Everyone knows Chicago rap had a massive 2012. A new generation of “drill” music stars-to-be took the industry by storm over the past few 12 months, with King L, Chief Keef, Lil Reese and Lil Durk all signing major deals. But in the end, the city’s biggest breakthrough rap talent may not be a rapper at all. Meet 18-year-old producer Young Chop, who crafted one of the year’s biggest hits, defined the city’s new sound, landed a big publishing deal with Warner Bros., and collaborated with an all-star roster—all without suffering any of the negative publicity that seemed to haunt his hometown comrades. Chop not only produced “I Don’t Like,” the song that put Chi on the map this year, but he also oversaw the rest of Keef’s debut album, Finally Rich, which dropped last Tuesday, Dec. 18, producing seven of the 12 tracks. He’s working with Durk, Reese and other local talents including Sasha Go Hard, quickly becoming the main man behind the city’s frenetic “drill” sound.
Thanks to the deafening buzz his work with Keef created, he’s expanded his circle of collaborators far outside of the Chi, working with Birdman and producing several tracks for French Montana’s recent Mac and Cheese 3 mixtape. Chop even had former foes reaching out: He and Pusha T exchanged words earlier this year after the young producer expressed his displeasure with the GOOD Music remix of “I Don’t Like,” but that didn’t stop them from collaborating on “Blocka,” the latest leak from Pusha’s Wrath of Cain mixtape, a few months later. Call it the power of a dope beat. Here, Young Chop sits down with XXL to break down his work on Finally Rich, his reconciliation with Pusha and making eight beats a day. —Alex Gale (@apexdujeous)
On the direction of Keef’s Finally Rich:
The vibe changed a little bit but we came back to ourselves. I was trying to make it a little different to what we previously did, and we did that. It’s similar but it’s really not. It’s more of a party feel, more than those gutter, hard hood bangers like “3 Hunna.” I just tried to make it all that window, make them happier and make them hard, and put it all on one album. We didn’t wanna sound too hood and then some kids wouldn’t like it. Keef’s 17—he’s gotta have fun too.
On Keef’s “Love Sosa”:
I was in the studio, it was me, French Montana and Keef. I was making a beat and I wasn’t intending to make it sound like that. It was gonna be all dark, hard and crazy, but it just switched into that little bounce, that little melody. That’s a totally different track for Keef. When it popped off, I thought they were gonna look at like, “Oh, he’s singing, he’s got Autotune.” But people liked it.
On Keef’s “Hallelujah”:
We were making stuff just to be making it. That song just popped up. I made the beat in like 15 minutes, I swear. There’s not that many sounds on it, it’s just groovy. Keef went crazy. He sat in the studio on the mixing board, and he was just writing, writing, writing, and then he went in the booth and just spit the chorus. Right away I was like, “Damn, that’s definitely gonna be on the album.”
NEXT: YOUNG CHOP ON “I DON’T LIKE,” WORKING WITH FRENCH MONTANA AND MORE