Early work with Cassidy & linking with Boi 1da
A large selection of Vinylz biggest placements have been collaborations with Toronto beatmaker Boi 1da, and while his career definitely took off after making the connection, it wasn't exactly the first he made, linking up with a couple of big names through his involvement in local creative spaces.
"I met Swizz Beatz’ dad -- He was at a local studio around where I used to live in Western Heights," he said. "I was just playing beats and he was like ‘yo, you’re pretty dope!’. He just took me under the wing and started taking me to studios and all that, and that’s how I got introduced to Cassidy."
After working with Cassidy on a few singles, including his 2008 track, "Amnesia," Vinylz' mixtape work with the rapper is what eventually got him in with 1da.
"Cassidy wanted to freestyle to the “Best I Ever Had” instrumental," said Vinylz. "We couldn’t find it online, so I looked up who produced it, and I just randomly found Boi-1da’s MySpace page and hit him up, and he actually responded. Then he was like ‘yeah, I’ll send it right over. I had music on his page and we like your beats are dope are dope by the way, so I sent him some stuff and we’ve been rocking ever since."
Deleting hits & his "grimy" sample-like style
Like many of his peers, Vinylz production software of choice is FL Studio, something he's been using since his early days of chopping up samples. He continuously jokes about his simple process being a result of "laziness," but at the same time, reveals that he spends every waking moment essentially composing in his head.
"Everywhere I go, I'm always humming," he said. "Usually if I hum out a cool melody, I voice record it and go home, and just work off that. The same thing with drums -- I'll beatbox drums and then bring them to life. I'm always thinking about music, even right now [laughs]."
He's also continuously challenging himself, making sure that every new beat is not only better, but stylistically different than his last. "If you look at my catalog, nothing sounds the same," he suggested, though he did point out one consistency in many of his productions. "I always try to add the sample feel -- The old-school grimy feel you hear on "0-100 or "5AM To Toronto".
Surprisingly enough, his discerning process has meant that he almost gave up on a lot of great beats early on in their creation. I'm always criticizing myself. A lot of my hit records were almost deleted," he said, suggesting that Meek Mill and Drake's "Rico" was very close to being permanently erased. "Every single beat that I've placed I said it was trash or it ended up in the trash. Usually when my friend Allen Ritter is at the crib. You'll hear me making a beat and then the music stops, and he'll be like 'you deleted it didn't you?'. Then he goes in the recycling bin later and takes it out."
The "lottery" of working with Drake
Vinylz already has countless production credits on Drake songs, many of which landed on the rapper's last project, If You're Reading This It's Too Late. Surprisingly enough, some of the instrumentals that made the cut actually date back to a session in L.A. from a few years prior.
"'Know Yourself'" was made around the time we made “No New Friends,” the producer revealed. "This was around 2013 I’d say, or probably before that. We were in Drake’s house working, and me Allen Ritter and 1da made at least 20 beats in like 3 days. “Chi-Raq” came out of that, “No New Friends,” “5AM In Toronto”.
In fact, Chris Brown's recent single, "Back To Sleep" also comes from that stash, which Vinylz didn't even know was coming until it dropped, something that happens pretty often with his Boi 1da collaborations.
"We’ve made so many beats together, we just put them in our managers’ hands, or I send them out, 1da sends them out, and it usually just gets picked," he said. "We’ve made like 2 or three hundred beats together. They’re all crazy. The thing about us is we don’t follow trends, so we try to do something brand new, and that always stands out."
However when it comes to getting Drake on a beat, things can get a little more selective
"Working with Drake is like playing the lotto sometimes," he joked. "People think that because we’re close to him that it’s easy. That just means we’re the fastest to get a beat to him, it doesn’t mean he’s going to pick it. It’s still like tryouts. The way he thinks -- his mind is so crazy, so it’s always a challenge. We speak on the regular, so he’ll call me or text me and be like ‘yo I got on this or ‘i need this’."
As far as where these hyper productive sessions take place, it all depends on the feel Vinylz and 1da are going for. "We’ll travel anywhere to work," he revealed. Sometimes we just have to get away. If we need some inspiration we’ll fly out to L.A., Miami, just to work and get some cool vibes. Whenever we’re around Drake we’ll just go to the studio."
Jeremih & J. Cole
It's become a pattern for Vinylz to receive production credits on songs that he claims he had no involvement with. The first of these strange occurrences was an early placement he landed with Swizz Beatz on Gucci Mane's "Gucci Time," and more recently, Jeremih's stripped down closer "Paradise".
"I don’t know what that is either," he said with a shrug. "We have a lot of songs, I don’t know if that’s a song that he has that we did, but I’ve never heard it."
While that particular collaboration is somewhat of a mystery, Vinylz has done a lot of work with the Chicago singer, most notably the opening track on Late Nights: The Album, "Planez".
"Me and him, we’ve got a great chemistry," he said. "He’s quick, he’ll knock out five songs a night. We just get each other, as soon as I throw a beat on, he’ll find an idea for it right away."
Much of the music the two have made together hasn't made its way out yet, but with 'Mih, there's always the possibility it could end up being someone else's song (See: "Throw Sum Mo")."We have a lot of songs. Who knows where they’ll end up," he said. "We have a bunch of crazy stuff. The guy makes so much music... He’s like fuck it I’ll just give it to someone else, make a hit out of it."
Of course, J. Cole has a pretty memorable verse on "Planez," and it was through Jeremih that Vinylz linked up with the rapper, going on to produce "Fire Squad," and "A Tale Of 2 Citiez" for 2014 Forest Hills Drive, the latter of which being remixed by Kendrick Lamar. Vinylz remained tight-lipped about the rumored collaborative project between Cole and Lamar, but he's excited as anyone over the possibility.
"If it happens, I’ll be ready for it," he said, confirming that he's been sending material back and forth with Cole, though it's not clear where it'll end up. "I already have a bunch of beats lined up for him, and I sent him a few so he went crazy."
PartyNextDoor's unmatched productivity
Another artist Vinylz has been collaborating with recently is PARTYNEXTDOOR. While the OVO singer is hard at work on his new solo project, he's also begun to do some work writing sketches for other artists -- most recently he cowrote Rihanna's "Work" and "Sex With Me," both of which Vinylz was also involved.
"Me and PARTY have been working hard," said the producer. "Him and Jeremih are like the fastest workers I’ve worked with. He just knocks out records."
Vinylz then recalled his most recent session with PARTY, in which he shot out a ton of ideas in a short period of time, some of them likely to be shopped to other artists much like the Rih records.
"That guy’s a beast," he said. "One time we were working in L.A. and I played him at least 15 beats and left them with him. I come back 2 hours later, and he’s like ‘yo I need some more beats,” I’m like what do you mean?” -- "all those beats you gave me are done". He played me a song for each one of them, they were all crazy."
Of course, PARTY is known to be a very reclusive worker, often doing everything from producing to vocal recording himself, which Vinylz respects when they get in the lab.
"He’s very chill. I give him his space. As soon as a I play him a beat, I leave the room. I come back 15 minutes later and the song's done," he said, revealing that during this time PARTY will also play with the dynamics of the instrumentals. "He tweaks. I let him do whatever on the song. I’m all about making the song better. I’m not one of those producers who says I don’t like how you touched the beat. I don’t like how you flipped that. If it makes the song better, I’m all for it."
Following "Work" (officially his first #1 on the Billboard Hot 100) and with both PND and Drake's new projects on the way, we can only imagine what's next up for Vinylz.
"I can't say, but just know we'll be doing more interviews down the line [laughs]".