Exclusive Interview: DJ Mustard – “We All Put In The Time and Work”
Grant Brydon gets "Mustard on the interview hoe" and talks about his incredible year behind the boards...
Chances are that if you’ve switched on a radio in the last six months, even if you didn’t notice his infamous ‘Mustard on the beat hoe’ ident, you’ve heard a DJ Mustard beat. Since initially blowing up with Tyga’s Rack City in 2011, the Los Angeles producer has been putting in work, 2012 saw him dropping tracks with 2 Chainz (I’m Different) and Young Jeezy (R.I.P) and 2013 saw him impact the pop audience with Will.i.am and Miley Cyrus (Feelin’ Myself). All whilst working with up-and-coming L.A. acts like YG and Ty Dolla $ign, both of whom he has been working with since early in his career.
But Mustard has never been as prolific as he is right now. Songs from last year continue to receive heavy radio support, and new tracks like Tinashe’s 2 On, Ty Dolla $ign’s Or Nah, YG & Drake’s Who Do You Love, JLo’s Girls and T.I.’s No Mediocre dominate the dance floors. With YG’s debut album having been released earlier this year, his executive producer role saw him begin to expand out of purely making radio singles and club anthems.
Before he appeared in London for Wireless Festival last week, we caught up with the rising super-producer to talk about the way that he has impacted the mainstream hip-hop sound, why his sound is so relevant now and the making of YG’s My Krazy Life…
How does it feel to have totally shifted the sound of mainstream hip-hop at the moment?
It feels cool man, I’m really like what’s next, I can’t really be satisfied by what I’ve done, so I’m really just striving to do better.
What do you think has happened this year to cause such an attraction to your sound? You’ve obviously already had hits like Tyga’s Rack City and 2 Chainz’ I’m Different, but it’s never been as big as this year.
I really just think it’s like people accept the sound now, people had to getting familiar with it at first. When people first start hearing stuff they don’t really connect with it, and then once they connect with it they finally accept it. So now that they accept it they’re tuning in and they’re loving it. So I think that’s what’s making it takeover right now.
Did you ever expect your sound to become as popular as it has?
Nah, I really didn’t know man. I was dreaming and hoping that it would come to this. I’m still dreaming and hoping that it will be bigger than this! I was kind of just wishing that it would be this big and now it’s starting to catch on, but it was really just a dream.
So would you say your aspirations have grown a lot since your first successes with Rack City and I’m Different?
Back then I was doing it mores because it was a lot of money. But now I’m doing it for the culture, and even mores because I really love to do it. There’s more to it now than doing it because you want a cheque. Now I know I have something and I love to see the way people react to the beats that I make, so that’s why I’m doing it right now.
And now you’re able to step into different genres like R&B and Pop with tracks like Tinashe’s 2 On, Will.I.Am and Miley’s Feelin’ Myself and JLo’s Girls. How did you begin to make that transition?
It was really just that so many people were doing the same as I was doing, back in L.A. When I started doing those records it was like I had found a new sound, instead of using all of the stuff that I’d always used like the heavy baselines, the snaps and the claps. So when I did Paranoid and Show Me and stuff like that it was really just tapping into the pop and dance world and really making it into my own tempo, making it into 90bpm instead of 120bpm. It kind of just went hand in hand.
How important do you think it is to be recognisable within your sound, as a producer who is also known an artist in their own right?
I think it’s real important man. The attention spans of people are so small that they will forget about you so fast, so you always gotta keep it fresh and keep it new and drop new music. So I feel like it’s real important that they know exactly who you are so that you become a celebrity, because you have to have a lot of fans to keep it going.
Do you think that the “Mustard On The Beat Hoe” tag at the start of your tracks has been important in establishing that?
Yeah. I’m kind of planning on stop using it. I don’t know if it’s that time just yet, but I’m sure I will because I feel like people know the sound I make.
You’ve been prolific throughout YG’s career producing on all of his mixtapes and stuff, but how did it differ to be working on his debut album My Krazy Life?
We was really just trying to do better than all of the mixtapes and all of the songs we ever did. I really showed me how to become a producer and adapt to doing a persons whole album, instead of just being the guy who does the singles. It was a whole storyline and painting pictures to the words that he was saying and stuff like that. So I think it was a good learning experience and it helped me a lot.
The album is cohesive but never repetitive, how do you keep that balance?
Just keeping the same vibe and keeping the storyline, it wasn’t really about changing nothing. It was really what he wanted, he painted the picture. He really A&R’d it, did his homework and studied albums, it was all a collective thing though, we all put in the time and work.
I also noticed that Terrace Martin was credited quite a bit in the liner notes. How did he get involved?
I just wanted to take my sound to a different level and Terrace plays almost every instrument. Terrace played on Dr. Dre records and stuff like that, so for him to even allow me to use his talent, it was like, “Why not?” Because I got a lot of “Mustard does the same style, he does the same thing.” So I think that surprised a lot of people having Terrace play over a lot of the records. And I did on YG’s album so that’s why they sound so different, that’s still my sound but it sounds fuller and it’s better. I deal with Terrace a lot, and he helps me bring out my sound and make it a lot bigger than what it was.
Were you surprised by how well the album was received nationally and internationally?
Yeah I was surprised man, because like I said this is a dream for us.
There are a lot of rappers on the East Coast taking from the South, and for the most part it’s taken as a compliment. Why do you think you’ve been having so much trouble with Bay Area acts claiming you stole their style, rather than them accepting their style as one of your influences?
They said that but I don’t think they feel like that. There’s people that love what I do in the Bay and there’s people that hate what I do in the Bay, and that shit goes for everywhere. So everybody that has the chance to say something, look down on me, that’s just the way things go sometimes. You just gotta roll with the punches. I’d rather people say stuff bad about me than not say nothing at all. I’d rather have 50% of something rather than 100% of nothing. I don’t even care. I go to the Bay Area and do shows, me and YG just sold out (KMEL’s) Summer Jam it was amazing. There’s a lot of people that love us out there and there’s a lot that hate us, but the majority love us, so it’s not like that.
Did you have any involvement in choosing the beats that you didn’t produced on the album?
I definitely had an opinion on them and told them if I liked them or not. And he listens, we listen through those beats together. It was a real collective process. We all put in a lot of work. Sickamore, his A&R brought those records and Terrace played on those too. It was bigger than me just producing everything.
As a duo you’ve been drawing a lot of comparisons to Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. How do you feel about that?
I’m cool with it, it’s a big comparison and that’s a blessing for us. It’s saying that we sound like one of the greatest. I just take it on the terms of me and YG being homies, we’re just friends and we do that type of music. I feel like me and YG are the closest to Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg that people are gonna get. And that’s pretty much it.
Words by Grant Brydon (@GrantBrydon)