How Each Song In My Next Album "Clarity" Was Made

This blog is a summary about the process behind making each song, as well as how I came to know the artists (and producers) involved. My Instagram showcases my progression as a beatmaker but rarely did I talk about my work when it came to producing records, aside from just making beat loops and rhythms. 

Growing up, I realized I was good at a lot of things (people used to call me a jack of all trades) but nothing was really "for" me (I wasn’t great/the best at any of those things). And that hurt because I wanted to achieve greatness (like most). When I went to college for piano I heard the best advice. The quote was something like:

"Write down things that you’re not good at. Then get the people who are good at those things! Then you get that great leverage and the simpatico even on the things you’re good at."

That's when everything became clear to me and I knew I was meant to be a producer! I don't have to have the best melodies, write the dopest lyrics, or have the newest rhythms. I'm a great team leader and easy to get along with. Once I recognized my strengths and weaknesses, I was able to build with artists (and producers) who are strong in the areas that I am weaker at.

Although most of these songs are well written with top notch musicality and new level mastering, there are also songs for FUN that just showcase my producing ability, writing and arranging HIT songs for different types of artists. 

Lost Ones (ft. Jackie Spade, Jerrod Azaad, & Ana Celeste)

This one is the most personal one on the album and the one that took the most time to create. This is more of a reflection of life from my experiences. I've always been a calm cool guy and made friends really easy, partially because I was a people pleaser and I wanted to see people happy. But from the start of my music journey I had to start understanding that not everyone was meant to stay in my life. Some we just learn lessons from (good or bad) and move on.

I started writing the hook and forming the idea towards the end of 2020. There have been 3 variations of this song since then lol. The first was a fast 95 BPM boom bap vibe with jazzy chords and a moving bass. I played around with that idea for about 3 months before sending it off to Jackie Spade to start crafting some lyrics. It was a busier time of the year so we kind of pushed aside the record til the end of April. 

I met Jackie Spade through another artist (Dolphie) when they both came to record at home studio back in 2018, leading to us creating our HIT "Run No Game". Jackie is a well versed artist, landing on the XXL and being featured in a Sprite commercial for the BET Awards. His unique syncopated flow and story telling is always on point. Jerrod Azaad I met in 2017, when he purchased an instrumental from my website and decided to record it at my home studio. Jerrod is a true performer and soul singer, winning multiple Carolina Music Awards and opening up for Maxwell, Anthony Hamilton, and Damien Escobar. Ana Celeste (model, artist, photographer) I met in 2019 when she hit me up to record her debut EP, "Gucci Coochie" at the Hit Factory 336. Being the only female artist on the album, she offers a different perspective on life and her ideas are valuable to the emotional impact of the track.

In March 2021, I invited the crew over to the crib and showed them the 1st variation of the song. We agreed that it wasn't really the right vibe, so we pulled up reference tracks to give us ideas on what type of vibe we were all looking for. Some of the references were Bas/J Cole's "Night Job", Fabulous' "Cold Summer", Baby Keem's "Honest", and Mac Miller's "I Am Who I Am". I then hopped on the piano, pulled up Logic Pro, and started to make a new beat on the spot with the references in mind. While I was crafting the beat, Jackie and Ana started writing their verses and bouncing off each other to make sure we capture the essence of the song.

Wine poured and smoke in the air, we made a hit! We recorded a rough draft of the hook and Jackie's verse. Then they went home and I sent the track off to TrakShak to add some sauce! Trak and I have been working for about 4 years now, collaborating on a few of my tracks (Merry Christmas ft. Jerrod Azaad & Angelynn Peralta and Run No Game ft. Jackie Spade & Dolphie) and some instrumentals for television sync. This 2nd variation of "Lost Ones" was a mid-tempo 78 BPM boom bap vibe with smooth rhodes and guitar licks. Within days Ana recorded her verse and I mixed the song. 

Fast forward to August, I'm in a new crib and my hard drive fails, losing most of my data (including most of my catalog). I took that as a sign to work on new music and I was having second thoughts about "Lost Ones" because I felt it didn't catch my attention, like it used to. So I had the crew meet up again to check out the references from before to craft another vibe. Jerrod mentioned to sample one of my past tracks "Boro" and we went from there. We took the same hook and adjusted the verses, then Trak and myself made a laid back boom bap instrumental to fit the vibe. I decided to keep the last variation and from there we pushed forward.

Is You Wit' Me? (ft. TonyFromTheCity)

"Is You Wit' Me" closely reflects my style, laid back jazzy keys with fast moving drums. The original track was named "Bliss". We always hear the phrase, "Ignorance is bliss". This song expands on that from an idea in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, "The truth will set you free but it can also make life a bit depressing.The information is for all of us but only some choose to be set free." It is also about understanding people's purpose in your life and also being reminiscent of the great things that came out of good and bad situations, or good and bad relationships with people.

I met Tony through a friend of a friend lmao. During my sophomore year at UNCG, I met my homie Jeff, who later introduced me to his friend Perry. We all used to smoke together and chill out in my home studio, freestyling and making instrumentals. In 2020, Perry hit me up and introduced me to Tony, meeting up at Epic Sounds Studio to record some songs. Tony later recoded a song called "Butter" and some lyrics of the song really stood out to me, "It's getting hard to see who really wit' and me who not" and "I’ve been seeing ghost been tryna count 100 milli dog, I’ve been on my own I hope they know the way im livin dog".

