When you think of Bay Area hip hop over the last decade, you must think of rapper and producer P-Lo. So much so that when Dame Lillard decided to dance to Too $hort during a 2020 playoff game against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, P-Lo was one of the first people to call for a Bay Area collaboration on the Space Jam: A New Legacy soundtrack.
“That was a game when Dame ended up going off. The next day, Archie [Davis] gives me a call. I know Dame’s in Space Jam. It would only be right to,” he tells REVOLT.
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the Bay Area behemoth discusses working on Kehlani and Kamaiyah’s scrapped joint album, taking a Wiz Khalifa collab from the studio straight to the club on Wiz’s birthday, and why his upcoming album is worth the three-year wait.
You produced “Not For Long” from B.o.B and Trey Songz in 2014. Who was the first major artist you were in the studio with?
Before that was Wiz [Khalifa], so I think that was 2013. I had made a trip down to LA; this was when Wiz was working on Cabin Fever and working with the artist IAMSU!. Wiz was a huge fan of what IAMSU! and I were doing. So, we got in the studio, and the first beat I pulled up ended up becoming a record with IAMSU!, Problem and Wiz called “About Me.” They made the song in about 30 minutes, and then we took it to the club, and the club played it. It was Wiz’s birthday weekend that weekend. After that, I did about four on Cabin Fever, too.
They made that song pretty quickly, so what was your role in the studio session?
I was just absorbing what was going on. It was like I was in a daze. It was so dope just to be around Wiz at that time. Wiz has a great energy about him. He lives up to the expectations. Sometimes you meet your favorite artists and get turned off by how they carry themselves. Wiz and I still have a dope relationship.
What did you notice about Wiz’s creative process?
He would go straight off the top of the dome. I feel like a lot of artists do that now.
Which records that you produced were you really hands-on with during artists’ creative process in the studio?
One of the records I was super collaborative with was Kehlani’s “All Me.” At that time, Kehlani was working on a collaborative project with Kamaiyah, [who is] also from the Bay. They wanted to bring me in to help produce it and ensure it just had the essence of the Bay. We linked up, and that song was made in an hour. My homie Reece Beats sent me a loop of some music, and the first loop he sent me, I pulled it up and made the beat in 10 minutes. Then, we started writing it. We had the song done already and I was like, “Hold on, wait. We have to put the hook in the front.” That’s a super signature moment of the song.
Any unreleased tracks you’ve worked on that you hope see the light of day?
I made a lot of great music for the Kehlani and Kamaiyah project that never came out. We ended up making five or six songs in a weekend … so many dope songs came from their connection. I wish some of those songs could see the light of day.
I know you two are Bay Area kids, but how did you first connect with Kehlani?
I’ve known Kehlani since probably 2013. I met her back in Oakland. She pulled up to one of IAMSU! and my rehearsals. This was when she returned from “America’s Got Talent” and all this stuff. We met there and after, she and I were in a group called HBK. We were actually working on the collective album called Gang Forever. She was in with us during all those sessions. If you go back to Gang Forever, Kehlani’s on a bunch of those records. That’s around 2013/2014. So, that’s before everything happened.
Speaking of that Bay Area connection, one of the biggest records you’ve put out was “Put Me On Somethin’” with arguably the greatest Bay Area rapper, E-40. How were you able to make a record with someone as legendary as E?
The song came out in 2017, but I think I had it at the end of 2015 or mid-2016. I was working on an album and my engineer, Miggy , is E-40’s in-house engineer. Also, 40 and I already had a relationship because we were working on some production stuff for him. I asked my engineer, “You think you could play this record for 40 to see if he wants to hop on it?” Then, I hit 40 like, “Hey, I got this record that Miggy’s going to play for you. Can you see if you f**k with it?” Two days later, I got a call from 40. He was like, “Oh yeah, this is banging. I’m on it.” That’s how it happened. Shoutout Miggy, my engineer to this day.
Following a three-year wait, you’re preparing to drop your album soon. When did you know you weren’t just recording songs in the studio and were making an album?
I was aimlessly recording and making songs at the beginning of last year. I’m a producer. So, I wanted to push the boundaries of my sound. So, it took a little time to figure out the sonic landscape and the album’s energy.
You were also in the studio with YG and Ty Dolla $ign. Are there any things you learned in those sessions that stick out to you?
Yeah. I was with YG working on My Krazy Life in 2013. I flew out to Atlanta. At the time, his A&R Sickamore was there with us, and he’s the one who brought me in. I think My Krazy Life is a classic. The attention to detail I saw him give to it gave him a whole career after that. When I was there, I think he was writing to “BPT,” and he spent a long time on it. It took him a minute just to figure it out and get it right. But at the end of the day, getting it right is all that matters.