TDE producer Sounwave is the genius behind over half of the beats on Kendrick Lamar's Pulitzer Prize–winning album Damn, and is credited on all but three songs from the chart-topping Black Panther soundtrack.
In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Sounwave revealed how he even connected with Lamar in the first place: accidentally, one night 13 years ago, at a studio in the L.A. suburb of Gardena. Present during that recording session was Sounwave, Lamar, and Dave Free, and even as early as that session was for a late-teens-Lamar, he took the studio time seriously and meant nothing but business.
That night, someone motioned for Sounwave to play a beat, so he chose a flip of Aalon’s 1977 soul song “Rock and Roll Gangster.” When Lamar heard it, he immediately jumped in the booth. “After his first few lines, everybody stopped what they were doing and just stared,” Sounwave told Rolling Stone. “He rapped for about two minutes straight … just bars from the top of his head mixed with bars that he'd stored. He was the hungriest person I'd seen in my whole life. I had to stop the beat and ask him his name.”
It was a year before Sounwave and Lamar would cross paths again, at Top Dawg’s original studio in Carson, L.A. “I'm like, ‘Bruh, I've been looking for you,’” Sounwave said, remembering his second encounter with Lamar. “He was like, ‘Bruh, I've been looking for you!’” That day, Lamar was luckily at the office for an audition to become part of TDE.