Murda Beatz Is Living the Dream

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Image via Publicist
Image via Publicist

It got to feel good to be Murda Beatz these days. The 28-year-old has a career trajectory that sounds like bedroom-producer fan fiction: Unassuming kid from small-town Ontario starts making beats and DM’ing them to rappers. Migos take a chance and fly him out to be their live-in beatmaker. It goes well. Kid spends the next decade helming hits for the likes of Lil Baby, Nicki Minaj, and Drake, going platinum like it’s a nasty habit.

“All the kids in Fort Erie, if their parents ask them, ‘What are you going to do?’ they’re like, ‘Oh, I could just make beats!’” Murda tells Complex Canada about his legacy in his hometown. “They think that they can just copy the blueprint. But I feel like anything’s possible.”

And he means anything. “No Más,” his just-released single, is a breezy, bilingual banger featuring J BalvinQuavo, and Anitta, co-produced by Pharrell. Murda says the joint, which sounds like some of the biggest names in international music getting lit on a boat, came together casually while he was hanging with Quavo and Takeoff. “[Quavo] played me this little idea he just did with Pharrell. And I thought it was dope and it had potential, and I was actually working in the studio that week with Balvin in L.A. too. So I called Pharrell and was like, ‘Yo, let me fuck with this.’” NBD.

Anitta wound up adding her verse later in the process. Rumours have been swirling that the Brazilian singer-songwriter and Murda are an item—which the superproducer confirms is true. “I feel like she’s the coolest girl in the world, you know?” he tells us. “And she’s super dope and she inspires me every day to go harder. So, yeah, that’s my baby girl.”

Suffice to say, everything’s coming up Murda. We caught up with the beatmaker about his improbable rise, the state of the Canadian music scene, and his next moves. Below is the chat, mildly edited for length and clarity.

Tell me, what’s something that’s been on your mind lately?
“No Más.”

True. [Laughs.] It’s a banger, man! How did it all come together?
So I was in L.A. Quavo was Takeoff’s house, so I pulled up on them. We were just catching up, playing each other some stuff, chopping it up. [Quavo] played me this little idea he just did with Pharrell. And I thought it was dope and it had potential, and I was actually working in the studio that week with Balvin in L.A. too. So I called Pharrell and was like, “Yo, let me fuck with this.” He sent me all the stems and then I just collabed with him on the beat, added the Murda sauce and shit, and then took it to the lab that night with Balvin and he just fell in love with it. He ended up recording his verse the next week. And then like a month ago, I got Anitta on it, and then we shot the video in Miami.

So is that something that happens often now? You and Quavo just kicking back, maxing, shooting the shit?
Yeah. You know, that’s my brother. I’ve known him for ten years now or something like that. So we’ve built a good relationship. We know each other’s families. He knows my mom, I know his family and his mom and stuff. So we’ve definitely built a good relationship over the years.

What was it like introducing your mom to Quavo?
[Laughs.] I don’t know. Kind of like how you would expect it to be, you know? Obviously with me working with these guys for so long, my mom loves them too, you know what I’m saying? They’re like her sons, too. So she’s always happy to say hi whenever she gets to see them.

Have Migos ever come to Fort Erie?
Nah. [Laughs.] Maybe one day, man.

What was it like working with Pharrell? What’s something that surprised you the most about working with him?
We were working on some music together like in the past, but nothing came out. He’s just goated and he knows he’s a certified hitmaker. So, like, there were certain things he was telling me on how to structure the track out and get some extra vocals from people just to make it better. And I nailed it and it came together. So I really appreciate him being a part of the record with me. I’m grateful.

On the topic of cool moms, is it true that producers in Fort Erie approach your mom all the time to give her their beats?
Yeah, my mom tells me she goes to the grocery store and people stop her. But like, she always wears my merch that I gave her back in the day, so people probably see her wearing the merch and they’re like, “Oh that’s Murda’s mom!” and they go up to her. People knock on her door saying they make beats. Like, man, shit’s kinda crazy!

That’s wild.
It’s funny, though. All the kids in Fort Erie, if their parents ask them, ‘What are you going to do?’ they’re like, “Oh, I could just make beats!” They think that they can just copy the blueprint, you know? But I feel like anything’s possible. Anyone could do anything. A big thing is just to find your passion and your career path and just go all out with it. No plan B, you know?

