/  03.03.2022

After working with so many visionaries, Cleveland native Smitty Beatz is able to adapt to any artist’s creative process

“When I was in the studio with Queen Latifah, she did the sage. She had all the doors open, spread sage everywhere, and then she got to work,” Smitty told REVOLT.

In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the multi-platinum producer and engineer talks Fat Joe and Remy Ma creating “All The Way Up,” recording Nas, spending three days in the studio with Royce Da 5’9,” and so much more. Get into our conversation below.

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

It had to be Fat Joe around 2015. We were working on his album Plato O Plomo. I recorded ‘All The Way Up.’ We linked up when I was working at Record Room Studios, which is owned by Cool & Dre. They were producing his album with Remy Ma, and that’s how we connected. 

Was Remy in the studio when you recorded “All The Way Up?”

Nah. She couldn’t travel, so she was still in New York

What did you notice about Fat Joe’s creative process during that session?

The producer Edsclusive had this beat and when Joe heard it, he knew it was a hit (laughs). He came up with everything right then and there. French [Montana] was in town, he gave him the hook, and the rest was history. The cool thing was French was at Circle House that night, and he came in that day to record that hook. It was a really dope experience, especially for me. We got that song done in a day or two. It was so special; Joe knew what he wanted to say and how he wanted that song to go. ‘All The Way Up’ is the first time I saw he had a vision and brought it to life. 

 

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How has your creative relationship evolved with Joe over the last seven years? 

Being his engineer, we have a chemistry in the studio of cutting and how to cut. I know how he likes his vocals placed. If there’s a cool effect that may not have been going on when Joe was doing ‘Flow Joe,’ he has that trust in me to let me make the song hot too. He’s trusting my creative process to add drops in certain places and do certain things with his vocals. 

Are there any Fat Joe songs that allow us to hear your input?

There are albums worth of examples. Plato O Plomo and Family Ties have my input. I played a hand in producing ‘Lord Above’ from Family Ties. The cool thing about that is I played it for Joe before, and I guess it wasn’t the right time or vibe to play. I changed the name of it, played it again, and it was a go. I was blessed to play a role in producing that record for him.

Joe is an energetic guy with so many catchphrases. Any fun stories from being in the studio together?

(Laughs) Joe has so many stories. What happens in the studio stays in the studio. He’s a good guy all around. I mentioned to him I was from Cleveland, and he told me how he introduced Bone Thugs-N-Harmony to Biggie. I thought that was a cool story. He was like, ‘I fuck with dudes from Cleveland because the reason that Bone and Biggie record [‘Notorious Thugs’] happened was because of me.’ I always got love for Joe because of that. 

 

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You also did some recording engineer work on DJ Khaled’s Major Keys album for the song “Nas Album Done.” How was that experience?

I recorded the vocals for Nas at We The Best Studios. Khaled had a beat, and I was one of the engineers there at the time. I made it happen. He was working on his album, and it was a typical session. I was already at the studio. I didn’t know who was coming in; I only knew I had a session. Nas walks in, writes his verse, lays it, and it was a pretty in-and-out situation. I think he went back and cut it again. I think they cut it in two studios because Khaled’s engineer AyoJuan cut them vocals again. I cut his first verse, and then I guess he had to go do something. They take the session and go recut it.

You’ve worked with so many different legends. Do you ever get used to recording the stars?

Yeah. I’ve worked with artists like CurrenSy, Jim Jones, Remy Ma. I won’t say I’m used to it, but you never expect to be in this position so you perform. You do what you have to do. There’s a reason you’re there in the room. These people think you’re that talented to work with them, so you do your job.

What’s your most memorable session?

I’ll be honest, those last couple of sessions recording [CurrenSy’s] Still Stoned On Ocean. It was recorded during the pandemic, so he had the mask on, and we weren’t sure if we should bump fists. Everyone was keeping their distance, but I was playing him heat. As a producer, I take a lot of pride in how his fans appreciate Still Stoned On Ocean. His fans think it’s one of his best works to date. 

 

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When did you all work on it?

