On most nights, Alex Estevez has more than a front-row seat to A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie’s creative process; he has a hand in it. From suggesting key production changes on A Boogie’s song “24 Hours” to knowing when to give him space to tap into his emotions, Estevez helps him be his authentic self on wax.
“Most recently, he had great chemistry with Roddy Ricch on the Me vs. Myself album,” Estevez told REVOLT. “Seeing how they worked with each other, as a fan before an engineer, was dope. They’re probably two of the best melodic rappers in the game, and they went off each other.”
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” A Boogie’s trusted engineer explains how the rapper makes music like Michael Jackson, how many unreleased songs A Boogie has, and how he wants to expand his sound for the rest of 2023. Read the exclusive below.
How did you first connect with A Boogie?
I worked at Jungle City Studios in New York assisting his engineers Mowezz and AJ Ruined It for a year or two. I was making sure the sessions were going smoothly. If any troubleshooting needed to be done, I could go in there and get it done quickly.
What does A Boogie like to eat in the studio?
He likes anything that keeps the adrenaline going and the blood sugar high. So, he likes a lot of sweets, candies, snacks like Oreos, Nilla wafers, and sour straws. He has his occasional sandwich here and there — chicken cutlet or chopped cheese.
Artist 2.0 was the first project you worked on entirely with him. What artist did he have the best chemistry with?
Most recently, he had great chemistry with Roddy Ricch on the Me vs. Myself album. Roddy was in town in New York, and it was a last-minute thing, but we had this record we always wanted Roddy on. Seeing how they worked with each other, as a fan before an engineer, was dope. They’re probably two of the best melodic rappers in the game, and they went off each other. They both have really good knowledge of vocal production and Pro Tools.
What’s a talent of A Boogie’s you can only see by being in the studio with him?
It was dope seeing him give direction to the producers regarding what bounces he wanted drum-wise, what melodies he wanted, and having space [in the beat] for him to do his thing and not overproduce the record. It’s kind of like Michael Jackson in his day, and he’s a big Michael Jackson fan. The way he comes up with ideas is very reminiscent of MJ. If you know your history and if you’ve done your research, there are a lot of demos of MJ humming to a demo beat that he made. Boogie works similarly, so it makes me think he’s studied Michael Jackson, too.
Have you ever suggested a change to a song that fans can hear?
So, we were in LA trying to wrap the EP B4 AVA, and I had just connected with Rogét Chahayed in a session while we were out there working on some ideas with Boogie. I told JoeFromYO the song “24 Hours” was almost done, but I felt there could be some additional production to fill it in and make it more cinematic. I suggested having Rogét have a stab at adding his sauce to it, and Joe was with it. He sent it back quickly, and then Joe arranged it in time to finish the mix. I played the new production for Boogie, which he hadn’t heard yet, and he loved all the embellishments that were added to the song, so it was cool to orchestrate that play and for it to get his approval on the first listen. It made me see the possibilities as an engineer to connect the dots and make the records bigger than they can be concerning all parties involved.
What’s your best talent in the studio?
One of my strengths is reading the room. As an engineer, you have to know how to read the energy in the room and know whether to capture it or let the artist do their own thing and maybe not be present, so the artist can fully express himself — whether it’s through conversation, or through arguing on the phone, or chopping it up with his friends or management. You never know. It could be material later for a song.
How many songs do you have with him?
I want to say it’s between 500-800. He has a lot of stuff that’ll probably never see the light of day. I have four external hard drives of sessions and stuff we’ve bounced out. When we were doing Me Vs. [Myself] and one of his managers were trying to get all the stuff together. He’s got stuff all over the place between three engineers that I know worked with him on a long basis.
What’s the longest you’ve been in the studio?
We’ve done 24-hour sessions, especially when I started working with him. He was very much a studio head. Now he’s being more health conscious. He’s taking care of what he eats. He’s making sure he sleeps, especially because he’s been performing a lot now. He has to conserve his voice and his energy. But, early on, he was doing 18-hour, 24-hour sessions when we were recording.
Is this going to be the first year without an A Boogie project dropping?
We’ll get one. He’s got the EP that’s about to come out in September. That should stick. And then, it’s basically going to set up for the album. Fingers crossed, it comes out this year. He’s very big on delivering this year and being more consistent than after COVID when everybody was just trying to return to normal. I don’t think his fans and the label will make him not drop something (laughs).
What do you have planned for the rest of 2023?
I’m dabbling in producing. I’m working with other producers to figure out a sound and stuff. Not just for Boogie. I’m going to diversify my creative involvement in this industry. I love engineering. Before engineering, I was producing, but I got into engineering because I was very much into sound and the science behind making music. Now, years in and having all this knowledge, I want to get back into producing, and being in a room with musicians and different producers to bring worlds together and create something special.
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