“I think everyone was surprised that a female engineer was behind [‘Bad and Boujee’] and other songs,” Atlanta creative Kesha Lee tells Complex.
Amazingly, the mega-smash hit Migos track (which skyrocketed the trio to superstardom) might not even represent the pièce de résistance of Lee’s young career. The 29-year-old engineer made significant contributions to Lil Uzi Vert’s debut studio album Luv Is Rage 2, which reached number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 in 2017.
“The workload was crazy,” Lee recalls of working on the project. “One night, even though I was tired, my friend insisted that I watch Hidden Figures. I was completely inspired by Katherine Johnson, and it motivated me to keep pushing.”
It’s remarkable to think that just a couple of short years ago, Lee was a virtual unknown. Now, she’s a musical savant recognized by the industry's most influential tastemakers, having collaborated with the likes of Lil Uzi, Young Thug, Gucci Mane, and many more of ATL’s upper echelon talent. However, her come-up is much more modest than her stacked resume would indicate.
Lee got her start messing around with Garageband on her mom’s computer as a young girl, and quickly realized her musical passions. She attended the Atlanta Institute of Music and continued on to Miami’s Full Sail University sound engineering program, which was where she first connected with Guwop and began sitting in on his recording sessions.
Dozens of handshakes and studio sessions later, Lee found herself on Luv Is Rage 2, gaining her rapid widespread recognition. “Everything started to change with my Fader interview,” she explains, which hit the site two days after LIR2 dropped. “The transition was crazy. It was almost overnight... I knew I was making progress when artists of all levels of [fame] were finding me and reaching out so that we could work.”
Despite the near-overnight success, Lee refused to rest on her laurels. She remains in the studio, “even on holidays most people celebrate,” according to the ATL native, grinding away. Future plans of hers include starting a YouTube channel, on which she’ll post videos of her discussing her craft and providing engineering tips.
Click play on the video above to learn more about how Kesha Lee has transformed into one of the most sought-after sound engineers in the game today.