The Los Angeles manufacturing duo of Money Mike and J-Keys have been right here earlier than.
Back in 2013, they acquired a finest rap album Grammy nomination for their contributions to Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album, Pt. 1. Six years later, they discover themselves acknowledged once more for his or her work on Nipsey Hussle’s vibrant debut studio album Victory Lap.
But this one definitely feels completely different.
For one, Mike & Keys are answerable for shaping the sonics of Nipsey's complete album. The extremely anticipated LP, which was 5 years within the making, not solely met however exceeded the lofty expectations of followers — thanks, largely, to the magnificent manufacturing that backed Neighborhood Nip’s concrete-thumping lyrics.
“This nomination is certainly completely different due to the quantity of labor we needed to do,” Mike tells Billboard within the days earlier than the 61st Annual Grammy Awards. “For his debut, Nipsey gave us full management creatively. We’ve been working with him since 2013’s ‘Crenshaw’ mixtape and he trusted us 100%. That means quite a bit.”
The producers formally often called The Futuristiks sat down with Billboard to clarify why successful a Grammy this 12 months can be the equal to LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavs downing the Golden State Warriors in 2016, the numerous iterations of Victory Lap’s lead single “Rap N—as,” getting cold-called by 2 Chainz, and what 2019 has in retailer for the duo who’re answerable for reshaping the sound of the West Coast.
Out of curiosity, what number of songs did you file for Victory Lap?
Mike: Like, 50?
Keys: Yeah, there are plenty of songs which are locked within the vault. Some of the songs ended up being the Crenshaw mixtape. But he has a tune with Future and there are songs with different those that I can’t point out.
Will these songs see the sunshine of day?
Mike: We make music with the intention of it popping out, however you know the way the music business is. Things change and we’re on to the following one.
Victory Lap was an album that took 5 years to lastly materialize — did it check your endurance as producers, as a result of in in the present day’s local weather, an artist can full and launch an album in 5 days?
Mike: Yeah, however with the anticipation of the album we simply needed to show all people flawed. Nipsey felt the strain as effectively, and we simply needed to let him that we have been going to complete the album and it will be nice. We have been those who advised him that this might get nominated for a Grammy, as a result of he was that good. I believe he believed in us and we believed in him from the start.
Keys: Even earlier than the album got here out, we lived at Paramount Recording Studios. Literally. They mentioned that we have been the primary folks to ebook out your complete studio for 2 months and truly stay there. Seriously. Nobody went dwelling. We truly lived there. We have been actually attempting to faucet into the power and vibe. We felt like if we didn’t keep there, we might lose it. We wanted that vibe to complete the album.
2019 additionally noticed the discharge of Buddy’s Harlan & Alondra, which you additionally had a heavy hand in producing. It was one other album that garnered vital acclaim. Do you are feeling that you’re lastly getting the popularity you deserve as producers who’re molding the brand new West Coast sound?
Mike: I positively assume so. We received quite a bit respect from completely different artists and producers. They inform us that we’re answerable for the sound of the brand new West Coast. Ever since we labored with Dom Kennedy on Get Home Safely — [that] was when all the pieces modified. Nipsey began taking note of us. We created a sound for Dom and all people noticed that.
Keys: We spent plenty of time with Nipsey and Buddy. It was a household factor. We met Buddy whereas we have been working with Nipsey. Buddy is like our little brother. It was straightforward to do Buddy’s album and work with Nipsey. We’re simply pleased folks loved each albums.
About a decade in the past, the West Coast was going via an id disaster and lacked a particular sound that after outlined it. What have you ever dropped at the desk to assist change that?
Mike: Young power. We’re the following technology of the Dre and Snoop. All the younger cats out right here grew up listening to these guys. We at all times needed to be like Dr. Dre. We get impressed by them however we need to have our personal id. We found our personal sound.
Keys: When we got here into the music business it was at a time whenever you actually needed to make dope beats. It wasn’t how it’s in the present day the place you may simply put your beats on YouTube for somebody to listen to. If you walked right into a room with a 50 Cent or Eminem, you had to have the ability to make a beat on the spot. As for the West Coast, our complete principle is high quality over amount. We could not have the No. 1 hottest single, however we’ll make the music that folks might be listening to for years and years.
You talked about that you just advised Nipsey that he may get nominated for a Grammy off of this album. When it occurred, have been you stunned?
Mike: In 2016, the 12 months that LeBron’s Cavs beat the 73-9 Warriors, we mentioned we have been going to get to the Grammys off of Nipsey Hussle’s album. We have been motivated by that. But we didn’t assume we have been getting nominated this 12 months, simply primarily based on how many individuals dropped albums. To be nominated on this local weather when everybody was attempting to inform us what we needs to be doing and what sort of music to make — to stay with our weapons, and make it, is the perfect feeling ever.
“Rap N—as” set the tone for the album when the only dropped. But I perceive that the tune went via many alternative iterations earlier than it was finalized.
Keys: “Rap N—as” is admittedly an outdated tune that he did. The authentic was a distinct beat from anyone else. Nipsey gave us the vocals and we saved stabbing at it. We made 5 completely different variations till Nipsey mentioned, “That’s the one.” It took a minute to make that tune. It took about two years simply to make that tune.
Was the unique model as aggressive from the manufacturing aspect as the ultimate model? Because that model makes you need to tear issues up.
Keys: That’s what we have been attempting to try this from the bounce! Nipsey won’t ever say this however we requested to place gunshots within the beat. He’d say no. But should you take heed to that beat, we have been so mad from doing so many variations that we determined to make the toughest model we may, and he’d have to love it.
Has this album, the Buddy album and now the Grammy nomination opened doorways so that you can work with different folks that you could be not have anticipated to work with?
Mike: Yeah. It was loopy as a result of we received a name from 2 Chainz. He referred to as out the blue and requested “Y’all did ‘Rap N—as?’ That’s all I have to know!” The ironic factor was that when he referred to as us he already had a tune that he did to one among our beats so it was principally getting acquainted. I didn’t know who it was when he referred to as. French Montana reached out as effectively.
What does 2019 have in retailer for Mike & Keys?
Mike: Our aim is to place out our personal music and artists. We need to showcase what actual producers do. It’s not simply making beats. We need to create a brand new lane for producers. We did a couple of songs with 2 Chainz so hopefully a kind of stick. But you know the way it goes. You by no means know.