Meet Velous, The Young Producer Who Has Caught The Ear Of Drake, Kanye, And French Montana
With two Grammys nominations already under his belt, the 24-year-old is gearing up to release his first project.
With his mother on his arm, Tyler Bryant attended his first Grammy Awards ceremony last Monday night. He was there because of the work he contributed to Kanye West's riled-up comeback track "All Day,' which had been nominated for both Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance. He went home empty-handed, but it's no sweat. As Bryant sees it, that was just the beginning.
The 24-year-old—who works under the name Velous, as in "marvelous"—grew up in Kingston, a small city in upstate New York not far from Woodstock, and cut his teeth working in a studio in New Jersey that also serves as a home base for Boi-1da, Vinylz, Fetty Wap collaborator Peoples, and Allen Ritter. Under the care of Vinylz and French Montana, who has signed Velous to his Coke Boys Records (he is also signed with Swanky Music Group), Velous has landed credits on recent Drake and Kanye tracks ("Right Hand" and "High Lights" off The Life of Pablo, respectively).
Now Velous is preparing to release his own project, The Disco. Over the phone last week from his studio, the producer described its sound as "rhythm and trill."I feel like New York really needs that R&B guy that was swaggy," he said. "I feel like we haven't really had that in a long time, or if ever. I take pride in doing it for where I'm from"
Today Velous kicks things off with "Flex Wit You," a post-club comedown song featuring Coke Boys capo French Montana. Expected to drop soon, The Disco will feature additional guest appearances from the likes of the late Chinx, buzzing G.O.O.D. rapper Desiigner, New York royalty Fabolous, and Zack. Listen to "Flex Wit You" and then read a conversation with Velous and his work with Kanye West below.
How did you get your start producing?
I knew I wanted to be a producer since I was nine years old, since the first time I heard Pharrell and Babyface on that song "There She Goes." I used to hear all these songs and they would have that corky sound, and I realized they are all Neptune-produced. But I'm from Kingston, New York. There was no real scene for the music that I was focused on. [Kingston is] not far from Woodstock, like Woodstock Festival. It's more like a hippie-type scene. The first person I ever produced for money was a folk artist.
I sung since I was younger, but I used to just [sing when I was] by myself. I used to tell my mom I didn't want to be an artist or a singer, ‘cause my mom was a singer and she had toured with Wyclef back in the day. She used to tell me, “One day you're going to want to." I used to feel different for singing and rapping; I didn't think I would ever be accepted for doing that until Drake came in the game.
And now you've produced for Drake! How did that come about?
I first started working with Vinylz. He was one of the first people to really take an interest in me, so me, him and Boi-1da started working together. We produced "Right Hand" for Drake together, along with Frank Dukes.
You also have production credits on Kanye West's "All Day." What is the story there?
That was just me sitting down and trying to experiment. I wanted to make a beat that had a dope-ass bounce with a sense that was really disgruntled. Then I went to French Montana's crib one day and logged into his computer real quick and loaded his computer up with a bunch of beats. He hit me up two weeks later after he left the studio with Kanye, like, "Come to the crib, I want to show you something." I'm in the middle of Times Square, but I go all the way to French’s and he plays me those five beats. He was like, "That one is not going on the album. That one's not going on the album. That one's not going on the album. But this one right here is!" It was a scratch reference of "All Day," and I was losing it. Kanye had freestyled some lyrics—some of them were actually in the final version, and he had the flow down. The hook was there. I was definitely surprised when I heard Paul McCartney in it, cause I didn't know he was gonna have anything to do with the record.
How did "Highlights" come together?
For the "Highlights" record, I get a call from Kanye's people [the same week he performed "All Day" at the BRITS] and they're just like, “Ye really loves your sound, he wants you to work on this record right here.” He sent me his scratch vocals to make the beat to it—there was, like, a hundred passwords on this shit just to download the song!—and I just started working on it right then and there. The-Dream and Young Thug were not on the record yet. It was just Kanye.
Where do you hear yourself on the final cut?
That's me playing the piano on that record. The construct of what I did is definitely there. Originally when I heard it there was somebody else's vocals on there, and it wasn't The-Dream or Thug. The person that was on there—trust me, I wish I could say it cause the person is so so so legend. I was thinking, if this person stays on it, by the time this song is done, then I'm gonna charge a hundred grand for a beat. I'm gonna move somewhere and not have a phone anymore. I'm just gonna sip piña coladas and let my feet get ashy in the sand on a regular basis.
Have you met Kanye West yet?
I haven't met him. But he sent me "Highlights," and for me that's doper than me sending stuff. It's like yo, I felt what you do so much that I'ma send you this song that I want you to work on, and let me see what you got for it. When you send [a beat for consideration], it's like throwing a pebble in a pond. How many people came in throwing a pebble in a pond before yo ass came and threw a pebble in a pond?
"All Day" was nominated for a Grammy. How was your first Grammys experience?
For me, I didn't graduate from high school, so it was special for me that my mom was able to be there for the Grammys. That was the most important part. She kept telling me the whole time she felt like a princess 'cause we made sure she had a glam squad, like, try on this dress and that dress. I got to flex with my mom a little bit.
Where do you go from here?
My approach changes everyday, because I learn so much shit every single day. I spend way more time in the studio than I do outside of it. I'm probably in the studio six days a week, and I probably take a one day break. My approach changes every single day off of the fact that I'm becoming sharper at what I do.