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Interview: Jahlil Beats Talks Producing "Hot Nigga," Bobby Shmurda's Breakout Hit

"My goal is to make a modern day classic for New York. Like what DMX did with Ruff Ryders."

Philadelphia's Jahlil Beats spent years pumping out tracks for Meek Mill, culminating in crossover hits like "I'ma Boss" and "Burn." He's since clocked in tracks for massive names like Jay-Z, Chris Brown and Lil Wayne, as well as linking with Roc Nation management alongside white-hot producers like DJ Mustard. But this summer, a curious beatjack may have made for his biggest moment yet: Brooklyn spitter Bobby Shmurda got his hands on a stray .zip of Jahlil instrumentals, and he and his GS9 crew took New York by storm with "Hot Nigga," an inescapable, hook-less barrage of bars and bulletholes rapped over "Jackpot," an overlooked Lloyd Banks loosie from 2012. Five-million views later, Bobby's caught a deal with Epic Records and a French Montana remix, with him and his GS9 cohorts just a week removed from catching bodies. We hit up Jahlil to find out just how Bobby ended up with his beat, and what they were working on next.

What’s up man, what are you up to? I'm just working, working, working like crazy, man. I'm working on the Bobby Shmurda album, we already locked it in. We gearing up for that. I think we're going out to L.A. in a few weeks. Shout to [Epic Records A&R] Sha Money XL.

You’ve been around for years, but “Hot Nigga” came out of nowhere. When did you first hear it? It's crazy right? I heard the record last month. I kept hearing people telling me about it. I never listened to it. Like, the kid is just having fun. This is dope, this is big on the internet. But then I just kept hearing about it. I went back and really listened to it and then I seen the video and I was like, "he might be onto something." I reached out to him and he was hype. He was like "yo man I need some shit, the whole GS9 been fans." I was like "Yo, [Lloyd] Banks never bought the record, so you can rock out with it." I think he's like 19, and from the streets and he's trying to come up, so whatever I could do to help the kid out. You know what I'm saying? Why not?

So many people didn't even know that was a Lloyd Banks beat. Did you originally give it to Banks? Shout out to Banks, he's a cool dude. He just put it on the back burner. Maybe he didn't like it or maybe he wasn't rocking with it at the time. It didn't even go on his mixtape. He dropped the mixtape a couple of weeks later and it didn't go on that. People forgot about it. I sent him like four or five beats and he was like "Yo, I'm gonna rock with that joint." That was that. He did "Jackpot" and I guess he didn't use it. Two years later, the kid Bobby downloads a beat off the mixtape. I had put it on my mixtape called Crack Music 6. That's how he got the record. All these rumors like "yo, Banks need publishing for that," no, that's not true.

So there’s still no paperwork on that beat? Bobby bought the beat. Epic bought the beat. That's why it's on iTunes and stuff like that. I think I've talked to Sha Money about three times since then, getting everything together and really making a move on the record, bringing him a sound that New York never had. Something fresh or like what DMX did with Ruff Ryders.

This New York rap conversation going on for so long. When I first saw Bobby, the first thing I thought was he was Meek for Brooklyn. He didn't have to shout out “New York” or “Brooklyn” once on the track, he just spit a hot ass verse that sounds like what guys where he’s from sound like. It's just even crazier that it ended up being a beat that Lloyd Banks used, because it really does sounds like New York. The sirens, the snares. It doesn’t sound like Young Chop or Chicago. I think Bobby does have some down south influences, but it don't sound like nothing out of the south or of Chicago in general. Same thing with Meek. When we was coming up together we had southern influences too. Let's keep it all the way 100, times has changed. We was coming up, you had State Property doing that thing, Hov doing his thing, in Philly that was our movement. But right after that you had Lil Jon and the Crunk phase and all that. We came up off of that. As a producer, I had the south and the east influences. I got heavy 808s like that south, but I keep the east coast feel to my joints.

A lot of people are waiting to hear what Bobby and GS9 are going to do next. Right. My goal is to make a modern day classic for New York. I know New York is known for lyrics and all that, but I think the kid is unique in his own way. It's lyrical content in "Hot Nigga," more than a lot of cats down south--not knocking down south. You can hear the potential, and he's already a star. You know how music goes now. People are so quick to judge the now instead of waiting years. We judge the last generation--the Jay Zs and the Nases and all that--we judge them for the work they did twenty years prior. I think that people down the line will appreciate this project.

Have you met Bobby in person? We chopped it on the phone, but I never met him. Not yet. I been doing my own thing, I been moving like crazy.

Aside from the record taking off with Shmurda, Meek recently played us new music right before he went in. Are you working with him on his new album? I don't know if anything stuck. Before that we was working on so many tracks. The Juvenile "High" remix didn't see the light, but I think he's holding onto that. We got a couple other records, but other than that I don't know. I can't really say. They let me know. I talked to him back in February at a Roc Nation party. He just wanted me to get up. I had to leave that night, but he was like "hey stop past the crib." Other than that, me and Meek's cool.

You were also in with Willow Smith at one point right? Yeah, but I don't know if she's even out there doing music now.

She actually just dropped a new song. It's pretty tight. It's weird, like SZA or Lana Del Rey type song. It's crazy, she's like dope. Because Will's her dad people discredit what she does. She’s had the right team around her. She's just a kid and she wants to do stuff on her own time. I hadn't heard nothing about that project though lately. This was like two years ago.

What do you have going on right now? Roc Nation got me working on the Rihanna album, and I got my own artist that I'm working with by the name of CRMC. They got a record getting crazy play in Philly. We just did the video it's probably going to be on MTV Jams or whatever. I got two joints on Curren$y's Pilot Talk 3. I'm just working. I've got so much stuff coming, but I don't want to put it out there if it don't stick. I got some crazy shit on Pilot Talk 3.

What stage are you coming into the Rihanna record? What’s your involvement? They have everybody going into the studio to work with writers just for that certain project.

So you've made for her album to see if it gets picked up, and it'll go from there. Right. You know what's crazy? I got this other record with Bobby's dude Rowdy Rebbel, the "Shmoney Dance," I did that one too.

So they sought out and found the sound that they wanted. I'm sure they was fans of Meek, so they look at what me and Meek did. I see a lot of upcoming producers from New York and they're like, “what you and Meek did, me and my dudes are trying to do.” For a while I felt like Meek was the top dude coming out of the east.

I’ve talked to a few producers from Philly, and they always say there's so much music in the city that there’s no one style. That was the most important thing to me, because Swizz Beats, that’s my favorite producer. My dream was always to come in and change the game a little bit. When "I'ma Boss" came out there was nothing like that. When "Burn" was out, there was nothing like that. I feel the same way about the Bobby Shmurda record. You don't hear nothing like that.

Are there any other collaborators in the mix? Is the remix with French still coming? I seen the video with French on the remix, so I'm guessing French and Puff, but I'm sure I'll be in the mix. I never even asked about it. I'm sure I'll be in the mix, but I'm sure it'll be huge. It might be bigger than the regular record. I had to remaster it for them, so the 808s is hitting like stupid stupid. I'm looking at this Bobby thing as a sign. What I did with Meek, and what I did with Bobby I know I can do it again.

Posted:
Matthew Trammell
Hip-Hop, Bobby Shmurda, Jahlil Beats
Interview: Jahlil Beats Talks Producing "Hot Nigga," Bobby Shmurda's Breakout Hit