Published on June 10th, 2020 | by Brittany Burton
Meet Priority Beats: The Atlanta Based Duo Behind Some OF Hip Hop’s Biggest Records
As Atlanta is known for black excellence, producing duo Priority Beats is just that. After going platinum for their contributions on Lil Baby’s My Turn album, they have become the go to hitmakers for Hip Hop classics. As the duo are a happily married couple, they put their passion, love and high quality energy into every record they churn out. With their new Sony ATV deal, Priority Beats is making strides to become apart of music history and impact the black culture like never before.
I had the pleasure of interviewing the duo for a candid conversation centering their recent success. As they discuss working with Lil Baby, signing with Sony ATV, and finding balance as a married couple, it is clear that the pair will be around for a very long time. Check out the full interview below.
Priority Beats Interview
As you all have recently gone platinum for your contributions on Lil Baby’s My Turn Album, how were you able to land such a big placement with one of the hottest rappers in the world?
Derrico: Lil Baby’s “Live off my closet” with Future was one of our most “wild card” placements thus far. I like to call them wild cards when you get a placement that came out of nowhere. We create melodies and loops and send them to our connections. Shout out to MixByDotCom for his role in our success. In this case, our connect was Twysted Genius who has worked on plenty of Lil Baby records. Our melodies with his bounce created the classic hit, “Live off my closet.” Shortly after they recorded it, I remember we received a phone call saying this record was going to change our lives. That record on top of “Wishing For A Hero” by Polo G contributed heavily to our success being that all we needed was the confirmation that we were able to do this together.
Ashley: In all honesty, relationships. Twysted Genius and I have known each other for a few years now. We just managed to finally release one of our collaborations. I’m looking forward to more.
In what ways have you all been able to maintain such high creative energy during the COVID-19 pandemic and what are some things you are doing to keep safe?
Derrico: COVID-19 forced everyone to communicate with one another. As soon as we received the lockdown in Atlanta, we were unable to attend studio sessions causing us to have small sessions go on at our home studio. We still took the COVID-19 safety protocols very serious being that Ashley & I are parents. Now that I look back on it, COVID-19 actually hindered my creativity because it felt like I was running out of melodies. I ended up taking more breaks and received more producer blocks than normal however, when I get stuck, my wife pulls out the keyboard and gives me a hand. This is exactly why I love working with my production partner. It’s important to know that breaks are very much needed. COVID-19 actually inspired me to learn more of the engineering process than the producer since I was running out of melodies.
Ashley: We have been able to fully work as a unit while enjoying our daughter and each other, versus one being left behind while the other is at the studio. We have been able to bounce almost every idea off of one another even if it’s disagreeing. I think that’s what has kept us going so strong. Of course, signing with Sony has definitely kept us on our toes as well. To stay safe, we have literally just stayed out of the way and done everything from home; especially since being pregnant again. I feel like we’ve been more blessed throughout this pandemic compared to any other time in our lives.
What does the city of Atlanta mean to you all as it is your home and where your studio is located?
Derrico: Atlanta has always been my home. Being that I was born in Burbank, California but raised in Atlanta, my roots are here. I grew up in Georgia and this city has so much history behind it. As you can tell the traffic here is only increasing because everyone is trying to catch the wave. Atlanta helped mold the sound that we have today. Priority Beats as a whole was heavily influenced by Atlanta’s sound and culture. Our legacy together started here in this city!
Ashley: Atlanta is the city of black dreams, in my opinion. The opportunities here are endless if you put your mind to it. Many doors have opened here for me that I’ve only dreamed of. Our studio is currently located in our home and we’re constantly improving it. Other than our home studio, we work out of various studios all over Atlanta.
How has your life changed since being signed to Sony ATV and how did that come about?
Derrico: We give all of our gratitude to our manager Verse and his relationship with Mike Jackson who was named Vice President, Creative for SONY/ATV. We would not be in our position today without their trust and they believed in us and our values as a unit. After signing with Sony, we received much recognition and attention from those who had blown us off. It’s crazy how much can change when you have such a respected name behind you.
