DJ Flow on working with Shy Glizzy and recording music to commemorate Nipsey Hussle
The NYC bred DJ details Shy Glizzy’s work ethic, shares intimate stories from their studio sessions, and explains how Glizzy went bar for bar with Meek Mill.
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.
The studio is often where private feelings become listenable thoughts, potentially ending up as songs for the world to hear. For more than five years, DJ Flow has seen Shy Glizzy’s pain go through that sort of metamorphosis that can only happen in those intimate sessions.
“In L.A. [early April 2019], you could actually feel the presence of Nipsey [Hussle] being gone. I guess Shy was able to tap into that energy and he knocked out the song ‘Riding Down Slauson’ in under an hour,” Flow told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” Flow talks about Glizzy going bar for bar with a lyricist like Meek Mill, being brutally honest with Glizzy about his music and how the DMV rapper is preparing to take over the Billboard charts.
When was the first time you got in the studio with Shy Glizzy?
When [we’re] traveling with Shy… we always find a studio. The bus that we had for the ‘I Am Tour’ with Yo Gotti, YG and Zed Zilla had a studio in the back. Shy was in the studio all day. He’s a studio rat… He just records, listens to beats or finds new talent. Even if he isn’t working on his [own] stuff, he’s going through different artists’ [work]. He’s done that with 21 Savage. If you look at old Shy Glizzy videos, 21 Savage is there before he even dropped a single. Glizzy did that for Pressure, Young Thug and Migos, too. He had a feature from Migos before they had ‘Versace.’
Glizzly has said in the past that he’s a very private person. How is he in the studio?
The irony is… everybody doesn’t get to see how much he likes to joke around, have fun and be relaxed. I guess with the territory, you have to maintain a specific military vibe when you leave [the studio] and are in the street… If he likes a beat, you’re going to see him start mumbling. I’ve never seen him write anything down. [Shy] goes into the studio and finds the melody. Once he finds that pocket, it’s over. He freestyles from there.
With his process being so free-flowing, what’s the quickest you’ve seen Glizzy record a song?
It was this song on this new project, Covered N Blood. We were in [the tour bus to] L.A. after Nipsey got killed. Covered N Blood needed to be handed in the next day or maybe two days later. In L.A., you could actually feel the presence of Nipsey being gone. I guess Shy was able to tap into that energy and he knocked out the song ‘Riding Down Slauson’ in under an hour… he wanted to do something that commemorated Nipsey. He has a dope video concept that he’s about to drop that’s going to show love to Nipsey. ‘Riding Down Slauson’ is 100% a Nipsey tribute.
What was Glizzy’s mood when he was recording it?
Everybody was taken [a] back. I remember him repeating, ‘He was a good dude. Why would they kill a good dude?’ We had a show that night in L.A. with Gunna [on April 2].
What’s your role in Glizzy’s music making process?
Shy records so many [tracks]… Once he’s done making a record, he’ll ask, ‘What y’all think of this?’ I’m able to sit there and be honest. [It’s] like sports for him. Almost like a basketball player taking 1,000 jump shots… My role is to tell him what is [working] and what isn’t. I’m also on the radio. So, I’m able to [say to] him, ‘I think this should be a single.’ I’m looking at it from a radio aspect and a DJ. I’m his ear to the streets, letting him know what BPMs are working in the club.
What’s an honest piece of criticism you’ve given Glizzy?
On Fully Loaded, there’s a record called ‘Super Freak’ with Lil Uzi [Vert] and one called ‘Money Set’ with Young Thug. While we’re on tour and we have to go through our set list, in Shy’s mind, he knows what [record] is best… I’ll be honest and say, ‘Yo, I don’t think anybody’s going to sing this song.’ When we started on the west coast, I knew the fans would know him, but wouldn’t know the music. So, we would have to go hit-intensive. One time he was like, ‘Nah, ‘Money Set’ go crazy.’ I was like, ‘I think ‘Super Freak’ going to go crazy. You have one of the biggest streaming artist[s] in the world on there with Lil Uzi.’ We actually bet money to see which one gets the biggest reactions. I ended up winning that one.
What was the longest you’ve seen Glizzy in the studio?S
When it gets to those moments, I’m gone. Keeping up with Shy in the studio is hard. It’s all he does. I’ve seen him in [there] for days. If we’re in a specific city and there’s nothing to do there… [When] everybody is sleeping and sneaking out to shower, we’re in the studio, especially when we’re in New York.
What is the most impressive thing you’ve seen Glizzy in the studio?
What I like is how he holds his own with other artists. When you have a person like Meek [Mill], he’s a lyricist and comes from that battle rap culture. Then, you have someone like Glizzy creating his own [music] and being a pioneer in a whole movement from an area. He’s not a battle rap type, but can keep up with Meek bar for bar… But, they have a track together when we were all together in Atlanta. It sounds like Meek stepping into Shy’s realm with the melodic storytelling where they’re both just dropping jewels on the people that look up to him.
Shy was using these different type of metaphors and similes. I’m from New York, [so] I’m big on bars [and] lyricism. I’m a Jadakiss and Busta Rhymes fan. When we first got in the studio, I was like, ‘I’m interested to see the lyrical sparring that goes on this record.’ There are so many records [that] he hasn’t put out with him and other major artists.
Neither one of them write their verses. So, what was it like seeing them record that song together?
They both had different styles. When the beat came on, it started as mumbling. I remember [at one point] I was even starting to freestyle, and everybody started laughing. Meek goes right in the booth… Usually, he’s going straight through. It’s the same for Shy. They were able to feed off each other. I hope the song comes out.
What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen in the studio?
I don’t want to say anything incriminating (laughs). We did have some times where it was weird situations, and people would try to sell fake lean and stuff like that. One of the funniest moments is definitely someone getting caught sleeping and getting water thrown on them… This one time in New York — I think we finished Irving Plaza with Gunna — and our bodyguard fell asleep. So, Shy takes this big bottle of water and dumps it on his head, and our bodyguard Brian looked like he was going to drown.
From what you’ve seen in the studio this year, what can we expect from Glizzy?
Shy is coming for it all. He [has]…told you about where he grew up, his family, things he’s been through, trials and tribulations. Now, he’s going to have more fun, and he’s coming for those charts. People should be very ready for that.
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