It’s kind of remarkable that a man who by luck met Lil’ Wayne while working at the airport is now a Grammy nominated producer with hits for the likes of Trey Songz, Mya, Ginuwine & Trina. YouKnowIGotSoul had an opportunity to speak with Young Yonny to find out about the background behind his biggest hit “Say Aah”. Along with that, he let us in on who he is currently working with.
YKIGS: Your first major placement was on Lil Wayne’s “The Carter 2” album. How did that opportunity come about?
YY: Pretty much, my whole everything came from the airport in a sense because I was working there as a SkyCab and I was able to meet so many different people with Lil’ Wayne being one of them. As a SkyCab, you work off of tips, so when you see limos you run to it because you think it’s a big money job. I saw this stretch limo and it pulled up, so I ran out there thinking that I just came up on a nice $60 tip. I guess in theory, when you look at everything and how it turned out, I ended up getting some much more of a greater blessing than $60. When Lil’ Wayne hopped out the truck, I was telling him I wanted to send him some stuff. He was like “Where’s your music at?” but I didn’t have it on me at that time. He was kind of calling my bluff, but I ended up getting his manager’s information, and long story short, just followed up with him. A couple weeks later, they were coming back to Cleveland which is where I’m from, and they told me that they wanted to buy 15 beats off that CD that I gave them. That kind of started everything for me and Wayne. We’ve done a lot of records. All the records that were done previously until two months before the Carter 2 dropped didn’t even make the album. The records that actually did get placed were towards the end. He recorded like that. Wayne does like 10-15 songs a night with ease. So yeah, that’s how I hooked up with him.
YKIGS: What is your creative process like? How does a song become a song?
YY: I have no idea. *Laughs* It generally just happens. I feel like music tells you what to do and that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day. It could be something that I hum. I don’t know, I can’t really even tell you man. *Laughs* When you’re doing records with writers and artists, it’s kind of the same as when you’re working with them. You have to figure them out. Also who you’re working on and who you’re trying to work on or who is the writer working on. The writer might have a few cuts on an artist and they want to get another one. It just depends. Maybe it’s the artist and maybe they just finished clubbing in Vegas for a weekend and they’re thinking about making songs about what they did then and what they experienced. A lot of times, artists experience new things and that helps motivate them for conceptual ideas. It could be something like that. Generally when I sit down in front of my keyboard, I just play around with some sounds and let the music once again tell me where to go with it.
YKIGS: I’ve noticed you’ve had a handful of collaborations with Mya throughout the years. How did you originally hook up with her and what has it been like working with her?
YY: Mya is the homie. That’s all I have to say about that. We had been talking for some years back, I want to say around 2006-2007. We got real cool then. I ended up doing her “Ridin” remix. Her and Trina are very cool, me and Trina are very cool. I kind of orchestrated getting Trina on the record and I mixed the record. “Liberation” didn’t come, but that was her single that she released which was produced by Tricky. I did the remix to it. She then not too long after ended up coming to do my birthday party with me. We actually got to work in the studio for the first time on the first record we had done together called “The Only One”. That later came out on one of these projects over the last year. We’ve done over 35 records. So many people thrive on being this or that, but Mya is very grounded. No matter what anybody could say, she constantly gets shows, gets booked, does movies and on TV shows. So with her being the best, it’s not her focus. It’s just all about making great music for her. Music is what she does and she’s been doing since the beginning. She always looks out for people in any way, shape or form. Whether it’s low budget or high budget. Her US album is actually coming out the top of the year. I did the first single for it called “Earthquake”, which also features Trina on it. I have four other records at this time, but it could be more or less. When they say that word “album cuts” as far as when they finally pick cuts on the album and they cut songs down, it’s just that. A person could do ten records and end up with one because that cut is something serious. But yeah, we’ve been friends for a long time.
YKIGS: I know you’ve been in the studio with artists like Mario, Mya and Christina Milian. Who else are you working with?
