Hitmaker of the Month: With Gunna’s ‘Pushin P,’ Producer-Writer Wheezy Is Creating a ‘Tsunami World’
With its ominous threadbare melody and chilly minimalist percussion, Gunna and Future’s “Pushin P” (featuring Young Thug) has been an anomaly on a Top 10 recently filled with family-friendly fare like songs from “Encanto” and the latest Adele ballad. Credit a large part of the success of that track to the writing, production and beat-making skills of Wesley Tyler Glass, aka Wheezy.
With his personal credo, “Stay wavy, it’s a tsunami world,” Wheezy’s come a long way from his start manning the boards for underground hip-hop artists like Shad da God and apprenticing under producer Metro Boomin. Today, Wheezy’s list of collaborators includes Travis Scott, Meek Mill, Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage and Trippie Redd. His name also appears on 2018’s “Yes, Indeed” from Lil Baby and Drake, 2019’s “We” from Bon Iver and 2021’s “Lord I Need You” from Kanye West’s “DONDA.”
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Wheezy’s sound helped catapult “Pushin P” to the upper reaches of the chart. Gunna’s “DS4Ever” album, meanwhile, beat out the Weeknd’s “Dawn FM” in first-week consumption. That victory “was a mindblower,” says Wheezy from Los Angeles. “We think of the Weeknd as our brother. There was never any competition. But you know … numbers don’t lie.”
Growing up, Wheezy split his time between Vicksburg, Mississippi (where his mother lived) and Atlanta, where his father resident. “Being around the culture of Atlanta and my dad when he was listening to music, I developed a passion for it,” says Wheezy. In particular, the young hopeful developed a fondness for fellow Atlantan Jeezy and his early trap sounds.
In his teens, Wheezy caught the production bug and, at 15, started to make beats for his brother, rapper TG Montana and the aforementioned Shad da God. For his first big break, a 16-year-old Wheezy linked with producer Metro Boomin, the toast of Atlanta hip-hop and trap production who has worked with Gucci Mane, Future, 21 Savage and the Migos crew.
Says Wheezy: “Metro and I got to know each other on social media, talking on Twitter and Facebook and all that. When he did his first album [2018’s “Not All Heroes Wear Capes”], Metro invited me to where he was working and I did ‘Space Cadet’ with him and Gunna. Me and Metro, we’ve been cookin’ up. We both do the same thing, working under the same roof at Darp Studio, which I still use. I love it.”
Around the time of “Space Cadet,” Wheezy began developing relationships with Lil Baby and Drake, which resulted on their shared track, “Yes Indeed.”
“When Drake shouted me out in the verse, when people heard that, that was big,” says the producer. “Everyone wanted to know who Wheezy was.”
Wheezy developed his chill, less-is-more production by using a FL Studio digital audio workstation, an M-Audio Oxygen 88 keyboard, sparingly-placed vintage samples and some icy snares. “Listening to Pharrell, Kanye and Shawty Redd… they influenced me,” says Wheezy. “It’s a romantic sound to me.”
Mentioning Kanye as an influence, of course, makes being on West’s “DONDA” (as programmer, co-producer and writer on “Jonah” and “Lord I Need You”), and the just-released “DONDA 2,” an immense thrill for Wheezy.
“Oh man, what’s unique about Kanye is that he samples a lot and turns classic old-school samples into his own sound,” says Wheezy. “To work with him now, it’s crazy. He found my talent to be unique and he reached out to me. I look up to him.”
When asked if West was easy to work with, Wheezy snickers, “Yes, Very easy. We’re both geniuses. We connected right away.”
After being part of the first “DONDA 2” listening session at Nobu in Los Angeles in early February, Wheezy notes, gleefully, how the recording continued in the restaurant as crowds were milling about — Gunna later shared an clip on Instagram.
“That was crazy, that night” laughs Wheezy of the Nobu session, while confirming his participation on “DONDA 2.” “Things change, but I’m doing pretty much the same thing now that I did on “DONDA”… programming, rearranging things.”
For all of his work with Kanye, getting shouted out by Drake, and his multiple tracks conceived with, and for, Young Thug, Travis Scott, DaBaby, Lil Baby and Lil Uzi Vert (Says Wheezy: “He’s been my brother forever. We click. And I’m glad to see his come-up.”), Wheezy’s connection to fellow Atlantan Sergio Giavanni Kitchens — aka Gunna — runs deepest.
Says Wheezy: “We bring out different sides of each other. Different vibes. Gunna was my friend before rap. It was just a cool vibe that we had. It was organic between us from the start. Like with ‘Space Cadet,’ Metro Boomin and I had this beat in the archive, and we thought maybe Gunna would sound great on it. So, we cooked it up, and we were right. Boom. … We’re always evolving our sound, me and Gunna. I just see him turning into a pop star, more and more with every record we do. It’s crazy to have this happening before my very eyes. And it’s happened so quick. But we grind for a living. We shine.”
Perhaps the best proof of Gunna’s cultural cachet was when Pushin’ P” got co-signs from Nike (see the “we’re pushin [P] all year” tweet) and International House of Pancakes, which saw its “We’re always pushing 🅿️ancakes” tweet from Jan. 19 rack up more than 67,000 likes.
We’re always pushing 🅿️ancakes.
— IHOP (@IHOP) January 19, 2022
“That track came together during Art Basel, when Gunna came down to Miami,” Wheezy recalls. “You know how that goes — everybody’s in town, there’s a vibe, and I had this beat already made. I played the beat. We already had ‘pushin’ p’ in our vocabulary, and we just incorporated it into a song.”
For all of his work with other artists, there’s a handful of equally spacious, soulful tracks that feature Wheezy as a lead artist. Worth seeking out are the records “Raised by Goats,” “Guillotine,” “Manish Thug,” “Let Them Have It,” and “200,000” (featuring Quavo, Lil Uzi Vert and Shad da God). Each features Wheezy’s signature sound, yet to dramatically different effects. “That’s my surprise,” says Wheezy.
So where is his artist album? “I’m working on one right now, getting ready to put a single out soon,” says Wheezy, shouting out his management, Manny Halley, the CEO of Imani Media Group. “I can’t say too much now. I don’t wanna get everyone hype, but it is a work in progress. I have a lot in store that I’m gonna drop. When I drop, you’ll know it.”
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