Ever since Chief Keef parted ways with Interscope around October of last year, he’s been releasing an incredible amount of music – Big Gucci Sosa, Nobody, Back From The Dead 2, Sorry 4 The Weight, Almighty DP 1 & 2, and his latest official studio album Bang 3.
Part of why he’s been so prolific is because of the wide range of producers he’s been working with. One of them is St. Louis, Missouri’s ChopsquadDJ, a 22-year-old producer signed to Young Chop who has been working with Keef since 2013. He has a handful of beats on Bang 3 as well as Lil Durk’s debut album Remember My Name, so we invited him to the WatchLOUD headquarters to talk about his signature style (with prominent piano keys), what it’s like recording with Keef, and what else he’s got planned for the future.
WL: When did you meet Chief Keef?
C: I met Keef in 2013. I’m signed to Young Chop so we went out to L.A. around the time Keef first moved to L.A. and he just took a liking to my character. He knew I was the one making beats, so we just stared working. We made like nine songs in maybe two days and then I went back to my city in St. Louis. He hit me on Twitter and said “Call me” and gave me his number, so I called him and he told me he wanted me to produce for him and do the majority of his new project, and ever since then we been rocking heavy. That was Sorry 4 The Weight, and before anything came out we already had at least 30 records done. We probably got at least 80 records now and maybe 30 came out.
It’s a progression of sound. We fed off each other’s vibe to really make the best music we can and I give him my signature sound, so we’re just continuing on the original Keef and Chop vibe.
You’re from St. Louis. How’d you connect with Young Chop?
I went to school in Chicago and before Chop got his deal, his mentor at the time Benjamin was telling me about [Chop] and how I need to meet him because he gonna be the new big thing. I met him one time after I left school, I went to a studio and he was there so we talked. From then on, we worked, we vibed, we connected immediately. We started practicing the sound, perfecting it, and started making his beats, so since 2013 just been making beats with him. Carrying the sound and carrying the brand.
How does Keef choose what producers he wants to work with at any given time?
It’s who he works with personally. People like Keef, he don’t really need nobody. It’s who you prefer, it’s through your relationship personally, y’all being friends first and foremost and understanding y’all are helping each other. It’s a give and take relationship. Y’all choose each other. Y’all just become each other focus after you working to accomplish a goal of a lot of songs.
It’s natural chemistry. If he naturally rock with you…because it’s a lot of people who got lil’ beats with him, but it ain’t no consistency because he only like a couple beats or he don’t like someone personally. If you keep your personal connection with him straight, y’all will go far, and that’s the type of person Keef is. He’s not a vocal person, he’s a show me person. I’m from Missouri, the show me state. You can talk all day but only them actions are gonna reflect what your words are really saying.
What is it like recording with Keef?
He experiments with his lines like we experiment with food. He’ll say the same thing a million different ways so it can sound right, the way he want it to sound, but it’s still the same thing. It’s like you cook a dish, you prepare spaghetti, you can maneuver the ingredients and change some shit but it’s still spaghetti. That’s the type of artist he is. His whole work ethic is 60% written and 40% freestyle. He’ll write the concept and freestyle the rest.
Recording with him, you gotta be patient, because he’s got a vision in his head, and as a producer I do too, so I just gotta be patient. you can give your input, but with an artist like that who’s really trying to solidify consistency and sound, you wanna let them experiment with what they wanna try, so you gotta be patient and let him ask you for your opinion instead of forcing your opinion. He a real laid-back artist who likes to try things, and it might not necessarily be right the first time, he’ll go back after the next couple cuts and make it perfect.
You were recording with Keef for the original Bang 3 when he was still on Interscope. What happened to that version of the album?
Interscope owned the music. Stuff like “Thot Breaker,” anticipated records that people were looking for. Especially “Super Heroes.” They got clearance for that record, because that record been done for almost two years now. Sometimes when you sign up for deals you gonna have to submit a certain amount of songs and they can claim them songs if they want.
What was it like working with him during that turmoil?
It didn’t reflect in the content of his music, it just reflected in the consistency of the music. He wanted to focus more on being independent instead of being dependent on other people for stuff. Beats, graphics, everything. He just wanna do it himself so he can have more control over the situation and you won’t have something happen like miscommunication between the label and the artist or the label and a representative of the artist.
It didn’t affect the music, but it affected the time that the music was gonna come out. Because all that music was gonna come out a couple months after he recorded it. It’s the business that continually pushed the music back. Especially dealing with major labels, they want a certain amount of songs submitted by this date, and they want creative control over the project. They wanna pick your songs and pick the best tracklist for your album.
You produced Keef’s collab with Mac Miller on Bang 3, “I Just Wanna.” Talk about that.
