London on Da Track Thinks Outside of the Box for Debut Album
London on Da Track never goes to sleep. The 26-year-old super producer has a resume with production credits for almost every big-name artist in hip-hop. The list is staggering, including artists such as Drake, Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan, Birdman and T.I., among others. Now, the Atlanta native, born London Holmes, is expanding his clientele, most recently to Nicki Minaj, who he collaborated with for the first time for the single "No Flag" which also features 21 Savage and Offset. London is never not working.
"No Flag" is the first single off London's upcoming major label debut album, Who Would’ve Known, coming soon. Last month, the beatsmith inked a major label deal with RCA Records. Fans can expect songs on the project to include collabos with Joey Bada$$, Tinashe and Kelly Rowland, all of whom he has never worked with before. All of this success has transitioned London into a well-respected artist with his own label, LiV Records.
Over the last few years, producers with stellar track records and a Rolodex filled with talent ranging from veterans to new budding stars are becoming artists in their own right. They're not playing the background anymore or the mysterious figure in the studio. Now they are the centerpiece.
Two great examples are Metro Boomin and DJ Khaled, who both put in work over the years and have now established their brand so nicely that they continuously get booked for shows on their own and drop projects as a solo artist. These guys have become bigger names than most artists. Metro just launched his own label with Republic Records and Universal Music Group while DJ Khaled's last two albums, Major Key and Grateful, went gold and platinum, respectively. Now London on Da Track is headed toward making a dent in the charts with his own platinum-selling albums in the future.
While in New York City, XXL spoke to London on Da Track about his upcoming project, life as a solo artist, producers not getting credit for their work and his new joint project with Young Thug.
XXL: You gotta be one of the busiest people in the hip-hop, ’cause everyone’s trying to get London.
London on Da Track: I just wanna stay busy, I wanna keep busy. I don’t wanna be slowed down. I can’t sit for more than five minutes. I need to be productive.
Tell us about your project.
There ain’t too much I can tell you ’cause I don’t wanna give it all out yet, but you know, the album [is] definitely coming soon. The meaning behind the album—once I give out the name to it—is all the people that I put on the project are people I never really worked with. So I’m kinda showing people how I am outside the box. Like [“No Flag”], this is the first time people seeing me work with Nicki Minaj. Me and 21, we worked before. Offset, we worked before too, but Nicki is like, the first time and I got more. It’s featuring some good artists you never knew I worked with and it sounds good.
You shared pictures on your Instagram of yourself in the studio with Kelly Rowland and Tinashe and Joey Bada$$. Are these some of the people on your album?
Yup. If I took a picture with ’em, I did something with ’em. If I post them on my page I definitely got some work with ’em.
Those artists are outside of the norm for you. Does that come with a sense of nervousness?
If I’m about to go in the studio with them [and] I don’t completely know any of their music like that—well, nine times out of 10 I might know their music already—I’ll study them for a few days and then make the type of music I would give to them and I’ll give them my vision while I’m in the studio. Then they’ll be like, “OK, now I see what you’re sayin’.” Then they’ll come in the studio, try it and it’ll come out good.
So you’re signed to RCA Records. Big-time producers now are getting signed to deals. How does that change the game?
Well, if it’s just producing, I guess it just gives them an opportunity for the label to connect them with artists that they don’t have relationships with and put them in the studio. But if it’s as an artist kind of thing, you have your own vision, you give it to the label [and] if they believe in it it’s a go.
DJ Khaled is now a big star. His album went platinum, hit singles. Is that the new goal for producers now?
Yeah, it should be if they are producers. You have a difference from beatmakers and producers. And if you are a producer then yeah, of course. You should get into doing your music, coming out with your own music so you can build your fans and the people that look up to you. You know, the people that are inspired by you.
In your opinion, what’s the difference between producers and beatmakers?
Beatmakers, they’re hit or miss. Producers, they know what it’s supposed to sound like. Beatmakers might send thousands of beats and hopefully one of them get pick. Producers, they hit it every time and that’s the statement I’m gonna put out with my album.
When do you think you’re gonna drop your album? This year? Next year? Fourth quarter?
Soon [laughs]. I would say this year, maybe next year. This year, hopefully.
Tell me about a song or something that stuck out to you during the album creation process that made you say, “Wow, this is probably gonna resonate with a lot of people.”
My first single, that’s a statement right there. You had 21, Offset, Nicki, the three hottest people in the game right now—social media-wise and music-wise. So that lets you know how I’m comin’. I feel like that’s what’s gonna stand out on my project, the names and the music.
What else are you working on outside of your project?
[Working with] other people of course. Also me and [Young] Thug, we’re doing a project together. A whole collaboration project, Thug London, so that’s coming soon. You know, Kodak Black. I’m working with a lot of people right now.
What about the London and Thug project? How long was that in the works?
