A Rare Conversation With BNYX, The Best Hip-Hop Producer Of 2023

BNYX shares wild stories about working with Drake, Travis Scott, and Yeat.

Complex Original

When Philly producer BNYX is informed over the phone that Complex has just crowned him with the Best Hip-Hop Producer Alive title for his outstanding contributions to music in 2023, his reaction goes through many phases. At first, he’s speechless. He stays silent so long, in fact, that it seems like the line may have disconnected. Then he exhales deeply, muffling the phone receiver. Finally, he laughs, sort of in disbelief, or maybe something else.

“I’m not here for titles, but that… It sounds insane,” he says, finally putting his thoughts into words. “It sounds amazing. I'm just here making a living, being creative. I did not know or expect anything like this would happen at this level. I always thought it was kind of like a hobby… Maybe not a hobby, but I didn't think I would be the best producer.” 

What may have started as a creative pastime when he was young has now propelled BNYX around the globe, placing him in rooms with some of the biggest names in music. His production style, which he describes as a “blend of different genres,” has become a highly coveted sound for both emerging and veteran artists.

After years of work in the underground, including efforts as part of the Working on Dying collective, BNYX's career skyrocketed in 2023. Kicking off the year, he partnered with Yeat on AftërLyfe, producing nearly half of the 22-song tracklist. From there, he caught the attention of A-list stars like Drake. Producing the No. 2 Billboard hit “Search & Rescue,” BNYX impressed Drake so much that he was invited on the road for the It’s All a Blur Tour and ultimately produced several tracks on For All the Dogs. From there, BNYX was arguably the most in-demand hip-hop producer on the planet, producing songs for everyone from Travis Scott to Lil Uzi Vert to Quavo to Lil Tecca to Nicki Minaj.

" I did not know or expect anything like this would happen at this level."

BNYX acknowledges that he’s worked with basically everyone he’s had on his bucket list, but his standout moment from last year was working with Drake. “It was really cool being with him, every day in this studio, going through ideas, building the album,” he says. “And going on tour for the first time was crazy, just going to every city, seeing these different places and all these different crowds. It was inspiring. I work with a lot of different artists closely, but I never worked with an artist that closely before.”

When BNYX hopped on the phone with Complex, he was in Toronto preparing to travel to New York the next day. While he can't reveal the reason for being up North in the middle of winter, you can make an educated guess. Many details of his career-changing year will also have to remain off the record, but what he was able to share is both mind-blowing and hilarious. This includes anecdotes about connecting with Drake, his getting stranded in Malibu outside Rick Rubin’s studio, and much more. As you’ll see, his knack for storytelling and comedic timing are brilliant. The interview, lightly edited for clarity, is below. (And check out our Spotify playlist of the biggest and best songs he produced in 2023 here).

What was the turning point when you realized music could be a career? 
After I dropped out of college, because they raised the tuition. This was my freshman year. My sophomore year I started working for AT&T, and I did that for maybe three and a half years. And then, you know, two years in, I was like, “This can't be it, bro.”

I've been doing music as a hobby since I was 9, in the studio with my dad, because we had a studio at the house and that let me look into the actual music business and see what this thing is. So while I was at work, I would watch hella YouTube videos, read all of the different types of interviews and things on networking, because I was already good at music. I was just trying to make it a business.

Then I started reaching out to people, telling people about my different skills—not just making beats but helping them with lyrics. If there was a producer that needed a sample cleared, I could replay that sample, so all you'll have to clear is the publishing instead of the master side of the music. 

Eventually, I ended up getting one of my first cuts in 2017. It was a song called “South Beach” with French Montana, Ty Dolla $ign, and Quavo. It was my first record. I was still working a job. So it wasn't life-changing money, to the point I was like, “Oh, I'm gonna quit my job.” But it was kind of cool, because if I could do it this one time, maybe I can do it again. 

I kept working for another year. I got a couple more, then I was flying back and forth to Cali, so I would meet a whole lot of people by making those trips. Eventually I was like: I think I need to be in Los Angeles because Philly is just not cutting it. So I made a goal. I was going to Uber. I took out my 401(k) that I had for my job. There was a huge penalty for doing it so early, and it wasn't that much money in there.

My goal was to start doing Uber and then drive to L.A. and kind of live in my car until I figured things out, or just couch surf or whatever. Philly has mad potholes and it was snowing, so I ended up fucking up my car while driving Uber, and I ended up spending all that money that I had fixing the car. So it got to the point where there was no money left to go to [L.A.]. This was 2018, 2019. 

