Honorable C Note, the Atlanta-based producer behind recent anthems such as ASAP Ferg’s “New Level” and ASAP Rocky’s “M’s," is finishing 2017 strong with some major placements.
In November, Lil Uzi Vert dropped the deluxe version of Luv Is Rage 2 which included the C Note-produced “20 Min." And earlier this month, C Note’s name popped up on Quality Control’s Control the Streets, Vol. 1 on Gucci Mane, Lil Baby, and Marlo’s “The Load” and Lil Yachty and Quavo’s “Holiday.”
Some of his loose singles are putting up large SoundCloud numbers, too—like Trippie Redd’s “Dark Knight Dummo,” a chaotic and distorted banger featuring Travis Scott in peak form.
What’s next for C Note? He confirms a joint album with former MMG signee Tracy T coming soon, working with Travis on his next album AstroWorld, and getting back in the studio with 2 Chainz and Gucci Mane, the latter collaborating on their C-Note vs. Gucci series.
Complex spoke with C Note about his new vegan lifestyle, his latest production credits, his thoughts on Rae Sremmurd, and if he’ll get back in the studio with ASAP Rocky in the near future.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
I heard you've gone vegan recently.
I’m like two to three years in on it. I used to be like 500 pounds man, I lost hella weight.
How much weight did you lose?
I ain’t even check, I know I used to be in a 6X. I’m in a 3X. So yeah, I went vegan, started getting my health shit right man. It’s like when you’re on the grind and you are trying to become this producer, you don’t really be thinking about [your health]. Eating McDonald’s every day or you eating all of this bullshit, but that shit catches up to you.
What was the decision behind it? Was it like because you wanted to lose some weight or was it something else?
No, it was real health issues. I would be in the studio with artists and my left side would start freezing up. You know what I’m saying? I was pre-diabetic, I had all that shit going on with me, high blood pressure. The doctor told me that if I didn’t take these type of pills then you would for sure die. I had high blood pressure. So I just started doing my research on natural shit because my grandma started off on one pill and that one pill led her to nine other pills that she had to take every day and that’s a road I’m not going down. So I told the doctor to fuck himself. Basically. [Laughs.]
Was it Waka that put you up on veganism or was it somebody else?
Yeah, Waka put me up on these doctors: Dr. Amun and Dr. Amsu.
Who are these doctors and what do they specialize in?
They specialize in a lot of stuff, telling you the right foods to eat. I’ve seen them cure a lot of stuff man, I’ve seen them cure herpes from a patient, I’ve seen them cure a lot of stuff just by eating the right shit and taking the wrong shit out of your diet. I had to do a lot of fasting too man, needed to fast myself into being a vegan. I was a vegetarian, but then I went vegan, and I went vegan after I did my second fast. We go on these 14-day water fasts and you drink nothing but water the whole 14 days. After I got off that fast I tried to go back to eating cheese and it fucked me up. So I’m like, “Shit, I’m all the way vegan now.”
The doctor told me that if I didn’t take these type of pills then you would for sure die.
Did you cut out drinking and smoking too?
I’m not a drinker at all, but I still smoke. I do like six months on smoking and six months off, I’m not a smoker that smokes all year around. Sometimes I feel like it and sometimes I don’t, it depends on what creative mode I am in.
With 2017 wrapping up, how would you describe your year?
I had an awesome year, man. If you ain’t notice, I had over 40 songs come out this year on major shit. But the main shit that I had coming out towards the end of the year, I had six songs that came towards the end of the year.
Quality Control’s Control The Streets dropped recently.
Well, I had this. Have you heard of Ashley Benson? She’s an actress. Me and PGDM, my homeboy Jimmy [Giannopoulos], who also produces for LOLAWOLF. It’s Zoë Kravitz. She has this group called LOLAWOLF, and I’ve been working with them. We got this little chemistry and Jimmy’s beats are cold. I’ll put drums and add melodies or whatever. So we went in with Ashley Benson as Cindy Ultra [on a song called "Stars Go Out"]. We just released that.
Me and Trinidad James got “Black Santa.” Me, Trippie Redd, and Travis Scott just dropped that “Dark Knight Dummo.” I hear that everywhere I go, that shit is going crazy.
Let’s get into the Trippie Redd record. Did you send that over to him? How’d he get Travis on there?
One of my homeboy’s Fooly Faime [of Yung Nation] had that beat and I didn’t even know who Trippie was. But he hit me and told me, “Yo, this kid Trippie Redd, he is going to blow up I’m telling you. You should check him out, he’s hard. I’ma be in the studio with him in L.A.” So I was like, “Alright, cool, I’ll check him out.” But I never really got to check him out because I had so much shit going on. One day he just called, “Pull up to the studio.” It’s my boy, so I pulled up and I met Trippie there.
