Photo: Mike Coppola / Staff via Getty Images
  /  09.28.2023

Sauce Miyagi is the engineer the stars bring in to get their hits tighter. That’s what Rubi Rose, French Montana, A Boogie, Sauce Walka, Bobby Shmurda, and a litany of other Billboard mainstays have done over the last decade. When it comes to Bobby, Miyagi witnessed the young MC work his way back into the game after his incarceration. 

“He was even more cool because we would chop it up for about 30 minutes to an hour after the first two sessions. We would talk about music,” Miyagi told REVOLT. “He spoke about the trials and what he went through — getting out of jail, trying to stay on top, and doing this and doing that.”

In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the multiplatinum engineer explained how he and Bobby Shmurda made an album worth of music in a month, his bond with Sauce Walka, and Rubi Rose collaborations fans still haven’t heard. Read the exclusive below.

What’s been your most memorable session since your interview with REVOLT three years ago?

It would be Rubi Rose when we worked together in April 2021. It was lit. It was actually at her crib. [Her] A&R at the time was Keyz of Ayo n Keyz. He was an A&R at HitCo and remembered me from my work with Hitmaka. Once we did the first session, we pulled up to her crib. It was me, the songwriter named Storii, BongoByTheWay, and Drew Love. When everyone pulled up, we already had the demo ready. Everything was cool. Then, out of nowhere, Trey Songz pulled up. It was the most random thing ever. We did the song we needed to do. We did another one. And then Trey ended up doing a demo for Rubi. It was a fantastic little night. Rubi’s very on point — she’ll hear something; if she’s vibing with it, she will do it. If she’s not vibing with it, she’ll attempt to do it, but after a while, she’ll be like, “I don’t know if this is my vibe or not,” and then she’ll move away from it.

Rubi Rose has a hilarious personality on social media. What’s the funniest moment you’ve had with her?

I got one, but I don’t know if I can say it on record (laughs). Rubi is very fun to be around. She’s going to smoke, she’s going to drink a little bit.

What songs came from the work you did together?

We did the song “Twork.” We had another one with the City Girls and Tyga, but I don’t know if they scrapped it. I don’t know if they just gave it away and did something else with it. I’m not too sure. She has plenty of songs.

You locked in with Bobby Shmurda in October 2021, eight months after he was released from prison.

When I got with Bobby, it was at a crazy time because the homie ZachNichollsMix reached out to me. After all, all the engineers Bobby was getting didn’t understand him. So, we went to this big mansion, the Hidden Hills of LA. Everybody was cool. I met his assistants. I met all his bros. He was even more cool because we would chop it up for about 30 minutes to an hour after the first two sessions. We would talk about music. He spoke about the trials and what he went through — getting out of jail, trying to stay on top, and doing this and doing that. It was fun for him to be around regardless of how the music turned out. He was still cool to be around. I would pull up every day. I would drive from downtown LA to Malibu (laughs). The house we were using was Soulja Boy’s old house. I guess the label rented it out.

Did he have to get reacclimated with recording?

Not necessarily because it was like 2014 all over again for him; he never adapted to other people’s sounds. It took a lot of work for him to adapt to what was happening. We did about 12 or 13 songs in the month we worked together. Terrible engineers already recorded a good bit of them, so I had to come back and do surgery on the songs (laughs). Out of those 12 or 13 songs we did, only three of them came out— “Splash,” “Cartier Lens,” and “Shmoney.” His label just needed a single, and they found it in “Shmoney.” We did “Shmoney,” but I feel they wanted another one. I’m not too sure what happened after “Shmoney.” Eventually, he left his label because a lot was happening.

What’s a typical session like with Bobby Shmurda?

He is funny as hell. For the first 30 minutes, he’s just going to talk. He’s just talking, looking for his weed. He probably invited five or six women. So, the women at the crib are just chilling. When he’s ready to record, he plays the beat. He’s playing the beat for about 10 or 15 minutes. And he’ll record about four or eight bars. Afterward, he’ll walk around the crib, talk, and have fun with his homies. He’ll come back eventually and say, “Yo, Miyagi, pull up that other song and mix it.” So, that song never got done. I’m just mixing these other songs, and he’ll come back at 1 a.m. saying, “Pull that song up that we started,” and he’ll do the same eight bars he did hours ago… and eventually, he’ll get past it. 

Sauce Walka is an artist you’ve been really close with from early on in your career. How did you two develop that bond?

He and my sister were in the same grade. We all went to the same middle school. We all went to the same high school. I’ve known him since he was part of this other group called Mash Mode. Mash Mode was like a collective of rappers in Houston. I guess they were all part of the same Bloods set or a gang set. He’s older than me, so they were doing older kid s**t. He and my sister were cool, but I didn’t know him. And then it just so happened that I ended up working at this low-profile studio once I graduated. Later on, I was neighbors to this guy who had a studio but had no idea how to work the equipment. I’d pull up and start working there, and one of the rappers there knew Sauce; he knew him, and Sauce pulled up to the studio. They were chopping it up. Then, Sauce pulled me outside and said, “I’m trying to work if you’re trying to work. I’m for real. We’ll be here like every day.” I told him I was with it. The Sauce I worked with in 2013 only had about 5,000 followers. So, he was still very fresh, still very new.

Sauce Walka was coming from the streets. Did any of his outside activity spill over into the studio?

Yeah, it happened a few times, and it was more because of jealousy than anything. Many of his homies he grew up with were part of the Mash Mode rap group. With that being said, a lot of his friends started feeling some type of way because they felt he wasn’t listening to them. They felt like he didn’t need to be sounding how he sounded. They kept saying he sounded like Migos, Atlanta rap, and all this other stuff. They would always bump heads. They would always get to these arguments mid-session. He’d be arguing with them about how he knew it would work. They were like, “Nah, bro, you sound like this. You don’t need to be sounding like this.” And sure enough, it worked out for him. But, often, those arguments led to fist fights that led to all types of everything. Fist fights in the studio; fist fights outside of the studio.

How has he evolved as a recording artist over the last decade?

He’s evolved more because of the way that he thinks. He’s a profound thinker. A lot of people don’t know that about him. He thinks a lot, and he thinks about what other people say. He thinks about what his other friends say. He’s very keen on their input. You might tell him something; he’ll listen to you, but he’s going to come back to me and say, “Miyagi, what do you think about such and such?” He’s never signed a bad deal. I’ve looked over the deal that’s come to him almost like a business lawyer. And that’s part of why he’s been so successful. He’s 100 percent independent.

Who’s an artist Sauce Walka has great chemistry with in the studio?

I would say Travis [Scott]. Travis is from Houston. So, he knows everything that we know. The vibes were cool once he pulled up the original beat for that song. I didn’t necessarily like it, nor did the producer, so we ended up switching the beat at the last minute. But Travis is good energy. He’s very fast-paced and ready to get it done right.

What do you have coming up for the rest of 2023?

I’m going to start this car rental business. I will get certified in [Dolby Atmos] because I already know how to do it. It is just more about finishing that up. I have an EP coming with Erica Banks. I’m mixing that whole project. I just did some audio for a game through EA that hopefully comes through. So, other than that, it’s just taking it day by day, bro. I’m just getting back into that bag of staying active because I don’t see myself becoming someone’s main engineer unless they’re like a Bruno Mars or something like that. I’m chill where I’m at because I got the plaques and the accolades. I’m teaching young engineers who don’t mind sitting in 20-hour sessions.



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