YY: I’ve been working with Iyaz, Fabolous, YG, as well as Kevin McCall. As of now, I’m slated to have Iyaz’ next single coming out which was co-produced with J.R. Rotem. The record is called “Too Easy” so look out for that. Also working with Leon Thomas who is only 18 years old. He’s from the show Victorious from Nickelodeon. We’ve done quite a bit of records. He was just in my studio the day before yesterday. I also have Jeremih. I’m working on stuff for his new album. As well as Ariana Grande (better known as Cat from the TV Show “Victorious”). She has a crazy voice. She has some special pop music coming. I actually start working with her next week or so. I’m also working with Ray J. I did two records with Trey Songz for his new album, though I’m not too sure if they’re going to make it. I’ve done 7-8 records with Mario and I think I only got one on the album, so that’s a great example of “album cuts”. *Laughs* It’s still cool though, you just keep it moving and go to the next one. I’ve been working with Trina on her new stuff, but she’s been traveling so much so there’s no release date for it yet. I’ve been back in the studio with Jesse McCartney, we’ve done a couple more records for his album. I’m just working!
YKIGS: You’ve mentioned some R&B, Rap and Pop artists. Do you have to kind of shift gears?
YY: Not really. I guess that was a blessing for me. That’s one thing I can add in for the production question. Basically, since I believe in kind of clearing my mind and letting the music tell me what to do, I’ll be able to make 4 tracks per day. One may be R&B, one may be Rock-driven, one may be House, one may be something Jeezy could rap on. It just depends. I would do them all simultaneously at the same time. So if I was working on a beat and I was doing a club track, and I heard a sound in there that took me Neo-Soul and sounded like something Estelle would sing on, I’ll say “Shoot, I’m going to save that one and start on this new one.” I’m sure by the time I get that one done, I may hear another sound that might take me to a Lady Gaga type record and I’m going to do that. By the end of the day, I would have done 2-4 tracks all with different genres. I don’t really think it’s hard for me to switch up. Sometimes I’m doing that, sometimes I’m doing rap in the daytime then I’m doing Mario later. I just kind of keep clear minded and just do whatever. The music just constantly moves me around. It’s all about that.
YKIGS: I wanted to ask you about some of the songs you’ve worked on. Give me some background on them.
YKIGS: Trey Songz “Say Aah”.
YY: That track was about a year old and a lot of people had heard it. The feedback wasn’t terrible, but it was just “Oh this is your normal type of club track.” It would depend on who and what was on it. Some tracks you make, you can submit right to somebody and “boom”. With club tracks, it’s like “Well, this is a good track but it depends on what’s on it”. I had recently hooked up with Nate Walker who is my brother and basically what happened was, I sent him a whole bunch of tracks with that being the first one on the playlist. I didn’t do that purposely. *Laughs* He heard that track and that’s what he heard. After he did that, the track had been wanted by Jamie Foxx, Akon and R. Kelly. Basically when that happened, it just kind of waited a week and a half. It had all these people who wanted it, but it ended up being Trey’s record. It’s kind of fast how that happened. More or less, I got a call from Troy Taylor and he was like “Yo I just wanted to know if this was your track”. He played it in the background and I was like “Yeah”. Then he told me he would call me back in two hours and right after two hours, he was like “You ready?” and he played this monstrosity of a record and I just heard it and it hit me in the chest pretty hard. I didn’t know what that feeling was until after talking with other people that it’s simply the first time you realized you have a hit and you feel it like that. The rest Is history!
YKIGS: Ginuwine “Batteries”
YY: Basically, a friend of mine had let Ira DeWitt (Notifi Records) hear it. She was the one who was responsible for bringing Ginuwine’s career up to date. He let her hear the record and she loved it, so we ended up letting him cut it and then it went to that mode and then I got the record, heard it and tried to figure out a feature for it. Of course, with my relationship with Trina, she just hopped on it on the love. It was dope. It came out dope. I really like that record a lot. Shout out to James “Jayshawn” Smith for the pen. He’s from Cleveland as well. One of his records that I know off the top is “Same Girl” by R. Kelly and Usher.
Follow Young Yonny on Twitter @youngyonny