As 2019 winds down, producer London on da Track is capping off a tremendous two-year run. Between executive-producing Summer Walker’s critically-acclaimed album “Over It” and credits on hits by A Boogie Wit da Hoodie (“Swervin’), French Montana (“No Stylist” feat. Drake) and Roddy Ricch (“Die Young”), the Atlanta native is among the most in-demand hitmakers currently working at the intersection of pop and hip-hop — and he’s only 28 years old.
None of it is by accident. To hear London tell it, having a song chart isn’t just about ambition, it’s about having a tangible profession — one he’s been honing since his high school years as a beat-maker and aspiring rapper. “This is a business [in that you’re] getting paid,” says London. “So streaming, charting, the support, all that matters. I want to see records do the best that they can.”
To that end, Walker’s “Over It” has seen 645,000 album project units consumed since its release in October of this year, according to Buzz Angle, setting up London on da Track, Variety‘s Hitmaker of the Month, for a stellar 2020.
What prompted your decision to shift from an artist to more of a producer role?
When it got easy, because that’s what I was doing more of. Even though I was creating my own music and rapping on my own beat, I was giving out beats more than I was making my own music. And that was like my leeway into the industry and into just branding myself; it was moving quicker than I thought it would in the city of Atlanta. So, that’s when I just took it real serious and went to school for it at Full Sail University. It helped me learn software, programs, stuff that I didn’t know.
You worked on Saweetie’s “My Type,” which wasn’t initially supposed to be a single. Were you surprised to see the record explode?
Very. I definitely didn’t know it was going to do as big as it did. We had no clue how it was going to take off like that. But, you know, I believed in Saweetie from day one. So I knew it was going to come eventually.
Sweetie has said that the song was made late in the recording process because her EP was due imminently. What was the energy like in the studio when “My Type” came together?
We just needed something immediate for the clubs. You know, I put a few samples to the side [because] I like the way that she’s created with samples — like the song she had before “My Type” had the Khia “My Neck, My Back” sample –so I wanted to keep it going and make it bigger. So I came up with the whole “Freak-A-Leek” from Petey Pablo sample and just put my own drums and a little bounce to it. And then we just wrote lyrics to it.
What was it about the song that resonated?
I feel like it was the bounce of the song, and also that it was touching the females. It was relatable — you know everybody has a type — and she definitely made the females want to f–k with it. It was a good way to turn up with the girls.
Speaking of, 2019 has been such a good year for girls in rap and R&B, including Summer’s album. This wasn’t the case in 2018 when hardly a single female singer finished out the year in the top 30. Why do you think this sea change is happening now?
I just feel like it was time. An artist like Cardi B, she brought that wave back, then Megan Thee Stallion and all the young girls that’s lit right now because of “Hot Girl Summer,” Yung Miami and the City Girls. It’s a big wave for women right now and it’s the perfect time. Us fellows, we been taking over for a long time.
Was the plan always that you would executive produce “Over It?”
It was actually the plan before she even put out any mixtape. It was the plan in the beginning because we knew each other and had worked together before she had a record deal. So it’s been the plan. We just never executed it because in the beginning, like three years ago, I had stuff going on and she did, too. But then it was just timing for both of us. She got to the point when she finally wanted to work again, and I wanted to work again, and we kept our word and did what we said we were going to do. … There’s a lot of history behind it. People look at it, like, “Oh, they just got together. … London probably just hit her on the DM and wanted to work it.” No we actually have been friends before any project ever dropped.
What’s your process like in the studio with Summer?
The thing about Summer is she listens and I listen to her. We listen to each other. And she pretty much just let me do what I do for this album. She let me pick the features. She let me executive produce everything and that was a moment in itself, just believing in my vision. That’s the hardest thing for artists– to believe in the producer’s vision. And she believed in it because we’d been down this road before. So that was the main moment for me and her, just executing it and doing it. And it came out the way we spoke it to existence.
Does the label, Interscope, weigh in at all?
Naw, the label let me take control of everything. They believed in my vision. And also they had a vision as well. So we kind of compromised and put both of our heads together.
What was their vision?
Just to make a point. You know, with somebody that’s very talented. And they wanted to be one of the greatest R&B albums of the year, and I felt like we did. So, they believed in how I was creating and how I would go in with Summer and just make the best music, make quality music. And they trusted my ear. And they gave me the vision of what they wanted to do. I just capitalized on it.
This year, you’ve had credits on songs by G-Eazy, NAV, Noah Cyrus, DaBaby and the Chainsmokers — a truly diverse cross-section of hip-hop and pop. Was working across genres something you’d been looking to do?
I always wanted to step out of the box and touch all genres. When I went to Full Sail, that made me see a lot of versatile people. When I went to Orlando that’s when pop came into play and I took a lot of meetings with young producers and DJs. That inspired me. I like to expand my brain and challenge myself to be bigger.
Do you feel like the music industry is open or encouraging of such cross-pollination?
Not really. Not all the way. You just gotta prove yourself, man. You gotta come with it. When you get put into the position, you’ve got to make sure you capitalize while you’re in that moment. When one person believes, everybody’s going to believe. For me I had the opportunity to work with the Chainsmokers first. Then once people heard that, other people started to come into play. It’s just making one person believe and then capitalizing on it. It’s all about creating a moment and not chasing a moment.