Collaboration is a pivotal part of being a producer. Honing your craft is one thing, but getting your beats into the hands (or indeed ears) of the right people is another thing entirely. For Chase N. Cashe, it’s perhaps his strongest trait.
After relocating from his native New Orleans to Los Angeles at the tenacious age of 17, Chase soon found himself working with the likes of Grand Hustle producer Kevin “Khao” Cates and pop star-to-be Sean Kingston. It was through helping Kingston find beats on MySpace that Chase crossed paths with another hungry young producer who went by the name Hit-Boy.
“I sent out a bulletin looking for beats [for Sean Kingston], Hit-Boy responded to it and he sent some fire ass beats,” Chase recalls over Skype. After meeting in person, the pair developed an immediate chemistry. “He started playing the keys and I started fucking with drum patterns, and it was like The Neptunes! It was meant to be. We made 10 beats the first day.”
As members of the Surf Club collective—and signees to Polow Da Don’s Interscope imprint, Zone 4—Chase N. Cashe and Hit-Boy enjoyed a short but successful run together, best known for producing Lil Wayne and Eminem’s quadruple Platinum collaboration, “Drop the World,” in 2010. Though the pair has since parted ways (professionally speaking), Chase went on to work with the likes of Drake (who invited him onto his Club Paradise tour in 2012), Dom Kennedy and Curren$y while dropping several projects as a solo artist.
Talking to Chase, it’s clear that his collaborative talents run deeper than just his production credits (some of which aren’t even listed online, like his work on Wiz Khalifa’s Rolling Papers cut “Hopes and Dreams”). With the musical instincts of a major label A&R, Chase quietly helped mastermind songs like Future and Drake’s “Tony Montana” remix, Lil Reese’s “Up” remix with Drake and Rick Ross, and Drake’s fan favorite “9AM In Dallas.” Hence the line, “Chase N. Cashe, that’s my brother from the Surf Club,” on the latter.
Though he hasn’t quite seen the same mainstream success as Hit-Boy since dropping the world on our fucking heads seven years ago, Chase N. Cashe has undoubtedly left his mark on the game, even if his impact isn't always obvious. “Where I don’t sell 10 million records, I reach 10 million people in diverse ways, in whatever way God wants me to reach them,” he says.
Here are the stories behind five of Chase N. Cashe’s biggest songs.
Yung Joc — “Pak Man” (2007)
“First of all, shout out to Yung Joc. His work ethic was incredible. The first album [New Joc City], a lot of people don’t know that I did a lot of work under this dude named Khao, he was on Grand Hustle at the time. He had a little song venture over [at Atlantic Records], so that’s how I got the opportunity.
“I went through a whole lot to get that placement. It taught me a whole lot about compromise and sacrifice. I’m still an avid sampler, but at one point in time, I did not give a flying fuck what the hell I sampled. If it sounded good, it was getting ripped [laughs]. The ‘Pak Man’ shit happened to be Kirby’s Dreamland, the video game that was on Nintendo.
“I ended up sampling the shit and Nintendo were like, ‘yo, you can fucking change it up and we won’t take nothing or if you use it, we’re taking everything!’ And I was like, ‘how can I get around this?’ I remember Khao telling me, ‘look, this is your opportunity to prove yourself as a producer. You can either get scared or figure out a way to get this business.’ I got home and I went through the Korg Triton all day and night to find the closest sounds to Nintendo sounds.
“Yung Joc ended up fucking with the beat still. That’s one of my unsung tracks right there. It helped me learn how the business works as far as getting paid for a beat. I had to get an attorney, read contracts, create a corporation for myself, get a BMI account so I can get royalties and splits. I had no clue what a fucking W9 was [laughs]. It was a life-changing moment, man.
“[When I made ‘Pak Man’], I was 17, fresh out of high school. I left New Orleans and moved to Hollywood. A guy that I was working with at the time, he knew a good amount of people. He was from Greenwich, Connecticut and he was friends with the two sons of Diana Ross [Evan Ross and Ross Naess].
