At just 22-years-old, Sap is quickly becoming one of the most exciting young producers in the game. The Delaware native got his start with some placements for a pre-Maybach Music Group Meek Mill, and his name got more shine thanks to his crafting the beat for Mac Miller’s breakout hit, “Donald Trump.” Now, as he’s starting to earn placements with bigger artists while keeping up his old connections and balancing his own rap career, Sap chops it up with XXLMag.com about working with Wiz Khalifa, Kendrick Lamar, Mac and Meek, as well as how he got into producing and why he’s managed by Interscope’s Senior VP of A&R. —Adam Fleischer (@AdamXXL)
XXLMag.com: How did you first get into producing?
Sap: I first got into music through my uncle. He was a big music guy, he produced and had different programs. Me and all of my fam was around it and we got into it. I started when I was in middle school, maybe 14, I think it was my 8th grade year, and I took it from there.
What were you using to make beats back then?
FL Studio. I was using that all the time. That’s what I’ve been using since I first got hands on music. I still use it to this day. We actually had FL Studio 4 and it was totally different what it is now. What you can do now, you couldn’t do none of that. It was like an old school new school way of sampling.
Do you play any instruments, or just use FL?
I’m just straight off of ear and software. I don’t play any instruments. I’m big on instruments, though—I like sampling a lot of stuff that sounds like that, just because I can’t play those things. It’s a lot of people that can play instruments but they always go for that synthesizer sound.
What’s your process like when you’re making a beat?
With me, it’s random. I’m not really the producer guy that says, “I’m about to make this kind of beat.” It’s like a freestyle of beats type thing. How certain rappers go in the booth and start rapping, I just start putting things together. I make a beat and it might change to four or five different beats until it gets to the beat I wanna make.
What was your first notable placement?
My first major thing was probably producing one of Meek Mill’s first radio joints in Philly [when] he was about to mess with T.I. It was this record called “In My Bag.” It was crazy for me. I was in high school. It was probably like 2009. Meek came to my high school and performed it and everything; people went crazy.
How did you link up with him for that?
I was producing for other Philly artists that he was cool with, and I had did a record for an artist he was cool with, and he asked where he got the beat from. He hit me up on MySpace and was like, “Yo, what’s up with some beats.” Me and Meek had never met each other. I sent him two or three records and that was one of them. After that, it was a wrap. To this day, he’s still the homie. I produced on Dreamchasers 2.
Yeah, tell me about “Real.”
That’s a style that I’m trying to bring in the game. Like an East Coast late ’90s, early 2000 feel. The traditional hip-hop beat with the hard drum and the soulful sample. I think a lot of people got away from that. That’s something I wanna bring to the table. Even with a beat like “Donald Trump,” the drums are more, I would say, Midwest, type of thing—a lot of people got away from those, too.
“Donald Trump” was obviously for both Mac and you. How’d that one come together?
I had heard of Mac from one of my friends in Delaware. I hit [Mac’s manager] Q up, that’s a good friend of mine, like, “Yo, I’m tryna get some beats to Mac Miller.” They hit me back like, “Yo, do you remember us, we tried to hit you when you did stuff for Meek a while ago.” I was like, “For real?” There were so many people hitting me up on MySpace around that time. Mac was like 16, he was Easy Mac or something like that. So we got on the phone and started building a relationship. I took a train to Pittsburgh. Eight hours. I came in with some music, and then I went through some samples I had chopped up. One of the samples was Sufjan Stevens and that was the “Donald Trump” beat. Mac wrote the song in like 15 minutes. It came about so naturally. It was a fun record and turned out to be a hit. It’s beyond what I imagined. When I made that record, I wasn’t thinking it was gonna sell no copies. It’s crazy.
What kind of recognition did that bring you?
It actually put me on a whole other level nationally, [and exposed me to] a different fan base. A lot of the fans that I had that know me for production were for Meek Mill stuff and a lot of street rappers. I was working with Freeway and dudes from State Property. It showed I can do different types of music.
And you rap, too, right?
Yeah. I just put out the video for “Just Enough.” It’s one of my favorite records. It’s kind of the Delaware sound. It was real important for me to release that as the first joint. It’s hard to put on for your home when your music sounds like somebody else’s home. So it’s important for me to be on that Sap sound—that sound I was using before any of this was going on. I got a mixtape coming out called The Invite, probably in July or August. And I got a mixtape out now called Surprise Surprise.
Are you signed to a publishing deal or anything?
No, but I’m managed by Interscope’s president. By Fakework Management. It’s also Hit-Boy, T-Minus, Boi-1da. I officially signed with them [last week]. DJ, who’s the president of Interscope, he’s a cool dude. He runs Fakework and is actually Jimmy Iovine’s nephew. He flew us out to L.A., we just had a great time. He showed us a whole lot. Cool & Dre actually hooked that up. I’m still signed to Cool & Dre, but Fakework and DJ is my management.
Who else are you working with these days?
I’m working with Kendrick real heavy. I sent him this dubstep record, mixed with hip-hop. I got some stuff with ScHoolboy Q, I did some stuff on his [upcoming] album. I actually produced a joint—I don’t wanna speak too soon—but I produced a joint that’s going on Wiz’s album. It’s a joint called “City View.” It’s supposed to go on there, so hopefully it sticks.