How many people have made magic with Diddy in the Bahamas, turned a TikTok post into a Mary J. Blige record, and laced Ari Lennox with some heat? Not many outside of multi-instrumentalist producer Slimwav, who has witnessed the different levels of legendary status.
“We’re walking in, and [Diddy] got theme music as we come in. We have socks outside for everybody. When we were walking in, I thought, ‘This is not real. This dude plays theme music as we walk to his studio,’” Slimwav told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the Grammy-nominated producer explains how London On Da Track’s relationship with Summer Walker led to him working with Diddy, Mary J. Blige’s proclivity for satisfying her fans, and how he ended up on Ari Lennox’s age/sex/location album. Read the exclusive conversation below.
One of the first major projects you worked on was LVRN’s 2021 Home For The Holidays album. What was it like working with 6lack and Summer Walker?
6lack and I had been in the studio before, but it wasn’t around making beats. The Christmas album was the first time we were working on music together. He pieced his verse and stuff together really fast. I had to find these songs and recreate them in a modern way. So I did a demo, gave it to him, and he said, “I like this. Let’s run it.” He got in there, and probably 10 minutes later, he created his whole verse.
For Summer, she doesn’t do too many sessions. Usually, if there’s a record you want her to cut or something, you’re demoing it, getting it to her people, and she’s recording it in her closet or wherever she likes to record. Then, she brings back a masterpiece every time. But she doesn’t do too many sessions. That session we were in was for her to shoot content and stuff for her song. We did two or three more sessions with a lot more people. Her managers at LVRN, a few engineers, MixedByAli, and a couple of others were there. That’s when Still Over It came together. She’s a nice person. She’s funny as hell too. If there’s a record she doesn’t like, she’ll say, “I’m not doing that. That’s too poppy” (laughs).
You scored a No. 1 record as a co-producer on Diddy’s “Gotta Move On” featuring Bryson Tiller. How did you two connect?
I worked with Summer Walker on her tour. That was around the time she was dating London On Da Track. As they were dating, I got cool with him. Months later, London told me, “I want you to help me with Summer’s project.” I said, “OK, yeah, I’m down.” We got there and had 18 records that could have gone on the album, but you pick and choose your best ones. London saw how good we worked with that, and one day called me saying, “Yo, Slim, man. I need you, bro. What are you doing this weekend? I need you to come to Miami with me to do this project with Diddy.” I told him I would. We got to Diddy’s Miami crib in late January. Diddy had everything set up. We’re walking in, and we got theme music as we come in. We have socks outside for everybody. When we were walking in, I thought, “This is not real. This dude plays theme music as we walk to his studio.”
We get in there, and we’re just playing records and stuff. I played this one record, and he loved it. Everybody was dancing and going crazy. There were some really important people dancing and vibing to some sounds I created. That session went well. After that session, Diddy ended up firing one of his engineers and at the time, we had an engineer with us named Roark Bailey, who was also amazing. Diddy ended up… bringing Roark on full-time. At first, it was for one or two sessions. Then, after that, he kept calling him back. Diddy eventually said, “How can we get some of your guys that were there? I can’t remember their names or whatever. Oh, yeah, Slim.” He brought me back once, and I did some extra production on stuff, and then he just kept bringing me back. That’s how I got that relationship with Diddy to the point where he calls me, which is mind-blowing.
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London and Diddy are two powerful personalities. What was their dynamic when making music together?
London is normally the point guard. Diddy is the coach. He’s the one saying, “Let’s pull up some type of sounds like this. I’m hearing this in my head; I’m hearing this type of chord.” Diddy usually says, “Yeah, yeah, I like that.” If Diddy doesn’t like it, he’d say, “Yo, London, switch this up a little bit.” And we’re trying to find the sounds. So, the record comes together based off of creativity. Sometimes, London will give us free rein to be creative. Diddy quickly tells you, “Nah, I’m looking for this. I’m looking for that.” He’s so tapped in, you can’t sneak one sound by Diddy. I don’t care how low you tuck it; you can’t sneak anything by him. I’ve tried it many times, and he’ll say, “No, this ain’t it.” Then, I’ll tuck it to see if he’ll rock with it later. He’ll say, “Stop the music. What’s that? What’s that little sound right there?”
I’m sure Diddy doesn’t slack on the amenities in the studio…
The studio setup is different for each place. The studio setup in the Miami home was this really big theater room where he had a couple of tables. He had some big speakers and stuff. The Malibu crib was also in the theater with some really big speakers and a lot of space. Then, he’ll rent out a few studios every now and then. He doesn’t rent out a room; he’ll take the whole studio. Sometimes he’ll give everybody their room. Sometimes we’ll all be collabing in one room. He’ll skate from room to room. We did go to this one studio in the Bahamas, which was probably the best time of my life. It was called The Sanctuary [Recording Studio]. It’s on this private property by the water in the Bahamas. It’s so crazy, and there are many rooms in there. The food spread is ridiculous. Anything you want, they can make it happen. I remember we were in his Miami crib one time, and he ordered Fingalickin. He ordered everything and [had] a whole spread across his table. He had a cooler full of DeLeón.
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You also provided sonic support for new school legend Ari Lennox on her song “Blocking you.”
I became cool with Ari just from traveling on the road. She traveled with us when we did one of 6lack’s tours. I would always hit her up just to check on her and see how she was doing. One day, she asked, “Yo, Slim, why haven’t we been in the studio?” I told her, “Let’s do it.” So, we linked up in the studio. We just got in there, and we did seven ideas. She would get in there and freestyle and every time she freestyled on these songs, it literally sounded like a full song. Months later, she told me, “I like this ‘Blocking You’ song. How can we make this a thing?” I told her, “I’m going to do some extra production on it and send it back to y’all.” I did that and got it to her producers. They changed a lot of things. They added their flavor. The next time I heard it, it came out. Every time I would jump in on her Instagram Live, she would say, “Slim, thank you for ‘Blocking You.’”
You got your first two Grammy nominations for your work on Mary J. Blige’s Good Morning Gorgeous album. How did you connect with the Queen?
It was another London On Da Track plug. He hit me up and said, “I’m going to New York to work with Mary.” When we get in the session, it’s me, Jozzy, London, her A&R Eddie [Fourcell], and a few other people. I can’t remember everybody else that was there. She said, “Let’s play through some ideas.” We were just going through some ideas. London was playing a lot of stuff that he had already done, but she wasn’t tapped into it because it was so modern. If anybody knows Mary, she caters to her fans. I did this series of Instagram and TikTok videos where it seems like I’m playing multiple instruments, and it looks like I’m a band. I posted them two or three weeks before going out there. I played the loop, put it in a pack for London, and he said, “Let’s just play this one.”
As soon as I played the loop, everybody stopped. Mary said, “What is that? Let’s work on that now.” As they’re writing to the record, I step out in the hallway, and one of the videos I did for that specific song went viral on TikTok. It was my first viral video on TikTok. It went from 20,000 views to 80,000 views in 10 minutes. Eventually, it got up to 600,000 views. I was about to drop the song as just an instrumental, and that’s when Mary’s people reached out to me and said they would use that song.
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What do you have coming in 2023?
I plan on dropping more records as an artist. I have an EP coming out with a few of my favorite artists. I did an instrumental album that, that song that went viral was supposed to be on. I ended up taking it off and putting some other ones on there. I’m dropping the first song off the EP on [Dec. 16]. I’m also dropping another EP probably [mid-2023]. I’ll be shooting a lot more content. That is some of what I have coming.