At what point did you link with the Working on Dying Collective? 
I was looking for a new manager towards the end of 2020. His name is Ness and he manages all the guys in Working on Dying. I actually met him two years prior in 2019. When I found out I was having a child, I felt like I needed to revamp my business—like the business side of the music. At that time, I was getting placements here and there, and I was making OK money, kind of minimum wage-ish. But when I found out I was having a kid, I felt like I needed to completely start over.

So I got a new manager, and he took me in, introduced me to [Working on Dying founder] F1lthy. F1lthy introduced me to Zack Fox, who introduced me to Uzi and that team, and we ended up doing a song for Space Jam. I ended up working with Zack Fox, and then it led [to] me working on a lot of things for TV, because he writes for TV shows and he acts in TV shows. Then things just started picking up.

At that time, I also met Yeat as well. He had just dropped a record called Alive, and I heard that project, and I was like, “Whoa!” So I went and DM’d him, and come to find out, he already DM’d me. So literally that same day that I DM’d Yeat, he sent two songs. From there, I was like, “Yo, we got to lock in.” Then four months later, he starts blowing up with the bell song [“Get Busy”]. We went along this journey, and now we're here two years later. 

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The fact that Yeat had already DM’d you before you wrote him means you were already in high demand. What do you think makes you stand out to artists? 
I think it's the fact that I blend a lot of different genres in my music. I also think it helped having a social media presence that was kind of approachable. I love Twitter. I love making stupid videos and memes and stuff like that. I think it also helped my career. It definitely led me to meeting a lot of different, dope people, especially when my Twitter stuff went viral or the Instagram stuff went viral during the COVID days.

A lot of bigger people would repost my content and I would hit them. Since it was COVID, nobody was really doing anything, and they would have time to link up. But oh my God, I'm derailing from your question. I just like to have fun with music. I don't want you to stick to one sound. I like to push an artist to try different things. I think people recognize that, and I guess they want that. 

You kicked off 2023 by working with Yeat on AftërLyfe. What do you remember about working on the project and building your relationship with Yeat? 
I feel like everything changed after that project. That project was out the way, flawless. Three of those songs are platinum. But I'm not gonna lie, it was so much pressure. I was like, I got this small window. We need to capitalize on this.

My goal was to try and stand out from the usual production that he was getting. My goal would be to not make them do the same things because I read all blogs. I'm on Reddit fan pages. I'm very active. I'm in every group chat talking to the fans to just see what they're saying, what they like, and what they don't like. And a lot of it was: “He's always doing the same thing.”

So my goal was to send beats that were in his world but something different, like with the track “Nun I’d Change.” I sent that record because I was running out of ideas. I didn’t have anything hard. Everything I was making, that was hard, sounded like everything else. So I didn't even wanna send it.

So me and my homie and his girl came to the crib, and we were making dinner, and I was saying, “Yo, bro, I'm not inspired. Play me some shit.” He's a crazy guitar player. So he plays into this drum beat, and I'm like, “This is hard!” I was like, hold up, let me lay this bass line down [sounds out instrumentation]. I didn’t know if [Yeat] was going to like this, but I sent it. So we sent the beat, he does the song the next day, and I'm in the house screaming, like, “Yo, it's over!” I was playing it on repeat. I was blasting it in the trenches of Philly in my whip. 

"He has this custom desk that has an owl on it. He’s like the Godfather; when I walk in the room, the fucking chair spins around with his drink [in hand]." 

From there, you started working with bigger artists, like Drake. How did you first connect with Drake? 
It was actually funny. Have you ever seen the first Harry Potter movie where the owl comes to the house and drops off the envelope? No cap, that's exactly what happened. I'm joking, I'm joking. That would be funny as hell, though. I would not be surprised if he could actually pull that off.

But no, my homie SadPony executive produced Lil Yachty’s rock album, and at that time, Lil Yachty was with Drake a lot. So [my homie] was like, “Let’s try to work on some things for Drake.” I was like, bet, sent some songs. We made hella beats, probably 50–60 beats. “Search & Rescue” ended up getting placed. But there were a bunch of DMs prior.

I was in the studio with Teezo Touchdown and Fousheé, and we were working on a song called “Sweet.” During the session, my phone started blowing up. It was the same night Drake posted the preview [of “Search and Rescue”] on his [Instagram] story, and you just heard my tag in the video. Everyone's going crazy right now. I'm like, what the fuck is going on? Then I see the story. I'm like, holy shit! And then I see a DM from Drake. I'm like, this is not real, bro. I refresh that shit so much.

