Eric Hudson Talks Producing for Omarion, Kanye West, Whitney Houston, Mary J. Blige, & More (Exclusive)

 

We recently caught up with producer Eric Hudson for an interview on Instagram Live. During our conversation, we touched on his beginning as a producer, his work with Omarion on his “21” album, producing “Entourage”, working with Kanye West on “Flashing Lights”, co-producing with Buckwild, working with Lloyd on all of his albums, producing for Whitney Houston, working with Justine Skye from the beginning, his work on Justin Timberlake’s “Man of the Woods” album, and more.

 

YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk about your work on Omarion’s “21” album. That was how we were introduced to you, with songs like “Entourage” and “Electric”. Take us through working on that album.

Eric Hudson: Yea man, I was 18 or 19. Straight out of high school. That was my first time in L.A. Shout out to Kawan Prather, he gave me my first shot. He flew me to L.A. The first person he put me in the studio with was Omarion. I had “Entourage” track and a bunch of other tracks on that album. I had them prepared before I got there. When I got there, I played it for Omarion, and the rest of the camp, and they loved it. It was my first experience in the studio with an actual artist.

 

YouKnowIGotSoul: When you listen to the song “Entourage” by Omarion or “Can We Chill” by Ne-Yo which you also did, we can hear a throwback sound on there. It’s inspired by what came before it. That sound at that time came back around years later, and you were ahead of your time coming with that.

Eric Hudson: I’ve never said this on any interview, but I was listening to Michael Jackson’s “Working Day and Night” when I did “Entourage”. Before I created that record, I was playing that record over and over again. When I finished listening to that, I thought of the bass line for “Entourage”. My dad is a producer and songwriter, so I grew up listening to old school music. For personal enjoyment, it’s old school music; from the Barry White’s, to the Earth Wind & Fire, to the Curtis Mayfield’s, to Michael Jackson to Prince. That’s what I love and aspire to make. Since I was a kid, just working in the studio, I’ve always tried to make that type of music. I’m blessed because KP heard that live music and gave me a shot. I’ve got to give props to Omarion too because at that time nobody was doing that. Omarion rocked with it. Shout out also to Andre Merritt who wrote “Entourage”.

 

YouKnowIGotSoul: That was back in 2005 or 2006 at the end of the Crunk Era, and Hip-Hop was fusing with R&B, and you came with a totally different sound.

Eric Hudson: It was totally against the grain. I remember a lot of artists and producers telling me they digged what I was doing. They said I helped shift things a bit.

 

YouKnowIGotSoul: Take us through the early grind after “Entourage” came out. You started producing for a lot of different artists.

Eric Hudson: It’s never easy. I would say more opportunities came but it was still a grind. At that time Crunk and 808’s was still prevalent. It was rough for me because I’m coming with the live bass lines and the strings and the horns. It was a challenge.

 

YouKnowIGotSoul: You had the huge placement with Kanye West with “Flashing Lights”. People don’t even realize you did that track.

Eric Hudson: Yea, everybody thinks Kanye produced it, but that’s because he’s such an incredible producer. I understand that. I was at Challis Studios and I was in one room, and Kanye was in another room. He liked “Entourage” and some of the other records I did. He also gave me a shot with John Legend. Before I got an opportunity to work with Kanye, he put me in with John Legend and I did the “P.D.A.” single. That was my warm up to getting to work with him. We just happened to be in the same studio at the same time, it was the Grace of God! I go in the room and he plays me the entire “Graduation” album. It was 95% done and I was bugging out! I heard “Good Life” and “Big Brother” and all of those. He then asked if I had anything. In my head I thought No! But luckily I had the “Flashing Lights” beat on a CD. I played it quickly to listen and brought it to Kanye. The rest is history.

 

YouKnowIGotSoul: You worked a lot of hip hop at that time through working with producer Buckwild. Would you say “Flashing Lights” opened new doors for you in both hip hop and R&B?

Eric Hudson: The stuff I did with Buckwild, I really didn’t get recognition for. I didn’t even get properly credited. Like one of the songs I did on The Game’s album “Like Father, Like Son”, I’m playing the bass, the organ, the piano, the strings, and I’m playing over the sample. I didn’t get credited for that at all. We ended up working it out at the end and I got a plaque. On the album there is no credit. On 50 Cent the same thing, I got credited just for bass, but I also played a lot of other instruments. Same thing with a song I did for Nas, “These are our Heros”. A lot of people didn’t know I contributed to those records.

 

YouKnowIGotSoul: What happens after “Flashing Lights”, did things change?

Eric Hudson: A lot of people didn’t know that I produced that song, it’s Kanye. The people that did know, that’s where you saw my career go after. I got a chance to work with a lot of artists, no complaints.

 

YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk about your work with Lloyd on his second and third albums. Lloyd loves the work you did for him on those albums.

Eric Hudson: First I worked on his “Street Love” album. I was about 20 and I went to Atlanta and we became friends. We connected. The second album, he came and he stayed at my pop’s crib. We actually worked at my pop’s studio and we recorded a bunch of records there. He’s like a brother to me, whenever we work we make good music.

 

YouKnowIGotSoul: You also got a chance to work with Whitney Houston on the song “Worth It”.

