ATL Jacob Tells the Story of His Experience Working on Kanye West’s Donda 2 Album
Interview: Kemet High
Editor’s Note: This story appears in the Spring 2022 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.
ATL Jacob, 23, started making beats in high school so that he could rap over them. His dark and mellow production style soon caught the attention of frequent collaborator Future and the rest was history. This year alone, Jacob ran up his price tag by crafting Kodak Black’s comeback hit and standouts from Kanye West’s Donda 2 album, among others. Here, the platinum-selling beatsmith and Atlanta native speaks with XXL about his recent wins in rap.
“Super Gremlin” by Kodak Black has been sitting cozy in the Billboard Hot 100 top 10 all year. How did you put that beat together?
One of my friends, Baby Jambo, sent me a pack of samples that he chopped up. And that was one of them. So, I did my thing. I laid it out and put some drums on it. I called Kodak up one night. That was the last song we did for the night. He ain’t even finish it. He just smiled and said, “I’ma finish this one tomorrow. This one [is] hard.” So, he already knew what it was going to do.
What’s the backstory on the Donda 2 cut “Pablo” by Kanye West featuring Future and Travis Scott?
“Pablo,” I made that one with this producer team FnZ. They did the loop, but I had made the beat. The beat was actually sped up. Kanye had this idea to morph the beat and slow it down where it still stretched like that, but it still hits. So, shout-out to Kanye for that idea, too. It was different, you know? I feel like that’s Kanye’s first club song in a long time.
What was it like working with Kanye?
It was actually very motivational, just the process and experience because he works so differently than everybody else that you’ll work with. Working with him is like you’re just learning new things. It be kinda funny, though. He’ll be like, “These drums are crazy! Now let’s take them all out.” And it be like, “I thought you liked the drums!” So, it’s just an experience.
What’s your favorite part about your working process with Future?
He's not picky. You can work with certain people and they’ll go through so many beats and be like, “Oh, this one is a hit. Let me do this one.” He’s not like that. It’s more of like, “Damn, this one is different. Let me try this.” He’s willing to try everything as long as it sounds good. And I love that because nobody knows what a hit song is. You can work on a song so hard and it could not be a hit. That’s my brother, for sure.
Read the cover story with Playboi Carti and check out the other interviews in the magazine with Fivio Foreign, Latto, DaBaby, Wiz Khalifa and Juicy J, Joey Bada$$, Denzel Curry, Hit-Boy, Big K.R.I.T., RZA, Saba, Morray, Kali, Sleepy Hallow, Nardo Wick, SSGKobe, Pink Sweat$, Saucy Santana, Jason Lee, Angie Randisi and Colby Turner in the new issue of XXL magazine, which is on newsstands now and in XXL's online shop.