Murda Beatz' reputation precedes him. You might have no idea who he is, or what he looks like but you know his tag. "M-m-murda" has stuttered out in the opening seconds of some of your favorite bangers from the last 18 months. Or, in the wake of Drake's latest release More Life, there's "Murda on the beat so it's not nice." The 23 year-old producer from Fort Erie, Ontario has been lacing the likes of Migos and Lil Durk with heaters for years, but his career surged full-steam ahead when a relationship with Partynextdoor gave way to placements on Views and Drake stimulus package bangers like Gucci Mane's "Back on Road" or French Montana's "No Shopping." Despite those close ties to OVO, he's remained bipartisan: he's got the hottest beat on Meek Mill's DC4 too with "Offended."
Work with more A-listers followed—Travis Scott, Gucci Mane, more Migos—as well as a solid debut mixtape Keep God First, named after Murda's de facto mantra. With some of 2017's most buzzed about songs bearing his credit—"Portland," "No Frauds," "Get Right Witcha,"—Murda's reign is just beginning. A Keep God First 2 is on the books, as is a new EP with his artist Pressa. Complex caught up with him to talk about his rise, producing Young Money's reunion song, the Travis/Quavo album and more.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
How many beats do you think you've made to date?
Shit, I don't know. A few thousand?
When did you start to really notice your career taking off?
Um...when I crossed over from Chicago drill music to Atlanta trap music. I'd say that was like, because when I started working with the Migos, I feel like a lot of producers that were online and stuff were still in the trap—in the drill scene. So, I feel like I was like, when I crossed over, no one really was on to that yet, and then everything started hoppin' in Atlanta. Migos got super hot. Changed music and with everything they did, I was on the come-up comin' up with them.
Do you typically like to work alone? At home, studio?
At first, I used to always like being alone and working at home and stuff but in the past year I feel like I've transitioned to working more on the fly because I move around a lot. So, now I like to just— I'll just be in the studio, doesn't matter who's there. Doesn't matter what artists I'm with. Like, anyone. You know what I mean? I'll just make beats. I feel like I've gotten myself comfortable making beats in front of people, so like, if I'm in a big room of people, I'm not like, nervous. I wanna be able to make beats on the spot.
What's been your craziest experience so far, in terms of creating a beat or favorite person you made a beat for or favorite song type of deal?
Shit. I'd say one of the best experiences making music was probably working with Gucci at the top of this year. I'm a big Gucci fan. So, just working with Gucci and seeing his creative process. It was also really cool to work with Scott Storch. He's a legend.
Shit. You worked with Scott Storch?
Yeah, we made a bunch of beats and stuff. Those'll probably come out soon. On some album, maybe. I don't know.
What has been your most rewarding experience so far?
I'd say, probably, [Drake's] "With You". Because that was just like, a game changer. You told me earlier it was one of your favorite beats by me, and I feel like it was just very unexpected. When the Views tracklist came out, and people saw that there was a Drake song with Partynextdoor produced by Murda Beatz, everyone was like, "Oh, this is gonna be a crazy trap song!" But then, when it came out, they were like, "What the fuck?" You know what I mean? So, I feel like that really opened people's eyes to what I could do and my range of production and stuff. That opened a lot of doors and changed a lot of things, too.
Did you bring a side out of yourself that you didn't even know was there?
Yeah. I feel like making that beat pushed me a in a way that I was like, more comfortable and knew I was capable of making other beats as well. So, now, I'm just making a bunch of shit. All kinds of stuff. Pop stuff.
Yeah, I was about to say. Fast forward to now and you're on a song with fucking Zayn.
Yeah. Zayn and Party. Produced by me and Frank Dukes. You know, just getting into different lanes. Trying just to be everywhere. Like, I wanna be the producer with the Selena Gomez top-charting pop song, and like, a top-charting Migos or Gucci song in urban. I wanna just take over everything, you know?
