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.
Before COVID-19 shut the world down, Conway The Machine was gearing up for his major label debut album, God Don’t Make Mistakes. The pandemic forced him to record a lot of his latest project From King To A God at his home.
“This isn’t my first time [recording at home]. It was just under these unfortunate circumstances with this virus and shit. I was able to get my son to record me for a couple of songs and all of that,” Conway told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” Conway discusses the possibility of a Wu-Tang Clan x Griselda collaboration, making sure he doesn’t incriminate anyone in his music, and how the death of DJ Shay affected his lyrics. Peep the convo below.
On one of the songs on the From God To A King you said, “This my first album.” How did you put this together differently than other projects?
I said that because that song was going to be on God Don’t Make Mistakes, which is technically my first album. These are just street treats for the people to just enjoy and fuck with while we putting everything else together with the God Don’t Make Mistakes. That song was just so raw I felt it fit From King To A God a little better. We’re just making these good quality bodies of work. We’re fortunate that we have good producers like Daringer and Alchemist. We’re just doing what we do.
How long did it take you to record this?
I’ve been working on this slowly since the country shut down with the pandemic. I’ve been gradually working on it here or there. It was probably done about four times, but I always go back and change shit, add shit, and take shit away. I sort of was just slowly working on this while making God Don’t Make Mistakes.
What do you need in the studio to make your best music?
Good weed and peace of mind. I don’t like the phone ringing or having people around and shit with niggas running in and out, talking on the phone, going on Instagram Live. I can’t work like that. I need the peace of mind of being in the studio with just me and my engineer. A lot of this album I recorded by myself at home with my family. I got a setup and threw it in my basement. I’ve been basically cooking this up by myself and finding tranquility in that.
How was it recording at home?
It’s always dope. This isn’t my first time. It was just under these unfortunate circumstances with this virus and shit. I was able to get my son to record me for a couple of songs and all of that.
When did you know this project was done?
Probably a couple of days [before Sept. 8]. I think I finished it Monday.
You’re taking some chances on this album. What inspired you to sing on your Freddie Gibbs collaboration “Seen Everything But Jesus”?
I don’t know. I’m big on old school West Coast gangsta rap. The beat reminded me of some West Coast gangsta shit. You know the songs where they have the videos of parties with the nigga on the grill making ribs and there’s a bunch of low riders. It sounded like that.
What was your reaction when you got that Method Man verse for “Lemon”?
I was like a kid on Christmas morning when I opened my text and saw he sent that back. Method Man has always been one of my favorite MCs in the game since I was a young man trying to sharpen my sword and hone my skills. That shit was some bucket list shit for me. I’m going to keep it a buck.
How long did it take to put it together?
Not long at all. I actually had recorded that already. Daringer sent me the beat, and I recorded the hook and my verse. For most of my tapes, I’d have one long verse, the hook, and that’d be that. I don’t usually be two or three verses a lot. But, I thought this was missing something and the first thing I thought was, “I need to have Tical on this.” I was thinking Meth[od Man], Ghostface, and Raekwon. But, you know how it [is with] all of us being tied up and having shit going on. Hopefully we get that for the deluxe.
Speaking of that, the world’s waiting for the super Wu-Tang/Griselda collaboration. Have y’all talked about that?
We’ve talked about it amongst ourselves. I’ve talked about it with West and shit like that. Usually when I see Raekwon, the last thing we talk about is music. They definitely salute us and let us know that we’re making them proud and they like what they’re seeing from us. Besides that, it really just be on homie time — family time. We’re having a drink and just talking about our life. I look for other shit other than a verse. I need them jewels. I like to soak up the game from especially them because that’s who I looked up to.
It might not be your first album, but that Hit-Boy-produced “Fear Of God” track with Dej Loaf definitely sounds very radio ready. Did you specifically make it for that?
