YoungBoy Never Broke Again is one of the most reclusive, mysterious rappers on the planet. Instead of constantly posting on social media and doing big interviews, his main form of communication is through his music, and that’s one thing that he has in common with his engineer Jason “Cheese” Goldberg.
Cheese is a veteran recording engineer who fell in love with music as a teenager and eventually found his way into audio recording while studying at the Institute of Audio Research and Full Sail University. From there, he took on an internship at Capital Records, which gave him a foot in the door to work in studios with big artists.
Early on, Cheese learned that the only way to be successful in this space was to hone his ear so he could be able to communicate with artists through sound rather than speech. His heightened audio-linguistic approach allowed him to blend into the studio and work with artists like Lil Wayne, Kendrick Lamar, and Pop Smoke, eventually forming a very close working relationship with YoungBoy.
“I wanted to give other people confidence to be really good at what they did, too, and I think that’s one of the biggest things about my relationship with YB,” he tells Complex. “I know he trusts me to express himself however he feels. Any way he wants to go, he knows he has my support, and I show it to him when we’re making music together.”
Cheese and YoungBoy first connected in Louisiana when the rapper linked up with Rich the Kid for their 2019 joint mixtape, Nobody Safe. Cheese had already been working with Rich for the past few projects, and when he met YoungBoy, the two clicked immediately. From there, he worked with YoungBoy on every one of his projects going forward, even entirely engineering his third studio album, Sincerely, Kentrell.
Cheese slowly entered YoungBoy’s inner circle and is now one of the few people who is around the rapper on a regular basis. “At some points, I may be the closest person to him for periods of time, and ultimately it’s just about the music and if we’re able to create music together,” he says.
After spending countless hours together, Cheese gained YoungBoy’s trust, and now he plays a major role in his creative process. “I always want to be part of the record making process, and now I have input in the records and help shape the direction musically and sonically, because I record, mix, and master all of it,” he says. We move really fast. We could have a song done and out in 45 minutes. I think that’s a testament to our time and experience together.”
One thing Cheese prides himself on is his ability to work anywhere. At this point, he can create a makeshift studio at a moment’s notice in order to catch an artists’ inspiration. YoungBoy is currently under house arrest in Utah after being granted bail in October as he awaits trial for federal gun charges in Louisiana. While at home, Cheese managed to come up with new ways for the rapper to work on his latest project, The Last Slimeto. For instance, he reveals that “Proof” was one of several songs recorded in YoungBoy’s garage.
“We recorded that in his Tesla,” he says. “Recording anywhere is something that I’m really passionate about and being able to express yourself creatively anywhere. It’s a huge piece of how I wanted to continue to progress.”
Some songs were recorded in YB’s Bentley, and others were scattered in various parts of his house. Cheese even ran a 50-foot cable from inside the home and connected it to a microphone, allowing YoungBoy to lay a verse from his patio, overlooking the Utah mountains. “He was just looking over the mountain, giving me that record on a microphone with no booth,” he remembers fondly.
We caught up with Jason “Cheese” Goldberg for a conversation about fostering a close relationship with the reclusive rapper, how he helped orchestrate the “Late to da Party” collaboration with Lil Nas X, and his extensive history in the music industry.