While Chief Keef, Lil Reese and Lil Durk are poster boys for Chicago's reigning drill movement, 19-year-old producer Young Chop—the brainchild behind the city's defining hit "I Don't Like"—plays an essential role as the architect behind the soundscape. Chop's foray into national stardom as a producer sparked with a strong momentum last year, and appears like it'll continue in 2013, starting with the promising street single "Blocka," a collaborative effort with Pusha T. Though it hasn't been too long since XXL last caught up with the young producer to hear the tales behind Keef's Finally Rich, we reconnected with Chop to discuss his current status in Chicago, Keef's standings and his aural influencers. —Jaeki Cho (@JaekiCho)

XXL: Tell me about the track with Reese, “Traffic,” and the remix with Twista and Jeezy. How’d it come about?

Young Chop: We were in the studio in Chicago at Soundscape. We were super sleepy. It was like 3, 4, 5 in the morning. That’s why the beat is so simple—I made the beat pattern and I’m like, “Damn—I’m sleepy as hell.” Reese was in the booth the whole time. He was writing the hook. Matter of fact, he didn’t do his verse right then. I went over to Keef’s house with my equipment and then I got the verse with him, because he was on house arrest. Then I went back to the studio that night and Reese put his verse down and we mixed it down. Then, a couple of months ago, Twista asked for the instrumental. He was at the video shoot, so then he got on there. Then we sent it to Jeezy, he killed it.

You’re a 19-year-old dude and a lot of big artists, including hometown legends like Twista, are hollering at you for requests. How does it make you feel?

It’s just crazy. I just be sitting there like, “Dang—this man [Rick] Ross just hit me up to get a beat.” He hit me on Twitter, though. He just followed me on Twitter—because I was already following him—and DM’d me. I was like, “Damn.”

Has it hit you that you can make 10-grand off a beat?

It’s about the music right now. The money is gonna come and go.

Have people been treating you differently now that you’ve got these big placements?

Yeah, man. I hate when people treat me like a celebrity. I don’t like that. In Chicago people want to run up to you, take pictures. People wanna hold the door for you—it’s just crazy. Free clothes and all that. I’m like, “Damn—I ain’t never had this.” It’s cool, though.

Tell me about the drill scene. You’re becoming the poster boy in terms of production for the movement.

I kicked it off with the drill. It’s a whole bunch of people. I just so happened to pop. You feel me? There are a whole bunch of other producers. Like my partner Paris Beuller, he popping with Lil Durk, he did the “L’s Anthem.” Chase Davis, he doing the whole movement with Lil Mouse. It’s just a whole bunch of people.

Who do you consider your teacher? When did you start making beats?

I started making beats when I was 11, 12. My cousin showed me how to use the program, then I just been learning how Fruity Loops and FL Studio. Timbaland, Pharrell, they just influenced me to do what I’m doing. At first I wasn’t trying to be no producer. I was trying to be a rapper.

Would you consider somebody like Lex Luger as a possible influence?

Lex Luger? Nah—I’d say Shawty Redd and Drumma Boy.

That’s interesting, because Lex Luger brings a lot of the musical elements you can find in the drill scene.

Somewhat. But that sound has been out, though. People don’t realize that Zaytoven been doing that. When that was, 2011? He had a movement—it was just crazy. I’m trying to expand my sound, do pop, rock, R&B—you never know what I got in my computer. Shout out to Lex though, that’s my boy. We tight.

Have you been updating your musical tools?

Yeah, keyboards, plugins, better speakers, big subwoofers. We’re just getting it right. I’m just on the computer learning everything like, “Oh, that sound good on these speakers,” you feel me? I just use Yamahas because they sound right on my sound so I can hear it. Different speakers you can mix differently.

Next up from the Chi are Durk and Reese. Will you be working with those guys as well?

Oh, yeah—I got to. I’m bringing something different with both Durk and Reese. Durk, he more of a poppy-sounding artist because he uses Auto-tune and all that. Reese, he’s a real street-sounding artist, so you got to make him do a little of that poppy-sounding stuff versus the hood, trappy stuff. So I’m just trying to do something different, what we didn’t do on Keef’s album. Whoever I’m focused on, I’m focused on. Like, focused. We’re gonna sit there and we’re gonna work.

Could you break down your studio process with Keef? Compared to somebody like Reese and Durk.

Me and [Chief Keef], in the studio we just goof off. We’ll just do half a song and then just get back right on it, just focused. Do another song, another song, then goof off again and finish the song—you feel me? Just like that. That’s our chemistry, we just be tweaking. We could probably do like four records in a day. We finished that album Finally Rich album in two weeks.

With the legal issues, what’s up with y’all music-wise?

We good. When he gets out, we’re just gonna go harder.

But just as a friend, does it worry you?

We good now—he gonna be good after this.

Tell me about “Blocka.”

We ain’t even had no conversation. We was just in the studio like, “Ay—play the beat, go in the booth,” you feel me? Just like that. I’ve seen Pusha, we shook hands, we knew what it was. Just on some grown-man type shit. I knew it was going to get burns. They built the momentum up on the song so I was like, “This shit’s gonna turn up.” But I ain’t know it was gonna turn up like that—you feel me? Until the label start calling like, “Man—we need some of this, you need to get in with Pusha again.”

You, as a producer, I’m sure, if it hasn’t, it will cross your mind like, “Damn, how do I make myself continuously relevant?”

Yeah, just don’t send beats to everybody that hit you up. That’s where producers get it messed up. Keep sending beats that’s how you get played out. I don’t send beats, I’ve gotta be in the studio with you. That’s how I work. They be calling me right now like, “Will you send beats?” “No! Come set up a session.”

Studio essentials?

PC Screen, keyboard and mouse.

No drugs?

I don’t do drugs—super sober.

That’s interesting because Keef’s music is so drugged up.

That’s him. You got to have some fruit in there. And some chicken. Fried, hot, spicy chicken.