INTERVIEW: TM88 details his new collaborative project with 1800 Tequila "Keys To The City," dishes on his potential involvement in Lil Uzi Vert's "Eternal Atake," offers an update on "88 Effect" and much more in this exclusive interview.
Production remains an essential factor in making a song a hit and a select few producers consistently manage to deliver on that. Of the several super-producers that may come to mind, we find Miami-born and Atlanta-bred producer TM88. The producer's enchanting beats have served as the base to a plethora of hits along the years if you check the liner notes. While Lil Uzi Vert's "XO TOUR LIF3" which recently reached a billion streams on Spotify, TM continues to make a significant imprint in the music industry.
The musical prodigy recently hopped on the phone and offered exclusive insight into his collaboration with 1800 Tequila, Keys To The City, a community-focused initiative which combines music and the varying personalities of numerous cities. Additionally, we discussed his upcoming projects which include potential involvement in Lil Uzi's Eternal Atake, the artists who did his beats the most justice, his creative process and even indulged in some Game Of Thrones banter. That is without failing to mention that we have also gotten an update on his highly-anticipated project 88 Effect.
Read our interview, edited very slightly for clarity, below.
Image via 1800 Tequila
TM88: Yo yo, what’s going on?
Hi TM, how are you? This is Aida from Hot New Hip Hop.
How you doing?
I’m doing great. How was your weekend?
It was cool. Just trying to gear up for the project but it was cool.
Sounds good. We’re gonna get straight into it if you don’t mind.
So, Keys to the City. Can you tell me how that project came about?
It was a real dope project. It was something that was different for me. I'm used to giving interviews instead of being the interviewer so it was cool. You get to see different things that we normally don’t see when you go to these cities. And I got to meet a whole bunch of new people which was really dope.
I know you were born in Miami, but the project involves other big cities. Out of Houston, Miami and Philly, do you have a favorite?
Right now. I love all of them. I enjoy going to every last one of them. Philly is kinda cold. I can chill when it’s hot out there. In Miami, I got to see a bunch of Cuban stuff. I got to see Little Havana and listen to Jazz music. It was cool, but If I had to choose one, I would say Miami. It was hot. It was fun. The whole time was fun but Miami was--
I know that this project is all about capturing a city’s personality, so what influences led you to draw the conclusions that you did. What made you say “This beat is Philly. This beat is Miami.”
For the start of it, joining the Keys to the City project was bringing new music platforms like 1800 that celebrate music culture. They wanted me to go to each city to pull a different influence. When we went to Philly, we spoke to the city and they said they have a lot of hustle, that Philly is about the grind and the grit, the underdogs that come up from the bottom and make it to the top. I also mess with Meek and Uzi so I wanted to do a beat that I would hear [them] bumping and kinda collabing on. It kinda shows both sides to what I was seeing in Philly. With Houston, we went and sat with Slim Thug, and went to try different things that Houston people know about. Ice cream and shit. It was cool but I wanted to bring in the new school, Travis Scott and mix it in because I’ve worked with Travis a lot. I would go there first because I didn’t wanted wanna disrespect DJ Screw and that whole scene by messing it up. I wanted to hit them with a little melodic vibe-- with a party vibe and then also have the older cats can kind of rap on it too. Then, when we went to Miami, normally people think about all the hot spots, the clubs, the strip clubs, the beaches but we went to Little Havana because I wanted to incorporate Latin music with a trap vibe to it. Make the beat from Miami. Whatever I was doing right there in the moment, I took from each city and put it into those beats.
So you captured your experience there. What you were able to see from a perspective standpoint.
I got there all the time so I didn’t want to take anything that I already knew.
That’s hella dope.
It was simple, it was cool.
Now I wanna circle back to you. Back in 2018, you said that you produced an intro on Lil Uzi’s Eternal Atake. Are there any updates on that? Will your intro still be on the project?
I think I got a few songs on Uzi’s project. I really don’t know. You know Uzi [laughs], he knows what he wanna drop and he’ll drop it out of the blue. I’m pretty sure I got a few on there. I was actually just chilling with him the other day. It was cool tho. He’s working on new music. I wanna hear the shit just like you guys.
I know that you tweeted that you wanted Lil Uzi to wake up so I hope he did and you got to work with him.
He fell asleep and then I woke up at like six in the morning and we went back to the studio. It was cool.
Image via 1800 Tequila
Young Thug has an upcoming project as well, Gold Mouf Dog. Can we expect anything from you production wise on that?
I hope so. I got one thousand songs with Thug. I hope it goes platinum. I hope it sells ten-million records even if I’m not on it. I hope it goes number one.
You’ve mentioned before that you have a project with PARTYNEXTDOOR but then you said it may never see the light of day. What happened with that? Is that still the case?
Party is my guy. We got a lot of music, over ten to twelve songs. Some of them are done, some of them are half done. Party works. Sometimes he wanted to come out but he got other things going on. It might come out one day, I don’t know.
Considering you’ve been working with so many different artists, who was the last artist that you sent a beat to?
I just gave Uzi some beats when I was up there. We did two songs. And I just sent Future some beats.
Considering that we are almost halfway into 2019, what would you say is the favorite thing you’ve produced so far?
Well I got a new song that’s coming out on the 21st [of June]. It’s called “Slayer” with Lil Uzi. Somebody leaked it. They might’ve leaked the old version but we’re gonna double back and put out the official version on the twenty-first. Stream it like crazy. We’re gonna shoot a video too.
Would you say there is a beat from your career that is underrated?
I got a song with Travis Scoot and Uzi called “RaRa.” Trav put it on his Soundcloud the day Birds came out. It was supposed to make the album but I think he couldn’t get the section mixed or something. If it had made the album, I really feel like people would have understood how hard the beat and the song were. I don’t know, I have a few that are underrated. I guess it reached the right listeners.
