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 IPO Group’s founder and CEO Malcolm ‘Malcs’ Manswell has been the head of marketing at CMG The Label for two years and knows what artists like Moneybagg Yo, Yo Gotti, and 42 Dugg like in the studio.

“42 Dugg did a big session with Murda Beatz and a bunch of different people. We were all in Miami and Dugg needed a bulk of crab legs or he couldn’t do the session. So, I had to hit the assistant like, “Make sure there are those crab legs ready or it’s a no go,” Manswell told REVOLT with a laugh.

In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” he discusses why Gotti trusts his opinion when recording, how Moneybagg Yo uses snippets to pick singles, and more. Read below!

Who was the first major artist you were in the studio with?

SuperDuperKyle when I was at Atlantic [Records] around 2016 going into 2017. Top of 2017, I got hired as marketing manager at Atlantic.

What was Kyle’s creative process like?

Some artists work with songwriters, which was different for me because I was accustomed to artists doing everything themselves. Kyle would work with other artists. He’d have Kehlani come in. He was very collaborative. A lot of artists don’t just collaborate with each other. If the label tells them they want to get a songwriter in or get a certain type of song, some artists aren’t open to that. Kyle’s sessions opened my eyes because the type of songs he makes is different than what a Ty Dolla $ign makes, which is different than what a Yo Gotti makes. Even with someone like 42 Dogg, he goes in and freestyles the whole thing. Gotti doesn’t write anything down either. You may think these people are winging it but it’s more skillful.

One of the first songs you and The IPO Group received a plaque for was Kyle and Kehlani’s “Playinwitme.” How’d that happen?

They’re close. They’re actually friends… She had a concept for the song and brought it to the session. The beat was already being passed around and they did it in that one session when they were in person. But, they knew they wanted to do something for the album, go to the studio session, and knocked it out that day. It might’ve been three or four hours.

Some of these big collaborations come from close friendships but they also come from randomly being in the same studio.

I remember when Moneybagg [Yo] was doing his album and J. Cole just happened to be in the same studio, and asked him, “What are you working on?” Moneybagg told him he was working on his album and Cole just popped in the session and did it, then he left. Sometimes you just happen to be lucky. That’s why, if you’re a smart artist, you’ll book the popping studios because you never know who’s going to pop in and be there.

What do you do when you’re in there with people like Moneybagg Yo?

It varies for each artist. For the most part, I’m usually in there for product managing. The marketing department is the highest department in music, for the most part, so I end up in the studio capturing content. But, most of the artists I work with trust my word on things and they’ll ask me certain things. That’s how I get into songwriting and credits. It always turns into A&R work where they’re asking me, “What do you think about this line? Should I take this line out?” I’ll give Gotti tips like, “You should say this,” and he’ll say it. I was head of marketing for [CMG], so I was one of the few trusted people in the room allowed to say something. He values my word. I’ll make a suggestion, and if it sticks, it’ll stay on the song.

What songs did you help him with?

There’s a really funny story about Yo Gotti’s “Put A Date On It” song with Lil Baby. The night it came out, he was trying to swap out this one particular line he wasn’t really feeling. He was talking about the line with the mice. He was pondering about it and asking if it made sense. It did make sense, but he felt he could deliver it better. He booked a studio session. We were there for eight hours, and he just playing that part of the beat over and over again. He was going to redeliver it to Apple, Spotify, and all of the DSPs. He ended up passing out, couldn’t come up with it, fell asleep and it never got changed. That’s how much an artist of his stature cares about the little details. I was the only one in the studio when he was recording his verse.

From a marketing standpoint, what does being in the studio with the artist help you with?

The artists love to get the digital snippet to tease the record. The artists care about the marketing piece of it, which is why the product manager has really good relationships with the artists. Moneybagg previews a lot of music. He does a snippet, it gets a million views and that might be the next single. He lives off of those snippets. His fans wait for him to put out these snippets. I think “Said Sum” was the one that we didn’t know was going to blow up from a snippet.

Does an artist like Moneybagg Yo or Yo Gotti have to tell you when to start filming a snippet of a song?

For me, they never have to tell me. I just jump into action. Not every artist is going to want to baby the marketing person. There are a lot of people who will try to take pictures and videos when they’re not allowed and Moneybagg will shut it down. If it’s me, they know I won’t post it anywhere. I’ve seen people get kicked out of the studio over that.

That marketing worked because Moneybagg Yo just scored his first No. 1 album with A Gangsta’s Pain. What song from the album has your favorite session?

The Future record (“Hard For The Next“) was an older track they had already. Their chemistry is really dope. Future is like big bro and Moneybagg sort of emulates what he’s doing. They have a lot of music together. That song was definitely a loosie.

How did the pandemic change your job?

I think music marketing, in general, shifted a bunch. Marketing people were prepared for this, but now you’re not spending all this money on a billboard because people aren’t outside. Now you can shift that $30,000 to something else and do something crazy online. That’s a big reason you’re seeing a lot more artists blow up faster because all the attention is online. If you have your shit together on the digital side, you’ve helped the labels stay afloat during a pandemic where there’s no touring money.

What do some of the artists need in the studio?

Recently, 42 Dugg did a big session with Murda Beatz and a bunch of different people. We were all in Miami and Dugg needed a bulk of crab legs or he couldn’t do the session. So, I had to hit the assistant like, “Make sure there are those crab legs ready or it’s a no go (laughs).” It’s crazy to see the requests that get sent in. Gotti likes hot tea with honey. You’d never guess what these artists want or need. I make sure I’m on point. The crab legs are there before Dugg is there. It’s all about catering to your artist and setting the scene. Sometimes they want a closed session, sometimes they want you to bring in producers. I have a good relationship with Murda Beatz and the Warner/Chappell team, so we set that up and they did two songs that are super crazy.

What can we expect in 2021?

Things are going to open up tremendously. The studio sessions never slowed down. If anything, a lot of artists went into cocoons and spent their time in the studio. Now, they’re spending more time in the studio. People who set up a home studio might be more comfortable coming to a bigger studio now to do more collaborative stuff. There will be more collaborations going forward.