Beat Construction: Wheezy
Meet the producer behind Young Thug’s “soul-romantic-trap” sound.
The FADER's longstanding series Beat Construction interviews crucial music producers.
Young Thug's work with London on Da Track and Dun Deal brought both producers a bigger spotlight, yet for the past year, Thug's sound has been equally informed by the tactile elegance of producer Wheezy. Wheezy was responsible for much of the opaque, pristine production of 2015’s Barter 6, and several highlights from the Slime Season series, like "Wood Would" and "Pull Up On A Kid." He practically stole the show on I'm Up, thanks to the funky rattle of "For My People."
Like London, Wheezy tends toward the spacious and spare; his beats give Thug room, so that their songs are as much shaped by Thug's vocals as any drums. In a serenely stoned conversation over the phone from Atlanta, Wheezy spoke about finding chemistry with Thug, and his Atlanta mentors.
Where are you from?
I was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi. My moms is from Mississippi and my pops is from Atlanta. So I was coming to Atlanta on and off, in the summertime. I grew up a little bit here and a little bit there. Now this is where I reside, in Atlanta.
When you were growing up, what were you listening to? Were your parents into music?
My parent's aren't into music. I was listening to Young Jeezy, Gucci Mane, the T.I.'s. That's the type of music I was fucking with. When I was 14, 15, I started making beats. My brother TG Montana showed me how to work with Fruity Loops and all that. I made my first beat and I just fell in love with it.
Who were you making beats for at 14?
Just local—actually, him, TG Montana. He was doing a couple local projects. I was really just fucking around, man. This was probably 2006, 2005.
What did your beats sound like when you started making a name for yourself?
It was a futuristic time. I was making beats for Rich Kidz. When they broke up I started making beats for Rich Kid Shawty. That's when I was on and off, coming to Atlanta for the summer. Once [Rich Kid Shawty] started his lil' solo shit, I was around a lot. We had a close friend, PeeWee Roscoe, and he was doing his little thing. We was all just working. We was very close friends. Once I perfected my craft, PeeWee noticed that it was getting good, it was getting serious. He been in the big leagues in the game, so he put me down with Thugger. I started working with Thugger. Once I started working with Thugger we built our chemistry. That was last year—me and Thugger just kept it going, kept making our music. We built a strong bond and we've been rocking like that ever since. We formed a good little team.
Did you ever have a mentor coming up who helped you with production?
Yeah, I got a lot of advice. All the producers I work with now, we was at a studio called DART in Atlanta. Down on the South Side. For a month or two we was going up to DART. It was me, 808 Mafia, Metro, Southside, Sonny Digital. Lex Luger used to come through sometimes. We was rocking like that, so I learned the ins and outs. They was throwing little info about the business. Especially Southside, he did a lot for me. We used to always collab, everybody. It would be late night, or it would be mid day. Whenever. We was rocking like that. Everybody that's out now, they know me. I have a relationship with everybody.
In an environment like that, it's gotta get a little competitive. What do you do to stand out?
We all have our own style. They have their distinct shit and I had my style going. So I just kept it going like that. I'd describe my style as—soul-romantic-trap. Something of that nature. When I make a beat, I try not to put a lot in it, because I know to leave a lot of space open for the words. I try not to oversaturate it.
What did creating your current style involve? What did you used to sound like, and what changes did you make?
I started flipping samples. Any kind of sample. I fuck with some of the Bollywood shit. I like vintage sounds and shit like that. But it's on and off [with the samples], you know what I'm saying? I like my 808s, blending my snare and going crazy on the hi-hats.
What was the first record you did with Thug? What’s your favorite that you've done together?
First record with Thugga was—I would say "Up," on Slime Season 2. Favorite, I'd say "Pass Me the Lighter," Young Thug and Duke.
How many songs have you guys done together?
Over a hundred songs. We've still got 'em in the vault.
What's Thug like in the studio?
He's been going in with Lil Duke, so he feed off Lil Duke. Lil Duke's coming up. He's coming out with a mixtape called The Uberman.
What equipment do you use?
FL Studio and I fuck with the Oxygen, the MIDI Oxygen 88.
What producers do you look up to right now?
What's the biggest challenge for you as a producer? How do you keep yourself motivated, inspired?
I keep myself motivated when I get under the influence, you know. I like my herb.