What were you like in high school?
So what I did at first in high school was like, there were a bunch of kids I knew that were rocking with Ya Boy, YB the Rockstar, from the Bay. So I was like, ‘Yo, if I can work with him, all the kids in my high school will fuck with me, and that’s how I can start building my fan base.’ So I hit up like all the guys around him and got to his rap group, they were called Black Card. I got them on my beats and I started dropping songs with them. I was like, yeah! I was so cocky. Everything was happening so quick, because a lot of people, when you start making beats, they’ll be like, “No, wait til you get better to shop your music.” But I was like, “Man, I’m just going to progress with the sound of my shit.” So when my beats were trash I was still getting people to rap on them and I was throwing that shit on YouTube. In the first two months of me making beats I had Soulja Boy on a remix of a record. And that’s a major artist, so it was like a pat on my back, you know? And I just kept working. Then I got Chief Keef on a beat like four months into me making music and it just kept going.

It’s incredible how fast it happened.
Yeah, like, my beats were nothing back then. [Laughs.] It’s funny, I’ll talk to producers and I’ll hear their first beats, and I’m like, ‘Man this is way better than my shit when I first started.’ But coming from a musical background and playing drums and my dad playing guitar, my uncle playing bass, drums, guitars, singing, and all this shit… When I found that I could make music by making beats, and I formed a love for rap music, I just knew it’s what I wanted to do. Even if my beats were shit, you couldn’t tell me nothing.

Do you think the fact that you started out as a drummer has made you a better producer?
Yeah, I definitely think so because I feel like that just attracted me to like beats and stuff… My dad was the best guitar player I knew. We’d always go over to my uncle’s house, and he had set up this riser in his basement with a drum set, bass, and a PA. We’d all jam together. That used to be so fun. I always wanted to play drums and start a band, but when I was playing drums, I felt like I wasn’t getting any better. I plateaued and it got me out of drumming… After the drumming, I bought an electric drum set and that’s when I found out about 808s and stuff. And then I went to Guitar Center with my dad and I traded in my electric drum set for an Akai MPK 49. So, a MIDI keyboard. And that’s how I started making beats and shit.

Murda Beatz attends the NBA 2K20: Welcome to the Next on September 05, 2019
Image via Getty/John Sciulli

I know your dad was big on classic rock. Can we hear that influence in your beats at all?
Definitely. You can hear the metal influence in the 808s in the drums of trap music. I feel like that’s like hand-in-hand in a way. And you see a lot of the artists nowadays with the punk influence and stuff. It’s like they’re punk rockers, you know?

You’re now one of the hottest producers to ever come out of Canada. Do you think we can hear Canada in your music?
Yeah, I do. I feel like where you can hear it is in the ambience of my music. I feel like Canada—because of PARTYNEXTDOOR, and Drake, but mainly PARTY—has that ambient sound. The ambience of Toronto. That’s a real stamp of Canadian music, you know? And it’s just like the weather, the snow, the winters, and stuff. All that is ambience—the darkness, the clouds, not seeing a lot of sunlight in the wintertime.

What are your thoughts on the Canadian rap scene right now?
Canada just has a lot of amazing talent going from artists to producers to musicians, you know what I mean? It’s got its own little industry.

Who are some Canadian rappers you’re watching?
I’m fucking with Duvy. Duvy’s super hard. But the problem with the Canadian scene is I feel like it’s hard for kids to cross over to America. So still got to just figure that out together.

Yeah, that’s something I hear all the time. You can be big in Toronto, but you have to leave the city to really make it. And even then it can be a struggle.
I think a lot of it too is, like, the lingo in Canada and the accents and stuff—Americans will listen to Canadian music and think they’re from the U.K. or something. It happens a lot. It sounds super foreign [to them]. To us, it’s not. But to Americans, when they hear a thick Toronto accent for the first time, they’re like, “Whoa, where is this guy from? London or like somewhere out there in the world?” They don’t think you’re from Toronto. I feel like America just has to embrace it.

It’s interesting, though. We have a ton of underground artists trying to break through, but the ones who actually have are the biggest artists in the world.
I think it’s crazy. I’m just very grateful to be from a place like Canada. It’s a beautiful country, and what we actually do for the music industry is insane. I was thinking about this the other day; it’s actually crazy that arguably the biggest artist of all time is Canadian, and dominating in an American industry. People don’t really think about that a lot. Like, arguably one of the best R&B artists of our generation, PARTY, and arguably the best pop star in the world, Justin Bieber, are Canadian. We literally have the best producers. It’s just crazy how much talent we have in Canada. If we did a music Olympics, I feel like we’d slap every country. Like, slap every country silly.

That needs to happen! Earlier this year, you sold off the publishing rights to hundreds of your songs to Kilometre Music Group. What was the motivation behind that?
Yeah, I did a partial catalogue sale. I look at this music stuff from a business standpoint, you know? It’s like, Steve Jobs and these guys create businesses and they build them up, they sell them, and they build a new business. So I’m doing it the same way.

I see. So you’re just gonna build up another catalogue and sell that one?
Already building it.

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