Future's success and fame has skyrocketed over the last year and one of the most important men behind the MC's turnaround has been one of his go-to producers, Southside. The 808 Mafia head honcho has been on a scary run of late. Breaking into the business as the backbone of Waka Flocka Flame and Gucci Mane's success in 2010, Southside first linked with Future Hendrix just last year. Since 2014, the super producer has crafted some of the biggest records coming out of the South—such as Young Thug's "Danny Glover"—and worked heavily on two of Future's latest mixtapes (Monster56 Nights) in addition to helming nearly all of Future's latest album, Dirty Sprite 2, which includes songs like "Fuck Up Some Commas," "Trap Nigga" and lead single "Blow a Bag."

But that's not all; Southside also operates as the boss of one of the busiest production collectives in hip-hop right now in 808 Mafia, whose members have worked with Kanye West, Jay Z, Rick Ross and more in addition to many of the hottest artists in Atlanta today. But nothing has come easy for the ATL native; Southside recently two years to step back and grow as a businessman, cultivating talent while learning the ins and outs of the legality in the trade and making sure he gets what he's owed. While in New York this month, Southside sat down with XXL to talk about working with Future, correcting presumptions on his discography, 808 Mafia and how young producers are getting screwed over by rap artists. —Emmanuel C.M.


XXL: Talk to me about your relationship with Future. It seems like things are clicking right now.
Southside: Ever since Monster, he’s just been at my back, man. That’s the hardest working dude in rap, to me, as far as making music. I never seen anybody make music like him. Like, if I send him 20 beats, Future would make 20 songs then ask me to send him 20 more. Our relationship is real. He treats me like he treats Metro Boomin. Metro is actually signed to him and Freebandz. He treats me the same way and tells me what to do. He says, “You can make $20 million a year.” Shit like that.

Your run with Future has been insane. Monster, 56 Nights, then DS2. How was the recording process?
He don’t plan on doing tapes, he just rap, feel me? He raps, he’ll leave to go on the road, we’ll sit there and we’ll re-chop and re-put the song together and he’ll come back with the illest idea, like, “We’re about to drop a tape in two days and name that bitch Monster. Let’s pick the songs right now.” Everything is spur of the moment with him. He’ll go off vibes. If it’s a negative vibe... Prime example—he’ll probably kill me because I said this—when he raps and pick beats, he don’t play a beat from the top down, he plays from the bottom up. He’s very superstitious; every time, he’s not doing anything different. He got a great vibe. He runs shit off vibes.

How did DS2 come together?
We were in L.A. and Atlanta. The vibe in L.A. is a little different. Atlanta we be thuggin’ more. L.A. is more piped up, rich shit. The vibe of it was crazy. Crazy story; I walked into Chalice Studios when Future was recording. I opened the door [and] that shit was pitch black. All you can see is the computer screens and candles on top of his shit. I was like, "I can’t even see you, what are you doing?" But that nigga made some crazy shit that night. That’s the studio where we did most of the album.

The spot he got in Atlanta is a place he calls the Bat Cave. We’ll be back and forth. He’ll call me and be like, "Where you at?" I tell him and he’ll ask me to send him some beats. Or he’ll hit me and say, “Oh, you in Atlanta, pull up, come to the studio, don’t leave.” We just got a good vibe, bro.

Out of the songs you produced on DS2, which one stick out to you?
The songs I liked weren’t on the album. He got six more albums ready right now, literally, and three more mixtapes to go with it. But my two favorite songs are “Thought It Was a Drought” and “Rotation.” We made “Rotation” on the swag. He really sent a nigga to a store and bought all the sodas in the gas station. Like, he really did that. [Raps] "Fucked a shawty with my jeans on," all that shit. They are my two favorite songs because it's my life, bro.

What's the process like when there are multiple producers on tracks? You co-produced a few songs on DS2 with Metro Boomin and Sonny Digital, for instance.
We have a camp. I knew Metro since he was 15. Metro was calling me in St. Louis when he was in school. This is when me and Lex [Luger] was poppin’. We were running around, fucking the internet up. He’ll call me and say, "Big bro, I need you to listen to my beats," and I'll tell him, "Take this out, you go too much stuff in there." I always told him [he's] going to be somebody; he’s persistent on what he’s doing. He moved to Atlanta and the nigga just went crazy. How we work, how we made certain beats, we went to Sonny Digital’s house when I got back. Sonny got the crazy setup in his house, studios in every room. We’ll just get together and cook up, bro. Get a bunch of weed, LQ and just cook. Ain’t no specific other; Sonny may have some shit he made two years ago and I may play it and re-do it. Same thing with Metro, he may take my laptop for like two weeks and go crazy. Our chemistry is crazy; all of the producers in Atlanta, our whole little mob, like DJ Spinz, we’re family. They are my everyday friends. I pull up to their houses unannounced.


