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Murda Beatz has spent a majority of the past decade making beats for everyone from Fredo Santana and Migos to Cardi B and Chance the Rapper. And, of course, there’s a little song he co-produced called “Nice for What” for one of his fellow Canadians. But now, the 26-year-old producer is ready for his time in the spotlight. Today, he released his new track “Banana Split,” featuring YNW Melly and Lil Durk, under his own name, and there’s more solo music to come.
“Melly’s such a big voice of the streets, and Lil Durk is, too,” Murda tells Complex of the song, which was first recorded in a 2018 session. “Lil Durk is like an underground king. He’s got the streets on lock. I just feel like a Melly and Durk song will sound dope.”
Murda reveals he’s been holding onto a lot of music for the past couple years and he’s ready for it to see the light of day. “There’s a lot of records I’ve been sitting on for a long time, and I just got to start putting shit out now,” he notes. “I feel like it’s a good time, too.”
We caught up with Murda by phone while he was quarantined in his house in L.A. to ask him about that, and about his incredible recent run, which includes bangers with Lil Baby (“How” and “Forget That”), Migos (“Give No Fxk”), and Lil Wayne (“Line Em Up”).
This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
How are you holding up in the middle of the pandemic?
I’m actually doing pretty good. As a producer who works from home a lot, it doesn’t really change my everyday routine that much. I’m still playing video games and making beats every day. The only thing I’m not really doing—I’m not going out to eat and shop and stuff, so I’m actually saving money.
How has this changed the way you make music?
Just not doing sessions in person, really.
How are you managing to keep going and staying productive when things are so uncertain?
I don’t know. I feel like a time like this, when the world’s going through things and people are living in fear, it could bring out inspiration, honestly. It’s not normal living standards, and no one’s really seen this stuff in their life. It’s kind of inspiring.
I love “Banana Split.” When did you first meet Melly?
I came across Melly’s music probably halfway through 2018. I’m like, this kid’s a fucking star—I need to get a hold of him. So I hit him up. He was coming to L.A., so we did a session. We made a bunch of songs in a session in 2018, and this was one of them.
I've been holding onto this record for a minute. We recorded it very raw. So I got a little mix on it, and then I decided to put Lil Durk on it. Sent it to Durk, he sends it back to me the next day.
“I came across Melly’s music probably halfway through 2018. I’m like, this kid’s a fucking star—I need to get a hold of him.”
Did you give Melly any guidance about the title or concept?
No. We were just vibing. I was playing beats, cooking up some stuff on the spot. He picked a few beats and then started going crazy. We formed a relationship from there. I started pulling up on him in the studio more, and then he came to my birthday that following year as well. So yeah, that's my boy. Free Melly.
You've known Durk for many years. What made you think he'd be a good fit for “Banana Split”?
Melly’s such a big voice of the streets, and Lil Durk is, too. Lil Durk is like an underground king. He's got the streets on lock. I just feel like a Melly and Durk song will sound dope. Usually when I’m putting songs together, it’s collaborations I would want to see, or artists together that I think would sound good. Melly and Durk together, their names beside each other, that looks good. That sounds good. So let's make it happen.
What’s the thought behind releasing it now?
Just start putting music out, really. I’ve been holding onto a lot of music for the last couple of years. As an artist—I feel like every artist goes through this—when you hold onto music and you play it a lot, you start not to like it. So there’s a lot of records I’ve been sitting on for a long time, and I just got to start putting shit out now. I feel like it’s a good time, too.
Given what's happened with Melly [YNW Melly was arrested in February 2019 and charged with the murder of two of his crew members and friends, YNW Juvy and YNW Sakchaser. The case is ongoing.], hearing him sing about homicide on the track is a little eerie. Did you have any second thoughts about putting the song out because of that?
What's the plan for solo Murda Beatz music?
[It’s a mix of] stuff that’s done and making new music. One of the next songs I’m going to be dropping, I made it six months ago. Then I have records that I’m going to drop from fucking 2016.
Speaking of stuff that goes way back, you have “Give No Fxk” with Migos, and you go way back with them. How is it different working with them now as opposed to when you were 18 and going to Atlanta for the first time?
