All DJ Fu wants is for people to pay attention to the oncoming wave. Signed to Mike Will Made It’s Ear Drummers label in 2014, Fu creates fresh sounds for fellow label mates Two-9, multi-platinum selling duo Rae Sremmurd and now his own artist, Lil Xan.
Being signed to one of the most influential and respected producers in the game has its perks. Besides the constant recognition of being associated with Mike Will and Ear Drummers, Fu absorbs game about how to properly maneuver in the music industry from the Grammy Award-winning producer and learns how to handle his own artists. It’s why Fu moved quickly on Lil Xan after hearing the then-unknown rapper and Steven Cannon, cooking up at a friend’s makeshift studio garage one day — Fu was prepared, thanks to Mike.
Lacing Xan with his signature sharp-yet-ethereal sound was mandatory for Fu before bringing him to someone willing to take a chance on a suburban kid. The only person willing to take that risk was Fu’s friend and business partner Stat Quo. The result? A hit Billboard record with “Betrayed” and the Ear Drummer executive producing his debut studio album, Total Xanarchy.
Despite cracking the Top 10 of the Billboard 200, Total Xanarchy was mostly met with crushing reviews and stark criticism amid controversy surrounding the 21-year-old’s drug-inspired moniker and comments saying Tupac’s music is boring.
Fu and Xan don’t plan on slowing down though. Baby Blue Subaru is the tentative title of Xan’s next project and once things cool down, there’s hope Xan will be more well-received than he was with Total Xanarchy.
Speaking with HipHopDX, DJ Fu makes his case for Lil Xan by sharing some of his favorite songs that he produced for the “Far” rapper, and some good stories about making music with Rae Sremmurd in Mac Miller’s old house.
Check out the Spotify playlist for the latest in this series of the #DXHitList Sessions.
Mike Will Made It f. Kendrick Lamar, Gucci Mane & Rae Sremmurd — “Perfect Pint”
“Perfect Pint” was made at the Ear Drummers house, which is Mac Miller’s old house that we bought a couple of years ago. I made it in my bedroom — Swae Lee had his set up in his bedroom and Jxmmi had his set up in his bedroom. I ran to Jxmmi and Swae Lee and played the beat for them. They were like, ‘Whoa this is crazy’ and made a scratch idea, which was “Perfect Pint.” It kind of got left alone for a couple of weeks.
Mike came back to LA and we were all in Swae Lee’s bedroom, so I told him to play it. Mike was like, ‘Yooo this is fire I’m going to put it on my shit,’ which was Ransom 2. A month later, we’re in Vegas because I was DJing for Mike. I’m just chilling in the hotel room and he plays a Gucci verse, which happens to be on the “Perfect Pint” song. Swae then finished his verse and made the hook make sense. A couple of weeks later, he played the song for Kendrick, who loved it and jumped on it.
Mike Will Made It f. Rae Sremmurd, Future & The Weeknd — “Drinks On Us (Remix)”
I was in Atlanta homeless when I made that beat. I sent it to Mike and he fixed it, changed a few things up and put Swae Lee on it by himself. He forgot he sent the beat to Future too. It was coincidental that he and Swae Lee were talking about the same thing. Mike put the song together then added Jxmmi and The Weeknd for the remix.
Jay 305 — “Yuck It Up”
I know Jay 305 from Reese in Atlanta. Reese was playing Jay 305 shit all the time, so when I came to LA I was always trying to work with him. I told him I was trying to bring a different feel and new type of swag to West Coast artists, blending in Atlanta. That’s how “Yuck It Up” was born. We did it in the studio and I made the beat on the spot. Came up with everything right there.
Lil Xan f. Charlie XCX — “Moonlight”
Lil Xan was on tour when I made the beat. I only go to a few of his major dates, so I was chilling in the studio just making beats. G Koop came over and we started making music on some band shit. He came in with the guitar and I got on the piano and the drums then we came up with “Moonlight.”
I thought it would be crazy to get Xan on it but he was on tour so I was hoping they had the [studio] setup [while he was on tour]. I hit up his engineer and told him to go get the card, go to Guitar Center and get the setup and let’s record this song. I hit them five times about it. Two hours later, Xan sent over the hook.
Me and Stat Quo were thinking we need to put someone on this, someone like Charlie XCX. Stat was like, ‘Let’s send it to her,’ and she loved it. Charlie sent it right back and was really involved in the whole process of creating the song.
Lil Xan — “Far”
“Far” was made right after Xan signed his deal with Columbia. It was just me and him in the studio and he wanted me to play him R&B type beats because he wants to sing or some shit. I pulled that beat up and gave him the idea for the melody, and he went in there and put it to words.
At first, we weren’t going to use that song. What’s on the album now is the second version. We did a lot of versions and did a lot of shit to it. We go to Chicago to shoot “Wake Up” and Cole Bennett comes into our hotel room and says we should shoot “Far” first. I’m like what, you like that song? He said Stat had sent it to him and he loved it so he wanted to shoot that. So, Cole shot it…he wanted to do that.
On Discovering Lil Xan & Bringing Him To Stat Quo
DX: How did you meet Lil Xan?
DJ Fu: One of the homies had a studio that all the little homies liked to record at. I was bored as shit, no one was in LA and everyone was gone. I went over there and Steve Cannon and Xan were already working. I asked what the song was, because it was hard and they were like, ‘That’s dude rapping, Xan.’ I was like hell, nah, that’s not him.
