Creating musical landscapes for artists to trek through. What may sound like a bullet point in a resume is exactly what producer Swiff D brings to the table when working with a variety of talent. The Ontario, California beatsmith first brought his beats to a sea of ears in 2007 at Red Bull’s Big Tune contest, which he placed as a finalist. Since then, Swiff has worked with artists like Snoop Dogg, Talib Kweli (he produced "The Perfect Beat"), and Jadakiss, while most recently producing for Top Dawg Entertainment's ScHoolboy Q. Swiff D's contribution to Q's Oxymoron is titled "Studio," named after a place Swiff knows too well. With Oxymoron debuting at #1 during its first week in sales and "Studio" gearing up to be its next single, Swiff D talks to HipHopDX about the creation of the bouncy-yet-smooth instrumental, getting the "save that beat" call and shares his appreciation for timeless production.
HipHopDX: Congratulations on getting ScHoolboy Q's next single. Let's talk about “Studio” and how the beat came together.
Swiff D: Basically, I was sitting at the house one day, and I was listening to some music. I came across this one record. I don’t remember off top what the name of the track was, but I just liked the chords of it. I was like, man, I really need to make something kind of like this but still super bouncy. So I went home and I’m making this beat and out comes this beat and I thought, damn this beat is crazy but I can’t give it to anybody. I can’t shop it to that many people because I don’t want to get it in the wrong hands.
DX: Yeah, that's your baby! How long did you hold onto the beat?
Swiff D: I had it for two months, and I was just not shopping it to anybody at all. Everybody has those ones that they’re saving for those people that they really want to get on it. So I went to Interscope to meet with my manager and this dude named Tunji came in and he said, “Yo, do you have anything for ScHoolboy Q?” I said, “Bro, of course I got something for Q.” Instead of me giving him the beats and him going through them and liking them – how all the A&Rs like to do – he just gave me Q’s email. He said if [Q] likes it then there’s a good chance he’ll get on it. Then I go home and go through my tracks, and I thought, "I gotta get Q this record; I have to give him this beat." I sent it to him and I gave him my number and I said, "If you like anything just call me or text me." He hit me the next day and said,”I like all these beats.” I sent him about 10 or 15 beats. I don’t know why I sent him so much, but he liked all of them. I thought, one of these is gonna get on there. You know what I’m saying? He had hit me back and said, “I like all of these.” I said, “Well, if you pick one, that’s you. It’s all you.”
Time passes on, and my dad passes away from cancer. I’m at his wake and I’m feeling down and I just felt like something is going to pick me back up because it just felt like so much bad was happening around me. I get in my car and Dave from TDE calls me, randomly, as I’m on the freeway and asks, “Did you do this beat?” I couldn’t really hear the beat, but I heard my sounds in there and I said, “Yeah, that’s me.” He says, “Save this beat, please.” I asked why and he said that ScHoolboy Q had cut to it and that he was 70% sure that it was going to be on his album. I said, “Cool that’s dope.“ I was hyped, but I was still unsure because he said 70% and his album wasn’t done. You know how the game works. Someone could bring something to the table at the end and it could knock your song off. Q texted me the next day and said, “This is going to be one of my singles. We got one.” I was so hyped that it was that track because it was one of my favorite beats that I had made all year.
DX: You mentioned being inspired by a track. What kind of mood were you in that day?
Swiff D: There are those days where you think about being real creative, and there are those days where you think about money and girls. That was definitely one of those days where I was thinking about a girl, but not necessarily going so emotional with the track. I just felt like keeping it fun but something still open and dark.
DX: Were you in the studio for the recording process?
Swiff D: Actually, I first heard the track in my manager’s office, but I had been trying to hear the record for two or three months. Everybody from TDE is calling me and I passed it over to my manager and he heard the song, but I didn’t know that he did at the time. As soon as I heard it, I was like, “Dang, this is gon’ be a crazy record. It was super outta here.”
DX: When you make a song, like “Studio,” do you ever think about a direction an artist can take it?
Swiff D: When I make beats, I kind of have an idea, but of course I’m not going to pitch that idea to the artist in the studio with them. I still wouldn’t do it then because people take songs and go somewhere left with it. Surprisingly, he did exactly what I was thinking but with the singing part, he caught me off guard with that. It came out so much better than what I was envisioning.
DX: Who are some of your influences?
Swiff D: My influences, number one, is my family name. I come from a family on both sides that are very musically inclined but nobody really had the opportunity shine like that on a big stage. I always think about, well maybe, I could be that one to open the doors for my family and everything. I’m clearly not as talented as all of them but when it comes to beats, I’m one of the best ones. I’m always inspired by stuff that I feel that I can make but somebody made it before me. I love J Dilla, I love Just Blaze, I love Darkchild. I just like to mesh everything that I’ve learned over the years and just create one sound in the beat.
DX: Out of everything you’ve heard, production wise, is there one song that stood out to you?
Swiff D: I really like “Climax” by J Dilla. I wasn’t even making beats back then but just how it sounds, I knew the track was timeless. I still even go back to listen to it. Stuff now, I feel like anything that 40 and Boi-1da and all of them do, they motivate me a lot because they pushed the bar in music now.
DX: What’s next for Swiff D?
Swiff D: I’ve been working with some of the greats. I can’t name off top because you know how stuff gets scratched off and everything, so I’m definitely working with some of your favorites. That’s all I can say.