DJ Spinz steps into the producer’s spotlight with an impressive track record. He started out his career hustling mixtapes with Tek of Hood Executives, before linking up with fellow ATLien DJ Scream on Sirius satellite radio. After moving to Atlanta, Spinz began producing and scored several radio and Billboard hits, including Travis Porter’s “Go Shorty” and Ca$h Out’s “Cashin’ Out.” Most recently, he collaborated with Metro Boomin for Future’s hit single, “Honest”, and dropped the third installment of the HPG series, which features production from Childish Major, Dun Deal, Sos, C4 and Kinobeats with performances by Young Jeezy, Rich Homie Quan, Ca$h Out, Migos and Future. Before going into the studio for a nighttime session, Spinz talked to XXL about his creative process, and what it takes to become a boss on the boards.—Peter Marrack
XXL: How long does it take you to make a beat?
DJ Spinz: I remember when I first started producing I would spend days on beats. But sometimes your best work is going to come in a split second. That’s what happened with “Honest”. Sometimes those end up being the hits. “Cashin’ Out”, 15 minutes. I felt like I had more I could add into it. Ca$h Out heard it and was like, “Naw, I like it like that.” “Cool.” That’s why I respect artists’ opinions. They have a different outlook on the beat than you.
How do you approach beatmaking and production?
Producing is art. I don’t believe you can teach anybody art. You do it your own way. What I’ll do is I’ll give the artist their creative room, I’ll let them do what they do and if there’s something I hear in it, I’ll suggest it to them and come to an agreement where we both approve. I don’t go in with a blueprint. I go in with a beat.
Can you describe your sound?
I was born in Augusta, Georgia. I grew up listening to Southern music. I listened to Lil Jon, Ludacris, I listened to OutKast. I like to make music that people can dance to, move to. Trap music has its own element, but I just like to add my sound onto it. When I’m playing my shit, I want the girls to be moving.
What’s your creative process?
When a bunch of creative people are in the room everybody’s going to learn from everybody. I feel like the energy when creative people come together is unmatched. That’s how we’re going to evolve. Music has to change. The reason music is so beautiful, it’s in sync. Multiple people are in sync.
You collaborated with Metro Boomin, on “Honest”. How did that work out?
I played the keys, some of the synths. We crafted the drums together. I started the beat with the keys. Synth, like E’s in the synth, then the drums, that’s it.
Strings are your favorite, no?
I love strings. It sounds epic. It sounds like some movie shit.
Tell me about being a boss, and working with HPG?
I hand-selected everybody in HPG. I had known Childish Major and C4 from back home. Dun Deal, he caught my ear. He produced some of Ca$h Out’s early records, Rich Kidz’s early records. I knew he was talented. I put them in the studio and we just worked. In HPG, you develop your own name. You have your own sound. I’m going to sit with you. I’m going to work with you to develop your sound. I wanted to help make the best better, craft them.
What advice do you have for producers?
Remember you are a producer and you own your content. You give your content to who you want to have your content. You have the choice to send an artist a beat, or not send an artist a beat. Sometimes people get lost in the heat, because they’re hot at the moment. When you’re hot everybody’s going to want a piece of you. Just remember you have the control. You make the beats. It’s your shit. You don’t have to do anything with it if you don’t want to.
Tell me something interesting that’s happened in the studio lately.
I did two records with the Migos, two in the same day, with Dun Deal of HPG. We did “Undelay” and “Hannah Montana.” Most artists like to record while listening to themselves. TakeOff from Migos didn’t want to hear himself. He likes it muted. When he’s in there rapping, you can’t hear anything he’s saying. When it’s done, you hear it and it sounds crazy. But he’s the first artist I’ve ever worked with that records like that. I thought that was dope. I guess he feels like he can project stronger if he doesn’t hear his voice.
Anything you like to have in the room while you work?
I always want to keep something good to roll up around. Always. We need to put the good vibes in the air. I’m an advocate of that. I fuck with that. If I’m in a room and not feeling the vibe, I’m not going to create.
Do you invite your friends to come watch?
Certain friends. I don’t want just anybody in the room. If you’re real close to me and I’m fine with working with you in there, okay. But I don’t like to work in a crowd of people. I feel like the session is supposed to be intimate. You’re supposed to be with the artist, not with a bunch of people who don’t contribute to the development of the song.