I definitely noticed that about ATL producers, that most of y’all are friends. How do you individually standout then? Like the "Kill Bill Siren" that’s becoming a signature is an example.
Fader actually was wrong; TM didn’t create the Kill Bill Siren, I created that. A lot of stuff people think that this person did, I’m going to set the record straight. I made “Danny Glover” by myself, nobody helped me make that. I made “Chosen One” for Future by myself and nobody helped me make that. I own 808 Mafia; I’m not in 808 Mafia. So what I was doing by putting TM88's name on there was turning up my producer. So I’m going to throw your name on the record and let you go crazy, bro. His beats is dope, don’t get it fucked up. But sometimes how rap runs, if you don’t have certain shit going on, nobody will give you no attention or no time. So that’s how I turned my niggas up.

808 Mafia is booming like crazy now.
It’s it own little cult, it’s crazy.

Give me the rundown of the team. Lex Luger is gone right?
Lex ain’t never been 808 Mafia, that’s what people need to understand. Truthfully bro, I don’t even fuck with Lex Luger, I don’t know what he on; I’m going to keep it 100. But as far as 808 Mafia, this is the shit I built, me and Waka Flocka. That’s who helped me build that, nobody else. I am the big homie. I taught TM88, I taught Metro, I taught everybody. Lex Luger, all them niggas. The world doesn’t understand that, but I’m the big homie; this is what I do.

I can’t make the same beat over and over and over. I can create a swag and invent a whole swag for a nigga. This nigga TM88, though, can make 200 of them shits, same way and sounding crazy. I just be like, "My nigga, how do u do that?" My mind won’t let me do it. Tarentino the same way. He made “March Madness” for Future. That’s what [DJ] Esco and me did; that was the only beat to turn him up on 56 nights, that Tarentino beat. Purps is just like, he’s in L.A. He’s weird. He produces a lot for Jamie Foxx, like, he does pop, R&B; he’s just different. Fuse, he’s from up here and live in New York, he’s like the dopest sampler ever in life. He taught me how to sample to keep it 100. He showed me certain shit with it. I got a kid name DY from Chicago. He’s like the ultimate hustler. He’ll Facetime me everyday. Niggas be sleepin’ on him but he got so much shit that’s about to drop with Thug and others. They are mainly my four that I’ve been rocking with as far as 808 Mafia.

I got artists though. I have a new artist named Messiah from Chicago, this kid is dope. I ain’t drop no project or no video yet, but he’s crazy. He’s like Wiz, Waka and a couple other ratchet rappers wrapped in one. He got weird, he got eyes tattoo over his eyes. Shit’s crazy, bro. He’s on some real hippie, "let’s go crazy" [shit]. I got another artist named Slugg Mania. Slugg is really a fucking hippie. He’s on SoundCloud and his views are picking up tremendously. Juicy J called me about him, I’m finna do a record with him and Juicy J. He got a song called “Hippy Niggas,” check it out. I’m finna drop a tape too called Sega Sizzle. [Slugg] dropped a tape with TM88 called Nintendo 88.

How do you find all these people?
Slugg been my best friend since the 7th grade. I knew TM88 from way back; Tarentino came from my nigga Quest. I met others all through my people. If I meet you and you come to Atlanta and you’re dope with your music, get your bags, come and live in my house. I got a full studio, I pay the bills, don’t even trip. A girl is going to cook. Come go crazy. This is more of a family thing; Waka taught us that. He bought us a mansion and said, “It's y’all's, do what y’all want to do.”

This is always a discussion every time I’m with my friends. What's your favorite: DS2, 56 Nights, Beast Mode or Monster?
Honestly, my favorite is 56 Nights, bro. Everybody loves 56 Nights. You don’t even have to change a song on the project. But “Fuck Up Some Commas” came off of Monster. We made “Commas” on Oct. 30 and Monster dropped Oct. 31. Literally that night we made “Commas” before it dropped. I pulled up on DJ Spinz unexpectedly like, “Bro, let's cook something up,” and he said, "I’m 'bout to go see Future anyway. Let's cook up in the house." After we made it we took it over there and the rest is history. We made “Rotation” four days before he turned the album in. Me and Metro cooked the beat right in front of him. He was rapping about everything that was going on in the studio. He just went crazy, bro. Metro and me was making “Free Esco” beats and sending them to Future. We name our beats certain shit. It was the right time and it was unexpected. I think that’s what fucked the world up.

