INTERVIEW: OG Parker is expanding his musical vocabulary with the help of Deko, Smash David & The Three Migos.
The social connection between hip hop and its environment can be hard to broach for the general fan. When my editor informed me that I would be chatting with OG Parker, I saw it as an opportunity to further articulate this theory of cultural alienation in hip hop. For some reason I believed my conversation with Parker would help me piece together a seemingly uninspired model of consumerism. On some level I was both right and wrong.
The idea for this interview came out of a conversation I'd been having with myself. I knew there were factors within the music industry I had very little control over, within the scope of my responsibilities as a journalist. But to be frank, my first inkling towards this interview was as a fan of OG's music -- maybe more so now than ever. Despite his relative young age, OG Parker has become such a recognizable force. I felt compelled to share my perception of his music even at the risk of sounding awkward.
The story I was about to unfold was far less fortuitous than I ever could have imagined, and yes, it was a true labor of love. OG Parker and I discussed among other things, his relationship with Coach K, Migos, Deko, Smash David and more. Read the full interview below.
HotNewHipHop: Good Afternoon.
OG Parker: You too.
I'm going to get right to it, if thats okay? What's it like working with Migos and what has it done for your production?
I think they definitely made me work faster. Because they make so many songs, so quick. So, I think they just helped me learn how to make beats fast. Quality beats. I learned how to lay them out well, in terms of hook-verse, like that. It just helped me out so that everyday I can come with a couple of beats so that we can make multiple songs everyday.
Efficiency and structure?
What effect have you had on them?
I think a lot of the music that me and DEKO did with the Migos kind of helped open them up to a broader sound because our sound is a little less trap than like Zaytoven and ‘em.
Absolutely. I think that’s what separates your production from let’s say, some of your contemporaries.
Definitely. I agree.
Naturally I thought I'd ask, how did you meet fellow producer Deko?
I met Deko through OG Maco. OG Maco had a collective called OGG so we were all in that collective. We both were separate producers for Maco. So Maco would play me a song and he would be like ‘Deko made this beat’, and I would be like ‘Oh wow, that’s hard as fuck.’ Then Maco would play a song for Deko and be like ‘Parker made this beat’, and Deko would be like, ‘Damn that’s fly as fuck.' So then we hit each other up on social media, and then one day he just came to my parents house and we made some beats and I been with that dude like everyday ever since.
Oh wow. So he’s more than just your business partner?
Oh yeah. That’s my brother.
What role does Coach K play in artist development over at Quality Control?
I think that’s one of Coach K’s strong points. He’s amazing at developing artists. Like look at what he did with Yachty. He literally did that from scratch. He’s very important. That’s why I really just focus on getting the music right because Coach K and Pee they already know how to patch it up and send it out.
Makes total sense. Your producer tag is simple yet effective. But I do get a sense marketing comes second in your list of priorities.
I don’t like to use terms like “overlooked” or anything like that. I just feel like I’m not trying to force it. I just want to make great music and one day my time is going to come.
Based on the conversations I have with my colleagues, I don’t get a sense that you’re overlooked. Some folks have larger than life personas and it works almost intrinsically. The work you've done with Migos, with K Camp, it speaks for itself.
Okay, that’s good to hear.
I wanted to ask you about “Walk It, Talk It.” What was the inspiration behind that record?
So me and Deko cooked the beat up and then we just send Quavo beats like periodically because he’s always on the road. Like I don’t really go to the studio too often right now because I’ve been working on so much stuff, so I just send him beats. One time I went to the studio and Quavo was like, 'I’m bout to make you a millionaire, you’re going to see.' And then a month later, they were like, ‘Yeah, you got a song with Migos and Drake on Culture II,’ and I was like, ‘Oh Shit.’
Honestly man congrats.
Must be nice to have a hit record in rotation. What other beats are you most proud of?
My favorite beat has to be “Slippery” because I feel like it’s so different, so for people to like a beat that was so experimental to me and DEKO, it’s really interesting to me.
That beat is fire.
I have a song on Jeremih & Ty Dolla Sign’s upcoming album MihTy. I have some other stuff with Chris Brown. I’m not sure what Chris Brown is doing. I feel like people look at me as a trap producer. I just want to show the world I can do R&B, pop and other stuff.
I’ve heard the singles.
Oh yeah, it hasn’t come out yet. It’s supposed to come out this month, I think.
What was the moment in your career where you were like, ‘I could do this for real, this is going to be my JOB?’
I would have to say when I heard K Camp & Fetty Wap “1Hunnid” on the radio and saw my friends in college turning up to it. I was like okay, I know I can make music that people enjoy, I just gotta keep working hard.
I like that record too. Here’s a question: Do you think the rap game is too congested and if so, how do you choose up?
I mean.. I really don’t think it’s too congested. I really just try to focus on working with people whose music moves me personally. I also like to let the relationship happen naturally. A lot of the people that I work with are just passing by, 'Oh yeah, let me get your email,' and then I send them something and they usually hit me like, ‘Oh, send more’ and that’s really how the organic relationship is built.
You plant the seed?