“I ended up meeting DeRay Davis through them. Tracee Ellis Ross is their sister and she used to mess with DeRay, funny shit [laughs]. I remember running into DeRay randomly at some shindig and he liked my beats. He used to put me in the studio and give me pointers, and that’s how I got my craft up.”
Lil Wayne — “Drop the World” ft. Eminem (2009)
Co-produced by Hit-Boy
“[‘Drop the World’] started as a beat for Rihanna. We weren’t in a session with Rihanna, but there was a girl named Lily who was writing for her. At this time, Rihanna was on the cusp of something big, so we were thinking, ‘Rihanna, big, stadium status, rock star type shit.’ Shorty ended up writing a song to it and it was cool, but the beat was way iller. I told Hit-Boy to send it to me and I just had it on deck, sitting in email for the longest.
“KY, who I knew from Atlanta when I worked at ZAC’s Studio, he used to always hear our beats and tell us ‘y’all boys nice.’ He ended up getting snatched up as Lil Wayne’s engineer. One day he hits me out of the blue on Twitter like, ‘yo send me some beats, I’m in the studio with Wayne, he fucks with you.’ I literally sent four or five beats and all of them got used by Wayne—three of them got used by Young Money [‘New Shit,’ ‘Pass the Dutch’ and ‘Fuck Da Bullshit’], one of them got used by Omarion but the song never came out, and the other one ended up being ‘Drop the World.’
“[Wayne] wanted something as quirky as his personality and when he heard the beats, I think that’s what made him gravitate towards that stuff. Even when you hear ‘Drop the World’ today, you don’t hear those sounds anywhere else. I just remember getting [the song] back and hearing Wayne’s verse. Then KY sent me a DM like, ‘Eminem’s about to get on it, too. I need you to send me the files.’ I had no clue dude was going to put a guitar solo over it. Man, he sent that shit back and I was like, ‘holy fucking crap’ [laughs]. My favorite part is the ending, it’s kinda like the calm after the storm.
“It’s still unreal to this day. That record sold four million. The funny thing is, it could have been bigger than that but Wayne went to jail, we didn’t even really get to promo the record. That’s how legendary it is. It’s such an iconic moment of two of everyone’s favorite rappers coming together. Jay Z and Eminem on ‘Renegade’ wasn’t even that feeling, bro. I’ma be 50-years-old and still be able to pull that shit up like, ‘yo, I had a record with two of the illest rappers of all time!'"
Drake — “Look What You’ve Done” (2011)
Co-produced by Noah “40” Shebib
“Shout out to YouTube [laughs]. The story behind that is, Drake used to post shit on the OVO blog and he ended up posting that [video] at like three in the morning. We had a long talk maybe a few days before about what type of music we wanted to make for Take Care. When he posted that video, I heard a melody in that shit and was like, ‘oh my God! That melody is unreal.’
“I was like, ‘you know what? Let me flip this.’ I broke the code of sampling. I was anti-YouTube sampling, to me that was just fake. When I heard the keys and the melody and Static singing, I had to tell myself like, ‘nah dawg, if you gotta give up your percentage of the sample, you gotta do it because this shit is gonna be legendary. No one’s ever gonna expect you to sample a live session from a video and turn that shit into a beat.’
“At first, I replayed the melody all the way over but it didn’t sound tight. I was like, ‘nah, it’s gotta have Static singing on it.’ So I sent the shit over to Drake and it had drums underneath it at first. When he hit me back, he was like, ‘yo, I love it. Just send me the files, I wanna rearrange certain parts.’ It also had more chops of the sample. The version that’s out right now, 40 restructured it a little bit, he took some of the chops out and put them towards the end of the song.
