Every song has a story beyond the writing credits. “ULTRA MAGNETIC” rapper Ta’East has been in enough sessions with hitmakers like Hit-Boy, Travis Scott, and Snoh Aalegra to know that and get on songs we love before some of the biggest artists did.
“Snoh wanted a rapper on her record ‘Home.’ So I went in, wrote a verse, laid it, and went back in. They ended up going with Logic. Maybe because of my delivery,” Ta’East told REVOLT of Snoh Aalegra’s record “Home.”
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” Ta’East explains how a Hit-Boy session turned into The Firm’s reunion song, talks helping Rodeo-era Travis Scott, and opens up about how his latest project BEYOND THE HALO EFFECT came to be.
Who was the first artist you were in the studio with that made you feel like you finally made it in the industry?
Probably Hit-Boy. I’ve been in a few sessions with him. We go back. He’s actually from IE (Inland Empire). I’m from Oceanside. I’m close with his boy Kent Money. So I’ve been in many sessions where he just creates something, you just hear it, and you know it’s magic. You know all of this is about to go off. Every time we would do a reference track or something together, it would end up fire. One joint we did was the “Full Circle” song Nas did with The Firm. Originally, it was me, Hit, and Thurz from U-N-I.
When did you find out the song you recorded with him was going to The Firm?
When you all heard it is when I found out (laughs). There wasn’t any conversation, but it’s cool. You have to let the music travel the way it travels. It’s his music, essentially.
You also worked with Travis Scott in the studio back when he was working on Rodeo. How did that link-up happen?
We had the same engineer. I think his assistant engineer was my engineer — Kyle Ross. He was working with Anthony Kilhoffer, who Travis was working with on Rodeo. Kyle ended up linking me with Travis because Travis wanted writers and producers in the studio. He’s exactly who you think he is musically. He’s a savant. I was in the “Don’t Play” session. I’m a pretty laid laid-back guy (laughs). I was just vibing to the beat he was playing. He was vibing, jumping off the walls, and we were bouncing back flows. Then, he gets in my ear and says, “I ain’t playing with, I ain’t playing with.” I told him, “Yeah, that’s hard.” He just vibes with it, goes to lay that down, and then I started helping him with the verse. He takes his shirt off and bounces all over the place. He’s Travis Scott.
Are there any lines from that song that can be credited to you?
A lot of that with Travis was more me helping with the flow and helping him structure what he wants to say. He said something like, “Hand stitched by my dealer.” I was helping him structure the syllables and stuff like that.
Your pen and influence have been felt around the industry for years. Your song “California Christmas” with BJ The Chicago Kid is beautiful. When did you record that?
That was around January 2012. BJ and I linked up through my former manager. She was cool with him and showed him what I was working on. I remember picking him up; he lived off La Brea. We recorded at The Sky Boy Studio, where all the L.A. artists recorded. That was pretty dope. I told him the concept was me wanting something that showed gratitude for everything I have or what you’re looking forward to in life. He automatically clicked with that idea. I had never seen another artist use their voice as an instrument the way he did. He took out all of the percussion, left a little bit of the sample and the drums, and then did that humming melody to fill it in. Seeing him do that was dope. He kind of engineers himself. Then, the way he wrote was like how many artists today record with a lot of punching in.
Besides that record that went to The Firm, I believe you were also supposed to be on a Snoh Aalegra record, too, right?
Yeah. I ended up linking with Snoh because we had a lot of people in common that we knew in the industry. I ended up kind of sitting with No I.D. for a minute. He was watching me for a while. It was like, you know, “Good to see you here” type energy. So, Snoh wanted a rapper on her record “Home.” I went in there, wrote a verse, laid it, and I think I went back in. They ended up going with Logic for some reason. Maybe it was because of my delivery at the time. I don’t know, but I liked the verse.
I’ve heard Snoh has really collaborative energy. What was she like while putting that record together?
She’s like one of the homies. She has a welcoming energy, very good energy. She’s funny (laughs). She’s really easy to get along with.
What’s the most memorable session you’ve been a part of?
It was probably the Travis Scott session. The sequence of events of everything was wild. N**gas smoked, poured up, and then watched “Law and Order” until 3 a.m. They just put “Law and Order” on in the studio. I don’t know if that’s his favorite show or something (laughs).
What do you need in the studio to make your best music?
I definitely like to smoke because that opens my mind. It slows my thoughts, too. I smoke hybrid. Besides that, just the vibes, man. As long as the drums are on point, I’m good. That’s how I am. I like to ride the drums and then feel it out. I like my music to have weight to it. I can get on anything, especially at this point. I’m testing my pen, too, for this next project. It’s going to be more different types of songs.
You recently released BEYOND THE HALO EFFECT. That’s your first project in six years. What’s the reason for the huge gap between records?
Simply put, I went through a bit of a hard time. I took an L in a lot of ways. I took an L in my personal life, business-wise, everything. So I had to pick things back up. That’s something I’ll be writing about as well. I’m really introspective and conversational with the music. I picked myself back up, though. The pandemic didn’t help. So, that was literally two years right there, where everybody sat down. I’m kind of always making a project. That’s my goal when I do record. When I get into a space of thinking, “Yeah, this is the intro” or I start thinking, “This is about to be number eight or nine” — that’s when I get into the space of trying to figure out the tracklist. That’s when I know I got a project. Then, I’ll start building around that.
How long did it take you to make this album?
I handled a chunk of it because of the pandemic. I took the time to learn how to engineer and mix my music. I’ve always engineered myself as far as vocal engineering, but I had a couple of people help teach me how to engineer. That took a little bit of time because I didn’t have many resources. It took me a few months to get comfortable with it. I had a few of the songs I already did — maybe three records. Then, I tied it up with a couple of new joints. I wanted a way to really conceptualize it and almost reintroduce myself. I wanted to play with the name “Halo Effect.” So, I gave Cairo [Mayeson] that idea, and he started messing with all of the samples and stuff. Overall, it probably took me maybe eight months to do this project.
You also had a fan in the late Virgil Abloh.
I connected with him through Benji B. I was signed to Benji B’s label via Sony UK, and he’s the [music director of Virgil’s] whole situation. So it was a cool idea to pair us up. We were kind of on the same wave. We had a similar style as far as streetwear/skater vibes. He had great taste; I have great taste. Being around him, I noticed he had calm energy. He was articulate, smart, and poetic.
Did he say anything about your music that you remember?
He said he was 1000 percent a fan. He saw what I was doing. I think he understood the type of artist I am and what I provide to the ecosystem.
What do you have coming for the rest of the year?
Singles and more videos. I’ll hopefully be expanding, man. I have plans outside of music. Hopefully, I’ll get into writing other things and stuff like that.