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.
AMD Visuals has only filmed Lil Yachty for a year, but has already seen him surprise big-name rappers in the studio with how he makes music.
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” Yachty’s personal cameraman explains what a 12-hour session with him and Swae Lee is like, Yachty passing up dinner with Drake to record with Future, and more. Read below.
How’d you link with Yachty?
I was interning at Cam Kirk Studios in 2019 and I met Lil Coach through that space, and he had a shoot with Boat (Yachty) for Bape. Lil Coach asked me to do a behind-the-scenes video of that. I did it and on a random night a few months later, I got a call from Lil Coach like, “Boat wants to meet up with you. He liked your work. He’s looking for an everyday cameraman.” We linked up and we’ve been working ever since. The first session was just him making music on a regular night.
Yachty is a big gamer. Did he bring a PS5 to the studio?
He has a few PS5s, but he kept them at the house. Before, he had this box in a wooden case that when it opened up, it had a screen and X-Box in it. He’d take it everywhere.
I saw a photo from you of Jetsonmade and Yachty recording in a bedroom.
We were at his old house and Jetson came through. Boat just brought his engineer over and quickly setup a quick studio inside of his room. Jetson was making beats and he picked four beats from him that night. He really likes to make a natural environment of homies linking up and making music.
During the last eight months of this pandemic, how frequently did he record?
Probably every day. He really cares about his music and enjoys making it. I know that for a fact. When the pandemic first happened, we were in a meeting in L.A., there was an NBA game playing and at that moment is when they announced they were canceling it. It was the first realization that this was real for us.
What did you notice about his creative process?
He’s very picky with his beats. He has an ear for it. He’ll play a beat that I think is fire and he’ll be like, “Wack! Next one!” He’ll keep going and going until he finds what he wants to do. I don’t know what goes on in his head when he’s writing, but he says what’s on his mind and makes hits.
He also linked with Swae Lee. What happened in that session that wasn’t captured on camera?
I want the viewer to feel like they’re actually in the studio and get to see the process of every song. That Swae Lee session is one of my favorite ones. We were in the studio from 12 a.m. to 12 p.m. That was his first studio session with Swae Lee. I know he was excited because he said he went on tour with Swae in 2016 and they never made one song together. They made a lot of songs that session. I think they made five or six songs that night. The way Swae records is cool because he engineers himself. In the booth, he has a desktop with the Pro Tools open… Swae is really good in the studio. No matter if we’re running off 30-minute naps, if Yachty can get in the studio with an artist he likes or has the opportunity to go make music, he’s going to take it no matter how tired he is. He’s a workaholic.
What’s another session that sticks out to you?
The making of “Coffin.” We were in L.A. and he got a beat from Earl on the Beat, and he made a completely different verse at first until he wasn’t feeling it midway. He changed it and made that song in 30 minutes, and then said, “Let’s record a music video now.” I got into the sprinter while he was shopping and edited it in an hour, dropped it, and it went viral. The session for “Flex Up” with Future was cool, too. I didn’t record it because it was Future’s studio and I didn’t know the vibes there. They were making bangers that night. That was after we pulled up to the “Life Is Good” music video with Future and Drake. I know after [the video shoot], Drake was telling Boat to come to a dinner to vibe with him. But, Future hit up Boat too like, “I’m about to go to the studio. Let’s tap in.” So, Boat had to do what he had to do and go record with Future.
One person he’s linked up with was Chance the Rapper. What was that dynamic?
We were out of town in Chicago and they linked up to do music. It was cool seeing them make music. They’re two different sounds, so it was cool seeing those two different sounds come into one track. Boat is really fast when he makes music. He might write it before he gets in the booth, but he’ll also go in and freestyle it. He’ll make a song in five to 10 minutes, come out, and say “Okay, the verse is done.” Chance was like, “Whoa, hold on (laughs).”
Do you have permission to record whatever when you’re in the studio with him?
I keep the camera rolling constantly because I know Boat wants it rolling. But, I’ve built a relationship with Boat where if he doesn’t want something recorded or we’re in a scenario where we shouldn’t record something, he’ll look at me and let me know not to film. When we went to Big Sean’s house, we didn’t want to walk in with the cameras rolling. We went to see the vibes and if he’d be cool with us filming. I’m pretty sure I asked Sean to record and he’s a really nice dude. It depends on the artist. Sean showed us a few songs from Detroit 2 before it dropped. They were giving each other opinions. We were there for a few hours.
He released 27 songs in 2020 between Lil Boat 3 and Lil Boat 3.5. Was the Vince Staples collaboration the last one you recorded?
I think it was the most recent one he did before dropping 3.5. That was the first song they made that night. Vince was very fast too with recording. They were cooling.
What does Yachty need to make his best music?
Food, good beats, and video games. Food-wise, he doesn’t eat much (laughs). He loves pizza — that he eats every day. He might eat hotdogs or corndogs. Maybe chicken tenders. It’s very limited.
How does Yachty experiment in the studio?
He says some wild lyrics. He says the wildest lyrics when he links with Rio [Da Yung], YN Jay, and all of them. That’s when they really were shit-talking. That session was really interesting. I swear they made 10 songs within two nights. That’s coming soon.
How has being able to film Yachty affected your life?
Hugely. I went from being an intern to getting a full-time job with him. I’m shooting, meeting, and connecting with artists I never met before. Yachty also told me to set up my YouTube channel to start dropping videos on there, too. I appreciate that he looks out for me. I’ve been working with him for a year as of December.