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Beat Break: Teddy Walton Shares the Story Behind His 5 Biggest Songs

We spoke with the mental health-conscious producer behind Kendrick's "LOVE.," GoldLink's "Crew" and more.
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Teddy Walton picked up his first major placement in 2015, co-producing A$AP Rocky and ScHoolboy Q’s “Electric Body” after A$AP Yams took notice of the young producer’s eclectic mixes on YouTube. Things quieted down the following year, but in 2017, Teddy Walton has re-emerged as one of the most exciting and prolific producers around.

With a unique sound that he describes as a blend of R&B, psychedelia and trill, the 24-year-old Memphis native has found the hot hand, adding Kendrick Lamar’s “LOVE.,” GoldLink’s “Crew,” Freddie Gibbs’ “Crushed Glass” and four songs off Bryson Tiller’s True to Self LP to his Genius bio page. Last year he was broke making beats in his kitchen; this year he’s planning to buy a house for his family.

Life’s good and work’s steady—he’s got a “street anthem” on Nipsey Hussle’s upcoming Victory Lap album, and is heavily involved with projects from Zacari and his longtime artist TYLR JONES—but there’s something deeper, more profound that drives Teddy Walton. “My biggest goal as a producer is really to let all the creators know about mental health awareness,” he says over the phone. “I ain’t trying to be the biggest producer; I’m just trying to make great music to help people out mentally.”

Which is why Teddy is releasing a new EP called Mental Health. The project features appearances from the likes of Lil Yachty, Dom Kennedy (over a Tame Impala sample) and GoldLink (over a flip of OutKast’s “So Fresh, So Clean”), with each song tying into a mental health issue. No word on a release date just yet, but expect plenty more big artists—and potentially brands—to be involved.

Until then, here are the stories behind five of Teddy Walton’s biggest songs.

A$AP Rocky — “Electric Body” ft. ScHoolboy Q (2015)

Co-produced by Hector Delgado, Danger Mouse & THC

Sample: 24 Soundtrack "Kingsley's Theme"

"I was inspired by Soulja Boy and Lil B, so I used to upload YouTube videos of me mixing old-school R&B samples with Three 6 Mafia [laughs]. One day [A$AP] Yams reached out to me online and was like, ‘Yo, send some beats for Rocky.’ I’d say about a year later, before he passed away, I got the chance to meet Rocky.

"I was actually in the studio in LA with Hector Delgado, who is Rocky’s engineer-slash-producer, and we were going back and forth just cooking up. We ended up making the ‘Electric Body’ beat and literally the next day, I had found out on Snapchat that Rocky was using it on his album [laughs]. I was like, ‘Yo, that’s the beat I made last night!’ It was super natural, but it was super unexpected.

"Yams definitely did what he had to do before he left, a hundred percent. He co-signed a couple people—Lil Uzi, Playboi [Carti], a couple people that are popping right now—and before he passed away he co-signed me. He tweeted me and all that. We had super long conversations on DM [laughs]. It’s insane ’cause I’m doing super well right now and it’s like, man, he knew.

"Danger Mouse and THC were co-producers of the whole project, so they added their element to it. [Danger Mouse] added little psychedelic feel to it with the guitars and all that. He definitely swagged it out.

"The placement actually happened on my manager’s birthday. I woke up to everybody going crazy on my Twitter. That felt good, man. It let me know I was on the right path."

"True story: I wasn’t a fan of GoldLink until ‘Crew.’ I had never listened to one GoldLink song until ‘Crew.’ Never. I’m telling you guys the truth [laughs]. I sent it out a while back and then one morning GoldLink’s camp—shout out Tunji—hit me up like, ‘There’s this beat, we’re putting it on the album.’ I didn’t really know GoldLink so I’m like, ‘Alright, whatever, it’s cool.’ 

"I really didn’t think it was a big deal until it started to slowly gain momentum. Everywhere I would go I kept hearing it. And then [Gucci Mane] hopped on it, I was like, ‘Yeah, it’s real.’ That was a surprise because I didn’t know anything about it. I’m sure GoldLink didn’t know anything about me either. It felt like it was destiny; it was supposed to happen [laughs].

"What’s crazy, man, is this beat is three years old, so I’ve been on this wave that everybody’s on right now. The beat was actually for this artist that I’m working with called TYLR JONES. He had a whole different song which was still dope. He knew about GoldLink and was like, ‘Yeah man, he can have it.’ When he heard it, he was like, ‘Man, I would’ve been mad if he didn’t kill the beat but he killed it, so I’m with it’ [laughs].

"The crazy thing about it, I produced that beat by myself, so I have a Gold record that I produced by myself for the first time, which is insane. I mean, A.L.L.A. went Gold, but that was the album; this is the record. It’s very special."

Freddie Gibbs — “Crushed Glass” (2017)

Co-produced by Aaron Bow & Speakerbomb

Sample: Sade “Fear” / Mobb Deep “Where Ya Heart At”

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"‘Crushed Glass’ was actually my homie Aaron Bow. One day I was chilling in his crib in Missouri and we were playing beats. He was like, ‘I got some crazy, legendary vibes.’ To come real, real clean, Aaron did the majority of the beat, I just threw my sauce on it. He came with the Mobb Deep sample, which was super lit.