Fooly actually did a song to the “Dark Knight Dummo” beat, and Trippie Redd got on it. Fooly didn’t end up on the song and Trippie ended up putting Travis Scott on it. And that’s how that happened. We was in the studio, man. The first time I met bro I was like, “He’s a star.” He’s got a distinctive sound. There’s something about him that’s real distinctive. If you hear him rap, you know it’s him and his voice.
The song that I heard he already had the first verse and the hook and that’s all that they were listening to for a long time. So I didn’t know if he was going to use it or not. The way I found out Travis was on there was I saw him tweet the lyrics to the hook. When I saw him tweeting the lyrics to the hook, I was like, “Aw shit, Travis jumped on that motherfucker.”
On the Quality Control project, you produced “The Load” and “Holiday.” Is it pretty standard that QC is going to hit you up for beats?
Well, how “Holiday” happened was 2 Chainz had the Pretty Girls Like Trap Music [listening] in Atlanta and Quavo was there. Me and Quavo, we go way back, so we always see each other. We also have a song Meek and him did. It’s a single. When they free my boy Meek, man, that shit is so fucking hard. So he was telling me about that song and I was like, “Yo, that shit is crazy.” He was like, “Yo, I’m going to the studio after this.” I was like, “I’ma pull up.” And that’s what I did. When I pulled up, it was Quavo and Yachty there. And it’s always automatic when I pull up some beats. Yachty came with the hook and Quavo did the verse. I was like, “Damn!” We actually did three songs that night, and “Holiday” was one of them.
Then how “The Load” came about was Gucci hit me and was like, “Pull up to the crib.” I pulled up and he was telling me, “I need some hard shit.” I made “The Load” the day before I went to Gucci’s house. He was listening to some beats, but none of them really made him rap. But when he heard “The Load” beat, he was like, “Yeah, that’s the one right there.” He went in and did two verses and that’s some of the hardest shit I heard. He was like, “You know what? I’m going to put this on the QC project.” So we send it and took the second verse off and put Lil Baby and Marlo on there.
Gucci’s second verse was hard as shit but I love hearing the younger point of view too. That’s one of my favorite beats, “The Load.” I love making those types of musical beats with the synths and all that shit. It be a lot of shit going on that I do. I’m like a scientist, I be putting tape delays on shit just to hear the echo go through the whole beat. A lot of shit that people wouldn’t even know is put into that shit.
You worked on CyHi the Prynce’s No Dope on Sundays. What do you think about the conversation that he’s underestimated and plays the background in G.O.O.D. Music?
I think everybody’s role is different man, just like me. It’s a lot of things about me that people don’t really understand. I’ve been doing this since ‘98. So I think everybody’s path is different and if you stay consistent with anything you do, you are going to pop off.
We know CyHi hasn’t been getting the shine that he really deserves but his grind has been consistent and I know one day if he stay on it like he did now, everybody loving this new album, people are going to come around. Sometimes you be so ahead of the curve that people don’t really get it.
I have so many beats that go over people’s heads, that’s why I’m really enjoying that “Dark Knight Dummo.” People are accepting it. It’s not no regular shit. It’s like some opera shit that we put together. It’s no samples in that. That’s all made by me. Some people hear that shit and think: “Yo, that’s a lot of noise.” But on the third and fourth listen, you’ll be like, “Hold on, this shit makes kind of sense.” I don’t think people are getting the timing right. Everything is in a quarter, like one-fourth time zone. When you go in the one-third, people think it’s everywhere 'cause I don’t think people really grasped how to listen to it yet or what time it's in.
You also appeared on the deluxe version of Luv Is Rage 2 on “20 Min." Did you two work on that in the studio?
No, what actually happened was when we was working on Luv Is Rage 2 we had just gotten off of 1017 vs. The World. I did two on there, “Changed My Phone” and “Today.” A lot of people were fucking with those two songs off the tape, so Uzi was like, “I’m finna go in on this album.” We got this song called “Changed My Phone” that went viral with him and Gucci. It was a sound that I created, like a synth that I created. I just liked that synth so much that I had to use it again.
I was making skeletons for Uzi to rap to, you know what I’m saying? Not just making the full beat but a loop for him to rap to. Some rappers love the change in beats and some rappers actually like to make the change to the beats themselves. So Uzi is one of those type of artists. Uzi, 2 Chainz, they’re the type of artists that don’t care about a beat switch and would rather rap off a loop. They got off to it. And then they let me go back and do what I do as far as producing. Gucci will let me do it too.