Drake said the most motivating thing ever. He said, “This one is gone, brosky. Remember I tell you.” He said, “Man, you are different. Thanks for always inspiring.” Then I said, “Appreciate you for real. This is a surreal moment.” And then we got connected. I remember posting this thing on Twitter: “I used to put Drake a cappella on my beat to see if they were hard. Now, look.” And he reposted that. But then after that, me and Drake really connected on a personal level, on the It's All a Blur Tour. 

Ah, yes. How did that come about, and can you give more insight about your exact role? 
So basically, it was before Father's Day and 40 [Noah Shebib] calls me, like, “Yo, man, I'm mixing For All the Dogs, and we're also working on the tour. And we need help on the music for the tour.” So my job was to make the tour music that he has already, but just make it sound cooler, add different elements, horns and strings, or stuff like that.

So he's like, “Can you come to Texas tomorrow?” I'm like, shit, tomorrow's Father’s Day. So I called my wife immediately. I was like, “Yo, babe, you won't believe this, but 40 wants me to come to Houston for a couple of days.” She's like, “Of course!” So I was about to book the flight, and they're like, “No, no, no, we’ll book it.” It's like a whole operation. 

I got an email from this other lady. I get a car to the crib. I'm like, bro, what is going on? Then they drop me off at the airport. I take the flight. I'm in a business class. I'm like, whoa, this is different! I was the first one to get off the plane. I've never been the first one to walk off a plane before. It was weird.

Then when I land, it's a dude with the sign that has my name on it. So he takes me to this big truck and then I'm in Houston. It was like 250 people. He's renting out a freaking arena to rehearse. There's people from Germany doing video production with the AI deepfake. There's all these people with walkie-talkies. I'm like, yo, what did I get myself into? I see the Virgil statue. No one's seen this shit at all [at this point]. 

So I see 40, and he gives me the whole rundown. Then I just go off in my little corner and I start work. I did this arrangement for “Nice for What,” where I added these crazy horns. And then next thing you know, 40 is like, Drake wants to see you in his office. I go to his office and it's a converted locker room, but the way that his team set it up, it looks like a five-star hotel. It's like these drapes on the walls, lights. It looks nice. He has this custom desk that has an owl on it. He’s like the Godfather.

when I walk in the room, the fucking chair spins around with his drink [in hand]. He's like, “I heard all the music.” And he’s like, “Bro, I wish I met you when I originally made these songs… These horns…they're crazy.” Then he's like, “I want to play my album and see if there's anything that you could add to my album. We're mixing it right now, but I want to see if it can go even harder.”

I'm in the chair. I look calm, right? But I'm doing laps in my brain, screaming. So he plays the whole album. So now the tour music is done. Now my job is to work on this album. We kept pushing it back because it just kept getting crazier and crazier. Me and him got more inspired along the tour.

"After “Search & Rescue” came out, fam, literally all of my G.O.A.T.s started [reaching out]."

What did you learn about Drake from that period of working with him? 
Drake is a real producer, especially on a song like the Sexyy Red song [“Rich Baby Daddy”]. He really put that song together like it was a puzzle. It was crazy, just me and him in the suite working on it [the album] for like three nights straight, just trying to make it the best songs. Same with songs like “Slime You Out.”

There were a lot of songs that were added that weren't there. When I got there at first, it was maybe 13 songs or 14 songs. It was just a dope experience even seeing him record. He’s the greatest rapper alive. Just seeing him write, it’s unreal. It was just an unreal experience. I'm really grateful. It was like a dream. 

I could hear you tell a thousand more Drake stories, because it sounds amazing. But we should touch on some of the other major releases you’ve worked on, too. How did you connect with Travis Scott on Utopia
A lot of people don't know I actually got to be in the studio with Travis Scott. This was in April. After “Search & Rescue” came out, fam, literally all of my G.O.A.T.s started [reaching out]. So Travis brought me to Shangri-La, Rick Rubin’s studio in Malibu. It’s like this all-white building, super minimal, modern…

Funny story, I got there at like 1 o'clock in the morning because it was like a long-ass drive from the airport. So I pulled up, thinking it's the crib. And mind you, I'm in Malibu, so there's no service. It's pitch black. There's no street lights on it. You don't see nothing. So I ring this gate and say, “Hi, I'm BNYX. I’m here for the Travis Scott session.” So he opens up. I see a Ferrari, a Lambo, a G Wagon.

