Tank God didn’t just produce one of Post Malone and 21 Savage’s biggest songs, “rockstar,” he produced Young Thug and Juice WRLD’s “I Will Follow,” King Combs and Swae Lee’s “Fatal Attraction,” and a bevy of other scorching tracks. Moreover, Tank God’s close relationship with DDG allowed him to see just how the young artist transformed his widely publicized life into music.
“The whole song ‘Famous’ is personal, and it’s funny because whatever he may be going through, he doesn’t wear that on him. He lets it out in the booth,” Tank God told REVOLT. “His project is so dope because I feel he has a lot of those personal records that people can relate to.”
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the multiplatinum-selling beatsmith explained how partying with King Combs led to him producing Post Malone and 21 Savage’s “rockstar.” He also talked about his final collaboration with PnB Rock landing on his upcoming album and bonding with DDG. Check out the exclusive interview below.
Who was the first artist you were in the studio with that made you feel like you made it?
I was young, and my cousins always made music. So, there was this allure of me wanting to be like my older cousin. We knew this guy named Spillz, and he was with TBM, which was Fred The Godson‘s group. Fred was the first person I locked in with. At the same time, I met Prodigy and Raekwon. I didn’t work with them, but I was in the same room, and they were just loving my beats. That was huge. That was around 2013. I was probably 14 years old.
Fast-forward to you producing Post Malone and 21 Savage’s diamond-selling record, “rockstar.” How’d that happen?
I was in college, and my brother King Combs had a party in the city, and it was two hours away. We drove two hours to the party, and Christian ended up not getting paid, so we left, and Christian said, “Let’s go to the studio.” Once we walked into the studio, we heard Post [Malone] was there. So, I went into Christian’s room and thought I could bump into [Post] somehow. Then, I literally walked out, and he was at the water fountain. I just asked him, “Can I play you some beats?” He was like, “Yeah, let’s get weird.” I went back into the room and tried to find beats because I feel it’s important to be prepared. I couldn’t find anything, so I walked into his room. He was working on a DJ Mustard song. Joey Bada$$ was there, too. I still didn’t have the beat, so I was on the side listening, and Joey Bada$$ told me, “I know you got some fire.” I played the “rockstar” beat, and the rest was history.
Were you already making your own music?
At the time, I was doing this DJ Khaled thing where I still put rappers together. I had Swizz Beatz on my project thanks to Puff [Daddy]. I had King Combs and Rich The Kid with my boy Bay Swag. I was trying to figure it out. I was broke. I always had a vision. I always looked up to Pharrell, Timbaland, and DJ Khaled in that approach. I didn’t realize I was an artist until after “rockstar.” When people asked me in sessions, “You have any lyrics?” I would tell them, “Actually, I do. But I actually hear a lyric here,” and I was like, “Oh s**t, you should go record and do a top line.” I did that enough times to the point where they would say, “You should actually be an artist.” I taught myself how to record, and build the studio and work on this daily.
What’s the difference between working behind the scenes for other artists and making your own music?
I feel like when you’re working for other artists, you’re on their time. Everyone has their own way of doing things. Some people don’t want people in the room. Some people want many people in the room. Some people mumble, and then they write the lyrics. Some people do one take, and it’s the whole song. For me, I know my process. When you work for other artists, you have to learn that process and how they work.
One of the artists you have great chemistry with in the studio is DDG. How did you guys connect?
I’m signed to Sony/ATV, my publisher, and they asked, “You ever heard of DDG?” I was like, “Yeah, of course.” But he didn’t even want producers there. He wanted a different type of vibe. He wanted someone to help with the music somehow, but not producers. I was the only producer there. We went to the studio house in LA, and I was there. He was working on something, and I was chilling. When it got to us, I asked, “What can we do that’s different?” I f**k with DDG because he’s open-minded to things. I think a lot of artists are close-minded to trying new things.
You posted a clip of DDG seasoning his cannabis with your Grabba product. What sort of personal relationship did you two develop from those studio sessions?
It’s all organic. People fail to realize people are just human no matter how successful they are. There are open-minded artists you can actually build a friendship with. I smoke, and I’ll bring out a whole salt shaker, and people are intrigued. That’s my brand called Grabba God. It’s a salt shaker [with grabba]. I don’t like to roll blunts; I roll spliffs. In the studio, I don’t have much time [to roll up]; I have to be fast. So, I figured that was the fastest way to utilize the time. Things like that help build the relationship and the bond.
Have you seen the outside noise about DDG’s relationship and all the controversy?
The whole song “Famous” is personal, and it’s funny because whatever he may be going through, he doesn’t wear that on him. He lets it out in the booth. His project is so dope because I feel he has a lot of those personal records that people can relate to. He’s relatable because he talks about what he’s going through.
What’s the longest session you’ve been in?
I remember when I went to Utah to work with Posty about a year and a half ago. He built a crazy studio at his crib. It was supposed to be for a few days, and I was out there for a month. Those things happened because we were cooking up, and the chemistry was too good. You have to capture the vibes, the inspiration, or the motivation.
What was Post Malone’s creative process like during that time?
It was so effortless, especially his vibrato. His voice is a one-of-one voice. He takes time when he sings, but it’s just so effortless.
What songs came from that?
We got some s**t, and I’m excited. With artists, we’ll do these sessions and don’t know what will come out. There are songs I’ve done three years ago that are just coming out now.
On Instagram, you shared that you were with PnB Rock a few weeks before he passed. Do you remember the last time you two were together and the music you made?
I’ll never forget it. He was among the first people who f**ked with me when I got on. Even when “rockstar” came out, and it went No. 1, he just told me how proud he was of me. He was someone I always looked up to. The bond was natural. When I got a chance last year to tell him, “I’m an artist, for real,” he asked me to play him some s**t. I played a song called “War Ready.” It’s the intro for my album coming at the top of next year. It was fire to see how excited someone was for my music. He hopped on the record. I’m excited to get that out.
How long have you been working on your album?
It’s interesting. I’ve been working on my album for two years. It’s called Godspeed, but I’m doing the EP Starry Night, and it’s almost done. That’s coming out in about a month and a half. It’s on a nighttime ride, dark vibe. I got features on it from people like A$AP Ferg and PnB Rock, Lil Mosey, DDG, and a few others. I need to let stuff out now.