/  03.31.2022

Producer BoogzDaBeast has been in and out of Kanye West’s creative circle for most of West’s life and has been a key producer in the careers of numerous Chicago hip hop legends. He knew how great West would be when he was just a teenager.

“He was already advanced, almost like Kobe and LeBron in high school or something. You know what I mean? You just knew he was ready. This was in 1996,” BoogzDaBeast told REVOLT.

In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the Grammy award-winning producer talks West recording 99 ideas in one night, working with Lupe Fiasco before Food & Liquor, and how the “Hurricane” beat was originally for Chance the Rapper.

How did you first connect with Kanye West?

I’d always see him around. We had a bunch of hip hop parties in Chicago. A group I’m still in called Euphonics used to throw a lot of big hip hop parties in the city, and we would have open mic night with freestyles and that type of stuff. So, he was not going to miss an opportunity to perform. He would come and battle all types of people, anybody that stepped up. People like Rhymefest would host some. Common would be there. It would be the who’s who of Chicago at the time. Kanye was also recording at his house as a little side hustle — doing demos for money. So, we decided we would record a song, and my friends in the crew went over to Kanye’s house. I played some beats of mine that I had on the way there and he was like, ‘I mess with them.’ He played me some of his, and I couldn’t believe it. I thought he was, like, playing somebody else’s beats (laughs). He was already advanced, almost like Kobe and LeBron in high school or something. You know what I mean? You just knew he was ready. This was in 1996. 

Walk us through the early recording set up for a young Kanye West in the 90s.

It was well-documented in the Jeen-Yuhs documentary by Coodie and Chike. It was in Hazel Crest, Illinois at his mother’s house in his bedroom. There weren’t any giant speakers on the walls or diffusers and padding on the walls. No, this was a real bedroom … his actual bedroom. That’s where a lot of hits were made.


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What would you say your creative chemistry is like in the studio with Ye these days? How do you all work together now?

He gets in his zone, bro, and he just wants to create. So, that could be several things. That could be an idea he has on the top of his head that he wants to construct or bring to life. He can just feel like freestyling where it’s like we’re going to make a bunch of beats, and he’s going to freestyle to them. Or, he has a specific idea that he may be trying to finish and it’s like, ‘Yo, let’s bring this home.’ So, you never know. You just always have to be prepared. If you think you’re going to step into a Kanye session knowing exactly what to do, you should just leave.

As a producer, tell us about the creation of a song that really sticks out to you. 

It’s going to have to be ‘Hurricane.’ I have to say ‘Hurricane,’ initially, was a beat that we had made for Chance the Rapper. We were doing a project with Chance The Rapper, and I don’t know, for some reason, Chance didn’t want it. Now mind you, we weren’t working on any project at the time. We had just finished up with the Ye album. He had just put out the ‘I Love It’ song with Lil Pump. So, he wasn’t really working on an album. So, we flew in to work with Chance. There were a couple of other projects we were going to work on. So, after he heard that beat, and then Chance passed on it for some reason, it just sparked something in him — and he posted it on Instagram the next day. I saw him the next day, and he said Yandhi was coming out two weeks later. So, I was like, ‘What’s up, G?’ He was like, ‘Let’s do it. We’re coming out in two weeks.’ So that track spawned the whole Yandhi process. Now, Yandhi ultimately turned into Jesus Is King. But, aspects of Yandhi remained when we did DONDA, and one of ’em was ‘Hurricane.’ So, ‘Hurricane’ was a song that we had worked on off and on for three years.


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What is unique about what you bring to the songs you work on?

I can answer this probably in two parts, and the first is to describe my sound. I’m rough.  I’m from Chicago, bro. I’m really from Chicago, like out south. I wasn’t sheltered from anything. We can get into that whole story, and you’d be amazed at all the people I worked with and interacted with coming up. My sound is hip hop. Everything I do is hip hop. It’s rough. I try to make the drums hard, but I’m not dark. I’m not a dark person. So, you’re not going to hear dark on my record. No ops have been killed on my records (laughs). What I bring is a hip hop rough edge to whatever I’m working on — even if it’s a pop or R&B record. I also bring that balance where it’s like Secret — strong enough for a man, pH-balanced for a woman (laughs). The ladies are going to like it. I’m never alienating the ladies. That’s not hip hop. I’ve never thought something strictly for the guys was hip hop. LL [Cool J] was who I wanted to be. That’s how my beats are. So you’ll hear a ‘Hurricane,’ but then you’ll hear a ‘New God Flow.’ You’ll hear ‘Have Mercy’ from Chloe, and you’ll hear Pusha T’s ‘Hear Me Clearly.’

