“You Can Craft a Beat In 10 Minutes & Make $1M”: An Interview with “Bodak Yellow” Producer J White

By | Posted August 11, 2017
"It was literally 15 minutes of work. I'm not going to lie to you."
2017-08-11-j-white-cardi-b-bodak-yellow-interview
Photo Credit: YouTube

In addition to being a contender for song of the summer, Cardi B's "Bodak Yellow" is also her breakout hit. Earlier this week, the record jumped 14 spots on the Billboard Hot 100 (from No. 28 to No. 14).

While the reality TV star turned full-time rapper is rightfully basking in the glow of her current smash, the song's producer, J White Did It, is also enjoying his moment in the sun.

After spending the past five years hustling behind the scenes, producing records for Strange Music emcee Stevie Stone, R&B singer Eric Bellinger and one-time star rapper Plies, among others, White believed he had 'the one' when Cardi released her last single, "Lick," featuring Migos rapper Offset. Unfortunately, despite earning 10 million views on YouTube, the song failed to catch on, never reaching the charts.

"We didn't have that breakout record that sounded different, that sounded strong," White told DJBooth as he was riding around New York between meetings.

In April, White, who lives in Dallas but is frequently in New York for work, joined Cardi for a studio session. After throwing "rocks at the wall" for several hours, White stumbled upon an energy in the studio and, in less time than it takes Jimmy John's to deliver a turkey sandwich, "Bodak Yellow" was born.

"It was literally 15 minutes of work. I'm not going to lie to you," said White. "My manager came in and he was like, 'Yo, I really like those snare hi-hats you do. So I added them and after that, we were like, 'Oh my God, this is the record.' Cardi loved the track and it was magic from there."

Armed with the knowledge that countless hit-making producers often spend less than 20 minutes crafting individual beats—cough, Zaytoven, cough, TM88, cough—I asked White why more time wasn't spent on the beat. Could it have been even better if he spent another 20 minutes? An hour? A week? 

"I don't really believe in spending a lot of time [on hip-hop records]," he said, adding, "If the energy is there and it hits you, it will hit you automatically. It doesn't take long to create great energy. If I'm doing pop records, [those] take more time. It's more technical. It might take a week. Especially, if you're trying to create a more worldwide sound. But when it comes to a rap record, we're in the microwave age. You can craft a beat in 10 minutes and make a million dollars."

The idea of spending only 10 minutes on a beat and making a million dollars is incredible. In fact, the allure of a big payday, understandably, is one of the biggest reasons why hip-hop is currently flooded with an incredible number of mediocre beatmakers hoping to hit the Powerball.

Although, according to White, despite all of the paperwork being done and the publishing in motion, the immediate success of "Bodak Yellow" hasn't exactly made him an insta-millionaire.

"I haven't made any money off the record since it just came out, but I'll say this: I have a sense of ease walking around now." 

What, exactly, does that feel like, I asked him.

"You know what that feels like? It feels like you can breathe. It feels like I can breathe," he said. "Right now, I have not received any awards, any big checks, but it's cool to see that the masses are responding to what we're doing."

16 million streams on Spotify and another 44 million views on YouTube later, they are indeed.

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