“I sent the stems over then we eventually ended up getting in the studio to go over the mixing process. Once that was done, 40 mixed it down and they added the part with his grandmother at the end. The rest is history.
“I had been on tour with Drake, I was seeing him perform every night and to me, he didn’t have a record that made people put their lighters and phones in the air. So that’s what I wanted as a producer. Boi-1da already had a lane sewed up as far as the hit records. T-Minus also came in and made R&B records. 40 was 40, he was gonna touch everything. The only thing I could be was what I am. The way [Drake] loves Aaliyah, I love Static Major so we used to joke about that shit, we’re like Blackground babies. Being genuine friends led to us making a classic.
“I remember the first time he performed it when we were on the road for Club Paradise and everybody put their fucking phones and lighters in the air and I was like, ‘I’m a genius!' [Laughs]."
On Drake's “9AM In Dallas” and “Tony Montana” remix: “The same way that I was able to contribute with ‘Look What You’ve Done,’ I did it with ‘9AM In Dallas.’ I didn’t make that beat but I brought it to him. I was in the studio with Boi-1da chilling, he played that shit and I was like, ‘yo, give me that right now! I’m about to leave here and bring that to Drake at the studio.’ He was like, ‘you think Drake’s gon’ like that?’ I got the fucking beat, went and played it for him, looked at him in the face and said, ‘bruh, you need something where you just snapping.’ I pressed play on the shit, the n*gga stood up and went straight into the booth [laughs]. And that’s when he was like, ‘Chase N. Cashe, that’s my brother from the Surf Club.’
“I first met Drake because he had come to Atlanta to do a mixtape with [Don] Cannon. He came to meet Cannon at the studio and he was running late or didn’t show up, so when I seen him I was like, ‘yo, I’m ol’ boy from MySpace who holla’d at you before.’ We ended up just being cool from there. I would ask him for advice, he would ask me for advice, we would send each other music. When he was working with Dr. Dre, that n*gga was staying at my crib and I was staying at his crib. That’s where the “have girls fall through like coins in the couch” comes from.
“Dawg, I’m the reason Drake is on ‘Tony Montana’ by Future. I used to run around with Rocko and I know Propane—Propane is the middle man to a lot of shit that’s going on out here—I holla’d at Propane when I saw the original video. It was the most amazingly bad video [laughs]. I used to play the record all the time on the road and them n*ggas would get irritated by it.
“Propane will let you know that I spoke on the phone with Future and he told me, ‘if you serious about Drake getting on this shit, I’ll send this shit over right now.’ I put them two n*ggas on the phone and that’s exactly what happened. The only wish that Future and Propane had was that Lil Wayne did not get on the track because Wayne was hot as fuck at the time and he was just ripping everything [laughs].”
Dom Kennedy — “We Ball” ft. Kendrick Lamar (2012)
“You’re a genius for knowing that sample [laughs]. I’m trying to go down in history as one of the best samplers ever, man. I feel like The Alchemist is up there, DJ Premier is up there. I’m a visual dude; I watch shit. That movie caught a lot of bad rap but I’m a fan of Michael Caine, he’s the ultimate OG. I grew up on James Bond and Billion Dollar Brain in that same vein. I always loved the music in spy films.
“I remember hearing the piano loop when I was going the record and the shit just sounded like a movie! It sounded like when you play this, you want to go to a casino and roll like a seven on the craps, winning mad money. That’s what I envisioned in my mind. That’s why it’s crazy when Dom got on the record and said, ‘we ball.’ I was like, ‘oh, this is too perfect.’ He’s seeing in his mind the same shit when I hear these pianos.
“It was the last song recorded for the project. I remember they sent me back the version with Kendrick and when I heard him start that shit off I was like, ‘oh nah, this is outta here’ [laughs]. As soon as he said Leimert, I was like, ‘this is about to be an instant classic.’ That’s a real L.A. record. I remember the first time they performed that shit, I think it was in the Roxy on Sunset, that shit was fucking nuts. They knew the words to the fucking Ric Flair sample. Then when he brought Kendrick out—you know, Kendrick is so small but you would’ve thought he was 6'10” when he came out.
