IllaDaProducer is positioning himself for a massive 2018. The Florida-based producer has been steady putting in work, and recently secured his biggest look yet when he landed a production credit on Eminem’s Revival. His contribution, “Offended,” has already been touted as a fan favorite, with many publications citing it among the project’s highlights. But how did a Florida producer find himself on one of the year’s biggest releases? Evidently, a combination of fate, talent, and the savvy mind of Royce Da 5’9” all played a role. Now, Illa can cross a legendary collaboration off his bucket list, and begin plotting his next move. If he hasn’t already.

RELATED: Pi'erre Bourne And The Art Of Hustle

And while Eminem is certainly his most high profile collaboration, Illa has managed to compile quite the resume, having laced beats for Lil Pump, Smokepurpp, Rick Ross, Chief Keef, Giggs, Kent Jones, French Montana, Styles P, Jadakiss, PHresher, and more. Clearly, he’s managed to acquit himself well in the hip-hop business, sounding at once affable and imposing; after all, he went from trapping to rubbing shoulders with the likes of DJ Khaled, Cool & Dre, and Scott Storch. It’s no wonder he exudes such a sense of confident wisdom, having thrived under such vastly different conditions.

RELATED: Meet J-Soul: A Cash Money Signee & Toronto Rags To Riches Story

Suffice it to say, Illa is feeling blessed right now, and you can hear the confidence in his voice as he reflects on his recent winning streak. HNHH had the chance to speak with him a few days prior to Revival’s release, and his excitement was evident from the jump. We proceeded to chop it up about his come-up, working with Eminem, the rising Florida rap scene, and much more. 

******

HNHH: Hey what’s up, how are you doing today?

Illa: What’s going on, Mitch? I can’t complain. I cannot complain.

First off, congrats on landing the Eminem production credit. That’s a good look.

Hell yeah, it’s a blessing.

Did you make it specifically with Eminem in mind? In general, could you walk me through the process of landing that?

I landed it because I did “Wait A Minute” for Phresher. Em was a fan of that song, so when he found out whose song it was from Royce Da 5’9”, he found out I did the beat. Rosenberg had Shady Records reach out to me, and I sent a pack of beats over, and he picked it. I do a bunch of trap shit usually, but this one is like a chopped up sample with some hard ass trap drums on top of it.

Em is actually the co-producer of the track. I sent over six beats, and he picked three of them. One of them had a hook on it, and he took the hook off of one beat, and put it on another. I didn’t even hear it - he heard it somehow cause he’s a genius.

Nice. On that note, I’ve always heard Eminem was a meticulous perfectionist in the studio, obsessing over sounds and arrangements. On the opposite end, I heard Zaytoven say he would spend ten minutes on a beat and then move on. I thought the difference in approach was really interesting - on which side do you fall?

I fall in the Zaytoven school of thought. To me, the simplest beats are some of the best beats. I go in studio with other producers, and I see they take forever on one beat because they’re over thinking everything. I’m pretty confident, I know what sounds dope. I make a beat in like ten, fifteen minutes sometimes. If I’m stuck on it sometimes, I already know it’s not going to work.

Speaking of spontaneity, what are your thoughts on all these collaboration albums that have been dropping? Where a single producer and artists will hit the studio and bang out ten tracks. Do you prefer that type of vibe, where you’re working in the studio with an artist, or do you like to work alone?

I like to do both, but I definitely prefer to be in the studio with the artist. That way, you both get to vibe - the ideas seem to flow easier on both sides if the vibe is right. If the energy is off, than nah, but if we catch a vibe, we can knock out ten, fifteen songs in one session.

Can you talk a bit about your early producer days? Did you have any musical training, or did you decide to wing it, and learn on the fly?

I was actually a dope boy back in the day. I used to trap. My story is kind of crazy, cause everybody knows me from hustlin’ back in the days. Even DJ Khaled, who I work closely with, he always tells me “I remember calling you for different reasons, not for beats!” It was guys like Khaled, Cool & Dre, Scott Storch, and Pooh Bear...they took me under their wing.

I saw Scott right at the end of his reign, and picked his brain. He told me he was making $1.2 million a week making beats, and I’m out here risking my life for nothing...Why not make beats?

Scott Storch has a great brain to pick. I was a big fan during his peak. I’m rooting for his comeback.

He’s making a huge comeback. He’s a musical genius.

And how did you end up working with DJ Khaled?

