Southside on the Track, originally of Atlanta, Georgia, and TM88, originally from Miami, Florida, are members of 808 Mafia, and have been working with underground artists in the game a long time. They first arrived as beatmakers for Brick Squad, coming up in the wake of Lex Luger as the premier producers of Atlanta's gritty, grimy, and thunderous street rap soundtrack.
They ended up producing for almost every major Atlanta street rapper, from Waka Flocka Flame to Gucci Mane to Future, and have slung tracks to Chicago rappers like Chief Keef and ATL newcomers like, yes, Young Thug.
"Danny Glover," Young Thug's biggest track to date—narrowly edging out the similarly bubbling Dun Deal-produced "Stoner"—first gained national attention via terrestrial radio and club play driven by Atlanta's DJing tastemakers. It obtained even more coverage on a mainstream level once Kanye West was seen rapping along at the Been Trill afterparty. It's since been remixed by Nicki Minaj.
While it's Thugger's distinctive performance that makes the song stand apart, the producers do deserve credit for providing him with the perfect sparse jungle gym of a beat to play with. Based around a simple, sour, three-note guitar tone pattern, the kick drum has a titanic impact.
We recently spoke with TM and Southside over the phone from Atlanta. They talked about how they came together and musical inspirations, before getting into the details of recording "Danny Glover," the secrets behind Young Thug's recording process, and what it's like to kick it with him in real life.
Interview by David Drake (@somanyshrimp).
How did you guys met Young Thug?
Southside: I met him through Gucci and Waka. T be way ahead of me on music, like, "Yo you heard this new artist?" and I'll be like "Hell naw." But that's how I met him, through Gucci and Waka in the studio.
TM88: I knew about him, but I met him the same time, that summer with Guwop and Waka. Wasn’t it last summer? Nah, it had to have been 2012.
Southside: It was two summers ago, really.
What is he like in the studio?
TM88: Animated [Laughs]. That nigga crazy.
Southside: You don't know what he's thinking. You'd never know what he's thinking. He might jump on the track and say anything and you'll just be like, "Wooh!" You never know, expect anything from that nigga.
How would you describe him in person.
TM88: He's weird. It's really hard to explain, he's just weird.
Southside: He's Thug! He's just Thug. If you meet him, you'll see what I'm talking about. He's his own type of person. He's his own brand.
TM88: He's like a psychedelic—I don't know what the hell he be on.
Southside: And sometimes he'll just bust out and start cracking jokes. He'll just start jonesin' on niggas, cracking jokes.
What's his work ethic like?
TM88: He works hard.
Southside: He'll work all night if you let him, and the next morning too. He works hard, harder than a fool.
Does he rap off a pad of paper or does he go off the top of his head?
TM88: Nah he going straight in the booth.
Southside: Ain't no paper involved. He's going straight in.
Me and TM left out the room and went back to work. We came back in and he had "Danny Glover." And that probably took him about two hours. The whole song.
Do you remember the day you recorded "Danny Glover" specifically?
Southside: We was in there making the beat and he came in while me and TM were making the beat and was like, "What's this?" And I was like, "You can get it if you want it." Metro Boomin was there. Thug went in there and told him to cut it. He was recording something, and he told him, "Load this up." And me and TM left out the room and went back to work. We came back in and he had "Danny Glover." And that probably took him about two hours. The whole song. Literally, from start to finish. How y'all hear the song? He did that hook part, he did that. He did the verse and just copied the hook and he did the next verse. And he was through.
What studio were you guys working at?
Southside: We were at DARP Studios, where TLC recorded.
With the "Danny Glover" track, which part did Southside do, and what part did TM do?
Southside: We do everything together, bro. It ain't really no "parts." We fuck with all that shit together.
How long did it take you guys to make that beat?
Southside: Like ten minutes. The whole song, fuckin' shit, short as a fool. Doing it so quick, you just be like, damn, this might be it. Because we did this too damn fast.
What was the first step in the process of making that track?
Southside: The sound, the little weird-sounding crazy sound. Thug was in the studio with Metro and they were going through beats. I was in the little room inside DARP. He came in there and was like, "What's that?" All he heard was the pattern. He just hit me, "I just made this shit," and he was bouncing.
Is that where you guys usually do your recording?
Southside: Sometimes, we bounce around. We go to Patchwerk, we go to Zac's, we fuck with all the studios in Atlanta.
Switching gears, how did you guys originally link up together?
Southside: I knew TM before all this music stuff here. TM was one of the first people to show me a lot of stuff on Fruity Loops. But we lost touch for like three or four years. My friend Dunk [Slim Dunkin] who passed, rest his soul, he linked us back up like, "Y'all gotta work together. Y'all both sound crazy."
TM88: Ever since then, it's been taking off since day one. Dunk brought all this shit together, brought me and him together.