I asked them to show me the video because I needed to see more proof. They showed me his video for a song called “Been Bout It.” It had just dropped and only had maybe 2,000 views. I’m like this shit is crazy and I wanted to fuck with him so I just kept going over to the house. Then we just built him. I brought him to Stat and now we’re family.
DX: You brought Xan to Stat Quo?
Fu: Yeah, I brought him to Stat Quo. I found Xan. We needed partnership and someone who had relationships and a little bit of money to do what we needed to do.
DX: I always wondered how Xan got to Stat.
Fu: Yeah, I brought Xan to Stat and I brought him Steven Cannon. I brought that whole wave to Stat.
DX: Was this before or after “Betrayed” had came out?
Fu: This was way before “Betrayed” came out! I was there before “Betrayed.” I was there from the beginning when he had just “Been Bout It” and “Tony Montana.” I was always picking him up, taking him to the studio, taking him to shows. I was taking him to labels, like Interscope, way before that.
DX: How did you guys end up linking with Cole Bennett for the video? I feel like that song and visual had a lot to do with him gaining recognition.
Fu: Cole Bennett was fucking with Xan a little bit from the internet, but he was waiting for Xan to blow up. One day Xan came to me and Stat was telling us we got to get Cole Bennett to do the video, let’s just pay him. We knew we weren’t making any money off the music right now, so we just gambled. Cole came over there and shot the video in fucking 10 minutes.
DX: “Betrayed” was shot in 10 minutes?
Fu: Literally, 10 minutes. Maybe 15, give or take the smoke break. Deadass. I smoked two backwoods by the time they were done. I was tripping because I was like, this is…no, no. Then the rough cuts he sent us … me and my partner were like dude, if this video comes out and it’s like this … Xan was pissed.
DX: Y’all thought it was going to be some bullshit?
Fu: Yeah, we thought it was going to be bullshit because how quick the video was shot. It was so quick. Like, you’re going to make magic out of this? Fuck out of here. And, he did. It went crazy. We paid him one time for “Betrayed” and we ended up managing him.
DX: Cool, so you’re a producer and a full-on manager?
Fu: I wouldn’t call myself a manager. More like an executive. I’m in charge of creativeness and what direction the brand is going in. I help Stat a lot on the creative end on Total Xanarchy. Without us getting the “Betrayed” song, Cole Bennett wouldn’t be around. “Betrayed” wasn’t even supposed to come out like that. We were in the middle of talks and someone was going to do a deal for that tape. Xan being a rebel dropped it anyway. It worked though.
On The Process Of Executive Producing Total Xanarchy
DX: What was the process like making Total Xanarchy?
Fu: It was hard. That’s the time Xan was just getting to know who wanted to be. He went from rapping for fun in front of a camera to now he has a deal, making records in a big recording studios and dropping merch and it’s going dummy. Trying to lock him down in the studio was hard because we had just got him with an agency who was booking him on tour and he had to record the album while he was on tour.
I would make beats or people would send beats and he would do songs on the road. Some of the records like “Betrayed” and “Who I Am” were older so we just revamped them. The album had skits and theme to it. It didn’t come to fruition because of technical difficulties, sample clearances and label shit. The way we had it was so different. It would’ve made people understand the songs more.
DX: Being under Mike and on Ear Drummers, how much did you learn from him about dealing with artists?
Fu: Being on Ear Drummers, I learned a lot. It took me from recording in my bedroom to now, I’m going to fully produce a record and learn from Mike. Now I have my own artists. I have Xan, Steven Cannon, Lil E and I’ve been working with Baby Goth. I’m trying to make the legacy and build a branch from the family tree. I learned how to work with artists and how to make a song. To go into the studio with the intention to not make a hit record, but the best record possible.
On Handling Lil Xan’s Controversial Tupac Comments
DX: How did you guys handle the backlash from him saying Tupac was boring?
Fu: He’s a young dude and I know he wasn’t trying to be serious. He was trolling and that’s a case of trolling gone wrong. Unfortunately, it was too late. We tried to stop it but we couldn’t do nothing about it. It’s fucked up that people still judge him off that. I wish it was handled better. I wish he apologized earlier. He’s 22 years old and didn’t grow up listening to Tupac. He’s actually a Big L fan. He’ll listen to Big L before he listens to Tupac. He’ll listen to Nas before he listens to Tupac. He was trolling and it’s a case of trolling gone wrong.
DX: That whole sound byte spurred a lot of conversations about how the new wave of rappers should show more respect to the old heads.
Fu: It’s fucked up because I think it hurt his album sales. I feel like if that wasn’t put out there, people wouldn’t have pre-judged the album instead of it being like, this 21-year-old kid just going crazy talking about bullshit and then it slows down and he starts to talk about more serious shit. It’s like a high, with a comedown.
DX: I feel like it’s the 72-hour cycle of anger thing.
Fu: I know that. I tell him that all the time. We get another smash, no one is going to care what you said. It did hurt him, though. 03 Greedo said what he said about Tupac and nobody jumped on his head. Greedo is also Black and from the hood whereas Xan is Mexican and looks white from the suburbs. That all comes into play. It’s fucked up because we’re all human beings at the end of the day.
DX: With what Greedo said, I’ve always heard whispers from the hood about the reality of Tupac. Greedo was just the first person I heard talk about it out loud in the media.
Fu: True. It’s hood folklore. You only hear about in the round table of hoodness. Greedo is the homie. We actually have a whole tape we got coming together. He has the right to say that because he has the stripes.
DX: When does the tape with Greedo come out?
Fu: I’m trying to get it done soon. I’m just waiting on his management and lawyers to get everything tied up. It’s pretty different too. It’s not Cali-based music either. It’s a mixture.