Three years ago, Ducko McFli co-produced what would become Drake's "Draft Day," a fan-favorite loosie that name-dropped a then-promising Johnny Manziel. Fast forward a few years, and while Johnny Football has fallen into obscurity, Ducko's stock is as high as ever.
The Nashville native, currently based in the present-day hip-hop stronghold of Atlanta, has been building up an impressive discography in the time since. Ducko's been active in Atlanta's new wave (Lil Yachty's "Not My Bro," EarthGang's "Momma Told Me," Dreams 1 and 2 with Two-9's Jace), scoring prime placements with Booth-favorite up-and-comers around the nation (Khalid's "Reasons," Joey Purp's "Money & Bitches") and most notably, signing to Ear Drummers and working alongside one of the industry's biggest names in Mike WiLL Made-It.
Ducko co-produced records for both of Mike's Ransom projects ("Big God," "That Got Damn," "Hasta Lauego") and more recently for 2 Chainz' Pretty Girls Like Trap Music, so we caught up with the producer to talk about what it's like working closely with Mike, producers not getting paid, and what we can expect from him next.
You picked up two production credits on 2 Chainz' new album ("Saturday Night" and "Poor Fool"), which are without a doubt the biggest placements of your career. Walk us through how each of those records came to fruition?
"Poor Fool" was a record we had been working on a for a minute. It was one of the first joints me and Mike did together. I think I had gone to LA for like a month and then I came back to Atlanta and Mike played me the version with Swae Lee and Chainz on it and it was crazy. This was right before he started going on his run and I was just watching all the mixtapes drop, waiting for the record to drop, but they kept telling me they were waiting for the album because it was going to be on there. But, you know, songs get cut every day.
In the end, Chainz really fucked with the song and he was saving it. It was a blessing. Obviously, the tapes dropped and it wasn't on none of them. Then I got the call that the joint was on the album. The crazy thing is at this point, I didnt even know about "Saturday Night." I came through Finis "KY" White's (Chainz' engineer) spot to fix a issue with an 808 on the beat and get it just right. He told me they had just finished picking the songs and everything and bro played me the intro and it was crazy. It's like buying a lottery ticket on the way to cash in your winner as a joke and hitting again. Chainz been one of my favorites since [his] Duffle Bag days, and to have two of the more personal records [on the album] means a lot. They might not be the lead singles but to have two beats on there that he connected with enough to actually tell stories of his life, and his perspective, is amazing. That's what I always try to do with the beats I make.
Both of the records are co-produced with Mike WiLL Made-It. What is it like working with Mike behind the boards? Is he easy or difficult to work with?
Mike is difficult to work with [laughs], only because it's hard to focus without just soaking in what he brings to the table as far as how he hears the music. He sees the finish line as soon as the idea is birthed, its crazy working with him. His vision is really next level. Bro really was somebody who came in and never asked me to change my style, he never asked me to make “EarDrummer” beats. He just wants me to make the best “Ducko” beat that I can and try to push it to the highest level. That's Mike's thing; if it's not a banger he’s off it. If it's not special, then it's ordinary and you can't be the greatest being ordinary. I can't forget to mention Mike Dean, either. He really blessed the beats. Mike Dean is another person who, to me, is one of the producer prophets, so to be able to work on some music with him was a bucket list moment checked off.
Over the past five years, you've picked up beat placements with Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty and A$AP Ferg, among others. What artists are on your radar for 2017 and beyond?
I’ve got a bunch of up-and-coming guys I'm currently working with, from Brown and mikey100k to TUT and a couple other guys, I've just been rocking with on the ground floor. I've [also] been getting some work done with Skooly, Gleesh, Problem, J.I.D and, of course, Jace, Sremm and all the Eardrummers fam.
Aside from earning a living, what is the most rewarding part of being a music producer?
I’ve worked myself into a position where I can help change somebody’s life. I've been blessed to get to speak at some colleges and producer events, and show people that even if they don't want rap, you can sign on to one of the biggest production teams and publishing companies in the game, and make a living off your passion. I get messages from people telling me how I inspire them. That, to me, be the realest thing. Those messages are what keeps me working the way I do.
On the flipside, what is the most frustrating/aggravating part of being a music producer?
The way producers get treated in this industry. We are the last to get paid, but the first part of any great song. Any story of any historically great song starts with a producer playing a beat that stopped the room, but too many times in the producer history books, that same producer ends up in one of these “I never got a royalty or payment from record so and so” and that's even some of the greats. It's scary knowing that even some of our greatest producers didn't get paid correctly for the same work that made them legends.
Name one beat you wish you made.
Clipse "Grindin'" or Slum Village "Reunion."
Put your editor hat on for a minute. If your life was a magazine cover story, what would the headline be?
"This guy won?"