Throughout the year, I crafted up a few instrumentals and decided to write to a few of them. The following year in August, I sent Tony a reference of the beat and he pulled up to the crib within days to record the track. I showed him the melody of the hook and we went back n forth polishing it up. Afterwards, I asked him if what he thought for the verse, he told me to "hook up the mic" then freestyled a few verses. The 2nd one he did, we ended up writing down and editing it up a bit before recording it and using it as the verse. From the 3rd take, we chose a two bar loop and used it for the bridge, "Is it you wit me damn or you not? I gotta see it, yeah yeah. Is it you wit damn cause I’m hot? I'm in that shit, yeah yeah."

Steppin In (ft. Seth Simmons)

Seth was one of the first artists I worked with and produced for. We've recorded 200+ songs together, all from scratch, and have performed multiples shows on tours together, including opening up for Afroman. Seth has always been a humble dude, never cursing in any of his songs. 2016-2019 I posted instrumentals on Instagram every day (sometimes twice a day). I ended up collecting a few thousand beats and we chose the one for  "Steppin In", and recorded the track, back in 2017. In 2019 I did a re-master of the track, and due to a hard drive failure this year, the current version is outdated. Still the track is a dope, goofy vibe about having a good time, especially whenever we're around.

Like This (ft. Seth Simmons & Knox Carolina)

The instrumental to this track was actually released back in 2018, but I later took it down to clean up my catalog. I met Knox when I was engineering at the Hit Factory 336. Since then, I've engineered 50+ records for him and on each track he stays true to his style and purpose. After my hard drive crash of August 2021, I did a few disk recovery options and was able to recover about 30% of my work. The instrumental (and Logic Pro file) survived the crash. I took this as sign a to turn this into a HIT. A few days later, Seth pulled up my home studio, before his DJ shift at the radio station, and he came up with (and recorded) the hook for the track. I sent Knox the instrumental later that night, he pulled up within days to record his verse, then Seth pulled up in October to finish his verse, and I mastered the song.

Winnin' (ft. O.D. & Ana Celeste)

“Winnin” also comes with some history. I first met O.D., who features on the hook and second verse, my freshmen year of college at UNCG. After my first apprenticeship, an artist that knew me reached out and introduced me to O.D., because he had a local recording studio (Da Chimney Studio) and was looking for engineers and producers to work with. From then on, we started on our journey in the music business, selling merchandise and making hundreds of beats and hit songs together like "On It ft. Seth Simmons" and "Hardwork ft. Mxrc Clxrk."

Years later, I invited O.D. and Ana to the crib to cook up another track for my album. I crafted the beat and immediately, O.D. and Ana were vibin' with it. It was good times all around, and I was inspired by a winning streak in my career. I suggested that we make a song about winning that people could relate to, and even if they couldn’t, they could feel like a winner. This song was rewritten and reworked a few times that day before we were satisfied. Then, O.D. recorded the hook and a rough draft of his verse. Later that week, Ana recorded her verse and I mastered the record.

Clientele (ft. Debo)

This song was completely written by Debo. Debo and I have been making hits together since 2015. From "Vibin" and "Uncle Phil", when we get in the studio together we make music happen effortlessly. I met Debo at the first studio I was an apprentice at and we've both worked at a few studios together since then. We used to pull up to the studio and just make random beats for the studio collection. I heard Debo recording "Clientele" to a reference beat before my session at Epic Sounds Studio. That night, he sent me the session stems and I went to produce the record, adding vocal and beat production, unique mixing techniques, and my own sauce.

I empathize with those who are against drug culture and dislike "drug music". Please understand that the only reason why drug culture is popular in hip hop music is because the trapper life style is an over-glorified fantasy. For these listeners, lyrics usually come secondary in importance to the beat and may or may not reflect real life. However, the fantasy of living a different lifestyle provides escapism for people who value this subculture and in combination with catchy hooks and bars, compels listeners to hit replay. Songs like these showcase my ability to make hot records, regardless of the audience. 

Zip It Up (ft. Ana Celeste)

When I first sat down with Ana to discuss this song, we agreed the album had something for just about everyone, but what it was missing was something radio-appropriate and still a banger. We also knew we wanted to make the type of empowering song women would dance to, however we don’t believe women have to hypersexualize themselves to do that.  Basically, we wanted a hot, dope song featuring a woman with lyrics that flex, yet have nothing to do with her body. I made the beat to be similar to the hot local style like we’ve seen from Debo, a slow trap beat with a mysterious flair.

When writing these lyrics, Ana Celeste wanted to encourage women to chase the bag, protect their assets, and ignore what the opposite sex or social media might demand of them: “I been quiet on IG/You ain’t got nothin’ to see/Yeah, I’m really bout my biness but you won’t hear it from me.” The catchy hook, written by both Ana and myself, includes a hot, but friendly subliminal message: she wants to see her female competition step it up. With that in mind, Ana and I recorded the song over the course of a few days, experimenting with different bars and beats at the same time. What we came up with was a combination of what we both wanted for the track. After mixing and mastering, we poured up some champagne to celebrate—we knew it would be a hit. Contracts signed and bags secured, “Zip It Up” became the album’s grande finale.

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