But the thing about “20 Min,” it's really just a loop. He liked it so much. I was like, “Bro, I gotta add certain shit.” And he was like, “Nah, I like it just the way it is.” I was like, “Man, I don’t even like the way the drums are.” And he was like, “Man, I’m telling you, that shit is hard. I got a feeling to it.” So I was like, “Man, you like the way drums are on it?” And he’s like, “Yeah.” So I was like, “Alright, cool.”
Sounds like Uzi prefers to rap over skeletons.
Yeah, I do that sometimes. I go on a binge where I make nothing but skeletons where I don’t feel like arranging a beat or if I do arrange a beat, it’ll throw the person off. So I’ll give them a loop to rap to fast. I made that beat in maybe three minutes.
Gucci’s El Gato: The Human Glacier just dropped. Did you produce anything on there?
Yeah, I did the intro with him and 21 Savage called [“Just Like It”]. [Editor's Note: While initially announced as the intro, "Just Like It" did not make the final tracklist.] My homeboy G Koop had flew in from The Bay. He did the music to “Bad and Boujee” with Metro [Boomin], so he produced with Metro too. We got this little coalition thing we be doing as producers, so he gave me a whole bunch of melodies and it was one of them I picked. It just sounded like some scary shit. I put my bounce on top of it and I added some theatrical shit like the little flutes after I got Gucci’s verse back. Gucci had hit me: “Yo, send me some beats.” So I sent him some and he sent that one back. I heard it and I was like, “Yo, that shit’s hard.” I knew he was going to pick that beat though, which was crazy.
What is your favorite studio memory with Gucci? You’ve worked with him for many years.
My favorite? I don’t know. All of them, man. My favorite thing is always when an artist is almost at their breaking point, when they are like, “Yo, this shit man. I don’t know about this shit.” And then seeing them pop off like way bigger than what any of us expected. That shit is always studio memories for me because it always reminds me to stay down until you come up and just don’t jump at everything. Everything come with time. I have seen most of them go from like, “Bro, I ain’t getting no show money” to boom! It’s just like, “Damn!”
You also did “Rolls Royce Bitch” with 2 Chainz. Can you explain his studio process? Is he one of those people that needs to be in the studio with the producer and vibe?
Yeah, me and 2 Chainz always come around and do some hard shit. I was actually in the studio when he cut those. The way 2 Chainz’ process is different from everybody.
I’ve been working with him since Trapavelli 2, so that’s always been our process to work in the studio together. When they had the studio on the south side, I pulled up on them and played beats. That’s just our process. I’m not really a big emailer. I don’t email beats like that. I would rather just pull up on you and work.
You bring your hard drive and your laptop and get to work.
Yeah, I’ll bring a laptop. If they ain’t feeling no beats that I made then I’ll go open up another pack and I’ll go downstairs and make some bangers real quick just to see what kind of vibe they’re in. Everybody is in their own little vibe so that’s what I do. I’ll go in and check to see if they’re fucking with any beats I made then it’ll be, “Alright cool.” and if they ain’t fucking with none, I’ll cook up right there. It don’t matter. While we’re here, let’s get some something done.
I saw Rae Sremmurd announced SremmLife 3 is coming in January. I know you produced "Safe Sex Pay Checks" on the first one. Will you lock in with them again at some point?
I’ve been with them for the last three days, so yeah, we’re working. I don’t know if it's anything solid yet, but we definitely working. I literally just came from working with them last night.
They went from Rolling Loud SoCal to your studio?
I went to Rolling Loud with them. Them the homies.
That performance was crazy. The pineapple and everything.
Yeah, the pineapple, the big weed. That shit was lit. They be too lit, they’re real rock stars.
Is there anything you can talk about from those sessions?
Yeah, we are still working, just working it out man. We sit in the studio and just freestyle over some beats for hours until we get the right vibe.
The “Unforgettable” hook is huge. I hope Swae's got some more dope hooks coming.
Man, he real dope. It comes to him like it is nothing. Both of them talented, Jxmmi is the more raunchy guy and Swae is the more commercial appeal. Jxmmi is just the Dr. Luke, just wild. I think they go great together and are a perfect match. Those are my guys and have been my guys.
The last time you spoke with me, we were talking about ASAP Rocky’s “M’s.” Have you two done anything else since then?
It’s been a while. I sent him some beats and shit. I was in New York with Ferg. I did “Mad Man” on [Still Striving] and I also did “New Level.” When we talked, he be like, “Man, send me some beats I’m closing out my album.” So I sent him some beats and usually if he catch a vibe to one of them, that’s how it come out. It’s fire. I already know he’s probably going to vibe to a couple of them. They probably in the stash. I’m expecting a phone call.