio?
Probably right before Anyways dropped. So, about early February.
Has the recent Coronavirus outbreak affected your recording schedule together?
Yeah. We had sessions at Patchwerk [Studios], but they shut down after the mayor issued a stay at home order. So, they actually shut down everything. At first, they were only letting six people per session, but now they’re completely shut down. I do have a mobile rig, but one of the biggest things with him is he’ll go to the studio four times a week and he’ll be in there all night. The week before Anyways came out, he was in New York recording while we were doing press. One of the biggest things I always tell him is he needs to take breaks, so he doesn’t burn himself out. Some nights, he’ll get in the studio and he won’t have anything to rap about, and he’ll get frustrated. So, I push him to take breaks. It just so happened that the Coronavirus pandemic forced him to take a break. We were supposed to be on tour right now. He has plenty of music because he’ll leave a session with five or six songs. He could drop an album tomorrow that’s harder than Anyways.
What’s an unreleased song of his that you hope comes out?
It’s this song called “Ganja.” He recorded it during the Nudy Land era. The reason y’all haven’t heard it yet is because he doesn’t like it. But, everyone I play it for loves it. He’s getting more and more comfortable with releasing it. We might be there, but I don’t know. He’s not necessarily singing on it, but he’s very melodic. It rides. It’s not too aggressive. It has the best of both worlds.
What are you and Nudy working on currently?
We’re working on Nudy Land 2. We just started. I’ve been trying to push for older songs to be on it. He mainly wants to go with a vibe. He likes recording in different places, so we’ll probably take a couple of trips to different cities. It might be a month process, it might be a year process. The process in our head was always to get [Anyways] out at the beginning of the year, go on tour, and after the tour, lock in until Nudy Land 2 is done. Coronavirus sort of fucked everything up.