I wanna talk about your creative process. What is a day in your life? Do you wake up, and do straight up studio? Do you do morning affirmations? Is there anything specific that you do every day?
I work out four days a week. I wake up and then I go work out. After that I get myself together and if I’m not playing video games, I’m making beats. I try to find different inspiration from different video games. I watch a lot of shows like Game of Thrones.
Game of Thrones?
Yeah! Are you a Game of Thrones fan?
Yes I am. What did you think about the last season?
People complained about it but they really gave you what you wanted. People don’t realize Game of Thrones been coming on for a long time. The new people that just got into are like “Aw man, what happened this season, we didn’t get to see nothing,” but if you watch the whole Game of Thrones, it was like “When are they gonna beat this guy, the Night King?” When they finally did it, I was like “Oh shit.” People said the episode was too long but bro everything that happened was supposed to happen. I think they did it right. Instead of dragging the season on like they did with the rest of the show. They got it over with.
Were you satisfied with the way Daenerys died?
No. I thought she was gonna do a little bit more. Everything else was cool until that happened. You knew it was really over with. They can’t even make a movie if they wanted to. I thought they were probably gonna make a movie but nah, everybody died.
So, since you said you get your inspiration from a lot of places, I’ve noticed your hairstyle is very similar to Jean-Michel Basquiat. Is there any connection there?
Nah. It really just happened. It happened before I even knew anything about him. I ended up on Art Basel and then I saw his paintings. Then this clothing line came out by Ryan Dash and he put a lot of art from Basquiat on his clothing. I was intrigued and did some research.
Do you have any specific needs when you’re creating? I know people like to eat certain foods or some people like to be in a room by themselves. Are there any specific requirements you have before you get to work?
Yeah. You gotta have Fruit Roll-ups, some kinda juice and then sometimes I might drink some tea if I need some energy or something. I don’t really need too much. I don’t like there to be like fifty people in the studio.
On April 10th, you tweeted “I’m not really feeling this music ish. I might be done with this music ish.” Was that for real?
You know how you go through spurts? Fans don’t know that when you’re transitioning through artists and you gotta go through clearances, the game kinda switches up. It throws you off. The producers and the artists have a relationship that the labels don’t have. When we talk were like “This is going on the project. I'm gonna put this out. I have a release date when I wanna put it out.” Then stuff gets pushed back because of clearances so it throws you off. I was really just talking about releasing songs. Releasing songs with major artists kinda gets tricky. Not like the whole shit just as far as putting out songs. The fans wanna hear music, that's what we're doing it for, for people to hear it. Some people going through shit. People got different emotions. People want to party, some people want to cry or go on vacation. We want to put out music for everybody.
With no restrictions.
Yeah. Otherwise, it’s holding up your creative process. I think everybody go through that shit.
Is that what’s going on with 88 Effect?
No, no. We just had to wrap up. There were a few clearance issues, but everything is wrapped up now.
Okay. So it’s on the way!
Yeah. I’ve been trying to put out music for a long time. Fans have been hitting me going crazy like bro, we hear your beats everywhere, but we want to hear some songs. I just want to give people the music. That’s how it is. But it’s definitely on the way.
Would you ever consider a joint collaboration with another producer soon like Tay Keith?
That’s my boy. We got some beats and stuff together. We be chopping it up.
What about a full project?
Yes, I would. I would do one with Tay Keith, Southside, Metro, Weezy [laughs]. Quavo. There’s a few producers I would collab with.
That’s dope. Also way back you produced a joint project with Juicy J and Wiz Khalifa, Rude Awakening. Would you consider a second part to that?
Of course. Those the homies. I had a lot of fun when I’m with them recording and stuff. You know Wiz [laughs].
Considering that you’ve worked with so many people, could you give a top five of artists that killed your beats?
You trying to set me up.
Tough question [laughs].
I’m not even going to put a top five on this because I would make a lot of people mad. You know I’ve got a lot of favourites.
Okay, off the top of your head then.
Of course Future, Uzi, Travis, Wiz, Gunna.
I’ll add etc.
What is the moment in your life where you knew music was for you? Or that producing was what you wanted to be your 100% in.
The day me and Southside dropped this producer mixtape with nothing but beats on there and we broke the internet. We were one of the first ones to do it. That was the day I told myself we got some. 808 Mafia is everywhere. It’s a lot of us in 808 right now and it’s still going crazy. It’s expanding. From that beat project, Waka took one of my beats off the project and put it on the album. That was my first shit. 5,000. I was like “damn bro, I got 5,000.” Man, I was messed up at the time. I had to hold it together. That 5,000 came and I was crying. I was on the phone with Southside saying “thank y’all man.” You know, I’m one of those people, I don’t forget. If anybody helps me along the way. You have to pay homage. Southside is my little bro. He took the time to put me on. We started this 808 with Waka and took it to a whole other level. Waka came up with the name and it was on from there.
The rest was history.
Including Slim Dunkin. RIP. He came to me and said “bro, you’re too talented. You need to come over here and produce with me. With Waka and Southside. You need to do that.” From there, it’s been crazy.
So, what’s next for you now?
88 Effect is coming out. I’ve got a gang of artists on there, but it’s a different vibe. I think the people are going to like it when it comes out. I took my time on it. I made sure everything was legit and on point. I’m starting this tour with Machine Gun Kelly on Tuesday. I think it’s like 10 dates. I’m going to go crazy on there and make them go crazy. More music, more projects coming out and try to put out more innovative tracks. Different vibes. Hit the clubs hard with the tracks. I want more number ones. I want more top ten. More platinum records.