When you listen to Kendrick Lamar’s Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers album, the first voice you hear is producer Tim Maxey. He’s produced for Summer Walker and Baby Rose and has also witnessed how methodical Lamar is when making music.
“Kendrick is such a low-key person, so he only keeps two or three people around him at a time while he’s writing and creating. It’s the same guys who have been doing it since Section.80. They’re some of the best,” Maxey told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” Maxey explains how he and Baby Rose ended up working with Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar. He also discusses his instant creative chemistry with Baby Rose and how his upcoming album helped get him on three songs from K-Dot’s album.
Which sessions have been your favorite so far?
It might’ve been with Kendrick [Lamar] and Baby Rose. It was a collaborative process. It was quick, and I got to see where his head was at. He’s my favorite artist. I got to put that as my favorite. Also working with Q, who’s signed to Columbia Records. Dreamville sessions were tight. But, I do sessions every day.
Let’s hop in that Rose x Kendrick session. How did it come about? How did they collaborate together?
Baby Keem hit Baby Rose about coming to the studio. So we came through, and the four of us chopped it up a little bit. He showed us the concept of the record. It was incredible, of course. We recorded and stayed until 3 a.m. I wasn’t producing the song; I was just writing with her. It was fire. I wish people could hear it.
Your solo music got you onto Kendrick’s Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers album. How so?
We had been texting back and forth for a minute. I would send him stems. I was going through a bad breakup from a really bad situation and I started to be like, ‘Wherever she ends up, she’s going to hear me.’ That was my satisfaction. I just went ham (laughs). Kendrick and I worked remotely. I would send him ideas, and he’d give me direction on where he’d want to go sonically. He’d reference some songs and say, ‘I like the drums on this.’ It would be like that. Kendrick is such a low-key person, so he only keeps two or three people around him at a time while he’s writing and creating. It’s the same guys who have been doing it since Section.80. They’re some of the best.
What was your personality like with Kendrick in the studio?
I was excited on the inside but at the same time, I was there for a reason. Everything is perspective. I had to understand and accept that I’m him. And I had to be focused on the task at hand.
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You’re on ‘Mirror,” “United In Grief,” and “Count Me Out.” Out of those songs, what were some insights he gave you?
Actually, those had no suggestions. The suggestions came on other records you haven’t heard.
How much of the three songs you’re on sound like what you sent Kendrick?
The arrangement and finishing touches. The intros, how it all sequences together and its position in the story. Ironically, we’re both coming from a place of guilt over what transpired in our relationships and the things we had done. I didn’t know that’s what he was on, but that was what I was on.
When did you know you made the album?
The day before my birthday (May 6) he told me I had made it. I know he told me he’d put it on the album, but you never know. It felt too good to be true. I found out it wasn’t just one song, it was three songs. That was fire.
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Who was the first major artist you were in the studio with?
Summer [Walker]. The first time we were in the studio together was in 2017, the day after she got signed to LVRN/Interscope. She was quiet because she didn’t know what to expect from the session. When you work with new people, it mostly doesn’t work out. So, she was chillin’ and asking me to play whatever. I was just playing keys and she said, ‘I like those chords.’ That’s how that went. We hit it off and her manager at the time, Summer, was like, ‘I want you to help with this album. I like it, but it could be cooler.’ That was how we met.
What did you do to achieve that sound?
The album was super eclectic and showed range. They pulled me in because of my first artist project Baeland, which I released on SoundCloud. It was just vibes. I was just myself.
How has your solo sound developed over the years after working with artists like Summer Walker?
I’m always looking for some new shit to get on. That’s just how Chicago culture is. It’s all about being fresh, new and ahead of everything. I’m always trying to do things differently than I’ve done them before. I’ve recently minimized the sounds I use to make stronger parts with fewer sounds. All I need is my Strymon Deco pedal, computer and Korg Minilogue.
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How did you and Baby Rose connect for the first time?
There were songs I was going to give to Summer, but Summer wasn’t feeling them as much, so I ended up showing Rose. The first song we made was called ‘Borderline’ off her To Myself album. She was the first artist I worked with that would start and finish a whole song in a session.
I’ve been in the studio with you and Rose. What is a typical session like?
It usually happens really quickly. I’ll start making something, and she’ll start writing. I’ll arrange it a bit and she’ll be like, ‘I feel it should sound like this.’ When you came, we were doing a lot of collaborations, so she had a bunch of writers she was collaborating with. So, while she was doing that, I’ll go on my headphones and start another sound. The first time we linked, we had great chemistry. She killed it.
What projects do you have coming up?
I’m working on one under the name NOT THE TWOS. The project is called A Girl That Sold Drugs. It features the first thing you hear on Kendrick’s album, but it’ll be a little different. I’ve been working on it for six months. I worked from the crib on it, primarily. My favorite session I have from this album is for a song called ‘Ha Ha.’ There is a beta version of the song on my website AGirlThatSoldDrugs.com. Making that song was fun; it’s uptempo.
What should people expect from you for the second half of the year?
A Girl That Sold Drugs. It should be out early fall.