“I feel like when you put that record on, you get a vision of everyone that’s involved with the record. You get a vision of me as the producer, like, ‘this is that fly shit I like from Chase N. Cashe.’ With Dom Kennedy and Kendrick, you get the same shit. If you never get another swag record from Kendrick, you got ‘We Ball.’”
Hit-Boy & Chase N. Cashe — “Go Off” ft. Quentin Miller & Travis Scott (2015)
Co-produced by Hit-Boy
“We made that beat together. That started as a record that was me and Hit-Boy; if you go listen to The Heir Up There 2, we have a record called ‘Keepin’ It Real,’ we made that joint the same day. I had the hook in my head—think I randomly talked to Kevin Durant on the text [Ed. Note: humblebrag], so he was just in my mind when I was writing. Hit-Boy had found that ‘hey hey ay ay’ vocal sample, and when I heard that shit I was like, ‘ooh, we need to make something spooky with that shit.’
“So [Hit-Boy] started playing a melody and we came up with the bassline together. Hit-Boy finished the melody and I laid the hook down—it was just me at first. It was literally like a chant record on some Lil Jon crunk shit. I was switching up words on certain parts like, ‘I had to go off, I had to go off / Balling like I’m KD I had to go off’ and then something like ‘Closed curtains on them boys I had to show off / I got a brand new Jeep with the doors off.’
“The ‘go off’ was the one that just stuck the most because of the KD shit; he was balling at the time. I left it at that and one day Hit-Boy sent me a version that had Quentin Miller and Travis Scott on the shit. I was like, ‘what you wanna do with it?’ I think Travis was trying to get it for his album but it didn’t make it. I didn’t want to wait too long. I felt like it was a situation for me to get myself out there as more of an artist, as a hook man. A lot of people didn’t know I was coming up with hooks. It’s hard to get people to read the credits these days!
“So I was like, ‘let’s put this shit out, bro!’ We dropped it but it ended up getting twisted up by the media because they took it as a Hit-Boy record featuring us. It was me and Hit-Boy together, featuring them two n*ggas [laughs]. But the internet runs with the name that’s gonna get them the most hits. I’m not upset by any means; every day I wake up and people still get the record.
“To the outside world, [me and Hit-Boy] reunited; to the inside world, it was just a song that came out. We got so much music that ain’t dropped yet. It was just a situation where Hit-Boy signed to a major—at the time he was, he’s not now—so there was just a restraint on us putting out music together. It wasn’t like we wasn’t cool with each other. N*ggas always see each other. The record could have been bigger than it was if I had been more patient, but I knew what my initiative was: to get my voice out there and to get me and Hit-Boy out there more as artists."
On a possible Surf Club reunion: “I think we passed that. That’s kinda like asking Pharrell and Chad and Shay if N.E.R.D. gonna do some new shit. He’s on i am OTHER now [laughs]. We’re not in the same space to do Surf Club. Keep it a hundred: Chili Chil locked up in jail, we wouldn’t feel comfortable doing it. And then Stacey Barthe got a career of her own. I feel like it would be selfish of me and Hit-Boy, us being the leaders, to call back people into the fold and ask them to be understudies again.
“Luckily, [Surf Club] gave us a fate where we’re still cool with each other. We never fucked anybody over, we never fucked each other over no money, never signed any bad deals. That’s the best thing about it all. And to still be cool with each other. So many people are not cool with each other off of music, that’s not reality to me. I know Hit-Boy’s mom and his sister, I slept on the floor, we was broke together, you feel me? I don’t ever want no music to come between us.
"We’re gonna have certain choices and decisions we make that’s gonna drive us apart because we’re grown men and we have families to take care of, but the be-all and end-all will always be respect.”