I'm like, oh yeah, this is definitely in the right place. So I walk to the door and ring the doorbell. All the lights in the house are off. I'm like, this is weird. I walk to the back of the house because I remember watching a video of that studio, and I remember the studio was probably in the backyard. So I still walk to the backyard, and then all the lights come on and this dude is like, “Who are you?” I'm like, “You let me in. My name is Benny. I'm here for the Travis Scott…” And he's like, “You got the wrong house, buddy.” I was at somebody else’s house.

So I start walking back to the gate, and the gate is not opening. So now I gotta walk back up the driveway, ring the dude's doorbell and be like, can you let me out? So I get it out and I'm trying to call some people from Travis’ team. Apparently there was a search party trying to find me. So I see in the distance five flashlights just moving around. I'm like, “Yo, I'm right here! I'm coming.” Malibu is the worst place at nighttime if you don't have a car, bro. It's insane. But that's not the worst story. 

OK, boom. It's Travis, it's his video guy… It’s like a YouTube video. So Travis is super cool. He's playing his music. One of the first things that I played, I was trying to make sure that I played the weirdest thing that he would not expect to hop on. So I play him this weird Afrobeat type of beat that I called Afrofuturism. It's this crazy epic futuristic sound.

But then, he's like, “I think you should try to add something to the song I have with Bad Bunny.” And just like the Drake story, I look calm on the outside but on the inside, I’m running laps. So I play the song, and it’s crazy. He didn't even say The freaking Weeknd was on the song. But he sends me the files or whatever, and I start working on it. 

But the next day was cool, because I got to Shangri-La at the same time Travis got to the gate. Travis pulls up in this chocolate Lamborghini Urus truck and he rolls down his window and is like, “Hop in.” Let me remind you, this is all new to me. It was a 42-second drive up the driveway, but it was the craziest 40 seconds ever. But this is crazy, too. So we go in—it's just me and Travis, and everyone's coming in later. We're just playing shit, just chopping it up, talking about this show called Gangs of London.

"Props to my wife. She really holds everything down to the point where my publisher is in a group chat with her. I can't always get to the phone. She keeps everything in line. But the main thing is, I try to spend a majority of my time with my family."

And then this director dude comes in who directed these crazy movies. I forget his name. During that conversation, this tall dude with this huge beard comes waltzing in with this vintage T-shirt and super old sneakers on. You know who it was? Bon Iver. Bro, no cap, I almost fainted. I was like, this day can not get any crazier.

Then Bon Iver was like, “I just built a studio in the middle of nowhere. Yung Lean came. You should come. it would be dope.” But as the day went on, WondaGurl came in, and I'm a huge WondaGurl fan. It was the first time that I met her in person. I was geeked. She's one of my G.O.A.T.s, man. Anyway, I worked on two songs, “K-Pop” and “Sirens.” Then it was time to leave Malibu. 

In Malibu, the Uber system does not work after 9 p.m. So I had to schedule a car service to take me to the airport because my flight was at 6 a.m. So I just crashed at Shangri-La. I wake up, 2:50 a.m. I grab my bags. It's pitch black. I realized that I left my bag in the main studio. So I go to the main studio and it’s locked. But I’m like, I'm going to be back in Cali next week; I'll just grab it, because if I don't make this flight, my wife's gonna kill me.

So I got my suitcase, and I walk down this super long driveway. It's abnormally long. I get to the gate, I see the car guy, but the gate is not open. So I'm calling people, and no one's responding because it's 3 o'clock in the freaking morning. I run back with my suitcase, trying to find someone to let me out of this building. I was looking in every room. Rick Rubin was probably like, who is this guy at 3 a.m. going through my house like this?

So I'm looking through everything, but I don't see a button or clicker. The driver calls me and says his company policy is not to wait over 30 minutes. So I got 10 minutes to figure out how the hell I want to get out of this place. So I'm looking on the counter, and then under a pile of ketchup, I found a house phone, and on the back there's a number to open the garage. Thank God. So I start walking down, and by the time I got to the gate, the gate is closed. So I sprint up the driveway, then run back down the driveway. And made it.

But then the man was like, “I don't know if I can take you because [it’s past 30 minutes].” I'm like, “Bro, it's only been one minute.” He was going to call his boss and see if it's cool. He hops in his car, sits there for like a minute, and the dude drives away. He drives away! My jaw was on the floor. 

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So how does this story end? 
I call Ubers from 3:35 a.m. to about 6 a.m. in the morning. I was outside. It's cold. I had the Uber and the Lyft app back to back. Find a ride, no ride, find a ride, no ride. No drivers available. There’s no way Malibu is a real place. I felt like fucking Tom Hanks in that one movie where he was stranded.