Getty Images

VH1 Save The Music Foundation's Songwriters Music Series Remix Featuring Swizz Beatz & Friends, Presented By Monster DNA Headphones & William Hill Estate Winery

Tell me about Flockaveli 2. 
My intentions for Flockaveli 2 is—and they might get mad at me for saying this—I’m trying to get somebody shot. 'Cause that’s how Flockaveli 1 was. I’m trying to get a club beat up; I’m trying to get a whole security team beat up. Like, my boy's music was so crazy at one point in time they banned him from States. The police couldn’t control the effect of that shit. That’s why my boy doing what he’s doing now. It’s a blessing. Niggas don’t know they banned Waka from over 40-something states in America as far as doing shows. Police saying we’re going to lock y’all up if y’all come. It was so wild. Flockaveli 2 is going to be that all over again times 10 because now I got the real recipe.

How have you grown from then to now?
A lot. Business-wise, I grew so much. I had to take two years; [when] Mike WiLL was running and doing their thing, I was learning the business. Now I’m taking another 3-5 years and I’m going to go crazy. Now I’m doing beats, because I own all my publishing. I’m in a different space. Let’s just make good music and get high.

What’s next?
808 Mafia 3, the album, is getting ready to come out. It’s going to be crazy. All new records from Young Thug, Waka, Future, A$AP Rocky, Wiz, everybody you can think of. I’m also about to drop my fourth rap mixtape, Free Agent 3. My rap following is picking up. I’m doing a whole project with A$AP Rocky. I got a couple beats on Rodeo, Travi$ Scott’s album, and got Jeezy’s new single. I got three, four records on G-Eazy’s album and I got shit with everybody, bro. It’s just so much shit, man. Between Metro and me—that’s my best friend—you never know what we’ll do. As far as 808 Mafia, I’m just trying to push this album and I’m pushing these artists because we got the ears of the streets right now.

You said you took two years to learn the business, what have you learned?
Like publishing, man. Rap niggas take money from young producers. They take these kids that don’t know nothing and give them a thousand bucks and take all their publishing away from them. That’s fucked up; niggas do that all the time. So sometimes when you wanting to hear an artist on my beats or Metro’s beats, it’s because they don’t want to pay $35,000 or $40,000 and give me my publishing and all my points. I also I learned SoundExchange; you get a check every month from SoundExchange. Kids don’t know that. The label collects it and don’t tell nobody about it. Also, an artist is the only one that gets it. So you got to get a letter directly from the artist. A lot of them don’t want to do it. We two steps ahead of you, so when you do your production agreement that’s already in there. If not, fuck your song, I don’t need it; I’ll put out the beat for free. I’m up.

Have you spoken to Gucci Mane
 at all?
My uncle was locked up in the Feds with him at the same part, so I had talked to him like two, three times. Actually when we were in the XXL issue when “Danny Glover” came out he called and was like, “Yeah, my boy!” He was so amped. He taught me so much, yo. He’s an Aquarius like me. He’s a genius.

When he comes out, how do you think it’s going to affect Atlanta?
Atlanta misses Gucci; right now Future is filling in for him. It’s nothing like pulling up on him and him telling me the real. I know he’s really telling the truth and I know he’s really 100 on everything he’s saying. One thing I can say about him is everything he says, he’s going to do. When he and Waka was clashing I was like, "C’mon, bro, y’all niggas both with the shits." Waka is all our big homie, so we looking at Guwop like, "C’mon big homie, don’t be like that." I think when he gets out—he’s such a genius, bro—he’ll be up $2 million in the first month.

How do you come up with new sounds? What inspires that?
Just to be real with you, I might be eating in a restaurant... I got a record with G-Eazy where I sample Stephen Marley, where I got him to re-do the actual song; called him and got him to re-do it. But I was eating at Stir It Up in Atlanta, this Jamaican restaurant, and I heard his song, “Someone to Love.” I sampled it and G-Eazy did it. Shit is crazy; it’s going to be a big record. That’s how I connect with shit. I might just be out and watching TV and hear a sound on a TV show from what’s playing. Go type in the same thing on YouTube and go download the shit. Just whatever is around me. It isn’t no specific things. I don’t have all that shit that everybody else got. But niggas can’t do half the shit I’m doing. It’s fun to me. It’s art. God gave me a gift, bro, that’s all.