Studio Session: Taz Taylor Explains How Internet Money Helped Launch Juice Wrld’s Career
The 25-year old Jacksonville, Fla. producer taught himself how to play instruments as a child, beginning to craft his own beats in 2010. Along with his Internet Money crew, Taylor has landed some big credits, including tracks for Drake ("Blue Tint"), XXXTentacion ("Fuck Love"), Juice Wrld ("All Girls Are the Same") and Rich The Kid ("Plug Walk").
The producer set some time aside to talk with XXL about all of his recent success, his origins as a producer and locking down a label deal with Alamo Records for Internet Money.
XXL: Who inspired you to make beats?
Taz Taylor: Kanye [West]. I heard “Through The Wire”—I remember seeing the video and the Chaka Khan sample. I'm sitting there the whole time like, "One person makes beats? What the fuck?" And I started to understand: Damn, Kanye went in, took a sample, sped the shit up, you can add drums and shit on top and that’s how it was done.
Were you sample-based when you started producing?
Yeah, I was heavy sample-based. But also, I'm from the South. Kanye influenced me, but also DJ Toomp. In my opinion, I feel like he's the first trap producer. You got Shawty Redd and all these people. The fact that I started out sample-based made it where [I can't be] put in a box doing trap. I can do whatever.
How did you sell your first beat?
I was on a graphic design forum and there was people on there—a rapper—like "Bro, you make beats?" What's funny is these same kids were like, "You're trash, don't ever make a beat again."
The internet is cruel.
Facts! He bought a beat for like $150. I remember I lived with my mom. I'm like, "Mom, this the first dollar I made off somethin'." She's like, "You dropped out of school, you ain't got shit to go for, you might as well keep doing it."
How did Internet Money sign with Alamo/Interscope Records?
I’ve only been in the industry for a year, so last August, I had no placements. I had nothing. I signed a pub deal with Atlantic, APG (Artist Publishing Group). Over the year, I been one of the hardest working producers in there. My assistant used to work at APG. He would have to stay until 6 in the morning. I would get there at noon and wouldn’t leave until 6 in the morning. They would hate me, bro. But he understands now that he works for me. I had to prove myself, that I'm here to work. So after doing that, it's like, "This kid doesn't wanna leave the fuckin' studio, he just wants to work, get all these placements, do whatever."
It kinda got to a thing like, "Damn Taz has all of these producers, he built producers up, let’s do a label. Let's let him do that with artists." Juice Wrld was supposed to be one of the first artists we signed. Some shit fell through with that, I just wasn't really fuckin' with it. Alamo jumped in. It's just the right deal; it happened. They give me full control and I can go in there, change shit up and be the real creative at Alamo.
You said that a Juice Wrld deal fell through. Did that affect your relationship with him?
I never really had the relationship with Juice, that was more so Nick [Mira]. Nick's been developing Juice for almost two years. I told Nick, "If you get somethin', just bring him by me, I'll build it up from there." So in November, he's like, "Aye bro, I think he's ready." That's when he had some records, like "All Girls Are the Same." So I heard that—that was like the first real record I liked from Juice. I was like, "Send me a bunch of records." All the Juice Wrld y'all hear now, I've been hearing for two years. "Lucid Dreams" is old as fuck. I remember sending [songs] to labels and they were like, "He's a Lil Uzi clone, I don't like this." It just didn't work out from there.
I got the mentality, if the people I'm really focused on working with don't fuck with it, I'm just not gonna go on. And by the time everyone else came around to him, it was like, I'm not even in there no more, bro. He tweeted, "I'm Internet Money's first star," put it on Instagram, we had paperwork and all that shit. He ended up doing the deal with [Lil] Bibby like that the next day. But it's all good. I feel like everybody benefited from the Juice shit. I got my own label, Nick is one of the biggest producers in the game, Juice is doing his fuckin' thing. It would be different if he woulda signed to us, but I feel like we all got something out of it.
What was your first big placement?
Desiigner [and] Gucci Mane's ("Liife"). It was supposed to be Big Sean on it originally, but I think that’s when Big Sean and Kendrick was going through some shit and Big Sean threw bars at Kendrick. So they took Big Sean off and put Gucci on. I was a little pissed—I'm a Big Sean fan. The record didn't really do what I thought it was gonna do. It should've been bigger, but I don't know, it was a good way to get my foot in the door.
What were your next couple of placements after that?
