Chester, PA native Jahlil Beats has been earning his stripes with street bangers like Chris Brown’s “Holla At Me” and Jae Millz’ “Green Gobblin” under his belt. He admits he’s only about a year deep into the beat-making game but judging from his catalogue, he’s paying his dues one song at a time. After talking to this 23-year old , you can tell he walks the line of humble and confident as well as anybody in the game that wants to stay relevant. Vibe talked to the new comer about his beginnings in producing, how his infamous tag came about, working with Meek Mill & Chris Brown, his 80 song mixtape, and more. — Storm
VIBE: Give us some background on what sparked your interest in producing.
Jahlil: My pop — he’s a producer and a certified engineer. He used to have a band back in the day so he had a musical background. He was into music heavy at a young age as well. So I was kind if born into it. He had a home studio in the crib and he used to have us cut demos, rap and sing; I cut my first demo when I was like 4 years old [laughs]. I really didn’t get into it until I was 12-years old. My pop had given me this program, FL Studio, which is on the PC, and I started making beats on there and then I just got hooked. Then we started making little mixtapes and giving them out when I was in high school, and that’s when I really started taking this seriously.
How did you go about crafting your sound? Was there anybody you patterned yourself after?
When I first started, I was sampling-based. I was strictly doing sample music —70’s R&B, old rock ‘n’ roll, etc. That helped me develop my style that I have now. I started to shy away from the sampling and do strictly original beats. I get a lot of influence from Swizz Beatz to Mannie Fresh and The Neptunes. After awhile I started making original music, and as I got older I started to get into the clubs and started to see the atmosphere of how the music makes the people move so I started to make a lot of club music and that’s where I got most of my buzz from, making music for the club and the radio. I had moved to Atlanta when I was 19 and I went to college in Buckhead; I kind of grasped their sound — the down south 808’s — and I brought it back home. Around that time in Philly, they had a NY-type sound when Jay-Z was running the game with State Property, Beanie Sigel, and all of them. When my partner Meek Mill came out it kind of changed the game in the Tri-State area.
How did you come up with your signature tag?
When I was doing songs with cats they weren’t shouting me out so nobody would know who did the beat. What I did was I got my niece in the studio, I recorded her just rapping or something and it just came out organically. I was just listening to it one night and said to myself I should make this into a tag and put it in front of my beats so everyone would know I did the track. I think that’s the most important part of the track nowadays! I got little kids saying it nowadays!
Describe your big breakout beat in your opinion.
I had produced several songs for Soulja Boy and I did some stuff for Lil’ Wayne and Fabolous, but the biggest track was Chris Brown’s “Holla at Me.” That was like the biggest track I had done. For one: it was a real strong song for his comeback, and then second: he was rapping on it, and then third: the track was just crazy.
Talk about the relationship/chemistry with people you have worked with on multiple ocassions: Meek Mill, Tyga, Chris Brown. Also, did you actually work in person in the studio with them or were these tracks done via email, etc?
With Meek Mill, I met up with him through MySpace. He had just dropped a mixtape called Flamers 1 and it was real heavy in the streets of Philly; this is when he just started buzzing so I hit him up that the mixtape was dope and I had little snippets of beats on my MySpace page, and Meek Mill hit me back like “Yo send me some tracks,” so I sent him three beats and they all made it on his next mixtape called Flamers 2, which was his biggest mixtape to date. Then Meek Mill had got locked up so he was gone for like 8 or 9 months and I never met Meek until he got out, then we went into the studio for about 2 months straight just doing songs everyday! We were in the studio from like 12-9 everyday. That’s how we built our bond. It’s more than the music, that’s my homie on another level. As far as the other songs, me and Meek Mill did a song called “Willy Wonka,” and it was buzzing around here in Philly. Meek had made a video for it and it made it on Worldstar Hip-Hop. There’s a cat out in LA who’s one of the biggest internet DJ’s by the name of DJ Ill Will, he had put out on his Twitter, “Who did the ‘Willy Wonka’ beat? I would love to put Wayne and Gudda on it.” My boy KP from DatPiff.com hit DJ Ill Will up, “Yo, I know the cat that did the beat,” and he was like, “Get that track for me.” KP had hit me up and I sent it to him immediately and he gave it to Ill Will, who gave it to Gudda, who got Wayne on it I think like the same night. The next morning I got a text from both of them, “Yo Wayne got on the track and spazzed on the track and Gudda got on it and we’re going to drop it real soon.” Then I had seen Wayne like a week later at the “We Are The World” recording in Hollywood, and I told him I did the track and we had exchanged info and all that, but then Wayne had went to jail and they just ended up putting the track out even though he was going to put it on the Carter IV, but[there were] legal issues and all that.
So are you going to be working with Wayne on Tha Carter IV?
I’m already doing stuff with Wayne, so hopefully it can make the cut. I’m doing stuff with the bulk of the Young Money camp. But I never got actually in the studio with Wayne. But I did get in the studio with Chris Brown throughout the whole Fan of a Fan.
What was that process like behind the scenes recording that mixtape?
I was there when “Deuces” was made. Chris was real cool, Tyga was real cool. We cut a lot of joints. I was there with the homie K Mack (Kevin McCall), he’s really picking up (as a producer). He produced “Deuces;” he also had the last verse on the song. Chris, when he does rapping too he doesn’t even write; he’s just straight from the top of the head!
Are you going to be contributing to Chris’ F.A.M.E. album?
I’m just working hard right now to get on the F.A.M.E. album. We still working things out. If not, we’re still going to work together. The mixtape circuit is so heavy, either way I’m going to get my shine!
What are your thoughts on Meek Mill’s signing to Maybach Music?
When Meek got this situation with Ross, which is a real situation this time he’s actually signed to Ross, now it’s nothing really different but now we just got to work harder. Ross got Meek working with other producers as well. I’m just waiting for Meek to give me that call when he wants that “special” track! We already got his first single out featuring Rick Ross called “I’m a Boss.” I think that’s going to be the one that really going to hit hard national; it’s already hitting the clubs here heavy.