While there have been hints of a Beyoncé and JAY-Z album out in the world, they successfully released Everything Is Love as a surprise Saturday (June 16) amid their On the Run II Tour. What makes it even more impressive is that over a dozen writers, producers, and artists helped in its creation without revealing what the power couple had in store.
That includes !llmind, who co-produced "Heard About Us." Complex hopped on the phone with the veteran producer to find out how he got involved in Everything Is Love and what his reaction was when he first listened to the record.
What was the process like of getting involved in this album?
The way it played out probably isn’t what people expect. Me and Boi-1da have been working for a while. We first really started collaborating I wanna say back in 2012, 2013. At that point me and Boi-1da, we both had been active in our careers already, so we had this respect for each other. We started following each other and we just got to know each other and started collaborating. He’s like, “Hey, I’m a big fan of your tracks, we should do some work together.” So around 2012-13, that was the time we started collaborating and sending each other beat ideas to work on. The first placement we got together was on If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, on Drake’s 2015 album. And we’ve just been kind of building ever since.
I think at this point we have a good handful of tracks that we collaborated on, and with the JAY-Z and Beyoncé record, it was something we had to keep under wraps. He told me about it two or three weeks ago, a little less than a month ago he told me about it. I didn’t know what it was called, I didn’t know when it was coming out. The details were very much a secret, but I knew it was coming soon.
As far as the track goes, that was just another collaboration. A melody that I put together, and Boi-1da heard the melody and made a beat out of it. Then he brought in the homies Vinylz and Jahaan Sweet to do some keys and some more work on it. And that was it. It was just another collaboration among many. And then he told me it was going to be on the JAY-Z and Beyoncé album. I was like, OK, shit. He made sure that we kept it under wraps. He was like, “Don’t tell anybody, keep it on the low,” and that’s what I did. Fast forward to yesterday and it’s out. I’m still kind of processing it like everyone else. [Laughs.]
When we spoke last around Bryon Tiller’s True to Self you mentioned that you and Boi-1da had a lot of work that was coming. Now it’s on a JAY-Z and Beyoncé album.
Exactly. It’s just one of those things where me and 1da have a good handful of stuff. Some of it is on a hard drive, some of it is in the inboxes of some of these big iconic artists. Some are being used, some aren’t. It’s just one of those things where it’s another placement that happened, but it just so happened to be two music icons, and a really iconic moment in hip-hop, so it’s super humbling, man. It’s one of those moments that you dream of when you’re a music producer, and you’re coming up as a music producer. Like, one day I wanna win a Grammy, or one day I wanna get on a big album, like a JAY-Z album or a Beyoncé album. This is that moment for me.
What was your initial reaction when you heard the final record?
I was blown away by the talent, the writing—shout-out to Amnija who co-wrote the record, she’s amazing—the way it was put together, JAY’s verse. The chemistry between Beyoncé and JAY is flawless, no pun intended. [Laughs.] Just a really good fucking record, man.
What I got from the record is that they’re comfortable in the skin they’re in and what their status is, and they know how to maneuver in life.
Yeah, and I feel like that’s what the album represents as a whole, too. It kind of functions as almost a bookend to Lemonade and 4:44. It’s cool because the “Heard About Us” record that I did comes in as track seven. On the album it kind of changes the tempo a little, and it’s got a nice pop feel to it. But JAY is still talking shit. Everything about the record and how they put it on the tracklisting and what the record was about is just super genius to me.
I have a feeling “Heard About Us” is your favorite song on the album, so I’ll ask this, what’s your second favorite?
[Laughs.] Honestly man, not even ‘cause I helped produce it, but it really is my favorite song. My second favorite song I would say is probably “Friends.” “Friends” is my shit. Shout-out to Boi-1da and Jahaan Sweet on that one, Sevn Thomas and Nav co-produced that one with them too. That record is awesome.
This is actually one of a few big records you had that came out this week, including “Bigger Than You” with 2 Chainz. How did that record come about?
Pretty similar to Boi-1da. Murda Beatz is a guy that I’ve been collaborating with for a couple years. We have a handful of records together floating around to different artists; this was one of them. I did that melody recently. I think I did that this year and then Murda put the Murda sauce on it. And you gotta really give Murda Beatz credit because he really finessed putting that record together. He’s coming off a big record with Drake, and him and Drake have gotten closer. He’s always been cool with Quavo, they came up together. And 2 Chainz, he’s got records with him. He was just very instrumental in putting those three guys together to do the track, so shout-out to Murda. When you hear a Murda beat it ain’t nice.
Did you want to include anything else?
I’m just really humbled to be a part of a moment in hip-hop where you’re seeing more collaboration. And there’s this really special collaborative spirit that I think is overflowing behind the scenes in hip-hop. There are these new writers and producers and artists coming together that you wouldn’t normally see collaborate. And then all this stuff that Kanye is doing with Nas and [Kid] Cudi and bringing different people in, it’s just really fun to watch. And I’m just really humbled to be a small part of it all.
I feel like 2018 is kind of a turning point. I feel like 2018 is kind of turning into a new golden era moment. I know that’s super bold to say, but I just think music is at a super special place right now, and I think the spirit behind it all is the art of collaboration and just doing what you can to make music.