"This was around the time that I had met Freddie Gibbs at this gathering. He came up to me and was like, ‘My homie told me that you produce.’ I was like, ‘Of course, man. I know Freddie Gibbs! I was about to come up to you!’ [Laughs]. He told me we should get in the studio and I ended up sending him a couple beats, one of them was [‘Crushed Glass’]. I was like, ‘Yo, this gotta be the one.’

"He invited me to the studio the next day and I was like, ‘This is crazy.’ He was like, ‘Man, you brought me back’ [laughs]. Gibbs is an OG to me, he low-key mentors me. I look at him as an artist but I also look at him as a pioneer; he knows what he’s doing. He gives me a lot of advice like just to stay working and to know your worth. He’s the big bro."

Kendrick Lamar — “LOVE.” ft. Zacari (2017)

Co-produced by Greg Kurstin, Sounwave & Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith

"This one started with me basically working on Zacari’s album. I had no clue it’d end up on Kendrick’s album; it was just me and Zacari working together and finding his sound. We were making a lot of records around that time and ended up making the ‘LOVE.’ record and I was like, ‘Hold on, Jack. This is crazy. This may be your sound.’ We actually went a whole week jamming that song [laughs].

"We were in the studio one time and [Zacari’s] manager Moosa walked in and was like, ‘I like what you doing with the album.’ I told him, ‘Yo, I see Kendrick working on this album. Just let me play beats for Kendrick!’ He was like, ‘You think it’s that easy, huh?’ [Laughs] But I was like, ‘I know if you put me in a room with Kendrick, something’s coming out of it.’ I don’t know why, but I had full confidence.

"The next day Moosa hit me and was like, ‘Yo, I told him about you guys. He wants to meet you.’ We pull up to the studio and I started playing him beats. You know, just some dope beats. Next thing you know, [Kendrick] says, ‘Play me something you’re working on. Play me something I haven’t heard.’ I was like, ‘Okay!’ I was playing him different records and I made a mistake and came across the ‘LOVE.’ record that me and Zac just made. When I played that, he seemed interested but really didn’t seem interested [laughs]. I just know the next day, he immediately asked for the tracks.

"Kendrick said something to me that made me more comfortable, it was funny. He kinda looked at me and laughed and said, ‘Ha! You remind me of my cousin.’ I just started smiling. It was super comfortable, man, he made everyone feel equal. He’s one of the realest artists that I’ve met. Literally, I text him like once or twice a week and he texts back fast. He’s super humble.

"I’m not surprised he picked that one. Kendrick is smart, he’s a genius. Honestly, if I was Kendrick and listened to his album, I’d be like, ‘Teddy just brought what I was missing.’ I could sit there and play 30 Kendrick-sounding beats if I wanted to, but I was like, ‘I gotta play something that he’s missing.’ That was my main thing.

"[‘LOVE.’] definitely changed my life. I’m more comfortable. I’m able to help my family out more. I’m able to take life one day at a time. I’m able to work with whoever I’m comfortable working with. A lot of people have been recognizing my name, my face, my sound. I definitely want to shout out Kobalt in this interview, they’re an amazing company. I got an admin deal with them. They make it so easy for me to be my own producer.

"The crazy thing is, for three years, I stayed in the house just making beats. I didn’t even have a phone number; I had to text Kendrick off a Yahoo email account. I just got my phone number recently so everything’s good [laughs]."

On co-writing “GOD.”: "I played this one beat and, I dunno, when I play beats I just spazz out [laughs]. I played this one beat for Kendrick and just yelled out, ‘This what God feel like!’ That’s the only line I said, I didn’t rap or anything—everything else was him. But that phrase, he used it and took it to a whole ‘nother level that I wouldn’t have taken it to. It was crazy hearing it on the album. They’re real, too, because they gave me a percentage of the song. It’s love."

Bryson Tiller — “Set It Off” (2017)

Co-produced by IAMNOBODI & Corey Cail

Sample: Faith Evans “You Are My Joy (Interlude)”

“‘Set It Off’ was with my homie IAMNOBODI. We were going back and forth over the phone and he sent me this beat. I was like, ‘It sounds soulful but it’s kinda too hip-hop-y.’ It had the Faith Evans sample, so I cut it up and made it more of a trap soul vibe. I sent it back to him and he threw some crazy keys over it, like he always do—kills shit.

"I definitely got that placement through DM, too. Me and Bryson just hitting each other up. He’s chill, man. His music is dope. I found out I made the album when I sent him the beat. He hit me right back in all caps and was like, ‘THIS HAS TO GO ON MY ALBUM’ [laughs].

"When I made that beat, my pockets were on zero. I made it in the kitchen [laughs]. As soon as that Kendrick Lamar ‘LOVE.’ came out, a lot of things changed. It’s crazy because I’ve been doing this style for a minute. I knew that one day I’d work with Bryson, I just didn’t know that it would be this quick. I have bounce like that for days. I feel like I’m forever going to work with Bryson [laughs].

"The thing about it, though, is I’m trying to switch my style up. I’m trying to do that wave and reach the masses where people with money and people with no money will understand. You’ll see on Mental Health."



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