Ashley: I honestly don’t think being signed has changed our lives that much aside from the increased network, workload, and somewhat financial freedom. I still have student loans (laughs out loud). Maybe I’m being modest. We are now able to connect and build directly with artists versus having to go through “middle men.” It honestly all came about from our hard work. Working my 9-5 during the day, then long hours at QC right after, and Derrico’s same dedication. Our manager, Verse really made things happen alongside, Sony ATV VP Mike Jackson.
As Priority Beats has an authentic sound, where do you draw inspiration from when creating?
Derrico: In my own space, every canvas is blank. I love creating from scratch. It wasn’t until recently where I found myself using samples. I’ve always had a negative thought process with sampling so I’ve chose to stay away from it because sampling can get complicated on the business end. It always seemed easier to tell the artist that our melodies were made from scratch. Polo G’s “Wishing For A Hero” was one of the few exceptions when it came to sampling. Even then, the keys were Interpolated versus actually chopping up the sample. Don’t get me wrong though, if a sample is undeniable, we will use it! At the end of the day a hit record is still a hit record.
Ashley: Honestly, everywhere. Our music has no limitations. I love the oldies since my grandparents raised me but also love trap, R&B, pop, all the way down to my daughters lullabies. You name it and I can catch a vibe depending on the vibe, if that makes sense.
How do you find the balance between parenting, being a married couple and now mega hit producers?
Derrico: You don’t. Everyday our schedules change and some days are a lot better than others. I’ve gotten overwhelmed plenty of times trying to make hit records while the baby monitor is next to our computer. From changing diapers to laying our child down so we can finish creating the hits, you simply have to figure it out. Our process is unreal and I will say I’m working on “balance” because we get lost in the sauce when we’re in creative mode. I’ve found myself making the best melodies from 3 am to 7 am.
As soon as 7:01 am hits our daughter is up and my wife is FaceTiming me to come back upstairs! Before signing to Sony ATV, both my wife and I were working 9-5 and hitting the studio after we got off. With help from our family, we would either alternate days or find time to attend studio sessions while our child was with her grandparents. It was definitely not easy but with God, communication, and commitment, we’ve managed to overcome the adversity.
Ashley: It is a struggle at times trying to balance it all, but it all works out for the best. We alternate schedules with our daughter and my best friend is also a great help when we’re working together. Marriage is marriage (laughs out loud). It is not always happy go lucky, it gets rough, but we have an amazing amount of trust within each other. Our biggest struggle is communication; agreeing to disagree. We’re still considered newlyweds and are learning each other.
What has been your favorite project/person to work with so far?
Derrico: Last year QC signed a new artist from Augusta, Georgia named Jayy Fox. For the last 6 month, we have been helping him find his sound. Every artist has their own process but I truly appreciate working with Jayy Fox being that we bounce ideas off each other and push each other to make hit records. We truly can’t wait for his debut releases. His sound is unique and being that he has not even reached the his full potential. I’ve said this before but the sky is truly the limit for Jayy Fox and Priority Beats as a team.
Ashley: Um, that’s a hard question because I have worked with so many great people. Lil Baby and Jayy Fox are probably my favorites because their personalities are hilarious. I’ll never forget the time Baby snapped on me for being pregnant in the studio; that showed respect though. Fox is just a character in general, so you can’t help but to love him. JT of City Girls is pretty dope as well. So many people try to put her in the box of twerk music, but she’s really creative. I wish she’d release the track we did of her singing, it’s honestly one of my favorites. The list goes on.
What advice would give to any creative looking to break into the music business on the production side of music?
: The best advice I can give to any upcoming is to NETWORK! I always felt like producing is a two man job and if you are unaware of the music business and how placements work, than you’ll forever be in your room making beats just like I was. You rarely have those placements that go up from someone’s random YouTube upload. It’s more common now than it was before to get big placements off YouTube but your best bet is to add an egg to each basket. You’re guaranteed to win. Once you are confident, send your beats and loops to various main steam producers/engineers/
songwriters etc. Someone will eventually like them and use them like myself! Feel free to contact us at @PriorityBeats
Ashley: Build as many good business relationships as possible. Stay faithful and humble. Stay level-headed and pray about everything. It is definitely a long and hard process trying to set your footprint on the industry, but once it’s there, it’s set. Never get too high and never get too low. And definitely don’t take shit personal because business will always be business. Never stop working. Stay down until you come up, it’ll all pay off.
To checkout what Priority Beats has in store visit their official website here.