T Minus is one of hip-hop’s most prolific and exciting new producers. The 24-year-old wunderkind, armed with little more than Fruity Loops software on a laptop, has helmed a slew of material for the likes of Drake (“HYFR,” “The Motto,” “I’m on One”), Nicki Minaj (“Moment 4 Life”), and more recently, Kendrick Lamar’s breakout “Swimming Pools (Drank).” Curled up with a fur throw in his new home in suburban Canada, the remarkably humble producer opened up to Hive about his ever-growing discography, including what happened to his lost Kendrick Lamar and Lady Gaga song and the sonic direction of his new Drake beats.
Everyone is talking about Kendrick Lamar and Lady Gaga’s “Partynauseous” which you produced and never made it on good kid, m.A.A.d city. Gaga cited creative differences. What happened?
From what I understand, it seemed like they [Gaga’s camp] had a direction they wanted to go in and Kendrick and I had a different direction. It just so happened that it didn’t go through. All parties have to agree. I saw it as a great opportunity for Kendrick to get a record from Gaga but if they can’t make that approval then hey, it can’t go through. But the beat is hot as fuck. I promise you.
I believe you. I’m a little obsessed with your “Swimming Pools (Drank)” on Kendrick’s album, which has already been lauded as a modern classic. Did you know it was going to be such a commercial and critical success while working on it?
Just knowing him as an artist, I knew he was going to come with something incredible. He’s a true artist. He knows what he’s doing and puts his heart out on the record. Anyone who does that is going to have a successful album. The problem is when you try to make these gimmicks and these records that aren’t true to who you are and they don’t end up selling.
You’ve worked with Drake since 2006’s “Replacement Girl” and most recently on Take Care. I know he’s back in the studio working on his third album. How’s that going?
I don’t know nothing about it. I don’t know! I mean uh, we’re working. Yeah. Working on stuff. I can’t get too much into detail; that’s something that he needs to answer.
Fair enough. You recently tweeted that your new beats are on another level which Drake quickly retweeted. So logically, your new beats for him are on another level. How so?
I’m just taking things to a new place as far as music goes. I don’t want to go to the same route that I was going to before so far as how everything sounds, how everything sits in your ears. It’s a producer thing. You’ll hear it when you hear it. I’m going back to the roots of R&B, mid-’90s, from hearing a Timbaland record, an Aaliyah, something from Blackground Music, for example. When the music had so much emotion. Nowadays, I feel like music is just so hard; all it is is just a bunch of bass. I want to take it to a place where it’s very musical but still has something that knocks.
Sounds emo. Are you an emo person?
I think I’m always in an emo place. I’m an emotional person for sure. I don’t see that as a negative thing. Most artists are emotional people or else they wouldn’t be able to create such touching songs.
We’re in your home studio. What do you need to start a beat? I saw an array of interesting liquors…
No, I don’t drink when I work …
Yeah. One of them tasted like burning.
It tastes disgusting. It was one of my dad’s old liquor from like, years ago. I don’t know why it’s there. It needs to be a relaxed environment. I either need to be alone or with a lot of friends. I like company when I’m working too and get input from other people ‘cause I don’t listen to too much radio. It’s important to hear other people’s opinions when working in the studio because sometimes you might go too far left.
So much. Big Sean, Pusha T, uh…
According to Wikipedia, you’re going to be on the next Jay-Z album. Is that true?
According to Wikipedia! [Laughs]. I think Jay-Z’s the best rapper alive. That would be crazy. That would be dope.
What about outside of hip hop? I can see you working with someone like Taylor Swift.
That would be kind of cool. I’d love to work with [Justin] Bieber. I’d love to work with Biebs. He’s Canadian. I think one day we’ll be doing records together.