The producer is one of the most crucial yet anonymous figures in all of music. Every now and again we aim to illuminate these under-heralded artists with Beat Construction.
When Young Chop was first scrapping together beats for GBE's new guard of gangsta rap, he'd lug around a full desktop computer to sessions: tower, monitor, and all. Today, years after hitting it big with major credits from Chief Keef to Kanye West, he still maintains that same work ethic, exporting a sharp and maybe singular trap sound that's beefed up countless raps. On the heels of his sophomore production compilation, Still, we spoke to Chop about what's new with his crew, hearing his sound carry beyond his city, and the Chicago street culture that shocked the world.
How'd this album come together? Um, shit. I just was at the crib. I recorded the song "Still" with Keef. I was like, Yo, this is a real ass song, so I should name the album Still. You from the hood, and niggas feel like you made it, and they feel like you should come back and support them in what they do. But meanwhile, you out here trying to make a living, some money for your family, and they're thinking you're already rich or something like that.
Because they see you on the TV and hear you on the radio. Yeah, like, "Nigga, you fell off," and all this-and-that shit. I'm still the same person. I'm still doing this. I'm still this. So I was like, Fuck it, let's name this motherfucker Still and give these motherfuckers the meaning behind that shit, and drop that song.
Does that get hard, people talking in that way? Sometimes it gets hard. Motherfuckers just calling. As I really think about it, bro, for the album, I was promoting it. I got posters out, promoting it, "Go pre-order it," and shit all around the city. And I got a call from some people that's driving around the street and shit, one of my peoples. "Man, niggas over there taking down your posters and shit." It was just hating shit. Oh my god, why is you taking down my posters? What did I ever do to you? I never did nothing to you. It's a lot of hate, bro. I don't know what the fuck is going on.
How would you say your style has changed or developed since you first broke out? My production has advanced from that time because I was young, like 18, 17, coming in, now I'm finna be 21, so I just really thinking about shit now. Cause I gotta grow with this shit. I grew with this shit. So it's gotta be better than what I was doing. Trying different shit, like I don't care. "Bang Like Chop" was like an EDM record, like more of a bouncy type record.
What is the state of GBE as of right now? Everybody's got to do their own shit once in a while. You can't just depend on one person, like Keef. Cuz Keef have a bigger name than certain others. Like my folks had to really get out there. To be honest, Fredo Santana is seeing the bigger picture and he got it himself, like I respect that. I see him in the Drake videos, I see him doing a lot of other different shit.
Yeah, the whole Savage Squad Records thing. He's built a lane. He's always been like that though. So to motherfucking see him really do it, that shit really. That brother's doing shit. Go out there and get it yourself.
You said the same thing back when you signed your publishing deal with Warner. I can't depend on Keef just because I came in with him. No, I gotta advance my shit, that's why I started fucking with French, Puff. I had to fucking get my sound to another level and reach other people.
You guys are still bros though? Yeah, we're still a family. All love. 100. If he called me and he needed something right now, I got him for life, and if I call him if I need something he got me. It's just a family thing.
The last thing I heard of y'all together was "Valley" off Still. Was that the last session you two did? Bro, we've got some new shit. I put it on Twitter. We've got like 30, 40 songs, like crazy. I was just out in LA in like September or some shit like that. We was in the studio just knocking out shit, back to back.
I heard the "Bodies" joint you got with Chinks, Bobby Shmurda, and Rowdey Rebel. I just seen the video the other day.
There's been lots of comparisons made between Bobby Shmurda and the Chicago sound you made popular. I always felt like your sound was less about a location and more about a energy, an experience. That's what kinda fucked niggas up in the head. Because New York people, I be hearing them, like the older guys, saying, "When did we start rapping like south niggas?" I just recently heard that yesterday at a radio station. It's not about the south, it's just what music is going. You can't put it on just the south and hard 808s. We all young, we're going to experiment other shit. Bobby Shmurda didn't come out with a fucking sampled beat, he came out with a goddamn bouncy beat, you feel me? And it's still NY sound to me! But it's on another edge than a normal fucking New York-sounding beat.