When I started going to Atlanta, I was very out of my comfort zone. I was a shy kid. I hadn’t come out of my shell yet. I wasn't used to a lot of things. But it's where I wanted to be. I was so passionate about music. I wanted to make it happen.
Back then, I was a little more shy with getting to know them. But now, it’s almost like seeing friends from high school, I've seen them for so long. I know their families, I know their close friends. It's like one big family.
What do you think Migos saw in you back when you first met them?
They saw this young kid that was really hungry. They saw the hustle and the hunger. It translated into the beats I was making.
Tell me about making “Give No Fxk.”
We made that in a studio here in L.A. I was making the beat with DJ Durel in the studio. We had a bunch of stuff. But then Quavo just came in the room saying, “We don’t give no fuck, we don't give no fuck.” From there, we laid it out.
There’s a big trend among producers to collaborate. But you have a lot of songs by yourself. Why?
I started by making everything by myself, and I always had a chip on my shoulder. I wanted to prove to people that I can make beats by myself when everyone else is collaborating. There was like a time and place for all of that.
But then I wanted to start collaborating with people because music's a collaborative effort. Some of the biggest songs in the world, they’re made by a band. A band is not a one man show. It’s multiple people. Someone plays drums, someone plays guitar, someone plays bass, somebody sings. Then on top of that, some people have songwriters as well. So collaboration should never be looked down upon.
“How” with Lil Baby really struck me because it's so minimal. Tell me about making that track and why you kept it so simple.
Me and Baby were in L.A. I just started some drums, and he fucked with it. I was trying to add some melody too, but he liked it how it was. He had demo-itis right away. To me, that's one of the biggest street bangers of the year.
The person who co-produced “Forget That” is Tyler Armes from [the Canadian rap-rock band] Down With Webster. Was that a band you liked growing up?
Yeah. I knew about them. Tyler is signed to me. He’s Murda Gang.
When I first came out to LA, my manager knew Tyler, who was living out here with the band. Six years ago, when we came out here, we had no money. He let us stay at his house for like a month and that helped get a lot of stuff popped off. It's funny how he helped me, and now I'm able to help him.
Awesome. On a different note, how did Lil Wayne end up with “Line Em Up”?
I made that beat in the studio one night. When I was making it, I’m like, man, this sounds like it could be the next “A Milli.” Then right after I made it, I sent it to Mack Maine.
Over the past few years, I’ve covered 6ix9ine pretty closely, so I want to talk about “Fefe” for a second. Tell me about making the video.
I remember we were waiting around for a long time [for them to build the set], so I ended up just getting drunk.
What about making the song itself?
I was in New York with my team. One of the kids I was with was like, “Yo, you should get in the studio with Tekashi. It’ll be a crazy experience.” I was like, fuck it. I was doing it to make my friend happy. I like to be funny and shit. So he pulled up to the studio like 30 deep. We were at Quad in New York. I played that beat and he really fucked with it. He laid something down, got a little flow, and then I went to his studio the next day and we made that song.
Can you see yourself working with 6ix9ine again once he comes home this summer?
You’ve talked a lot about Juice WRLD working really fast. What’s something else you remember about him that people wouldn't necessarily know?
The way he would one-take freestyle. I’d pull up a beat and he would freestyle the whole length of the beat, like three or four minutes. Then he would do another take—whole beat. Next take—whole beat. And it all makes sense. It’s fucking amazing. He’s a beast, man. That guy, he’s the best freestyler.
Where were you when you found out that he died?
I was on tour. We just got to Houston. I remember waking up and I saw the news. I was shocked. That shit hit me, man. RIP Juice WRLD.
I saw you have a new drum kit with Splice, the Murda Beatz Quarantine Pack. Is it sounds you've created from scratch? Sounds you’ve used on songs? Tell me a little bit about it.
It’s sounds I’ve been using. Some I made from scratch, and some are from songs like “Butterfly Effect” and my new single “Banana Split.” I just had this idea last week: “I’ve never put out a drum kit. Let’s put out a drum kit.” There’s a lot of kids staying home making beats. It will motivate people to stay inside and cook up, and it’s for a good cause. Some of the proceeds are going to the relief fund for COVID-19.
Finally, speaking of COVID-19 and the quarantine, what advice do you have for other producers who are locked down right now?