Photo Credit: Eric Mogul
For "Studios Sessions," we delve into the stories behind the long hours in the studio and all that goes into making an album by talking with artists, producers, engineers, photographers, and more who are intimately connected to the recording process with some of the biggest artists in the world. These are the stories that rarely leave the booth.
J. White Did It isn't just a name, it's usually the answer to the question, "Who produced that Cardi B hit, 'Bodak Yellow'?" The 34-year-old producer has worked with Cardi on crafting her sound years before she ever made it onto the Billboard charts.
"When we were all working together in the beginning, all of my time, dedication, sounds and resources were strictly dedicated to Cardi B. Anything I made, no matter what track it is, if Cardi B wanted it it was hers. It was because I believed in her and she believed in me," J. White Did It told REVOLT TV.
On this installment of "Studio Sessions," the "Bodak Yellow" producer discusses Cardi B's work ethic in the studio, how a few of her chart-topping hits were made and the Cardi B sound.
How did you first link with Cardi?
Cardi and I have the same manager, Brooklyn Johnny. At the time, he wasn’t my manager yet. I’ve known him since 2005. I was in Brooklyn and happened to give him a call to see how he was doing. He asked me if I had any beats. I told him, ‘Of course.’ ... I [went to his house] and Cardi B just happened to be at there at the same time. This was around September or October of 2016. The first record I ever did with Cardi was called, 'What A Girl Like.' We tried to push that as a single.
In the studio, I was just cheesing. She’s so goofy. She’s really funny. To see her get in there and hear her tone on the track, it’s so different. I just think, ‘Damn... She’s dope. We going to the bank, bayyyy beee (laughs).’
What is Cardi like in the studio?
Cardi is just chill. In the studio, she’s really who she is -- she’s exactly what you see. That’s really Cardi in the studio until it’s time to get to work. When it’s time to get to work she gets in there and gets it done. She’s not a diva or nothing like that.
What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever seen Cardi do in the studio?
I hope she doesn’t kill me for this (laughs). Yo, she’s farted in the booth, man (laughs). Cardi is goofy, yo.
(right to left) Cardi B, J. White Did It
How long did it take you to make the beat for 'Money' and when did you make it?
'Money' came out in October 2018 and I made the beat a few months before it dropped. We just kept going back and forth to make the record right. We were all kinds of nervous for the record to come out. But, we knew it felt good. On a production side, it’s very stripped down. We were nervous to see if people would be receptive of it.
What were some of the things Cardi said in those sessions that conveyed that nervousness?
She was nervous. Jokingly she was like, ‘J. White, if this song don't work I’m going to blame it all on you’ (laughs). I was like, ‘If it does work, you can blame it all on me too.’
You said you went back and forth with the record to make sure it was right. How long did it take to complete it?
As I said, we were nervous and particular with getting the song how we liked it... It took a few sessions to get the song right. I would say it took about a month or so.
What's the biggest difference of the final version of 'Money Bag' compared to what it was before the alterations?
The final version was the cleanest one. To be truthful, there were versions where I had a whole bunch of sounds in it. I had a lot of different things moving and she was saying her cadences a little different. I had one version that was really bouncy. Ultimately, we all agreed that the final version just felt the cleanest... She said, ‘This one sounds the best to me,’ and we went with that one.
You produced quite a few records for Cardi. How did 'Money Bag' from her Invasion of Privacy album come about?
We were in L.A working. Of course, 'Bodak Yellow' was out and 'Money Bag' was just another vibe… It was organic. To be honest with you, when I make songs with Cardi B I never know what’s going to happen. So, I’m happy it made the album. I was with Cardi in the studio on the first day she was recording 'Money Bag.' We were in there all night.
You’ve made enough hit songs with Cardi to know what works best for her. Is there a Cardi B sound?
To be honest with you, I never thought about a ‘Cardi B sound’ until recently. Now, everybody says, ‘Yeah, like the Cardi B sound’ (laughs). I feel like with her sound when we make records there’s a certain openness on the track that I like to use. I like to space out the 808s. I like to let the track breathe. I don’t like to have a lot of instruments with Cardi because her voice is so powerful that it’s an instrument in its own right.
How dedicated would you say Cardi B is in the studio to making sure a record is right? How involved is she?
Cardi's going to get the song right. We were recording 'Lick' back in the day and we recorded it three times in a row, top to bottom, in two different studios. She’s going to sit in there and get the song right.
Did you make 'Bodak Yellow' for Cardi or someone else?
When we were all working together in the beginning, all of my time, dedication, sounds, and resources were strictly dedicated to Cardi B. Anything I made, no matter what track it is, if Cardi B wanted it it was hers. It was because I believed in her and she believed in me. She trusted me with a sound and I felt my sound could take her to the next level. I felt like I was getting slept on and she was getting slept on. I felt we could make something special... It was really surreal. I haven’t really sat down and thought about the success of what we’ve done and created.
How has she shown her appreciation for your work with her?
At the BET Hip Hop Awards [in 2017], I was sitting down while she got up during a commercial to go change and do her set; she pointed towards me and said, ‘I eff with you’ or something like that. Also, when we were in the studio making 'Money [Bag]' she was like, ‘J. White, don’t worry. You and I are going to make a hit again.’ Cardi has always shown me nothing but love.
What’s the longest session y’all have ever been in together?
Personally, I like to get her in and out of the studio. I just want her to be rapping and I’ll take care of all of the nerdy stuff. With Cardi, we’ve been in the studio no more than six or seven hours.
Do you have tracks on the upcoming album?
Well, I can confirm that I’m working towards getting on the album (laughs). I feel like very soon, when [you and I] talk again, [Cardi and I] will have [a bunch of songs].
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