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When we saw the tweet, we had to ask.
On July 1, Bas tweeted that he was ready to share the story of the “beyond fucking epic” night that produced the song “Costa Rica” on Dreamville's Revenge of the Dreamers III. The compilation record was created during a now-famous 10-day period at Atlanta’s Tree Sound Studios. During the sessions, Dreamville artists were joined by everyone from Rick Ross and T.I. to Guapdad 4000 and Ski Mask the Slump God.
While the accompanying documentary, Revenge, contains some footage of the recording process, information about what went down has otherwise remained relatively sparse. So, when we had the chance to find out directly from the source what happened during the creation of one of the project’s rowdiest tracks, we had to get Bas on the phone. In the process, we heard several stories about what happened during the sessions, from acid trips to pregnancy announcements.
This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
You had a cryptic tweet about making the song "Costa Rica." Can you share the full story?
Yeah. The A room [at Tree Sound Studios] was where a lot of posse cuts were happening, at least high-energy ones: the “Costa Rica”s and the “Down Bad”s. They all happened in this one room, because it was the hub. Every day when you would pull up, it was the one big room that hosted a bunch of people, and then there are some more ducked off rooms if you wanted to get a more intimate session.
It’s funny because we don't even have footage from “Costa Rica,” because it had to be like 5:30 in the morning. Everyone was just off the shits. We’re all in the A room, and Pyrex started playing the beat. Pyrex, he's one of the producers on the record, as well as CuBeatz. And the homie Reese [LAFLARE] is like, “Yo, let's just load this one up.”
That day a bunch of the Milwaukee Bucks had come to the studio. They catered a dinner for us and just came and hung out. They had to leave, and then four of them came back and were like, “Yo, we just skipped out on the team flight because the energy was crazy in here. We wanted to stick around.”
Then we had the wildest session. Everything came together on the spot. Buddy and Guapdad got on top of the speakers at one point when the song was over. I think we ran it back at least 20, 25 times, with everyone in there performing it. Everyone in there was jumping around. It's crazy too, because I know for Mez [engineer Juro “Mez” Davis, not the rapper Mez who appears on “Costa Rica”], it must have been a headache to mix it, because we're all recording and chilling in the same room, and at this point homies is fucked up. They're lacking the presence of mind that there's a hot mic. There's takes where you hear n****s laughing in the background, n****s repeating a line they just heard. It's definitely like no session I’ve ever done.
I think we made several albums in there, honestly. A hundred-something songs came out of those sessions.
Then we had that one line of Ski Mask’s, “Going on a date with a AK.” That came about because we were performing it so many times after [recording], and that moment would go off so crazy amongst us. I think it was the homie Quick [Kaleb “KQuick” Rollins], one of my engineers, he was like, “I should just record that and put it on the record.” It was wild. It came together so quick. J.I.D hit me a couple days later, like, “No, you're not about to leave me off this joint.” We was like, nah, do your thing. J.I.D and [Smoke]purpp did their verses a little later. But it was just crazy.
I think one of the cooler things for me was, because each Dreamville artist got assigned a room pretty much every day, it was up to you to foster an environment where collaborations could happen, and try to direct the session. Because otherwise, you’ve got like 10 artists bouncing off the walls and you’re not really going to get anywhere. That was cool. It was a wealth of resources. I was able to tell homies: “All right, you give me eight bars. You give me eight bars. I'm going to do eight.” And I’d be like, wow this is eight is really strong. We're going to make this the hook, which ended up being Guapdad's part.
It was like getting to be a producer, in the classic sense of it. I don't make beats or nothing, but this was about trying to make a song with seven artists, and making sure everyone’s involved in it, and everyone gets off in a sense. It was a lot of fun.
That was the same thing with “Don't Hit Me Right Now.” We did that the same day—me, Buddy, Yung Baby Tate—and it was along the same lines. I had done my eight, and she was in there as a songwriter, and she was like, “I think it would sound cool if you tried doing this.” I was like, “Well, you sounded dope doing it. Why don't you just do it?” She ended up doing her eight, which was so dope. Obviously it made the record, and the record made the album. It's a special cut.
