Anderson “Vinylz” Hernandez wanted to be rapper up until the age of 15. Realizing his skills weren't quite up to par, he decided to try his hand behind the boards. A close friend who was producing using the Fruity Loops production software showed him the ins and outs of the program. From there, Vinylz became cooking up his own beats and sharing them with other producers on MySpace.
One of the producers he was in contact with was Toronto-based and OVO crew member Boi-1da. After a few digital correspondences, the two decided to work together. Boi-1da would invite Vinylz to his crib in Canada for days at a time. Conversely, Vinylz would invite 1da down to Washington Heights. Soon after, the two decided to meet in L.A. to make magic. Vinylz has co-production credit on a bunch of hits, including Drake's "5 AM in Toronto," Jay Z and Rick Ross' "F***WithMeYouKnowIGotIt,” and DJ Khaled's "No New Friends," to name a few.
These days, he's been in the studio with the whole Young Money camp. He produced Nicki Minaj's "Chiraq" and Lil Wayne and Drake's "Believe Me." He's currently building his own studio in New Jersey, and has recently signed a publishing deal with Sony ATV through Boi-1da. We spoke to Vinylz earlier this week about producing for Wayne and Drake, what Nicki is like in the studio, the "Black Skinhead" remix, and what he's got coming next.
Interview by Lauren Nostro (@LAURENcynthia)
Let's talk about how you got started with production.
I started when I was around 15 years old. I’m from Washington Heights. Uptown. I was rapping at first but that was terrible [Laughs]. My friend was making beats on Fruity Loops and I took a liking to it and tried it out and that was it.
So, how did you and Boi-1da link up?
I met Boi-1da on Myspace, actually in ’07. I hit him up on Myspace and he responded, “Yo, you’ve got some dope stuff.” From there we were friends online and I just started sending him beats and he’d send me some back and we went from there.
You guys started out working remotely and the last two years for you have been huge. Tell me about the process when you two work together.
We usually work online. I’ll email him files and he’ll send it right back, but sometimes I’ll just fly out to Toronto and I’ll stay at his house for a week or so. Or whenever he has a session in L.A. he’ll invite me; or whenever I have a session I invite him. We have a good chemistry.
What was the first big look for you in your career?
I would say “5AM in Toronto.” “5AM in Toronto” was actually done in L.A. when we made “No New Friends” for Drake. We made a whole bunch of beats for Drake and he turned down a whole bunch of them. When we got back, 1da hit me up, and he was like, “Yo, Drake just killed this beat!” They put it out right after that.
Have you worked with any of the OVO Sound producers since?
When I was in Toronto, I was out there with 40. He worked on some of the records like “No New Friends,” so my relationship with 40 is cool. I met Nineteen89, he’s signed with OVO Sound. Majid Jordan, I met them over there. I heard that Majid Jordan just got on one of my record, so that would be dope.
Minus is cool.
Everyone’s always asking where he is.
He’s working. He’s working.
You've had a few big tracks within the last couple months. Let's talk about Nicki Minaj's “Chi-Raq.”
That was a collaborative effort between me, Boi-1da, and Allen Ritter, which is my R&B artist but he co-produces with us. Ritter's got some incredible music coming out soon. We were in L.A. working with Nicki. She flew us out there right before Thanksgiving. We were out there for like a week and a half just working.
We made a whole bunch of stuff for her. We came up with the whole concept because we were actually fans of Lil Herb. So me, 1da, and SB we were like, “Yo, you should put this guy Lil Herb on there. It sounds like something for him.” It took her a while to get it but but then when she got it she was like, “Alright, cool. I like it.”
What was the vibe like in the studio?
It was cool. I always heard stories about Nicki being serious so [when] I came in the room I wasn’t trying to say anything stupid but she was actually very cool. She was making jokes, we were playing reggae music in the studio, we had neon lights everywhere, she brought us food. It was a cool vibe.
Do you have production on Pinkprint confirmed?
I believe so. Hopefully. They always let you know last minute like, “Yo, you’re on this album.”
In terms of the other production you sent her, was it super different from "Chi-Raq"? What is she really looking for on the album from producers?
Well, what she wanted from us was something bouncy but still something where she can get her lyrics off because last album she went a little too pop, so I guess she’s trying to get back to the lyricism. The beats are harder, I would say. She can show her lyrical ability. I was just blown away being in a room with these people. I’m new to all this but it’s a crazy feeling.
Now there's a ton of men beefing with each other over a Nicki track, too.