Well, you're already doing that right now, kinda, cause you got Zayn, and then you got one of the hardest beats out right now with "Portland." Talk a little bit about the flute craze that's going on in rap right now.
It's just making its way up in the music— definitely probably, like, one of the hottest urban— or definitely the hottest urban instrument in music right now. Yeah, but, people have been using the flute for a long time. I feel like Zay[toven] really stamped the come up on the flute and stuff, but I've been using the flute now for, like, four years in my beats. Now more people are catching on and using it as well. It's good to see how things go and progress.
What can you tease about what's coming out from you for the rest of this year? Are we gonna do another tape?
Probably, maybe even an album. Definitely little EP projects with artists, upcoming artists, all that stuff. Definitely the Quavo/Travis project.
"Lo-Fi." That's you?
Yeah. Lo-Fi's fire. That's a banger. We made that in L.A. I made the beat and then we made the song. That song's a banger. I just know that's gonna be a smash. But, uh, Partynextdoor's album he's got coming out, and then it's...whatever else is coming out. It's a lot of stuff. Lot of people working.
What does your family think about your career and your rise right now? Are you an only child?
Yeah, I'm an only child. Um, it's pretty blessed. You know, at first people really didn't understand the vision and stuff because it's not normal how things happen like that, you know? And then just everything started clicking together and kept moving and just kept going and now everyone's just like, "Wow. That's crazy that he's out there with this guy, and he's out there with this guy. He's out there with Drake." You know what I mean? So, it's just like, it's a blessing. Super blessed to be in the position I'm in. To be able to inspire people to do what I'm doing and choose a career path that doesn't involve going to school, or like following society.
Were your parents worried about you not going to school at first?
My dad wasn't, my mom was kinda like, on the fence about school. My dad saw the vision and I just kept going with it. He had a music background, I had a music background, so he kinda just wanted me to pursue this.
What's your mom's favorite Murda beat?
Her favorite song is probably the Zayn song or "No Frauds." She doesn't like a lot of swearing. She doesn't like a lot of the shit I make. [Laughs]
Speaking of "No Frauds," how crazy was that to be on Nicki Minaj's big comeback?
I was surprised because I knew— Drake actually called me, and he was like, "Yeah, man, I just did a song with Nicki and it was actually on your beat. I guess we got another one." So, I knew that it was gonna come out, and I kept seeing online the rumor was that Nicki, Drake, and Wayne were dropping a song that day. So, I was like, oh, shit. Then when it came out, it just broke the internet. The video's coming soon, too. It's gonna be dope.
You always had the "M-m-Murda" tag but now the new one everybody loves is the "Murda on the beat, so it's not nice".
Shout out to Baka!
Were you in the studio when that happened? How did that come about?
What happened with that was Drake's boy Baka started rapping, so I started working with him, helping him with his rap stuff. And just one day, we were in the studio, he said— they always call him "Baka Not Nice." So, then, he said on the hook, "Baka, a.k.a. I'm not nice, Murda on the beat, so it's not nice". And when we dropped the song, everyone fucked with it. Drake was fuckin' with it and shit. And then, when I started sending Drake some beats, he's like, "Yo, you should get the Baka, a.k.a. not nice—you should get that on your song." So, I got that from the session and I started using it as a tag, and then Drake said it on "No Long Talk" on More Life.
You club a lot. What song of yours is ringing off craziest right now?
East coast, I'd say "Novacane." That's the song that was on Keep God First. I'd say "No Long Talk" is going crazy in the club too. "Pipe It Up" always was crazy in strip clubs and shit.
For the most part though, you seem like a workaholic. Now that you're blowing up, are you even more anti-vacation now?
People have to take breaks. I feel like I don't take enough. I feel like I still work way too much. It could affect your work ethic. It could affect where your inspiration comes from, if you're just constantly working, you know what I mean? The thing with me, though is if I take one or two days off, I feel like I have to make music, because I'm just like— I'm so passionate about it. But you need to take a couple days off sometimes just so you can keep your creative juices flowing and you can have room for your mind to grow.