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.
If you check the credits for every smash hit Megan Thee Stallion has released over the last 12 months, you’ll see Shawn “Source” Jarrett’s name. “We did the majority of Good News in her living room since we couldn’t even go to the studio at the time,” Jarrett told REVOLT.
In this installment to “Studio Sessions,” the rapper’s Grammy award-winning engineer explains how quickly Good News was recorded, what impresses him about Young Thug in the studio, and why he’s the “fastest recording engineer in the music industry.”
Who was the first major artist you worked with in the studio?
I’ve been in the music industry since I was about 13 or 14 and I got my break with a group named Atlantic Starr. They were a super big R&B group who made a song called “Secret Lovers.” I was recording them in the studio because they worked in my hometown. My career really started getting the ball rolling with French Montana and Young Thug. They were the first major artists I was in the studio with about five to six years ago.
That was the “Blackout” song from French Montana’s Jungle Rules album?
Yeah, I was Young Thug’s engineer for about a year and a half. I cut Thug’s verse. I was working with Young Thug every day, who is one of the most talented people I ever met. I had no idea it was a feature at the time because I only heard the instrumental. A year later, I got my first gold plaque for that song being on Jungle Rules. That was my first major joint.
What songs did you do with Thug?
A lot of the joints actually didn’t come out. One I know for sure came out is the Calvin Harris record “Heatstroke.” I did that with Calvin Harris and Thug at the same time. That was a major one for me. It was amazing. Some people have entourages, but when Thug records he doesn’t like anyone hearing anything. It’s just him tapping in with the engineers. Calvin came in, Thug had the song lined up and was already in the booth. Thug never leaves the booth when he’s in the studio. He’s one of the most talented people I ever worked with. He literally raps the song through. Calvin was like, “That’s how he works?” I was like, “Yeah.”
What’s the most impressive thing you’ve seen Thug do in a session?
Sit there and engineer himself in the sense of he’ll look in the computer and tell me to “move this and move that.” He’ll just go and move it himself. In my personal experience, artists don’t do that.
How did you connect with Megan Thee Stallion?
We met randomly. The studio I was working at was really close to Juicy J’s studio and he needed something one day. I guess he was working with her and we were able to cater our relationship from then. We then became good friends and she changed my life.
How did you find out Beyonce was going to be on “Savage (Remix)” and you were going to be the one recording Meg?
I was chilling. I think it was late on a random night and I got the phone call from Meg saying, “I need you to come work right now.” I was like, “What’s up? Is everything OK?” She was like, “Yeah, pull up. We got it.” I was like, “We got what?” She said, “We got the Beyonce feature.” I’m like, “Stop playing. Nah!” I was on my way immediately. We start working and editing it up because she doesn’t have the same verse as the original song. I heard the vocals and the same way how I’m out of words right now, I was speechless then. I knew at that moment that record was going to change my life. Even before I got to the studio, she already had the verse ready. She knows what she’s doing. She’s probably the most prepared artist I’ve ever worked with.
What are certain tendencies you’ve noticed about how certain artists make their music?
Young Thug recording in headphones. Some people would like to record that way so they don’t have to worry about the noise and people behind them, and you can really tap into the song.
These last 12 months, you worked on “W.A.P,” all of her Good News album, “34+35 Remix” and you recently worked on another smash song “Thot Shit.”
Yeah, the last 12 months have been very good (laughs).
How did the pandemic affect your recording relationship with Megan?
Since we couldn’t go out, all we could do is work. We would link up and we would work. I think it helped give an extra focus. It helped us get the project done. We got so much work done in the pandemic because we couldn’t do anything. We won two Grammys in a pandemic for a song that doesn’t have a music video or full performance on stage. There is no video for the “Savage (Remix).” Also, we did the majority of Good News in her living room since we couldn’t even go to the studio at the time.
How long did it take for her to make Good News?
It was a couple of months around that time. The whole project came together extremely fast. Once we started, it kept going extremely fast. She knows how to please her fans and she takes all of that into account when she makes music. That’s another beautiful thing I love about Meg. She really loves her fans.
What was the process of making “W.A.P.”?
When I heard the record, I didn’t know things that happened beforehand. I didn’t know there would be a feature on that initially. I just had the beat. I knew who the potential feature was. I didn’t know if it was done. She came in, killed that shit, came up with the vibes and the ideas, and I didn’t know if it was going to be a Megan or Cardi song.
What is the quickest smash hit Megan recorded with you?
Probably all of her records (laughs). “34+35 (Remix)” was done extremely fast. She is so structured and knows what she wants to do, so nothing seems to take long. The big smashes didn’t take long at all. It’s not like I’m going to the studio and we have to start from scratch.
In 2020, how often were you two working on music?
We’re always working on music. Another one of my big clients is Hitmaka and we work every day of the week, and we probably drop 10 songs a day and 50 songs a week. The work doesn’t stop. Megan also does other things like the Revlon stuff, but any opportunity she has to make music, we make music and it’s frequent.
What was your involvement in Pop Smoke’s “Diana”?
For “Diana,” I didn’t work with Pop directly. He passed right before we could. I worked on Christian Combs’ part and I mixed the record. I was such a fan of Pop’s music. The one night I was supposed to meet him, I was in another session. I saw Chris write his verse and put the whole record together.
When it comes to these sessions, what is the most valuable talent you bring?
Focusing on the song and because of that I’m probably one of the fastest recording engineers in the music industry. Speed is a very important thing when somebody’s in the booth freestyling. We work with a lot of different songwriters. Imagine being in the booth, you’re trying to get an idea out, and your engineer’s not paying attention. You have to be faster than them.
What are you working on for the rest of 2021?
I got a lot of records coming together. OG Parker and I are working on a few records. It’s going to be a hot winter (laughs). I learned this from Hitmaka: We don’t force music. We don’t go into the studio and go, “We’re going to cut 10 records today.” It’s a business but it’s still a place to enjoy yourself and have fun. If we go to the studio and none of the beats are hitting, we will go home and try again tomorrow. Everybody from Thug to Meg to French, people enjoy working with me because I treat them as human beings and we’re having fun.