Sage The Gemini, Lil Skies–me and Lil Skies signed to Atlantic the same week—a bunch of [Yung] Pinch shit, "Plug Walk" [by] Rich The Kid.
How do you decide who to work with?
I got 15 producers. So now it's getting to the point where we can have three sessions a day. For example, I had a Yung Bleu, Yungblud—he's signed to Interscope, he's from the UK—and a Post Malone session. Of course, I'm going to the Post Malone session. But Bleu is one of my favorite artists, so I sent three of my producers to Bleu, kept four of 'em with Blud and then I went to the Post Malone. It became a Post Malone [and] Swae Lee session. We got a record in. All that shit was cool. That's how I decide, we just gotta keep it like that.
Who have been your favorite artists to work with?
Fetty [Wap]. Fetty's a really good guy. There's talented artists and there's artists with fuckin' attitudes, who just don't take their shit seriously. And I'm tryna be like Jimmy Iovine, Todd Moscowitz. I take this shit super seriously. If I feel like you don't wanna listen and you don't care, you just in this shit to get a check, I don't really care. It may not be the most poppin' artists, but Fetty's a really good guy. Pinch—that's like my brother. The session I had with Post was really cool, he's a really good kid. Just really, who's down to work.
You did “Fortnite” with 03 Greedo, right?
Yeah, we did "Fortnite." We did a bunch of records, the “Free Greedo” shit that just came out with Mozzy, that's supposed to be on the Internet Money album. I got like eight records with Greedo. Mozzy hit me up. People don't know I put that together. He was supposed to go to Sacramento that night, he missed his flight just to come record. That's a respect thing. He's like, "Bro, I'ma do this record. I'ma do this verse for you." He didn’t hear it or nothin'. He just came by and made it happen.
Mozzy hit me like, "You know Greedo got locked up and all that shit, can I have this record and we can do Internet money, Greedo, Mozzy and give all the proceeds to his daughter?" I'm like, "Yeah, I'm 100 percent cool with that." I got a bunch of shit like that I just put together. Greedo doesn't even know I put Mozzy on it. The first verse, shit was crazy. It was the first song we did. [Greedo] freestyled the whole shit. The second verse I was like, "Ehhh." He don't even know I'ma take his verse off. Soon as he left, I'm like "Aye, do me a favor, bounce that without the second verse? I'ma put Mozzy on this shit."
How did you come to work on "Fuck Love" with XXXTentacion and Trippie Redd?
We're really close with Solomon, his manager, and when I came out to New York to do my label show, I was at a Yung Pinch show. I ran into Solomon. We didn't work with X, it was like the same thing with "Plug Walk"; they used our loop. Solomon was like, "Bro, I wanna bring you down to Miami and work with X." It was supposed to happen. It hit me different because we're super close with his team and being from Florida, he's a legend for sure. No record would ever beat that out for me. That's the only plaques hanging up in my house, it's just X's, because it means so much.
You've said that one of your loops are sampled on Drake's "Blue Tint," but you weren't initially credited. What happened?
Man, that shit was crazy. I was with Smokepurpp [when Drake's Scorpion] album dropped. 'Purpp was in there recording. I'm sitting listening to the shit and "Blue Tint" comes on. Me and [producer JRHitmaker] are like "What the fuck?" The crazy shit is during the day, I literally told people, "Wouldn’t it be crazy if we had a MIDI or a sample on there or something?"
I ran in the studio where Purpp's recording, put the aux plug in, I'm going through the loops, I'm pulling it up and Purpp's just sitting there eating popcorn. Illmind! and Supah Mario did it. So I send a video to Illmind! like, "Bro, you wanna explain this shit?" He's like, "I just did the guitars, I had no idea, I'ma link you with Supah Mario." I get in the fuckin' car and Supah Mario calls in like, "I'm sorry, I thought it was royalty-free." I'm just like, "Nah, bro, we have to figure out these splits right now."
Is that annoying?
You know what's annoying? It happened to me on a bunch of shit—bigger records, like Khalid's "Location." These producers be on Twitter, thirsty for retweets. "Man, we gotta care about producers." Then [when] people come along who actually do give a fuck about producers and we're tryna do fair business, they're like, "What?" Like bro, y’all are fake as fuck. That's the reason why motherfuckers be here today, gone tomorrow. That’s the reason why I'm still here. Is 10 percent, 15, 20 percent really gon' make that much of a difference? No, so let’s just do good business, be fair, make sure everybody's happy.
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