ATL Jacob is having a great 2022 so far.
We’re not even halfway through the year yet, and the 21-year-old Atlanta producer already has credits on Kanye West’s Donda 2, Lil Baby’s new single “Right On,” and over half of the tracks on Future’s new album, I Never Liked You, which dropped on April 29, and is currently projected to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with an estimated 175,000 to 200,000 units sold.
On I Never Liked You, ATL Jacob is responsible for many of the biggest records, including “Keep It Burnin” with Kanye, “Wait For U” with Drake and Tems, and “For a Nut” with Gunna and Young Thug.
ATL Jacob developed a love for hip-hop at a young age. He was in marching band in middle school, before starting to make beats as a ninth grader. He met Future right before going to his high school prom, and ended up becoming the in-house producer for Freebandz, before producing seven songs on The WIZRD in 2019. He has since earned credits on major albums from artists like Roddy Ricch, Lil Baby, and Lil Durk. With such an impressive resume, he’s established himself as one the new leading producers from Atlanta.
After the release of I Never Liked You, ATL Jacob didn’t stop working to celebrate. In fact, during the release party for the album, which was held at Drake’s home, Jacob reveals that he, Future, and Drake spent a lot of their time in the studio, working on new music. Asked whether those songs will be released, he says, “We just got to find out.”
In addition to working on music with A-list rappers, ATL Jacob is also in the process of creating a compilation album of his own, which he says will have “something special on there.” Complex spoke with the rising Atlanta producer about Future’s I Never Liked You, working with Kanye, Drake, and more. The interview, lightly edited for clarity, is below.
How did “Wait for U” with Drake and Tems come together?
I made the beat for “Wait for U” so long ago. That’s the crazy part. I made it about a year ago. I just knew it was a vibe. I was like, “This is hard,” and I knew I was going to give it to Future. Then he skipped it. But we were talking the other day when we were at Drake’s house, and he said he skipped it because he knew it was one of his favorites. He said he listened to that beat every day for a month straight, without rapping or nothing. He was just listening to the beat like it was a song for a month straight, and he knew what he was going to do to it.
Were you in the studio when Future finally laid the vocals down?
Nah, I didn’t even know he did it. A long time went by like, six or seven months. So I was like, let me try the beat with another artist, since he ain’t like it. Then he called me and said, “Hey, don’t ever get this beat out to nobody else. I got a crazy song on it.”
“Most of the industry’s waves come from Future. Like, how everybody does their hi-hats, the way the beat sounds, it comes from Future.”
How did “For A Nut” come together?
We was all in the studio chilling. Shit, I just loaded up the beat and they just did it.
How has Future changed as an artist from High Off Life to I Never Liked You?
Man, he is more motivated, seeing what’s going on in the world with music and how he can sound different while still keeping his sound. As a lot of people know, most of the industry’s waves come from Future. Like, how everybody does their hi-hats, the way the beat sounds, it comes from Future. So it’s like, how can Future separate himself from that, while staying in his lane that he created at the same time? So it’s just him figuring out that process of elevating himself, because he knows once he does it, it’s going to be mopped again. Which is not no shade to anybody’s music. It’s called motivation. People get motivated from the new stuff that he drops.
Some people have been critical of Future’s lack of growth, saying he focuses on the toxic persona too much. What are your thoughts?
This album is definitely a balanced album. It’s not too much of anything. It’s just right.
Were there any songs that you produced that you were hoping would make this album, but they didn’t?
Yes, and there’s some crazy ones. We got a number of songs I wish was on here, and they are crazy.
Why do you think they didn’t make it this time?
Because they’re going to make the next one.
So, Future’s already working on the next album?
You just got to find out when we drop.
How many songs do you and Future still have left in the vault?
Almost a thousand.
You guys held the release party for I Never Liked You at Drake’s house. What were your favorite memories from the party?
I got to the party a little early. Drake, I won’t say he was tired, but he was chilling. He ended up going to his bedroom. He was telling me, “Man, let me know when Pluto pull up.” And then two hours later, Pluto still ain’t pull up. Then Pluto finally got here. So Drake came downstairs all refreshed, like he was downstairs the whole time. That was kind of funny to me. [The party] ended at like seven in the morning. We was partying, chilling in the studio, making music.
Y’all were working on more music during the party?
We never stop working. That’s the difference between real artists and people who just do it because they think it’s a thing.
So there’s potentially more Future and Drake collaborations in the vault? Will we ever get those?
We just got to find out.
“[Kanye told me] that everything don’t need the same drums. It’s OK to switch it up and be different.”
What was it like working with Kanye on Donda 2?
It was a learning experience—a big learning opportunity for music, life, and everything. I was learning new ways to work, hearing new vibes, and getting a lot of motivation.
What’s the biggest lesson you learned from Kanye while working on the album?
That everything don’t need the same drums. It’s OK to switch it up and be different.
He told you that?
Yeah, he definitely did.
What’s it like getting such blunt advice from Kanye?
I won’t say it’s harsh. He’s real. People only think he’s harsh if they can’t accept what’s real.
How did you first meet Kanye?
Future linked us, because Kanye asked about me. So I flew to LA with [Future] for Christmas, and we was just making music.
Do you know when Donda 2 will ever be released on streaming platforms?
I feel like it will be one day. I have no clue.
You produced Lil Baby’s new single “Right On.” How did that come together?
So, Baby did the song a minute ago, and it got leaked. When the song got leaked, I called Baby, and I’m like, “Hey, this song we did got leaked and it’s going crazy right now. We need to shoot the video, and drop it.” So we were chopping it up for 10 minutes. He was like, “All right bet, I’m going to go ahead and drop it then.” I thought he forgot about it because it had been a minute, and he still ain’t drop it, but I love that song.
What else are you working on this year?
My album is in the works. It’s definitely a compilation, but it’s something special on there. Everybody is going to have to see it when they hear it. But I’m slowly working on it. No date yet, though.
“If we’re really talking about who’s running Atlanta, I’d say, Baby, Future, Gunna, Thug, and 21 [Savage].”
You also rap. When did you get into rapping?
I was rapping before I was making beats. That was always my thing. That’s what made me start making beats, because I wanted to rap on my beats. I just love music. I was already set on what I wanted to do. I can never leave production behind, because even if I rap, I’m going to still be producing.
Who are the top 5 rappers in Atlanta right now?
Lil Baby, Future, and Gunna are running Atlanta. Then you got Playboi Carti, who got his own type of fan base, too. But you won’t go in the club and hear Playboi Carti. So if we’re really talking about who’s running Atlanta, I’d say, Baby, Future, Gunna, Thug, and 21 [Savage]. Facts.
What is the most dominate city in terms of rap right now?
I say Atlanta’s still dominating because of the history, but LA does have them big people, like Kendrick. Then Louisiana got YoungBoy, and Chicago got them guys. And out of New York, you got Fivio. So it’s just different stars coming out of everywhere now. Miami got Kodak going crazy.
What is your favorite Future album that you’ve worked on?
The new one is definitely my favorite, just because of how balanced it is. It’s like we didn’t, we didn’t try too hard. We just had fun.
What’s the most important thing people should know about you right now?
I’m on the way to dominate every rapper out there.