Sometimes, dreams really do come true. Just ask Lex Luger, the 19-year-old producer who went from making beats in his basement to producing “H.A.M.”—the lead single to Kanye West and Jay-Z’s upcoming collaborative album, Watch The Throne. Luger’s life changed last year when he produced two street anthems: Rick Ross’ “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast)” and Waka Flocka Flame’s “Hard In Da Paint.” Since then, he’s gone on to produce for Fabolous, Ace Hood, Juicy J, Jim Jones, and Snoop Dogg and he’s quickly become the go-to producer for any rapper in need of a street smash. We chopped it up with the in-demand producer to talk about his latest banger, Wiz Khalifa’s “Taylor Gang,” his Rubba Band Business mixtape with Juicy J, and why all his beats sound the same.
As told to Insanul Ahmed (@Incilin)
On making Wiz Khalifa’s “Taylor Gang”
“That particular beat is an old beat. That’s probably from ‘07, ‘08. I had Wiz’s e-mail because Wiz has always been kind of like an Internet guy. He’s always been all over the Internet, so when he first was really popping I hollered at him. And then he reached out to me and wanted to do some work with me. I had heard the song about a year ago. It had leaked out, but no one knew it though. And I guess he remastered it and put it out now. Wiz just got back with me recently and let me know that everybody likes it, and that he want to put it out there. And I was like ‘Yeah, go for it.’ But as far as being in the studio together, we haven’t done anything like that yet. That song is going to be on his album, but it’s going to be the iTunes bonus. [I don’t have other songs on his album] because his album is so close. But I talked to him, and he said he’d give me at least three [beats] on the next album.”
On making Kanye West and Jay-Z’s “H.A.M.”
“Kanye reached out to me. He said he and Jay were working on an album, and he told me, ‘Don’t tell nobody.’ [Laughs.] He told me that he had four good records that he liked, that I had produced, and that he was going to drop one of them for the single. I said ‘Okay, cool.’ This all happened when we were in the studio, in New York, doing ‘See Me Now’ just a few months ago. And what took so long was that I had so many beats that I kept sending them the wrong beat. I couldn’t find it because the name of the beat was ‘Six’ and I had to go through [so many] folders. If I’m in Virginia or Atlanta, I’ll name the folder that, and then [name each beat] ‘One,’ ‘Two,’ ‘Three,’ and so forth. And I had like seven folders with ‘Six’ in it, so [I would send it], and he would be like, ‘Nah, nah. That’s not the right one.’ And we were doing that through e-mails, so that was complicated. It took me a good three weeks to find it. That [opera sound on the beat] was Kanye. I liked it because he had built it around the beat I had made. The beat had a choir, but it was a regular trap, hard choir, going up and down. And what he did was, he built it around that, and made it like 600 people were really in there singing that and playing that. He put his own Kanye on it.
How I go from the basement to Kanye—one of the biggest artists out right now—wanting my sound, wanting me to do his record? I was scared.
“When Kanye [first] called me, he said he wanted to fly me out to New York so I flew out a month later. I didn’t want to fly out there at first. It was coming too fast for me, really. How I go from the basement to Kanye—one of the biggest artists out right now—wanting my sound, wanting me to do his record? I was scared. But I went down there because it felt like an opportunity. He told me he loved my drums. He said with my drums and his sound, it would go perfectly. And I was ready to do it. But at the same time, I had to work. I felt like I wasn’t on Kanye’s level. I went back and I worked for about six months, I didn’t talk to Kanye or nothing. I called Gee Robinson because me and him cool, I sent him some stuff, I sent Kanye some more stuff, just going back and forth. Me and Kanye are still working. Maybe [I’ll have more songs on Watch The Throne.]
"In New York, when I walked in [the studio] Kanye was playing a bunch of Jimi Hendrix records. Playing them real loud off a record—it wasn’t a CD or something off of the Internet. So he came in there, and he had listened to three good records, and he told me, ‘I know you’re wondering why I’m doing this. It’s studying music.’ Back then, a story was told in [the music]. From the instruments to the words to the song, because you could listen to a whole instrumental back then and be satisfied. So he said that’s where he wanted to take his music. I just took that and I was like, ‘Yeah, I want to do that too.’ Because music ain’t supposed to be repetitive, with the same thing over and over. What Kanye does is try to push it to the limit. That’s what I really learned from him: Don’t get stuck in the same sound or the same style. Always keep going, and keep something new.”