How did you guys know Slim Dunkin?
Southside: Slim, we all grew up together. We've known Slim for years, before he was Slim Dunkin, that's Mario. I knew him for a long time.
How did you guys get into production in the first place?
TM88: From the jump? Man I was watching Michael Myers, the Halloween movie. And I always wanted to do the beat for it. The first beat I did was a Michael Myers beat on Fruity Loops 3, or 2.5. I don't know what it was back then. [Laughs.]
Southside: I just started trying to rap. I ain't have nobody to give me no beats, so I was like, "I'm going to learn how to make my own beats." The first thing we ever worked on together was Slim Dunkin's song, "Tyler Perry."
TM88: Yeah. Slim Dunkin and Waka Flocka [Flame], "Tyler Perry." This was probably 2010.
You mentioned Michael Myers being a big inspiration, were you guys into horror films?
TM88: Yeah. If you listen to a lot of the beats they sound real scary and dark. They inspired a little bit of the sound. It's a lot of different things, though.
Southside: I don't really like horror films, I just like the music. I always tell people if you watch the same movies without music it won't be the same. So I just like the music from the films.
Do you guys have a favorite horror movie?
TM88: I don't know. I fuck with Halloween, Friday the 13th, Jason.
What's your favorite beat that you guys have made so far?
TM88: My favorite, it got to be the "Danny Glover" the one that's out right now.
Southside: I ain't going to say "Danny Glover" my favorite. "Ill" is my favorite. "Ill" ain't came out yet, though.
TM88: Yeah, "Ill" is dope. It's Young Thug but on some inspirational shit. Future and Rocko, "Chosen One." It got a lot of soul so it'll give people a different feeling. You know "Danny Glover" is more like geeking music and stoner music or whatever, but "Chosen One," your grandma can listen to that shit and get a feeling. For real, I seen an old lady on Vine going crazy.
Southside: [Laughs.] You right, bro. I love "Chosen One" too, that shit was ill.
What is the process like when you're working together? Do you guys work in the studio together or do you mail everything?
Southside: It ain't really no—TM might make some shit. And he might hit me up like, "I just made some epic shit," pull up on me and tell me to come fuck with this shit. But if we all in the studio—we been doing this shit for so long together—this like my everyday best friend anyway. I hang with this nigga off of some music shit, so when we are in the studio it's the same thing. We'll talk about some hoes and make beats at the same time. We don't have no big plan, no big set up, we always been friends. So when we in the studio together, it's still like we're friends. We'll be talking about some whole other stuff and making a hit beat at the same time.
TM88: Yeah, it's embedded. It's in the DNA. I don't know, it just come with it. He might start on a beat and add some sounds, and then, boom, that shit hit the radio next week.
Southside: It's that natural.
A lot of people talk about the music in Atlanta and a lot of guys that you work with, you said it yourself about "Danny Glover." A lot of it sounds geeked up and drugs seem to influence the sound of the music. Are you guys drug users and does that influence how you make music?
Southside: [Laughs.] We drug users.
TM88: [Laughs.] Man I smoke so much weed it's ridiculous. We all smoke weed. I don't know, man.
Southside: To each his own man. We don't judge nobody. I do my thing, I'm an artist.
No judgement involved. [Laughs.] I just mean from the sound of the records. Do you guys think about that at all like, "Somebody on molly is going to go crazy for this track."
TM88: See the thing is we actually wasn't making the beat for Thug. He just came in there and said, "Man, I need that one." He cut off everything he was doing. He really just made a whole 'nother sound that the whole industry finna bite off of.
Other than "Danny Glover" what's your favorite Young Thug?
Southside: Y'all ain't heard em!
TM88: Yeah y'all ain't none of the other stuff, but as far as the stuff that's out? It probably got to be "Stoner." What's that other song, "Panamera porsche…" "2 Cups Stuffed," yeah, that shit's hard. He just had something came out too the other day. It's called "No Fuck," we produced that one too.
Southside: Yeah "2 Cups Stuffed," that shit hard too.
You guys have a lot more tracks with Thug?
TM88: Yeah we probably got like 100 more tracks with Thug. Just like how we got with Future, how we got with Waka, how we got with Meek Mill, man we got 100 tracks with everybody.
Southside: We got a lot more records coming out with Thug. A whole lot more.
When it comes to making beats, what kind of artists do you guys prefer to work with?
Southside: I've been around this shit about five or six years with Waka and them. I've done dealt with everybody. I'd rather be with somebody who's nobody and make their first CD. Because their first CD is always your classic. That's why I like working with underground artists. And you get more credit in the production world for that. When you break an artist, instead of working with a mainstream artist.
What's your favorite line in the song?
Southside: It'd be, "I just bought a Bentley and the bitch came with it!" That part.