Cast Away
Yeah! My suitcase was like his soccer ball. It felt so long. I was just pacing back and forth for almost two hours, bro. I'm parched; I can barely breathe. I swear I grew a beard or something.

It's like, you have great circumstances and then also just terrible luck.
Oh, a whole lot of terrible luck. But anyway, “Meltdown” was made during the tour. Drake sets us up in New York, and I’m staying at the same hotel as Drake. And Drake had us wear these blue tracksuits that he made for Nike. So I would wear that, and there’s paparazzi outside. People would just automatically assume you were with his crew. So they just start taking mad pictures of me. I’m like, “I’m just trying to grab a bagel, bro.” It was crazy.

But anyway, he sets up a studio; we start working. This is a Tuesday, and Utopia comes out Friday. So Drake is like, “I like the song where it's at so far, but I feel like Travis' part, it could be even bigger.” Because Drake and Travis rapped on the same beat. So he was like, “Yo, Benny, can you make a transition, and then make Travis' part bigger? I'm gonna send you the files.”

Mind you, I didn’t know Drake rapped on the beat for Utopia. I was in Cali watching Cocomelon on super dad mode. I’m like holy shit. So I get to work, put my headphones on. My kids are running around. It was just a funny-ass situation. In April 2021, I had a tweet where I made a joke on April Fools’. I tweeted a beat and wrote, “Drake, Trav, and Yeat, produced by me and Metro” as an April Fool’s joke. Everyone thought it was real, but it wasn’t. But then I was like, wait, this could work on the Travis and Drake song in real life. So I took the horns that I wrote, I put it on the beat, and was like this works. And the song came out literally two days later. Bro, it was crazy. 

"Thank you for this honor. Best producer… that’s OD. I can see the comments already: “Metro's better.” They’re going to be pissed."

In the past year, you’ve worked with Drake, Travis Scott, Yeat, Quavo, and many more. What would you say was your favorite project or song that you worked on? 
I think it was working with Drake. It was really cool being with him, every day in this studio, going through ideas, building the album. I was just trying to make it the best album that it can be. And going on tour for the first time was crazy, just going to every city, seeing these different places and all these different crowds. It was inspiring. I work with a lot of different artists closely, but I never worked with an artist that closely before. 

Do you have a favorite song that you worked on? 
My favorite song is the Drake and Yeat song [“IDGAF”]. Shout out to my wife, too. I was super scared to send that song because I was like, “He's not going to fuck with it.” I was trying to find a Yeat song that didn't talk about demons. So it was really hard, because at that time, every song had the word ‘demon’ in it. But we had this old song from 2021 that I love so much, and I've been trying to force him to drop it. It got to the point where I had my brother take a video of me driving to the song.

I was like, if this goes viral, he's going to drop it. It hit a million views, and he hit me, like, “Yo, send me that song.” Then in September, I was in Philly back home, and I was trying to figure out a song to send Drake. It was between two songs. And my wife was basically like, “Stop being a pussy; just send the song.”

I wasn’t sure if he was going to fuck with it, but I sent the song and Drake was like, “Me and Yeat would go crazy.” I didn't hear nothing about the song for a couple of weeks, so I forgot about it. But then, I think Zack [Bia] hit me like, “You hear this?” And it was the song. 

You already hit so many milestones in just one year. Do you have any other goals at the moment? 
That's the crazy thing. That's the question that makes me really scared sometimes because I feel I did it. I feel like I’ve worked with everyone I wanted to work with. 

Well, that just means you have to write out some more goals that are even bigger. In addition to your career, you also seem like a present family guy. How are you managing or balancing the two? 
Props to my wife. She really holds everything down to the point where my publisher is in a group chat with her. I can't always get to the phone. She keeps everything in line. But the main thing is, I try to spend a majority of my time with my family. I don't make a lot of music. I made so much music in the last six to eight years, so I can kind of repurpose some of my old songs. I just try to focus on [my kids] while they’re still young. But my manager, too, he helps a lot. He always makes sure that my family is good. 

What is the most important thing people should know about you? Or is there a fun fact that may surprise people? 
I actually have hair. I just purposely cut it off because I don't like my hairline right now. Damn, bro. I have no idea. I don't want that to be my legacy.

Well, what do you want your legacy to be? 
I want to be a person that inspires. As long as I can inspire people to do things that they never thought could be possible, I’m cool. I'm not a materialistic person. I just want to be happy and see my family happy. That’s it. But thank you for this honor. Best producer… that’s OD. I can see the comments already: “Metro's better.” They’re going to be pissed. 

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