Every room, you have to build a vibe in there. You have to make people feel comfortable and welcome. It was cool. Nobody came with an ego. Everybody came in and went crazy. Like, I think Ski Mask was the last to lay his vocals that night, and he closed out the record epic.
You said that some of the Bucks were still there during the “Costa Rica” session. Did any uncredited vocals from NBA players end up on the record?
Honestly, I would not be surprised. There were a few Bucks that were still in the room. George Hill was still in the room. D.J. Wilson was still in the room. I've got to figure out who else was still there. I think Malcolm Brogdon had left at that point. But yeah, D.J. Wilson's in the video right behind me. I'm thinking his vocal must have been on there, because we did that shit like 40 times before we recorded it, and at that point it was just a bunch of homies yelling. I've got to hit them up. That's actually a good point. [Laughs]. I've got to be like, bro, you can't send me this cease-and-desist. It's too late. You're involved with it. You're a part of the song now.
You said Mez must have had a tough job trying to mix it?
He’s our Dreamville in-house engineer. He's a real audiophile, so I’m sure that must’ve been interesting for him. Usually you try to cut your vocals real clean, in a booth and everything, and set it up on a platter for the engineer. But we did the exact opposite. I’m sure you can hear bottles being slammed on the table. I’m sure you can hear n****s yelling for a lighter, asking for weed. The whole conversation in that studio went uninterrupted through people recording. There’s probably some filter you could put on there and try to bring those vocals out. I’d imagine you’d get some funny shit.
There’s a moment in the doc where you point to a room and you say, “This room right here is like a shark tank.” Was that the A room you were just talking about?
Yeah, that was it.
How was that room different than the others?
It’s the biggest room for sure, and it’s central to the whole building. Anyone new or anyone that doesn’t have a home is going to float into that room. I think that’s why they kept putting me in that room. I’ve always had a real open process. All the homies know that. I really enjoy the collaborative process. I enjoy making a song. It just feels like you have new ingredients to cook with.
I started noticing after the first week that I had been in the A room like four or five days. I was like, I see what’s going on in here. It was cool though. Every room was a different vibe. There was [Room] 222: Saba and Smino and some of those guys had that room kind of locked down. That’s where they did “1993,” in the 222 room. There was another room next to that, which J.I.D was in mostly. Cole was tucked off with T-Minus. There was a super vibey room upstairs that was where Ari would post up most days. I caught a few nights in there. But the A room was just the Colosseum. Everyone came in there and got to go crazy, because you might not make the song. But if you're somebody none of us were familiar with or knew, it's the perfect opportunity to come in and stake a claim to a record. And if it’s dope, it’s dope.
Guapdad 4000 is on almost all of the high-energy songs. What was his presence like in the sessions? What did he bring?
Man, him and Buddy, they just brought a lot of sauce. I almost envied people that could just float the whole time, and they did it the best. They would come in and just attack a record. Guap, I didn't know he was so good with the hooks until we did those sessions. Me, Guapdad, and Buddy, I’m about to release another song we did in those sessions. We did three songs in the same day. Two of them were “Costa Rica” and “Don't Hit Me Right Now.” We just caught a vibe in the A room. We did one, pulled up a beat, did another.
He brought a lot, man. I think that was the coolest thing about this is, what you would expect our style to be or what you might’ve gotten accustomed to our style being, we owe it a lot to some of the other guys that came in. The same way we’d push them in a direction, they pushed us in a direction. That’s the magic in the collaborative process. You know, a lot of people probably never heard me on a song like “Costa Rica.” I think “Don't Hit Me Right Now” you would expect me on, but a song like “Costa Rica,” you probably wouldn’t. That’s everybody going with the energy, trusting the energy in the room, trusting the artists around them, trusting the producers around them. That’s where you get your comfort.