There's a consistent thread in your music. What would you say is the key to that consistency?
In terms of the beats?
In terms of quality -- in terms of methodology. Not the way you present yourself per se, but the way you present your work.
I think just like very high quality, clean sound. I like to make sure my mix is very clean on all my beats, a strong melody, and a hard bassline because I know everybody likes their songs knocking in the club.
You mentioned working with Jeremih and Chris Brown. You’ve worked with Jacquees too. Is the work (studio) relationship different with singers than it is with rappers?
I mean, not really because these singers are crazy. They go in, they just freestyle, they go crazy just like the rappers nowadays. Both of them are really free-open studio sessions, in my belief. Like with Jacquees, I just pull up and drop off beats same way I do with the Migos.
It’s never a bad ploy to be the underdog, it keeps you honest. What other producers in the game, other than Deko, do you feel are on your level?
Smash David for sure. He’s done so much. He did “Pills and Automobiles” with me. He did “B.I.D” with Tory Lanez (with me). He worked on “Location” for Khalid. I feel like our time is next. I just feel like Metro and them have been going crazy, Southside, TM88.. I'm just trying to be apart of the next wave of producers coming in.
Absolutely. This is a left field question. I noticed you played soccer when you were young. How serious were you?
I really played basketball my whole life. I started playing soccer at 15 when I was in the eighth grade. It was just something my friends were doing so I picked it up and happened to be good at it. I ended up playing soccer for the rest of my years in high school. It was pretty serious. I had a couple division II & smaller colleges looking at me but I actually got suspended from school for cussing at the coach. I started Varsity year (11th grade). But I never even got to play my 12th grade season because I got kicked off the team. So, I really just turned all my focus to music.
It was a blessing for sure.
There's this one thing I wanted to ask you: What is "Neutral?"
Okay so, Neutral is a label that I’m starting right now. Me and my managers actually just left a meeting about it so we’re just trying to figure out the best way to approach it. But I’m going to start by signing a couple producers I’ve been working with. Close co-producers that are really dope. I’m going to sign them and help elevate their careers as well and then after a year or two, I’m probably looking to sign some artists as well.
Can you speak on the particulars?
Not quite yet. We just dropped our first single as an EDM trio called Merge. It’s me, Deko and our other producer friend Tee Romano. We dropped our first single through Spinnin’ Records called "Trouble in the City” and it’s getting pretty good feedback. Got like 100,000 views so far. We have another single with a couple of artists on it, we’re going to drop soon. Deko, he raps too, so he’s been dropping a couple solo songs. That’s really what we’re focusing on. Just trying to get the Merge thing going in the electronic world because it’s so different than the Hip Hop/R&B stuff we’ve been working on.
Oh yeah, it’s totally different isn't it?
Yeah, but we’re cool with a lot of electronic people. We talk to Diplo, we remixed a song for him. It never got dropped but we did that about a year ago. I did two songs with DJ Carnage. I did one with DJ Carnage and Thug and then another one with the Migos and DJ Carnage.
Do you find it harder to promote your EDM music without a solid vocal arrangement?
It really depends on the type of beat because for instance, the song that me & Carnage did with the Migos, it’s kind of like a trap beat, so it doesn’t even fall into the electronic world. But then Carnage has that one song with the Migos, I forgot what it’s called, but that’s way more electronic. If you’re going to make the crossover to the electronic world, it’s probably going to have to have a drop to it.
The build up? Most hip hop producers rely on structural elements. Someone like Kanye West might go off the beaten path, but for the most part, hip hop production is structured because rappers need an "anchor."
I guess EDM allows you more freedom. Which is fun because you get to do your own shit for once.
Yeah and it’s also fun to be the artist. For this to be our song.
What's the secret to good songwriting?
Yeah. It’s about having good songs. You don’t have to be lyrical these days really.
I agree. Someone like Takeoff is incredibly lyrical and probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves within the group.
He has the craziest bars.
Does the leash (Takeoff's) need to come off?
We’ve got 2 songs. One song called “Intruder” that’s out and another on the Back To The Bando mixtape called “Unleashed.” Takeoff is just snapping on my beat. People just have to listen to it because the stuff he’s saying is crazy.
How do producers become the stars of the show?
I think you really have to start off by making a whole bunch of hits as a producer.
So, get everyone’s attention, and take it from there?
Exactly. After you make a whole bunch of hits you go to an artist and be like ‘Hey, I want to drop this as my song, will you feature on it?’
I don’t want to hold you up, I really appreciate your straightforwardness. I want to leave you the floor in closing.
Nah, I appreciate you bro. Just really the Merge stuff. We’re working on our next single it’s called “Trouble in the city” and all the other music is going to come out soon. That’s really it. Keep God first and work hard and anybody can make great music.
I hope you’re right. I know a couple of people that sit in the studio hoping for a miracle.
Nah, I’m telling you, it may seem that way but hard work, consistency and prayer. I’m telling you, it’ll work out. Keep working towards the goal.
Thanks for that. I’ll keep that in mind.
I appreciate you man.
Ditto. Wishing you all the best.
Thank you so much, have a good day.