When TM88 got on the phone with Complex this week, he was just finishing up his routine workout. But that’s not why he seemed so pumped up as he spoke. He was excited about his new collaborative single with Southside, “Blue Jean Bandit,” featuring Young Thug, Future, and Moneybagg Yo.
The new record, which TM says features that signature “trap sound that people are used to hearing” from 808 Mafia, was one of many tracks created during a studio session with Southside and Young Thug in Atlanta.
“I was at home when [Southside] called, and he was like, ‘Bro, pull up on me.’ We made a whole bunch of beats,” he recalls. “Thug ended up calling, and we pulled up on him. We did 15 songs that night. We pulled up the next day and made 15 more songs. Out of all those songs, ‘Blue Jean Bandit’ was the one I picked.”
Having recorded so much music, the decision to release “Blue Jean Bandit” as the first single was difficult, but TM88 suggests it was a strategic move. “We got a hard drive with all the songs from Thug, Future, Offset, 21 [Savage], Moneybagg, anybody you can name. Southside and I were originally supposed to be dropping a joint project with Thug, but he ended up putting out So Much Fun,” he reveals. “But we didn’t want to pick out all the songs that we knew was going to go crazy. When I picked [“Blue Jean Bandit”], it was on some shit where I got a core project with Lil Uzi, 2 Chainz, Wiz, all these people on it, and I’m like, ‘Man, I don't want to take the hardest songs.’ You still want projects to be memorable and epic as soon as they drop. So we just didn’t want to take everything off of there.”
TM88 doesn’t know when the unreleased EP with Young Thug and Southside will drop, but he follows up with Thug often. Besides, he’s already sitting on more music than he can handle, and he can’t be worried about just one project. He discloses that he’s also been working on collaborations with Ty Dolla Sign, 2 Chainz, Roddy Ricch, and Lil Uzi Vert. He also has unreleased songs with Juice WRLD that probably won’t be coming out anytime soon. “I would rather his people put his songs on his stuff,” he explains.
On top of all that, he has dozens of songs with Future that may or may not be on the rapper’s next album. “I work with Future all year, every year, so I never know what’s [going to happen],” he says. “In the last three months, I probably did 80 songs with Future.”
TM88 spoke with Complex about “Blue Jean Bandit,” his hard drive of unreleased music, creating Lil Uzi Vert’s “P2” over FaceTime, and more. The interview, lightly edited for clarity, is below.
How did your new single “Blue Jean Bandit” come together?
I was at home when [Southside] called, and he was like, “Bro, pull up on me.” He was living in Atlanta at the time, and he had this three-story townhome. So I pulled up, and he was like, “I got a whole bunch of beats done, if you want to add something to them.” Then we made a whole bunch of beats. It had to be like 40 beats that day. Thug ended up calling, and we pulled up on him. We did 15 songs that night. We pulled up the next day and made 15 more songs. Out of all those songs, “Blue Jean Bandit” was the one I picked. Thug didn’t want to let all the songs go.
How did Future and Moneybagg Yo eventually hop on the track?
Adding Future on there was more Southside’s idea. It was either him or Thug that added Future on there. Then we ended up sending it to Moneybagg and he did his thing.
So before choosing “Blue Jean Bandit” as the single, you, Southside, and Thug created more than 50 tracks together?
Yeah. It’s crazy, but that’s the norm now. Especially, when we work with Future or Thug, we tend to get a lot of music done. Or if we work with Gucci, we get a lot of music done in a couple of days. We got enough music to drop three or four projects if we wanted it to.
Can you break down what you and Southside contributed to the beat?
The sound is the 808 Mafia sound, with me and Southside. We made the beat together, but as far as the sound, this is the normal trap sound that people are used to hearing from us. It's just a super dope record.
Since you recorded so much music at the time, why did you pick “Blue Jean Bandit” as the single?
We got a hard drive with all the songs from Thug, Future, Offset, 21 [Savage], Moneybagg, anybody you can name. Southside and I were originally supposed to be dropping a joint project with Thug, but he ended up putting out So Much Fun. It was originally supposed to be an EP with him. The songs that we got on there are crazy.
