At the beginning of September, DJ Mustard announced Cold Summer, the follow up to 2014's 10 Summers album and 2015's 10 Summers: The Mixtape. A lot has changed with the seasons for the L.A. producer, who produced Rihanna's charting Anti hit "Needed Me" earlier this year and toured Europe with the pop star in June. But for his new project, Mustard brings along a cast of familiar faces - including YG, Ty Dolla $ign, and Jeremih - as well as recent signees to his 10 Summers imprint RJ and Ella Mai.
"The new music that I'm making is basically to show people that I haven't forgot where I came from," DJ Mustard told The FADER over the phone on Thursday. "I'm just here to be better at what I'm doing."
Before DJ Mustard's Cold Summer album becomes available on iTunes and TIDAL at midnight, the producer took some time out to discuss how the project came together and what it means for his personal progression.
Tell me about Cold Summer. How did you decide to put this new project together?
DJ MUSTARD: It wasn’t a project to start out with. I went on tour this summer with Rihanna, and usually I always try to drop a project this time of year – whether it’s a mixtape or an album, just something for the fans. And I just noticed, Man, I didn’t do nothing this summer. I dropped singles here and there, but I didn’t drop a full project. So I had the idea, but I wasn’t sure if that was the thing to really do because I don’t want to put anything out that I don’t stand behind.
When I got home, I just started working. Me and YG had finally got back in the studio, and it just started falling into place. People were just pulling up: Quavo pulled up out of nowhere and did like four songs, and I used one of those, [Young] Thug pulled up, and I used one of his songs. We just kept working, and I was feeling like maybe it was meant for me to put out a project. But the summer was almost over, and it was about to get cold, so I was like, "Let’s just call it Cold Summer." There was a lot of shit going on this summer. I saw a lot of different things, and I put that into the music. But I think people forgot where I came from.
What has it been like to be back in the studio with YG?
It’s been cool. At first, we weren’t even in the studio. It was more like just going to hang out with him, just getting the feel of being back in each other’s presence. We were going to family functions and stuff like that. My mom and his mom – they never stopped being cool, but us not being cool fucked up a lot of things. Us working just came natural after that because that’s what we do. When we got back in the studio, it felt like what we were supposed to be doing.
There was a lot of bullshit in the middle of why we weren’t cool. It was always other people’s problems. It was never our issues. So once we got that under control, everything came naturally.
There are a lot of familiar faces on the album but you also feature up-and-coming artists like Ella Mai and RJ. Tell me a little bit about them and what they brought to Cold Summer.
They’re the home team. Ella’s from London and she’s signed to me, and RJ is signed to me and YG, so we’re all a family together. I’ve been working with RJ for a long time, and he’s now starting to get the shine he deserves. He has a big fan base out here, and he’s the next up out of L.A., in my opinion. And Ella is just next up period. For me right now, it’s not about putting more outside people in the spotlight. It’s more about putting my people in positions to do what they’re supposed to do.
A lot of things have changed since your 10 Summers album in 2014. Did you try to approach this project differently or was it back to basics?
It wasn’t really back to basics. I was trying to use the new tools that I have now and grow as a producer and artist – just trying to be better than I was before. That’s what I was really on. It was more so that I was trying to do it better than I did last time. I’m only in competition with myself. Coming into this project, I wanted to bring it straight to the ghetto, and bring back that side of Mustard that people don’t see as much anymore.