C4, producer of T.I.'s "Money Talk" and Young Thug's "Thief in the Night," is the latest subject of Behind the Beat.
Most of Atlanta's most successful musicians were born in the city and haven't left since. The transplants that have been able to make it are mostly from the South, as Atlanta is really the only place in the region that provides any opportunity for a career in music. That's where C4 headed after he had seen DJ Spinz, also from the town of Augusta, make a name for himself in the Georgia capital.
"The real struggle, man." That's how C4 describes growing up in Augusta. "No opportunity. Just country. Go to school and get a job at a plant. That's what everybody do. But I knew I ain't wanna take that route."
Atlanta indeed proved to be a land of opportunity for C4, whose name comes from the piano note (and not the explosive). Though he was lucky to run into a few major players who helped him quickly earn a solid reputation in the streets. He crashed on Spinz’ couch until he was able to get his beats picked up by relatively well-known artists such as Travis Porter and Gorilla Zoe. An important foray into the scene came when he developed an immediate rapport with a rapper named Yung Fresh, who in the next couple of years, would change his name to Bankroll Fresh and become one of the most promising trap artists in Atlanta. Last month, in news that shook the city, Fresh was shot and killed outside of the notorious Street Execs Studio.
Fresh came by C4’s bedroom studio one day in late 2011, and the pair recorded “Street Money,” which would go on to become the inspiration for Fresh’s successful Street Money Worldwide brand and label. The song is filled with wild trap energy and is a powerful showcase of the early talents of both Fresh and C4. Ghostly sirens come in and out of focus as Fresh executes a relentless flow that mimics the non-stop punches of Gucci Mane but with a more youthful charm.
Speaking of Gucci, C4 was introduced to the Trap God by Yung Fresh, and just like that, the out-of-town producer acquired the city’s strongest cosign.
After becoming one of GuWop’s studio regulars, C4 recalls Gucci telling him one day, “You Brick Squad now,” and soon after that, he remembers his new boss calling him up and asking, “C4, wanna come to Miami?” Caught off guard, he responded, “Shit, I don’t think I got no Miami money right now,” which was quickly met with, “Man you good!”
C4 then found himself on what sounds like the most lit road trip ever assembled, on a bus with Gucci and a gang of Brick Squad affiliates, most of whom he had never met, including Young Thug, Waka Flocka, PeeWee Longway, and Young Dolph. Once in Miami, most of the trip was spent in the Hit Factory, where they recorded a wealth of material and were introduced to Birdman and other industry playmakers.
It was after that when C4 began working heavily with Gucci and Young Thug, soon-to-be the one of the hottest (and most unpredictable) rappers in the game. He scored two beats on 1017 Thug, the tape that put Thug on a path toward stardom. 1017 Thug arrived less than two weeks after Gucci’s Trap God 2, on which C4 contributed to three tracks, including the Wiz Khalifa-featuring “Nothin on Ya” alongside Spinz. The track is a terrorizing club anthem that makes use of a blend of squealing video game-style synths, anthemic bells, and throbs of bass.
“Nothin on Ya” is evidence of C4’s early mission as a producer -- to elicit both the thrill and danger inherent in the trap lifestyle by using whatever bizarre and unorthodox sounds he could get his hands on. It helped that his team consisted of three brave experimenters in Fresh, Thug, and Wop, though fast-forward to 2014, and that would all begin to change.