Producer/engineer TropDavinci had to learn how to capture the Maybach Music sound when he started working with Rick Ross. The production and vocals must be the perfect balance of gritty and pristine, hungry and opulent, to match with the sort of luxury Ross not only raps about but also surrounds himself with when making his hits.
“One of the most luxurious things was when we went to Pharrell’s crib on South Beach. Recording in Pharrell’s crib with the windows and sliding door open facing the beach… Capturing that moment was incredible,” TropDavinci told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” TropDavinci explained why Rick Ross isn’t easy to record, when he knew Meek Mill and Rozay were working on a collaborative album, and how there are still big features from the making of Too Good To Be True that fans haven’t heard.
Get into the exclusive chat below.
Fetty Wap was the first major artist you engineered. What was that experience like with a young Fetty?
During this time, “Trap Queen” had just went No. 1, and it was going crazy. This was probably a week before he dropped the other song, “My Way.” So he came in to do a feature with this artist, and that’s how I got in. They didn’t have an engineer at the time at the Audio Vision Studio I was working with. Honestly, my skills weren’t all the way up to par, but I made it work. He just went into the booth and started freestyling. We pieced the verse together. It was dope seeing how freely he approached it.
But you really made your name by engineering Rick Ross for years. What did you learn from your early sessions with him?
I learned you have to be steps ahead. You have to make it really easy for him. You have to know how to capture those vocals because Rozay is not easy to record. He has a very distinctive, deep voice. But then he also has some of that high-end up there you could tweak, but you can’t put too much on it because it might be too piercing. You have to find that balance where you have the low, and body and that crispy clarity at the top. That’s one thing I had to learn because I never recorded an artist like that. When I first started recording him, I had to keep adjusting my template until I was confident.
Ross is all about opulence and being the biggest boss. How did you see him mix his luxurious lifestyle with recording music?
The most luxurious thing is being in the studio with icons like DJ Khaled and Cool and Dre. One of the most luxurious things was when we went to Pharrell’s crib on South Beach. Recording in Pharrell’s crib with the windows and sliding doors open facing the beach… Capturing that moment was incredible. Then, you go out to the dock; he has the pool and the studio upstairs. We were sipping on the Belaire and feeling the vibe. This is what it’s all about. This is the top of the top. This is what Rozay would call “the alkaline air.” As far as working with Pharrell, he’s as hands-on as possible. He’s right there making the beat. He’ll start with something, then the artist will record to it, and he’ll take it, and then he’ll just keep adding, tweaking, and shaping the sound. He’s hands-on from start to finish. He’s very crafty and creative with the sounds. He has his own sound. It doesn’t sound like everybody else.
How long were you working on the Rick Ross and Meek Mill album Too Good To Be True?
It was a quick process. The whole album was done in three to four months. They were just sending records back and forth, and we lined them up. We were swapping the tracklists out, seeing what vibes fit. For a track like “Fine Lines,” which I produced, we started with a foundation and kept adding stuff. The-Dream kept adding to it. Wale laid his verse on it, and it was just the perfect addition. We kept watering that seed.
When did you know you were working on a collab album and not just recording random songs?
There were hints about it, but they’re both bosses, especially Ross. Ross has so much going on. He could say he’s doing this album, and something else comes up. There were hints about it. But once I saw that we were in the studio with DJ Khaled, Cool and Dre, French Montana, and we had Breyon Prescott from Gamma there, I knew this was a thing. I knew this was a big project once the tracklist started getting bigger and we started getting these big features.
How many songs did you personally record for the project?
We had a bunch of different ideas, and then it all got trickled down. We probably had about 25 or 30 records and ideas recorded that we just kept swapping out with other records.
What was Meek and Rozay’s chemistry like when you were in the studio with them?
They bounce ideas off each other, throwing them up on a whiteboard and seeing what works. They’re in the studio discussing, “We could shoot the video here and go from here to this location. We could use this location. We can pull out these cars and line up the jet.” They’re figuring out their rollout and everything. They’ll listen to the songs and see who they could put on this hook and who they could put for this feature. When the tracklist was ready, they decided who would be mixing it. All of that is in the studio.
What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen Rick Ross do in a session?
It would have to be getting a massage. He’ll have his masseuse give him a massage while he’s writing his lyrics right there with a bottle of Belaire. Then he goes in the booth and knocks it out effortlessly, man.
Were there any features on Too Good To Be True that didn’t make the final cut?
There were definitely some features that didn’t make the album. But a lot of that stuff is confidential, and some might come out in the future. There were a lot of big features that were put aside for something greater. This album was something Ross and Meek were both passionate about, and it was a showcase of the Maybach Music sound.
What do you have coming for the rest of 2023?
Man, I have more singles dropping. I’m working with an artist called G Profit. We just dropped the album called Can’t Leave The Trap Alone. Obviously, I’m working with Maybach Music artists. Rozay got stuff cooking. We never stopped cooking. We’re always cooking.