Eric Hudson: Yea, shout out to Johnta Austin, who penned the song. I was in the studio in Atlanta with Johnta, and it was one of those things. I had the track and he wrote the song. It ended up in the hands of Larry Jackson, who played it for Clive, and he said he wanted it for Whitney. Next thing I’m getting a call to fly to L.A to vocal produce the song. It was one of those things, still to this day it’s unreal.

 

YouKnowIGotSoul: What is it like to even vocal produce for Whitney? We’ve heard the greats take feedback better than younger artists. Is it true?

Eric Hudson: Facts. The younger artists tend to be feeling themselves, they on their first deal and don’t want to hear what you’ve got to say. With Whitney, she’s worked with the greatest producers in the world, so if you tell her to do a note over, she understands. A younger artists might get more offended.

 

YouKnowIGotSoul: In the 2010’s, you worked with Mary J. Blige, Trey Songz, Jamie Foxx. How did it all click for you?

Eric Hudson: Just the phone was ringing! Trey is another guy who has been a brother. I worked with him on his demo that he shopped to Atlantic. Troy Taylor is his producer and he’s a mentor of mine. We go way back. I met Trey when he was 16 and I was 14! He kinda made a little promise to me. Every album he does, he’d make sure I got a look on it. And he stayed true to his promise. So every album we worked together.

 

YouKnowIGotSoul: What was in like working on R&B music over the past decade when it became less and less popular?

Eric Hudson: It was frustrating. I had went out to London and I worked out there. I just always try to stay true to what I do and what I know, and just try to make good music.

 

YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk about producing the Bridget Kelly song “Special Delivery”.

Eric Hudson: We originally did that record for Melanie Fiona, and then Bridget got it. Roc Nation loved it and it became her first single. It became a cult classic.

 

YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk about working on Justine Skye’s whole debut EP?

Eric Hudson: Ok, her mother was my manager. I’ve known her since she was a little girl. When she was like 10 or 11, she came over and she sang for me and her mom said I should work with her. I heard something then. I knew she had a voice. Years later when she was 16 or 17, again her mom said I should check her out. I heard her and the rest is history. We got in the studio, and I got to give a shout out to August Rigo who had a big part in developing her and writing those songs. We did it together. It was fun. She was a little sister to me.

 

YouKnowIGotSoul: You worked with August Alsina early on and developed his sound. What’s the importance of your work with him?

Eric Hudson: Again I’ve got to give a shout out to Noontime. If you talk about Lloyd, he was signed to Noontime, and so was August. Anytime Noontime had an artist, I got a shot to work with that artist. They had August and they brought me to Atlanta and I was one of the first producers to go in with him. We caught a vibe.

 

YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk about your work with K. Michelle on all of her albums.

Eric Hudson: The very first album, they called me in and we caught a vibe. We created a lot of those records from scratch, from the piano. K is really dope. I feel like she’s slept on as far as vocally and her pen too. She’s really talented. She likes old school soul music, so that was the basis of it. We still brought that 808 knock to it. Each album she would call me back and we’d try to build on that and take it to the next level.

 

YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk about your work on Omarion’s “Sex Playlist” album. We especially love your work on “Deeper”. It was like the early beginnings of Trap & B.

Eric Hudson: Anything to me that James Fauntleroy writes is dope. He wrote that whole album, every song I produced, he wrote. I dunno. James is a genius, I was trying to bring my thing to it and create something new. At the time there were a lot of trap uptempo records, but nobody was really doing it in R&B. So me and James and O, we got together and decided to put the trap in the R&B and we’d have a new sound. We were using some of the more muffled sounds, instead of going with the typical pianos and guitars. I feel like we created something, it just didn’t get the recognition it deserved. A lot of people when I bump into them say they love the album. When I ran into Bryson Tiller, he showed me a lot of love for it. Two years later everything slowed down. It is what it is.

 

YouKnowIGotSoul: You did some work with Justin Timberlake on the “Man of the Woods” album and the sound you created with him was different than what I was used to.

Eric Hudson: He was trying to go for a country meets down south meets 808 meets R&B fusion. It was an experiment. I was brought in by Rob Knox, he’s worked with Justin for years. It was just a dope vibe. I came through everyday to do the best I could do with what Justin wanted. We got “Morning Light” and “Hard Stuff”. I was happy to be a part of it, I always wanted to work with JT. You had Pharrell and Chad in one room, and Timbaland and Danja in the next room, what more can you ask for? It was me and Rob in another room.

 

YouKnowIGotSoul: With a session like that, do all of the producers just create, or does Justin tell you exactly what he wants?

Eric Hudson: Nah, Justin told us the sound that he wanted and what he was looking for. Justin is dope too as a producer. He’s very hands on, he’s in there even with the drum programming to the keys. You’ll start an idea but he’ll come in on it.

 

YouKnowIGotSoul: We talked about how you worked as a co producer with Buckwild early on. You had placements on Kendrick Lamar and Dirty Money. What is it like being a co producer?

Eric Hudson: I loved it. Sometimes people call me as a co producer or a musician or additional production. I just try to come in and add my little sauce to it. Like the Dirty Money album, Puff called me, and a lot of those records were pretty much done, but he asked me to add strings to something or stack this or add a bridge. I just try to come in and do my thing on it. That’s what I’ve done.

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