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.
Patrizio “Teezio” Pigliapoco doesn’t get starstruck when a Chris Brown session has some of the biggest artists in music in attendance. He gets the job done.
“That was one where Quavo, Usher, and all these people came to the studio. But, there was this short guy in the studio bouncing around,” Teezio told REVOLT about working on Brown’s song “Party.” “We were like, “Who is this?” He was like, ‘Hey, I’m Uzi!” That was fucking Lil Uzi Vert. He wasn’t big at the time.”
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the producer explains how “No Guidance” was born, Brown’s recording process, and waking Juicy J up to a hit. Read below.
How did you start engineering for Juicy J after high school?
When I started engineering school, Juicy had just got rid of his engineer and was looking for a brand new engineer who didn’t know anything. I met this guy from Memphis who told me, “My boy Jordan is looking for a new engineer.” I didn’t know who Jordan was, but I was like, “Bet.” I go over to this person’s house, meet him and say, “Hi Jordan, I’m Pat.” This is Juicy J with the Oscar in the house and everything in the house. I started working and he was like, “Do this shit on the computer real quick.” I did it and it was the one thing I learned in school. He was like, “You’re hired. Twenty bucks an hour.” This was around 2008/2009.
What’s his creative process like?
Back then, he would make beats himself. He hired this keyboard player called Billy Wes, the best keyboard player. He played and wrote on “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp.” He would play the keys, Juicy would tell me how he’d want the beat to go, and I’d follow his patterns and then put it on ProTools. That’s how I got really good at chopping shit up. He would pull a record out of his closet, ask me to hook his turntables up to ProTools, and he’d play the record. The record would be warped and fucked up from the heat. Then, he’d put the sample in, I’d lock in the first beat, and from there I’d start stretching shit and making it fit a certain tempo he wanted. My whole beginning was learning how to sample.
What’s the most memorable session you’ve had with Juicy?
There’s this song “Zip & A Double Cup” with Juicy J and 2 Chainz. We were in Memphis, Juicy records a verse where he says “a zip and a double cup” in it. Then, he said, “I’m tired as fuck, bro.” When one shoe comes off, it’s time to go to bed for Juicy. He went to bed. When we were in Memphis, he put three locks on his bedroom door. I thought that “a zip and a double cup, I’m getting high as fuck” part was hard, so I chop it up. It’s two in the morning and I’m banging on Juicy’s bedroom door like, “You have to come hear this.” He comes out with a gun like, “Who the fuck is slamming on the door?” He comes and hears it and says it’s fire. I was 18 years old.
You also worked with another hip hop legend Scarface on his Deeply Rooted album. How did your time with Scarface compare with Juicy?
At the time, he must’ve been 43 around then. He still had it, for sure. This guy Venus Brown mentored me and signed me to BMG on a publishing deal. Venus knew Scarface and we got some big records. We got John Legend to do some records. We actually had Chris [Brown] on the hook of a record. He cut it, something happened, and we had to put someone else on it. I was learning how to be patient because it was a different way of doing it. He writes on pen and paper. No one writes like that, they’re either on their phone or the booth.
Before you got with Chris Brown, are there any other artists of note you feel you learned from?
Starting with Busta, he’s very aggressive. He wants everything now, everything fast, and if he doesn’t like it, you’re getting cussed out. That was the first time I experienced fear. It was the fear that he might slap the shit out of me or punch me through the wall because he’s huge. But, he was also a kind individual. He’s a kind person, but he likes his shit done. Busta cuts so quickly. He has the rap written, so it’s not like he’s thinking about the next line. He’s waiting on you to punch him in for the next line.
What is the most smoked-out session you’ve ever been in?
Every session I was in, I was the biggest smoker in the session except this Snoop Dogg session in 2012/2013. He got me so high I was like, “What the fuck you put in this weed?” I hit the blunt like three or four times, and I was gone. Then, one time I was smoking the dabs and The Game was in the other room. This guy who had just got out of jail came into the room and was like, “I’m trying to smoke, I’m trying to get high.” I asked him, “Are you sure you want to hit this? You’ve never smoked dabs.” He was like, “Yeah, man. Come on.” He hit it and was like, “I didn’t feel anything, let me get another one.” I get him another one. This man stumbles back to The Game’s room and five minutes later The Game comes back like, “What did you do to my boy?” He’s stumbling everywhere, half asleep, and can’t stop coughing. I was like, “He hit the dab too hard.”
What was the first session with Chris Brown like?
He didn’t show up the first day. I was just there with Mark Pitts. The second time, he shows up and asks, “You’re the new engineer?” I was like, “Yeah.” I already had the song pulled up because they said he’s going to want to record the song as soon as he pulls ups. I told him, “I already got the record up. You’re trying to cut or what?” He was like, “Oh, I fuck with you.” He goes right into the booth and starts recording. One of the first songs was “Party” from Heartbreak on a Full Moon. That was one where Quavo, Usher, and all these people came to the studio. But, there was this short guy in the studio bouncing around. We were like, “Who is this?” He was like, ‘Hey, I’m Uzi!” That was fucking Lil Uzi Vert. He wasn’t big at the time.
How has your chemistry with Chris evolved over the years?
In the beginning, there was a lot of communication where I’d be like, “Does that mean you want to do it over? OK.” It was like learning from each other. Now, he can be recording and I can tell when he wants to keep a line or do it over right away. If he doesn’t say anything after the line that means, “Let me hear it.” If he does a line and right after goes “yeah, yeah, yeah,” that’s him prepping himself to try it over. I can tell from his inflections and how he comes off of a line what he wants to do next.
Chris’ studio looks like a spaceship dungeon.
He wanted to do the future shit, but what ended up happening is we took the pyramid concept and made it a future Egypt where there’s a pyramid inside of the booth, hieroglyphics on the door. But, there are LEDs everywhere. We’re very comfortable in that studio. He’s always in the same chair. I have a talkback pedal where I can press my foot down to talk to him as I’m keeping both hands on the keyboard and mouse.
How did “No Guidance” come about?
Drake sent us a record. Chris was like, “This is fire,” but it was just a verse and a hook. Chris was like, “I think I want to co-write. I don’t want to overthink it. Just hit Nija [Charles] up.” So, I hit Nija up. We did it and it didn’t take that long. Drake gets it back, says he loves it, and then puts another beat on it. It’s that part where the beat goes weird, and then Drake comes back in. Chris was like, “Oh, I have to put more shit on there.” So, he adds to that. It was like three or four times going back and forth. From when Chris got it to when it was done, it probably took an hour and a half. When he added the extra stuff, that was probably another 30 minutes. We probably put three hours of real work into it.
You also connected with another Studio Sessions alum Young Thug’s engineer Bainz on Slime & B. How was that?
When Bainz and I are in the studio with our artists, we’re like two military guys hiding in the bushes with guns and shit. We’re big on teamwork. They’re loud in the room, so I’ll make eye contact or mouth something like, “You’re up next,” so he can get on the Pro Tools. We would use my template because Chris has so many vocals and Thug would only need a few tracks. So, when Chris would cut, Bainz could hop on my template and record Thug with no problem.
What was your favorite session from that project?
It was three days of 30-40 people in Chris’ house. Young Thug’s crew is massive. It wouldn’t be a party, but it would be a kickback while we made the album.
How involved is Chris in the engineering of his music?
He’s very vocal and cool with me wanting to try shit. He will say he wants a delay here or an effect here. We’ll play the song and he’ll go, “Hey, could you put a low pitch on the vocal?”
What are some songs you hope Chris puts out one day?
There’s this one verse that I think is his best rap verse ever. I don’t think anyone will ever hear it.