I knew him from running around Miami. Khaled’s somebody who you’re going to see out, and I always moved around in the studio circles, whether it was Cool & Dre’s studio, Circle House, Hit Factory...I’ve known him since I first came down to Miami.

Cool. Speaking of which, how do you feel about the new wave of Florida hip-hop that’s been taking over?

Man, I couldn’t wait for you to ask me this. I’ve been waiting forever for this movement in Florida, cause I feel like we’ve got so much talent down here. We had a big run in 2007, so it’s been ten years since we’ve had a big run. It’s right on time for Lil Pump, or Smokepurpp, or Wifisfuneral, Ronny J the producer, Denzel Curry, Kodak...I’m just excited for Florida, period.

You know how Atlanta had the wave, and still has it? I know a bunch of artists in Florida that haven’t blown up yet, who I know are going to blow up. It just feels good, man.

Lil Pump is a great example, cause he’s a fascinating artist in a lot of ways. Something about him really seems to captivate the young people today.

Absolutely, the kids run it nowadays. They have the loudest voice. You look at Pump - he gets two million followers a month on Instagram - there’s no denying, his fans have the loudest voice right now.

I saw something this week where a Big Sean fan said something like “you don’t like Big Sean’s new project? Ya’ll must be Lil Pump Fans.” Cause of that one fan, all Lil Pump’s fans came and trashed Big Sean for three days straight, he didn’t even do nothing! You can’t bring Pump into any conversation, cause these kids will definitely go crazy.

To borrow an old cliche - you can love him, you can hate him, but you can’t ignore him.

No you cannot. I’m blessed to be a part of that project, same way I’m blessed to be a part of Eminem’s new project.

When you produced “Pinky Ring” for Pump’s mixtape, did you end up getting in the studio with him?

Nah, it’s done through mobile. We’re both moving around so much, but I was lucky to send music over early, and built a relationship with him and his manager early. Now, I don’t have to be in the studio, I just send beats over. Whatever he picks, they let me know, and I take em off the market.

You've also done some great work with Giggs, including my personal favorite, “Horror Movie." How’d that collaboration come about?

Shout out to Giggs, man, that’s like my brother for real. Being in London, I work closely with Kent Jones (Khaled’s artist). We were in London, promoting his song, when we ended up linking up with Giggs. It was just one of those situations where you meet someone and hit it off right away. That’s been my brother since the first time I met him.

We did a song called “Early,” and when he started working on his album, he hit me like “yo Illa I need some of that Illa shit, that dark, heavy hitting shit.” Giggs has been a fan of my beats before any Lil Pump placements, before Eminem...That’s my brother, man, and I was grateful to be a part of that album.

Are you a fan of horror movies, out of curiosity? I only ask because I can’t help but notice that some of those old school horror soundtracks, like John Carpenter’s “Halloween,” have come to influence hip-hop music in a way. Dark, minor key shit. 

Absolutely. All the trap beats, especially all the shit we got doing in South Florida, like XXX, Pump, Purpp, Wifisfuneral...the chords are like horror movies. You’re not off, there’s definitely some horror movie culture. I bet Metro’s a huge horror movie fan.

I notice you have a pretty active presence on Twitter. Do you enjoy using social media, or is it strictly for work purposes?

I think social media’s a great tool. Everybody keeps bouncing back and forth between Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, but now I’ve gone back to Twitter, because that’s where I can link with the underground artists. On Instagram, it’s so oversaturated, so nobody really checks their DMs cause everybody’s DM’ing them. On Twitter, you can just hit somebody right there.

Do you have any advice for the up-and-coming producers out there, who are looking to break into the industry?

Be original. If you got a different style, hone that style, and keep doing your own shit. Don’t just chase trends, because eventually every fad wears off. Basically, be a brand. Build your brand, cause your brand will guarantee you longevity.

Wise words. Looking forward, what can we expect from Illa in 2018? Do you have plans for a solo album?

Definitely, that’s something I’m definitely looking into. I got a couple of songs right now, that are huge. I know they’ll have the impact that I want, but I don’t want to drop them until I have the right amount of clout. I got two Bankroll Fresh records that are smashes. I might give one to Lil Pump. I got a record with Kent Jones, Farruko, and Takeoff from Migos.

I’m just looking forward to 2018. I want to work with as many artists as possible. I want to get in with Kodak, I’d love to get in with Andre 3000, I’d love to work with Jay-Z. Out of the young guys, I’d like to work with NBA Youngboy, Migos, everybody.