It took us months because of how he records. It came out in October, but the first couple of songs like ‘The World Is Ours,’ the intro and ‘Freezer’ were already recorded earlier. One day he went on Twitter and said, ‘I’m coming out with these projects.’ He mentioned me and one of the other producers, 808-Ray, for the project. I was like, ‘Oh, it’s go time’ (laughs). I hit him up like, ‘The pack is on the way.’ How he was doing it was he would knock one album out and focus on the music for the next one. We literally were getting that mixed and mastered on the day it was coming out. Thursday night at nine o’clock, we were still getting stuff mixed. We were adding vocals, getting mixes in, putting verses on songs. We wanted to paint an audio movie. If you listen to it and smoke one, it plays like a movie. That was one of the first times an artist saw my vision and their vision made sense. 

I saw Wiz also recorded a verse for the project. What happened with that?

You’ll have to ask Spitta. I have the vocals and the record. I’m just patiently waiting for it to drop. We also have one with Rick Ross on it, too. ‘Angels in the Hood’ has Rick Ross on it, too. Maybe we’ll get a deluxe. That could be in the works. I’m pretty sure if there’s a deluxe in the works, those two will be added on.

What is an unreleased song you’ve worked on that you wish would come out?

There is a body of work, and there is a song. There is an album I engineered and produced on from a legendary producer/artist that I think is really dope. If the format stays the same as far as the tracklisting, I hope it comes out because it’s a beautiful piece of music and art. Then, there’s a song from a big, big iconic guy that is an ode to a thing we all like to do. I just hope it sees the light of day because that song has been in the works for about five years. They’re in my phone, which is crazy (laughs).

 

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You were in the studio with Wale.

That was for ‘Poke It Out.’

How did that record come about?

I think it was around Rolling Loud weekend, and Cool had the beat. Wale was looking for records to finish up his album, and Cool played that ‘Vivrant Thing.’ Wale was like, ‘Whoa! What is this?’ Cool told him, ‘It’s you. Load it up.’ The rest is history, and I’m blessed to be a part of that. 

What was Wale’s creative process like in the studio for that record?

He doesn’t write. He goes in there and spits. He’s phenomenal. He has an idea of what he wants to talk about, and he goes into this mental space to create. He’s another genius. A lot of people have to give Wale his credit because he’s one of the greats. I have a lot of respect for Wale. Shout out to DJ Money. That’s my guy. 

Did you know J. Cole was going to be on there?

When it left my hands, it was just a Wale song. It was just his first verse. I think he was playing J. Cole his album and Cole was like, ‘What is that? I’m going to get on that one.’

 

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What’s the longest session you’ve been in?

Royce Da 5’9″. It was a three-day session (laughs). I spent three days with Royce Da 5’9″, and we got ‘Boblo Boat’ and a lot of other records. I wish Royce would release some of those records. Royce tapped my shoulder when I was at the board and said, ‘You know you can go to sleep if you want to? I’ll let you know when I’m ready to record.’

Artists are known to be creatures of habit. What have you noticed artists may need in the studio to make their best music?

The one thing I noticed is artists need their vibe. They need that setting that felt good the last time to be the same when they record. If it’s a week-long session, I like to set that vibe on that first day. If people need weed, they bring their own weed. If people are drinking, they bring their own drinks. When I was in the studio with Queen Latifah, she did the sage. She had all the doors open, spread sage everywhere, and then she got to work. 

You’re in the studio with interesting pairings like Fat Joe and Lil Yachty. What was the vibe like for that session?

It was pretty dope. They’re both sneakerheads, so they have that type of relationship. I think when you have that type of relationship, it makes the work relationship easier. Yachty is talented. He heard the record and laid it down. We did two songs that night. ‘Africa’ came out, but the other one is primetime Lil Yachty.

 

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What do you have coming up for the rest of the year?

I have a project with an artist from Virginia that I mixed. I got a couple of songs on Fendi P’s project. I’m trying to get another EP with CurrenSy. There are a couple of projects I could be on. I’m just trying to connect with a lot of people this year. 

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