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. This week, we check in with East Flatbush native Deputy, the producer that flipped an internship at Jive into placing beats for J. Cole, Wale, and most recently Rihanna's still-fresh bad gal anthem, "Bitch Better Have My Money."
When did you start to take production seriously? What really sparked everything was the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, which was like, "You spend all your time making someone else rich." I always did music, so I bought myself some equipment, an MPC, and a keyboard; I taught myself how to produce, interned at Jive, and turned that into a placement with Nivea and The-Dream—that was before he was The-Dream, around 2004. My entry into the game was through Jive's circuit—I used the internship as a platform to get to the A&Rs who I needed to get to, including Wayne Williams and Memphitz.
Does your family have any musical background? My mother is a big music head—she would always play old '70s records, back in the day when their time was popping. My parents are from Trinidad—they're Caribbean—so when you add soca and reggae to that mix, it was a bunch of different shit I was listening to. My first instrument was the steel drum, I played that shit for years. That's how I was able to go to the keyboard and teach myself, because I already had some musical knowledge.
What's your set up? I got a laptop, iPhone earbuds, and a little-ass Akai LPK25 keyboard. That's it. A lot of my stuff is in the box—plug-ins and stuff like that. When I first started it was the MPC, and then I graduated to Cubase before I graduated to Logic. I wish I had a Fruity Loops phase, because that makes your drums knock crazy.
"I could see [Rihanna] saying some shit like this. Or, this is the shit she needs to be saying. Or, this is the shit that she wants to say."
You ended up linking up with Roc Nation through Jay Z's right-hand man Ty Ty Smith, right? Ty Ty was the first person I actually sat down with at Roc Nation. The meeting lasted, no bullshit, six minutes. At first, I was like, "Damn." I didn't know what it meant—I never had a meeting that lasted six minutes. But he was like, "Yo, your shit is dope. Where are you from?" I said "Brooklyn." He said "Aw shit, who's your lawyer?" That was it. I would play a beat, and after thirty seconds, he'd be like "Alright, cool, what else?" It was nerve wracking, but it all turned out way better.
When did you first get the word that Rihanna was looking for new material? Being with Roc Nation, you already have an idea of what's going on. The thing with Rihanna is, you can't go in doing a record for Rihanna—her range is so wide that you'll limit yourself trying to focus on it. So I went in and just created what I felt would be dope. When you work from that standpoint, everything comes out dope, so I just did what I felt was dope. Once I did it, I knew for a fact that it would be a Rihanna placement. I even wrote on my vision board, "Rihanna placement, Track number 8." I named the beat "You Owe Me," because that's what I thought it was called. I was like, "This shit is her all day. This shit is fire."
The sound of "Bitch Better Have My Money" caught people by surprise. How did you know that it would fit for Rihanna? Once that song was done, it was just a feeling, like, I could see her saying some shit like this. Or, this is the shit she needs to be saying. Or, this is the shit that she wants to say.
"The record is 90-95% me—it's no shade on nobody, but at the end of the day, the record is produced by Deputy. I been in this game for a minute, so I understand how the game is, and it's cool."
Did you help write on the song as well? I produced the record—meaning that I went in and helped arrange the vocals. I was instrumental in the writing process and producing the record to where it's at now. The whole process started in the studio with the writer, and then once Rihanna got a hold of it then she took it to her level.
Kanye West, Travi$ Scott, and Wondagurl are listed as co-producers, too. I owe Kanye nothing but gratitude—he played an instrumental part in getting the record to Rihanna. Wondagurl's contribution I didn't know about, but Travi$ came in and added the part in the second verse where the beat changes. The record is 90-95% me—it's no shade on nobody, but at the end of the day, the record is produced by Deputy. I been in this game for a minute, so I understand how the game is, and it's cool.
You've also done a bunch of stuff for J. Cole and Wale. Who are some of the artists you're going in with? Ne-Yo, Shawn Garret, Flo-rida—I just did a joint on Mustard's last project with Tinashe. Right now, I'm just trying to get to the next record. I'm focused on what's next, and that process started about a month ago. Whoever's working right now that needs records, that's what I'm shooting. I was in Nashville in February doing country music. I don't put myself in a box. I'm not a beatmaker, I'm a producer—that's the difference.