Do you think that will ever come out?
I don’t know, I really hope so! When me and Southside talk, we’ll call Thug or pull up on him, like “Bro, what’s up, man? We got to put this out.” We’ll listen to the songs while he’s there, and he’d be so amped up. He’ll be like, “Man, we putting this out on Friday.” It never comes out. It’s cool, though. You got to be patient. I learned it’s a timing thing, and sometimes you got to wait your turn. It’ll be super fire [if it ever comes out].
But we didn’t want to pick out all the songs that we knew was going to go crazy. When I picked [“Blue Jean Bandit”], it was on some shit where I got a core project with Lil Uzi, 2 Chainz, Wiz, all these people on it, and I’m like, “Man, I don’t want to take the hardest songs.” You still want projects to be memorable and epic as soon as they drop. So we just didn’t want to take everything off of there.
“Southside and I were originally supposed to be dropping a joint project with Thug, but he ended up putting out So Much Fun. It was originally supposed to be an EP with him. The songs that we got on there are crazy.”
What do you want fans to take away from “Blue Jean Bandit?”
I just want them to see where we came from to now you see where we're going. I hope they appreciate the point where we’re at now. We're able to take your favorite artists and put them all on one song and put it out. It’s going to be real energetic. It’s like a trap roller coaster. The way Thug’s vocals come out of that, when you hear it, you’re going to say, “Ah man, what the hell. I’ve never heard Thug sound like this.” I want them to appreciate the high energy.
You’ve worked with Future throughout his career. What new music from the two of you can we look forward to next?
Honestly, I work with Future all year, every year, so I never know what’s [going to happen]. I know he’s rocking something, but I don’t know when he’s coming out with it. And I definitely don’t know what songs are going on there. But in the last three months, I probably did 80 songs with Future. The way he works, sometimes the stuff he does that week, that’s the stuff that’s going on the album. That’s what people don't know. He’s not picking songs he did three months ago and putting them on the project. So you got to make sure you stay loading him up at all times.
Are you working on any other solo music?
I got other records that’s coming out soon. I got songs with Ty Dolla Sign, 2 Chainz, Uzi. I got a lot of unreleased Juice WRLD. I had Juice WRLD on my project, but I don’t want to put it out. I would rather his people put his songs on his stuff. I got new Roddy Ricch on the way. I’ve been working with him a lot. And I got my own production group now called Crashed Dummy. I got like four or five producers. One of them is Grammy-nominated, and three of them just went gold, on the verge of going platinum. I've been having Crash Dummy for four years now. I just started signing producers last year. All my records for the last four years have been coming out on Crash Dummy. So Crashed Dummy is three times Grammy nominated, multi-platinum. Even when I did “XO Tour Llif3,” I registered it with Crashed Dummy, so Crash Dummy almost got a diamond record.
Can you break down how Lil Uzi Vert’s “P2” came together?
The day we made “P2,” Uzi and I had to been on FaceTime for seven or eight hours, just trying to come up with different vibes. And I was watching my daughter, so I had to kind of keep an eye on her and talk to him at the same time and make the beat. It was challenging that day. But he was like, “Bro, we got to make something epic. I really loved the 808s on ‘XO,’ can you make a new melody with the loop?” So I sat down, and I was like, let me come up with a whole new melody, a whole new vibe. Something to try to channel the same energy.
When I make my beats, I try to hit the soul, where the beat talks to you. The sound that I put in there, it’s very melodic. The guitar that’s in there, it speaks to you. He wanted the same drum lines, and I wanted to give him what he wanted, but I also didn’t want to give the fans the same sound. So once he asked me, we got off FaceTime, I made the beat, and 15 minutes later, I sent the song. He was like, “This shit is crazy. I’m going in the booth now.” He went in the booth for 20 minutes, then he FaceTimed me again. The rest of the song, we finished together on FaceTime. We finished the whole song on FaceTime over two days.
“XO Tour Llif3” had such a big impact, so it seems like you’re coming full circle again with “P2.”