Chicago has that sampling tradition as well with No ID, Kanye, Common. But your generation shifted the focus. Yeah, because we didn't fucking grow up off that. See when we came up it was Gucci's, OJ Tha Juice Man, Waka—that's what we grew up off of. We heard that other shit, but this what we really grew up off of, when they came out, so it is what it is at the end of the day.
Keef's been producing now, too. I like the fucking "Faneto," and the "Wayne" beat. I love them shits, I be banging that shits. I actually taught him a few things, but I didn't know he was going to go full throttle with it. He co-produced "Valley" with me.
Does co-produced mean adding a sound? [Laughter] Yeah, he has a sound. His little favorite sound, you can hear that in all his beats and shit, like a little voice. But yeah, that shit actually shocked me when I seen that shit, I'm like, What the fuck? Then he got his little tag and shit like me. Shit, it's funny.
I spoke to Toro y Moi about—I've worked with him. We've got some things. Motherfucker, I will play you the record too. I gotta play you the record.
How did that happen? He reached out to you? It was through some Puff shit.
I definitely want to hear that. But he said he was so surprised to see Katy Perry on a song with Juicy J. That shocked me when I heard that. They could have called some real people to do that shit, cause it sounded fake. But you know, it is what it is. Like the "Fancy" beat. I feel like Mustard should've did that. You know that motherfucker was a hit. Like how y'all gonna steal his sound and not put him on the shit? I was mad about that.
Do you feel like that's happened with you? Just recently. I was like, "Oh, what the fuck?" It was to the T though, like this man really studied me. I want people to do that, cause I'm just a trendsetter. I set trends. I influenced you to do that.
"We influenced motherfuckers to really be themselves."—Young Chop
Did you know at that time that those early records with GBE had potential to be something bigger? Yeah. Not to sound cocky or none of that, but I knew they was gonna go cause I knew it was different. Niggas never seen that shit from Chicago. We shooting videos in the house, we got dreads in our face and our shirts off, and even though it was a lot bitches in there, they think they ain't no bitches in there. It's girls in there! "Why you niggas just dancing around?" But you just let people think what they think. But I knew it was gonna go crazy. I told my brother and shit. I was like bro, this shit is gonna go crazy, and I see this shit. I had a vision.
With your music, for the first time, the whole world saw what it was really like in these places they'd probably never go to. And most of y'all niggas' shit be fake. In their raps, talking about they killing a nigga, shooting, carrying guns, and all this, but on my end I'm like, This shit is fake. They need to come here and see what the fuck is really going on. When we started popping, we really showed what was really going on. Like, niggas in our circle had died, that's some real shit. You can't bring them back. We not trying to put on no facade. We just giving you the uncut, raw, realness. You've got the Gucci Manes and shit, but you know they already good, they're talking about cooking drugs. We talking about niggas actually dying and getting shot, and we carrying this gun and that gun, in real life. Like we really carrying that shit.
And people just had not—Seen that before, yeah. N.W.A used to talk about that shit, but they really weren't showing it.
50 cent came out with straight gun talk. But it was already packaged through Dr. Dre and a whole label. They already packaged his photos and videos the way they needed to be, to sell it to the world. Your videos were completely the opposite. Motherfuckers be like, "Man, they got on the same clothes!"
To me, it marked a different era in rap. It was no longer about a show: you're just going to see what's happening on this street at this time. And I see that a lot now! Man, we influenced motherfuckers to really be themselves and shit.
Another sound coming out of Chicago is bop. It's like a similar energy, channelled a different way. We was doing bop music. Keef was doing bop music but it wasn't fast like that. This song called "Save That Shit," if we would have sped that up it would have been a bop song. But they took it to a whole 'nother level and sped the shit up and made a dance to it. But if you really pay attention and look at their videos, it's real street shit. They speaking a different language about guns, they're saying "oochie," that's a fucking gun. A lot of people aren't gonna catch on to it that fast like that, that's why they really broke mainstream like they did. They're gonna keep working. That shit's gonna break.
It's crazy to watch how far Chicago slang carried this year, especially knowing where it comes from. And people don't even understand. They come to Chicago and be like, "Where's 600 at, where's 300 at?" What the fuck is y'all talking about? Y'all really wanna go over there? Y'all don't even know what the hell you talking about, you just heard us say it.
Are you still staying in Chicago now? Yeah. Same old shit. Same shit.