I kind of had a feeling it was going to be used by everyone. I don’t know why, but I said, “I hear Migos on this. As soon as this drops I hear somebody freestyling on this.” Now everybody’s doing a verse so this shit’s crazy. Hopefully it doesn’t bring more controversy. Just music.
'Believe Me' was an old beat, actually, me and 1da sent it to Drake a while ago and Drake just called him like 'Yeah I gave the beat to Wayne.'
Let's talk about “Believe Me?” Was that before or after “Chi-Raq?”
It was recorded after “Chi-Raq.” That was an old beat, actually. Me and 1da sent it to Drake a while ago and Drake just called him like, “Yeah, I gave the beat to Wayne.” I guess and they were in the studio and made a song with it.
What was the inspiration behind that beat?
I have no idea, really. Every track I try to do something different so I was just trying different stuff that was cool. I do like doing dark beats, though. I like the dark vibe.
What was your reaction hearing Wayne’s comeback verse on there?
I was super impressed like, “Wow he killed it.” It’s surreal to have all my favorite artists getting on my beats in a short span of time. It’s only been a year and a half. I’ve been around Drake a lot, he’s cool as heck. Wayne, I met him once but I don’t think he knew who I was in the studio.
What happened with the mix of "Believe Me?"
I was kind of upset about that. I don’t think 40 mixed it. I think someone from Wayne’s camp mixed it.
And they weren’t happy with the final mix?
We weren’t. It kind of bothered me because that’s my first big placement as a first credit so I was like, “Damn this shit has to sound right.” I usually get the second credit so this is my biggest single that says produced by Vinylz first. They sent it to 40 and 40 saved the day.
Do you know if you have other stuff coming on Carter V?
I believe so. I heard he used a bunch of our records so hopefully I have some stuff on there.
There were some issues surrounding Travi$ Scott’s newest single ”Don’t Play,” which you produced on, too. How did that come together?
Travi$ hit me up a few months ago on Twitter. I’ve been getting hit up by every artist on Twitter now because I don’t have a manager, everything’s just Twitter these days which is good. He just DM’d me. We were following each other on Twitter and he DM’d me like, “Yo, we got to work.” We linked up in New York and we worked on a bunch of records, a bunch of stuff. That record was done recently, probably like a month ago—we were in L.A. working. It was me, him, Allen Ritter, a bunch of people in the room working.
He’s actually one of my favorite people to work with. He brings so much energy to the room that it makes you want to do something crazy. As soon as we’re in the room he turns the music loud as hell, starts jumping around, takes his shirt off, it’s crazy. He has great ideas, too. He’s a dope producer. Every time we link up it's crazy. He just makes me want to make something loud.
This has been my toughest project because working for Diddy, that level, his ear is crazy. There’s a whole bunch of stuff, a variety of sounds, we’re trying to get it right now and there’s not really a set sound yet but it’s crazy.
Well, what other projects are you working on at the moment?
A bunch of stuff. I’ve been working in the studio with J. Cole, working on Diddy’s album.
Tell me about working with Diddy. We can't stop playing "Big Homie" in the office.
Well “Big Homie” isn’t on the album. The album sounds way different. “Big Homie” was just something he recorded because he wanted to because he had it laying around and he liked the song so much that he just put it up but that’s not on the album.
This has been my toughest project because working for Diddy, that level—his ear is crazy. There’s a whole bunch of stuff, a variety of sounds. We’re trying to get it right right now. There’s not really a set sound yet, but it’s crazy. This is his last album so he’s going to come with it. He’s not just trying to make music about him, he’s trying to make music for the people.
Anyone else that you're working with right now?
Diddy, Jeremih, Chance The Rapper. There’re so many people... Kanye.
Are you working with him separately from the “Black Skinhead” remix?
Yeah, through Travi$; he put me on to that camp. I really haven’t heard any of the other records. I’ve just been working on stuff and submitting it to them at this point.
You’ve been working with the Young Money camp, have you done anything with Bieber yet?
Nah, but I got a call to work for him. But there's Nicki’s new album, there’s a bunch of people. Sammy Adams, Prince Royce, he’s a Latin artist, he’s huge. I actually started out in a small studio with Prince Royce and it’s crazy how both of our careers took off.
Are you planning any solo projects?
I have two artists that I’m working on. One is Allen Ritter and the other is Jae B.
And they’re signed to you?
Yeah, to my production company 45 Music group, like the vinyl. Basically, everyone I produced for, I’m trying to get a verse from them. And people actually like [my artist's] music so they’re agreeing to it.