Yeah, “P2” just went gold. It’s moving fast. It’s not moving as fast as “XO,” but it’s definitely moving faster than a lot of the records on the project. And I love his project, but I just feel like fans can relate to “P2.” I definitely had to do a lot of editing to the beat, sending it back and forth, taking out stuff he didn't like.
“Uzi is a really cool person. When we talk, it’s not even just about music. It might be weird. We might be talking about aliens or some space stuff.”
Are you happy with how it turned out?
For sure. Happy all around. I have nothing to complain about. I’m able to work with people that I love working with. I’m able to make beats every day. This is what I love doing. I’m making 50 beats, 60 beats. Some people make five beats a week. So I’m blessed. I’m happy Uzi put [Eternal Atake] out and it came out when it did. His fans are crazy.
Uzi is a mysterious figure. As someone who has worked with him closely, what should people know about what Uzi is really like?
They probably already know, but he’s really a cool person. When we talk, it’s not even just about music. It’s about what’s going on in life, or about what car he wants to buy next or jewelry or anything. It might be weird. We might be talking about aliens or some space stuff. I’m not saying we talked about this, but it could be something like: If you could teleport to 2088, would you do it? And what would you do in 2088? It’s just different stuff that sparks the mind. We really became good friends over the years, even though he goes MIA for a long time.
Instagram Live battles have become very popular. Are you interested in joining the trend? If so, who would you want to go up against?
A lot of people hit me up, trying to get me to battle people. Some people want me to battle Southside. And I mean, it's super dope, don't get me wrong, but the only way that I'm getting on this, is if it’s 808 Mafia against Ear Drummers or against another group. I’d rather do it for the game.
Earlier this year, everyone was ranking their favorite artists and producers. Where would you rank yourself among the producers?
At the top. If you stay working, you're always going to be at the top.
“The only way that I'm getting on [an IG Live battle], is if it’s 808 Mafia against Ear Drummers, or against another group.”
On Twitter, you asked Travis Scott to send you some beats that he was working on. Did you follow up or reach out to him about that?
Nah. I should’ve called him. But if he hit back, he hit back. If not, I’ll see him before the album drops. I’m definitely trying to get on there. I think I’ve been on every Travis Scott album that ever came out. So I’m trying to keep the train going.
How have you been adjusting to the pandemic?
At first, the whole pandemic was kind of getting to me as far as my anxiety. When you look on the news, you’re looking at different things and all they’re talking about is coronavirus or COVID-19—how many deaths there are and [how many] more people are getting sick. I had to take my mind off all of it and stop watching the news, stop clicking on links that got anything to do with corona. You got to understand what’s going on, but at the same time, you don't need to know every alert that pops up on your phone. You can’t possibly live your life waiting on the next news to come in. At some point, you got to try to figure out different ways to deal with this pandemic. I’ve been working out for like three and a half years, so I just try to stay working out. I’ve been taking my vitamins and I try to stay in a good mood so I can stay making beats. Rappers are still calling for beats, so you got to load them up and make sure you keep the hot shit. I kind of thrive off of taking something that's going on and putting it towards my music.
Do you have any other exciting things you’re working on that we should know about?
Man, I’ve been working with tons of new artists that I haven’t worked with before. Not saying that they’re new in the rap game, but it’s new to me. Then me and Southside got an 808 Mafia project coming out. I’m very excited for people to hear the new sounds that we’ve been on. A lot of the beats that are coming out, we probably made them two or three years ago. So when this comes out, it’s like, everybody’s trying to make this sound, but we already on the next seven or eight sounds. We’re trying to advance music every time, because with the internet and social media, it’s hard. They get our sounds super quick. You go on YouTube and somebody sounds just like you. But what I’m making right now, when they hear this, they’re going to be super amped. I’m just excited for everything. Other than music, I can’t really talk about it, but I’m going into some other business things. I mean, it has to do with music, but it’s more tech. I’m trying to do something very huge. And hopefully we can get rid of this COVID thing and get back to normal, whatever normal is.