Me, Guapdad, and Buddy, I'm about to release another song we did in those sessions. We did three songs in the same day.
The CuBeatz guys are credited as producers on “Costa Rica.” Were they at the sessions?
No. I think they probably sent it to Pyrex and he did the drums, and then Pyrex played it for us. Pyrex was playing that one, because they weren’t at the session. He just put that one on. That’s what would happen. Pretty much when a song would end, it would be like, if you’re a producer, you got to grab that AUX and play beats until someone gets inspired, or else you might never get your shot. Pyrex had the AUX cable, and this was the first or second beat he played. Everyone in the room perked up like, all right, let's do this.
Were you there the full 10 days?
I had to leave the last day, because I had to go do NPR Tiny Desk in DC. Leaving the last day was hella sad. Nobody wanted to leave, especially not the last day. But yeah, I missed the last day. I think that’s when they did “Wells Fargo.”
Were you in the studio around the clock, or would you leave to sleep?
I was there 30-plus hours straight. They had showers in there. Homies would fall asleep. I tripped acid in there and bounced around for a whole day.
I was going to ask if your tweet about being up for 36 hours and tripping was true!
Oh yeah, a thousand percent. I actually needed that. Up until that point, it was just Colosseum raps. Everyone's barring up and coming with some hard-ass shit. Then I remember tripping acid, and that day I wrote my “Self Love” verse with Ari and another song. I was a little more introspective. I couldn't find that space most of the sessions. But then I tripped and I kind of found my way home. I needed it.
I tripped acid in there and bounced around for a whole day.
What's your favorite track that didn't make the album?
I’m dropping those this summer. I got like eight records that didn't make it that I fucking love. I’ve got one with Vince Staples and EarthGang. Got another one with EarthGang. I have two with Ari Lennox. One with Ari and this Nigerian artist Kiddominant. I got a joint with Buddy, Guapdad, and Dreezy. I’m actually in the studio mixing those now. I think we made several albums in there, honestly. A hundred-something songs came out of those sessions.
Are you planning on releasing those songs as loosies, or as some kind of project?
I’m doing something episodic that I want to keep going in the future. When it comes to working on and releasing albums, I want to ensure there’s some growth, that there are some changes stylistically, and generally that’s taken me like two years a pop. But I’m always making music that doesn't see the light of day, and I want to break that mold. I’m creating a little platform for that and I’m going to use some of these songs.
I didn't even know that J. Cole was expecting another child until I heard it on that verse.
Other than what we’ve kind of talked about, what's one other favorite story or memory from these sessions that you want to share?
When Cole played us the “Sacrifices” verse. It was deep. It was a moment in our studio. That's the homie, and I didn't even know that he was expecting another child until I heard it on that verse. I had to ask him after, “Was that artistic license, or are you serious?” He was like, “No, it's for real.” I was like, “Oh shit!”
As a friend and as a fan, it was dope to hear for the first time. Everyone in the studio was in a moment. A lot of it was so like high-energy: Us getting around each other and drinking, smoking, yelling, and doing some wild shit. But that was a cool moment because it was grounding.
What else do you have coming up?
I'm doing a collab album with The Hics. They were heavily featured on my second album, Too High to Riot. You can look for that in the winter. I’m really excited about that. I think it’s the most beautiful music I’ve ever been a part of. It’s just pretty. I don’t know how else to explain it. Coming off of Dreamers is kind of interesting, because Dreamers is just some hard-ass shit. This is real musical. It’s really dope. I think it’s a new lane. I’ve never heard nothing like it. I’m excited to get that out.
Any last things about the Revenge of the Dreamers III sessions that you would want people to know?
I would just say, we”re in an industry that's so ego-driven and attention-driven, and I think it can be overlooked how special it was for all these talented artists and producers to come together in the spirit of collaboration and make songs and tuck their egos. You become friends and brothers throughout the process. I think it’s really healthy for our culture, and I think we need more of that and more often.