Do you and Drake ever disagree?
Sometimes. I challenge Drake when it comes to decision making. He didn’t want to put “Marvin’s Room” on Take Care and I was like, “Bro, fuck you, you’ve gotta put this on there. It’s a moment.” But there’s a flip side—I made that beat in a few hours. He comes in, like, “I’m using this.” I’m like, “No, no, it’s not done yet. I just started.” He’s like, “No, it’s done. Don’t do anything else.” It stayed that way. My objective is to make him happy. If he says yes, then I’m good. This album I feel I was more of an overseer. Not to say I didn’t contribute a lot—I produced a big chunk with my bare hands, writing music, playing keyboards, programming drums—but I feel I played more for a general role from a creative standpoint. Like, I’m just here to help, man.
So you got your Rick Rubin on?
Yeah, I suppose. I like to think I do on every album. I’m a different producer. I don’t know a lot of people that have the same skill set that I do. People throw around the term producer loosely. Worse than that, they give you the lecture between what a beat maker is and what a producer is. That shit makes me want to vomit on myself for the most part, because I know the people who are talking about it are just beatmakers and they don’t know anything except how to program one sequencer. There’s a lot more to producing. So that’s something that I hold very close to my heart—being able to have a wide skill set and being valuable on all fronts, whether tracking, recording, Pro Tools, playing instruments, writing songs, whatever. I try to contribute as much as I can and help the artist deliver their vision, which is the most important thing.
How did you end up working on Nas’ “Bye Baby,” and what exactly did you contribute?
Salam is really close to my manager Mr. Morgan. He’s like, “Salaam has this record he’s working on with Nas, and they want you to fuck with it.” Salaam sent me the looped sample and vocals for Nas. After that I got the entire session for the Guy record—all the separated Aaron Hall vocals, all the separated parts. I took all the parts and rebuilt some of them, flipped and mashed them all together and built the whole song. But I let Salaam lead on the production credit because even though I did the majority of the work, the initial idea of the sample, loop and the raps were all done with Salaam, and it was his idea.
What are you listening to now?
Cam’ron’s mixtape [Ghetto Heaven, Vol. 1]. [Laughs] I’ve been listening to Kool G Rap and The Smiths and, like, punk. That’s where I’m at. Yo, Cam’s the best. Cam’s music is so R&B. That’s my influence. Fuck everybody. I love those R&B/rap crosses. Especially if they’re done gangster enough—it’s this juxtaposition that I’ve always loved. We don’t achieve that with Drake because he’s not gangster. But instead of being on a street rapper with an R&B sound, we push on good music.
Which artists are on your personal wish list?
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