You once went to Wyoming with 166 beats, which laid the foundation for DONDA

Yeah, Kanye laid 99 ideas. We call it ‘That One Night in Wyoming.’ At least, that’s what Free and I call it. There were no other producers there. It was me, him, Free, and Fonzworth Bentley. He was in the zone that night. It was like Jordan zone. Everything we kept playing, he just kept knocking them out. That’s where ‘Wash Us in the Blood’ came from and so many others like ‘Lord I Need You.’ He kept going, but that’s not to say you all won’t ever hear the rest of those ideas. You know him. We worked on ‘Hurricane’ for three years. You might hear some more of that stuff. It all depends on what the boss wants.


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How did DONDA 2 come about?

Remember I said at the beginning of the interview you have to be prepared when working with Ye? You never know. You just never know. DONDA 2 was another one of those situations. So, one day he just called and was like, ‘Yo, let’s go. We’re doing  DONDA 2. Let’s get it.’ Now, mind you, there was no release date. All I know is he was like, ‘February 22nd. 2/22/22, DONDA 2 gonna have 22 songs.’ So, it was a whole 22 thing, and that’s when we got our release date. Then, you all saw the burning house picture he posted — and that was it. I think that was around Jan. 20 or Jan. 21. So, we had 19 or 20 days to get busy and do a whole album — and we did it. 

So, in those 20 days, you all made DONDA 2. Did you use any of the hundreds of songs you had from over the years?

No, these were all new.

Wow. Besides Kanye, who is an artist you feel you have the best creative chemistry with? 

It would have to be Bump J, and I’m going to have to add Pusha T in there, too. The reason I say that is because with Bump, it’s still that raw chemistry from before he got signed after he got signed. After he came home from prison … it’s still there. I would say Push because I got that rough side that Push just brings out so crazy. And, we haven’t had that many collabs that you all have heard. You’re going to hear some on his new album. But, if you just look at ‘Only You Can tell It’ with me, him and Wale, ‘New God Flow’ with me, him, Kanye and Ghostface, and then ‘Hear Me Clearly,’ what you heard is a bar fest, bro. You know what I mean? He’s just going crazy. So, I’d do a whole album with Push.


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What is it like to make music with Pusha in the studio? What’s his creative process?

Push is a scientist, man. He’s very meticulous. Every word has meaning, and it all connects to the previous line. But, as far as being in a studio and creating with him, it’s just a joy to watch.

You and Lupe Fiasco were roommates. What did you two work on?

Food and Liquor. We were part of 1st & 15th [Entertainment]. It initially consisted of Lupe, [Charles “Chilly” Patton], Stack Bundles — rest in peace — and me. That was my guy.

Food & Liquor was made off of food and liquor, and Lupe can attest to that. Lupe’s an amazing cook, by the way. I don’t know if y’all know. He used to get down. For Food & Liquor, my tracks didn’t make the album because there were a lot of contractual dealings and misunderstandings. But, everybody remembers the leak. We call it the original Food & Liquor. I did the ‘Hustlaz Song.’ I did ‘Ghetto Story.’ I did ‘Hey Lupe.’

Some people say the leaked version of that album is better than the original.

Yeah, because I’m on it. If you had kept the tracks I had and the ones that made the project, it would’ve been more classic. It’s a classic regardless

How did Lupe put his songs together?

You have to remember, we didn’t have studios yet. We were paying for studio time. So, in the beginning, he would write all the raps. I remember him and Stack used to be in the apartment writing all the raps and so when we went to the studio, Lupe would lay nine records. I’m talking about all three verses, hooks, everything. We’d come home with nine songs, man. Later on, it would be different. He’d write a few lines, maybe freestyle a few, stop, think about it and then connect where he left off. He’s one of the best rappers ever to live.


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Who are some of the newer artists that you like to be in the studio with? 

Being in the studio with YNW Melly was really fun. He was fun. His personality was just bubbly. He just goes off the top with ideas. He was really cool, man. I still pray he gets released. He was funny as fuck, bro. I have to be honest — I haven’t been in the studio with a lot of these artists because of the pandemic. Instead, there was a lot of remote type of working going on. Sometimes there were Zoom situations. One-on-one sessions just started back in L.A. — not to say we weren’t doing sessions last year, but it was more camp-based. Of course, we’d have to test for COVID. Kanye had the doctor, the nurse, or whoever comes in and tests everybody. But, as far as the camps in L.A., they’re now doing 20, 30 people in the studio. 

What do you have coming in 2022?

Pusha T, more Kanye, Latto. This is stuff I can mention. Some of the stuff I cannot mention. I want to be a part of the new artists, but I also have nothing against the current artists. I wish I was a part of Chris Brown’s first album. You know what I mean? So, all the new people getting signed can hit me up. If y’all read this, hit me up. 


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