Honestly I did. We were all out in L.A. Benny was already working with Hit-Boy. One day I was out there and I went with him to the studio, and we were just chilling and smoking. But, Hit was like, “Nah, I got a batch for you too.” He was playing me beats and that was one of the ones I picked. Initially, I was thinking, “I get some shit with Hit-Boy, that shit’s going to resonate with more people on a mainstream vibe.” When I created it, I didn’t have that in mind. I knew it was going to reach a different ear, but I wrote my shit like I was trying to [do] a URL/Smack battle (laughs).
Your lyrics are so vivid and honest. Do you ever get worried about saying something on your record that could implicate someone or is too personal? Do you ever have to take in the reality of what you’re writing?
Yeah, absolutely because all of this is real life shit and shit that really transpired or still going on. I respect all the individuals I’m rapping about and their families. I try to be conscious of that. I definitely have edited and taken some names out. That’s why a lot of times you’ll hear me call some one “lil broadie” or “my man” and “my dawg.” I don’t really want to be saying their names because niggas are still active.
What was the last real life experience that inspired a lyric of yours?
On “Forever Dropping Tears,” the passing of my longtime friend and mentor DJ Shay inspired that second verse on there. He inspired that. I was out of it for a minute. I didn’t want to rap. I didn’t want to see nobody or be around anybody. I was in a funk. I just started thinking, “What would Unc want me to be on?” I just put my head down and kept going; charged the basket and attacked the paint. That song “Forever Dropping Tears” is a reflection of the emotions I felt with the passing of DJ Shay.
View this post on Instagram
I’m so hurt right now idk how I’m gon pull thru unk, I been struggling all day trying to understand and grasp all this king... I cry every time I think of Dread, Rick Hyde mars Dj Tjizzle Dom and Dan ya daughter and Inez and showtime and ya grandkids and everyone who’s lives you impacted in some way, and how this is hurting them but I promise you I’m gon hold shit down unk!! I’m cryin tears while typing this shit man this is fuckin me up bad Dj Shay forever
How has the album God Don’t Make Mistakes been coming together? How did the pandemic affect it?
The album is coming along good. It’s done. I have some dope features on there. I don’t have as many as I have on this project. Alchemist, Daringer and Beat Butcher are doing a lot of the production. It’s coming along dope. It’s been handed in. We should be getting that in October. As far as the pandemic, it made it sort of hard because the offices are closed. You can’t really move around and handle business. You have to adapt to doing things over the phone and Zoom. You adjust and adapt. It’s simple as that.
How have you got better as a rapper over the years?
Really, it’s been the things I’ve been doing outside of the booth and the music; the things I do in the community that don’t get talked about or mentioned. I don’t do it for clout. Feeding the homeless, giving back to the community, food drives, and just making the decision to be a better man overall. If I’m a better father and better guy by living my life a certain way, I feel it makes the music better.
You said on the intro of From King To A God you wrote that on a private jet with Kanye West. What was that experience like?
The bars just hit me. I was stoned, staring out the window and I thought of that in my head. I wrote it in my phone. Working with ‘Ye and just being around ‘Ye is dope. Again, it’s not always music. I get the jewels and soak up game. I listen and learn. We pray and do all types of different things.
I know it’s not just about the music, but did you link up with ‘Ye on some songs?
On “Frontlines” you sounded very determined. How long did it take you to make that?
It didn’t take me long at all. It was a collection of different emotions. There was anger and sadness from watching the George Floyd video. There was just a lot of emotions. I went into my basement and recorded that. It was done in no time — 30 minutes.
On the song, you rapped about not liking artists who sympathized with people who snitched, presumably speaking about 6ix9ine. Are you saying you can’t work with someone who associates with him?
I don’t know how I feel about it because I didn’t really think about it that way. I don’t know 6ix9ine and never met him. I’ll be honest, before the whole ratting, I wouldn’t want to work with him anyway. I don’t really don’t know. Everybody’s grown. I’m minding my business and letting niggas do them. I don’t really know how I feel about working with someone who works with him or with anyone who wasn’t a hunnid. I don’t really like working with niggas anyway, so I probably wouldn’t run in that dilemma.