That’s coming soon, man. It’s definitely gon’ be epic. We coming back with the old Slime Season shit and we gon’ feed them greater than ever. We been supposed to drop Slime Season back in the day, but we gon’ give our fans what they want.
Your production for Kodak Black's Project Baby 2 was really good, especially the record with XXXTentacion.
“Roll in Peace.”
Yeah. How was working with Kodak? Did you record it at his spot?
Yeah, “Roll in Peace” is like a month-and-a half old. Real recent. So I got in the studio with him for one day and we knocked out seven songs.
Four of them made the album from that day, “Roll in Peace” was one of them. “6th Sense” is on there. “You Do That Shit” and “Don’t Wanna Breathe.”
How is he in the studio?
Man, I love it. I was a big fan of Boosie back in the day. Like, [a] real huge fan of Boosie and Webbie, and I feel like—to my eyes—Kodak Black is like the new Boosie. From back in the day, though.
I was just listening to Rich Gang's Tha Tour Part 1. That’s literally one of the best projects within the last five years.
What was it like making music with Thug, Rich Homie Quan and Birdman back then?
Back in the day, man, I was just blessed to be there. And I still am blessed to be here. Thug, we got a very good chemistry. It’s automatic every time pretty much with Thug. I create on the spot [and] he just like everything I do. It’s like my sound is just made for him. Rich Homie, talented guy. Everything me and Thug did, Rich Homie would just get right in on it. And Bird, you know, he’s a mogul in the game. Big business guy, my uncle. I definitely look up to him when it comes to branding, networking and stuff like that. It was just like a family thing. We’re all family. It felt genuine, it was real. Wasn’t nothing fake.
Everybody went on to do their own thing, but would y’all ever come back for a true Rich Gang follow-up? Like a part two?
If we do I’m with it, hopefully. I’m still Rich Gang.
One of the thing that’s a constant topic right now is bigger producers who are more established having younger producers who are greener. Newcomers work with bigger producers on projects and songs but sometimes the bigger producer doesn’t credit the little guy. Is that something you’ve been noticing more? Why do you think that’s happening?
I don’t know. I guess it’s their management team [laughs]. If little producers are not getting their credit like they want to, then shit, maybe they need new management. You need a new team.
What are some pitfalls to avoid? How do you avoid not getting credit? Some dos and don’ts.
You just gotta go hard with branding. You gotta come up with a tag to brand yourself right, and you gotta be consistent with it. Like I said, get a good team. You need that support behind you. You need somebody to go hard just like you go hard for yourself, that believes in you, that helps you get your name out there and gets you credit on your stuff. And relationships as well. If you have relationships with the artists they can kinda help, too.
Do you advise younger producers to become a part of a stable? Or are you an advocate of making it solo?
I feel like collaborating is good because it helps bring yourself in other lanes if you’re not already in that lane. Like if I go collaborate with Calvin Harris, he’s gonna put me in a whole ’nother lane. This is just me, though, [but] I don’t even care if I get the crazy, big credit like Calvin. My business team is gonna make sure I get it, though. Other people are different. But when it comes down to it, you should always focus on yourself first.
Do you think it’s harder or easier to be a producer now in hip-hop?
I feel like it’s easier branding period ’cause [there’s] social media. It ain’t no excuse with branding yourself as an artist, producer, writer, whatever you wanna be. There ain’t no excuse in the game right now. Back in the day it was, because there wasn’t no social media. You had to depend on the labels. Now you just depend on your team who’s behind you and how consistent you wanna be with your brand.
Artists themselves sometimes don’t give credit to producers. Do you see that a lot?
Yeah, I see that a lot, but that’s just some relationships. Honestly, artists don’t have to do that if they don’t want to. As long as they get their credit and their percentages that’s all that matters to an artist. But if they got that kind of relationship and bond then they definitely gon’ shout them out. If I was an artist—well, now I’m an artist—so I would definitely wanna give my producers credit if I have somebody produce a track with me. But artists need to do that.
Who are some young producers you think are making noise right now?
Cassius Jay. I work with Cassius Jay a lot. Pi’erre, Pi’erre Bourne. He’s dope. Murda Beatz. And everybody else is pretty much people I been working with, like Metro [Boomin]. I collaborate with him all the time. Southside, Mike Will.
Where do you see yourself in the game right now? Do you think you’re the best producer?
I just see myself being great. At the end of the day, greats don’t call themselves greats. They help others become great, so that’s what I’m doin'. I ain’t gon’ call myself anything, I’m just let gon’ people see it and let them call me what they wanna call me. At the end of the day, I’m not here to be arrogant. I’m just doing me, being great.
Who’s somebody you haven’t worked with that you wanna work with?
Why Taylor Swift?
’Cause it’s out the box. It’s challenging. It’s a challenge for me. So once I get to that, I’ll feel like I’ve worked with everybody.
Do you listen to country music or stuff like that?
No, to be honest. But I can study it. And if I get in the studio with her I’ll have it ready for her.
See New Music Releases for September 2017