Originally that song was supposed to have Lil’ Wayne on there, and I was talking to Keef’s management one day and they were like, “What do you think about Mac Miller on that song?” I said of course. Diversity is the key to success, especially in Keef’s situation, so having diverse artists like that can open up a whole other fanbase and allow him to reach different artists, so that was the move. We sent the record, came back 40, 50 minutes later, and that was it. And that was maybe a month and a half before it hit stores.
But we continually making new music. I guess we ’bout to prep this Cozart album that’s about to come out with Keef. I’m working with Lil’ Durk heavy right now, had three beats on Remember My Name. I’ve been a heavy advocate for Durk as well, I’ve made a lot of his street anthems too. “I Go,” “Feds Listening,” “I Made It,” “Party” with Young Thug. A lot of the bangers from his last mixtape Signed To The Streets 2. Now we working on the 300 Days, 300 Nights mixtape, and then we working on Signed To The Streets 3 the album. I’d say we’re about 40% done with the album.
What about GLOTF, the Durk and Keef mixtape?
Here’s the story with that. We kinda stopped GLOTF because the songs I originally had for GLOTF somehow magically started getting leaked. They’re not even in my email so I don’t even get how somebody leaked the songs. Only thing I can think of is someone had Keef email something, and of course they think I leaked the songs because they’re produced by me. No…why would I leak the songs? In reality me and Keef had a project that was about to come out. We ain’t come up with a name, it’s not called Almighty Chopsquad or Glo The Mixtape, none of that. And of course people couldn’t wait, so I guess they hacked his email and started releasing stuff, trying to get clout off it. It fell back on me, made it look like I released the music, but I didn’t. I didn’t even play the music for people because I already knew what me and Keef had planned.
So GLOTF pretty much done. I released the other songs we were gonna put on there, I released “Young And Reckless,” someone else released “Sumo,” I donno how they got that. So I won’t say it’s done, we just gonna put a hold on it until everybody get their projects out the way and we can make it a focus and a priority instead of something in the background.
I got new shit with Fredo on the way, new shit with Lil’ Reese on the way. Just did the title track on SD’s new mixtape. I got shit with Ace Hood, Juicy J, Big Sean, French Montana. I got new stuff coming out with Young Thug and Gucci Mane. Just taking advantage of the opportunity to expand the sound. It’s definitely a lot of material on the way.
I notice there are a lot of keys in your beats.
My sound is really broad. I’m a classical musician. I’m a trained pianist. I took piano lessons since I was 10 years old, so I took them for about nine years, 11 years. I’m just trying to set myself aside because there’s a lack of real talent. there’s a lot of fakin’ out here. People really start to appreciate music after you have so much bullshit out. People start gravitating towards what they yearn for.
When you’re recording with Keef, are there ever moments where he’s not sure of himself musically?
Never. Keef is such a vibrant, determined person, he can take an error and keep it on the strength that he’ll make it better in an adlib. He’s a trail and error person. He doesn’t believe in making a mistake. He feels like a mistake is just the next move to actually do it the correct way. He feels like you’re supposed to fuck up and do it again. You can’t just expect to do it perfect. Nobody works like that. It’s through dedication, persistence and perseverance in your craft that you get to the level of success that you want. If you don’t really put forth that dedication and put in those hours, you’re not gonna reap the benefits.
Did you ever record with Keef in Chicago?
Nope. He stopped recording in Chicago. It was always something popping off. He had to get away from that. It was that time.
Yeah…I’ve been reading about these botched hologram shows.
The hologram shows are crazy because it cost probably a million dollars just to have one of those shows. They’re driving the hardware in big ass 18-wheelers. That cost money to haul that equipment across the United States. It’s just a process.
We’re trying to stop this violence because we know violence is a plague in our country right now. We’re trying to shift the focus from violence to self-awareness. We’re trying to make people understand that you can express yourself without being violent. Your voice means something. You don’t blend in like you think you do. Everybody has a voice but it’s up to you to decide what the outlet for your voice is gonna be.
Well it’s interesting because I remember when Keef had the listening party for Bang 3 in L.A. months ago and he was talking about a Stop The Violence campaign. Then he dropped the album and people were saying it’s the same violent shit. The first single “Ain’t Missing You” was a departure from his sound and typical lyrics, but the rest of the album was a lot of the same subject matter.
Here’s the thing with Keef and Durk. They’re rapping about what they were raised on. You can’t help what you were raised on. If you were raised on a farm and you decide to make a song, most likely your song gonna be about farming. If you were raised in the inner city and y’all were raised doing drills and learning how to maneuver in the streets and the code of the streets and the lessons of the streets, that’s what you’re gonna talk about. You can’t help it.
But we’re on that Stop The Violence, we’re anti-Chiraq, anti-violence. We’re just trying to keep our focus on positivity and self-enlightenment.