In his third year under Coach K’s leadership at Quality Control (QC), multi-Platinum producer Josh “OG” Parker is showing no signs of languor. Over the past half-decade, the 24-year-old has established himself as somewhat of a hub for endless beats while working with Atlanta’s OG Maco, YFN Lucci, and Johnny Cinco, among others.
After gaining prominence for his work on Takeoff’s “Intruder,” Offset’s “Monday,” Migos’ “Slippery” (a Platinum-certified track from Culture featuring Gucci Mane), and remixing Katy Perry’s “Chained to the Rhythm” with Lil Yachty, Parker began earning recognition as a versatile wild card in production.
Parker's earnest desire to continuously create steers his success and has placed his name among the most promising young producers, but if you were to ask the architect of Chris Brown's “Pills & Automobiles,” he has only begun to scratch the surface in accomplishing his greater purpose.
Parker’s philosophy, as it pertains to working with others, is easy to grasp but not easy to follow. If you cast five baited lines over a bridge in hopes of catching a fish, your chances would be slim. However, if you cast, say, 100 lines, your chances would increase exponentially. Parker believes this relentless approach is what separates him from his fellow producers.
The former Georgia State student would love to work with artists like Bryson Tiller and The Weeknd, but he will most likely keep his first collaborative EP at home alongside his partner in crime, Deko, who has helped create a uniform dynamic between the two that dates back to K Camp and Fetty Wap’s Gold-certified “1Hunnid.” Their advantage, Parker says, is in their long-existing chemistry and a shared energy for collaboration. It’s musical creation in its highest form.
Earlier this month, I sat down with the Parker at QC Studios in Atlanta to talk about his journey so far and what lies around the bend. Our interview, which was lightly edited for content and clarity, follows.
DJBooth: You signed with Quality Control in 2015. What led up to that moment?
OG Parker: It was probably around 2014 when I met OG Maco. I started making music with him at his house on the south side of Atlanta. Everything just started picking up when he dropped his tape. When he got signed to QC, me and my homie Deko started coming to the studio with him. Some days, the Migos would be here, sometimes Johnny Cinco would be here, or Rich The Kid would be here. So we all started working. Eventually, Pee and Coach K pulled me to the side. They were like, "Man, let’s figure something out.”
Johnny Cinco once compared being signed to QC to being at a school in accelerated classes with accelerated students. How accurate is that comparison?
Definitely. When you get here, you gotta speed it up. [QC artists] want beat after beat, every day. They want to work all night, no breaks. It’s crazy.
You produced Chris Brown's “Pills & Automobiles,” one of several placements on his Heartbreak on a Full Moon album. Did you know it would be part of a 45-song tracklist?
Nah, I had no idea. And with that song it’s crazy ‘cause I just sent the beat to one of Chris Brown’s friends. He’s an artist as well, so we work a lot, and he was like, ‘Man, I’m finna go to the studio with Chris Brown, he needs some beats.’ So I sent him some stuff that I thought he might like. He told me that Chris Brown got on seven out of the ten beats that I sent.
You told Atlanta 107.9’s LaLaa Shepard that Coach K and Pee assist you in landing beat placements and teach you the game. What is it like to work with them?
Oh, it’s dope. I feel like they have figured out the music industry. They just know how to get people to the next level. You see how they’re doing with Lil Yachty, [Lil] Baby, and everything.
When it comes to your influences, you've frequently praised OVO’s 40. Have you ever met? What technical aspects of his craft do you appreciate the most?
Nah, I’ve never met him. I really wish I did, though. I just, I don’t know, it’s the vibe. I just feel like there’s no other producer that can give you that vibe. Every Drake album he just comes with a beat, and I’m just like, "That was crazy.”
Is there anyone else you look up to in production? Do you have a mentor?
No, I really don’t have a mentor. But I look up to a lot of producers. Pharrell, Kanye—just to name a few. There’s just so many of them.
How do you feel you’ve progressed as a producer since signing with Quality Control?
I feel like I’m getting better at making [music] for different genres. That’s a big thing I’ve been focusing on lately. Especially electronic music. Been working on that heavy.
Who or what inspires you? Why is music so important to you?
Man, I don’t know. It’s just everything to me. I feel like I relate a lot of the experiences in my life to a song. Everything that I’ve done, even with sports. If I had to go to basketball practice, or if I had a basketball game, I had to have my iPod. I had to listen to my songs before the game. [The music] just does something to me.
What does producing make you feel?
That’s a good question. I don’t know, it’s kinda like a whole different world for me. Like if I’m going through something, and I just go in my studio and start making beats, I can tune everything out, you know? It takes me to a whole ‘nother world.
You and Deko have probably collaborated over 100 times. Tell me about this insane idea to create the trap EDM trio Merge? And is there a chance we hear OG Parker jump on a beat?
I don’t know about that, but it’s crazy. So Merge is me, Deko, and our homie Tee Romano. We’re about to drop our first single, "Trouble in the City," and I feel like it’s going to be a little different. I can’t really explain it, it’s just a different vibe.
You have a collaborative project set to drop later this year. Who are you aiming to work with?
I really want to have all the artists [on the project] that I’ve been working with closely. Migos, Lucci, everybody in QC, of course, K Camp, Cinco, and upcoming artists—but to be honest, I’m not too far into creating the album yet. It’s really still at its building point.
Your contribution, with Deko, to Culture II caught the attention of Drake, with its menacing, mobbing Atlanta sound. What's the “Walk It Talk It” backstory?
I wasn’t even there, I just send Quavo beats. One time, I came to the studio and Quavo was like, “Ooh, I got somebody on your beat. I’m about to make you a million dollars.” And I was like, “Who?” He was like, “You gon’ see.” That’s all he told me. Then the song just came out. He doesn’t speak much.
How do you occupy your time outside of the studio?
Well if I’m not in the studio, I’m probably playing basketball, or working out, or just hanging out with my friends playing games and stuff.
You credit your grandfather, a professional pianist who attended Morehouse, for being the one who fed your musical curiosity. When did you know you had a knack for music production?
When I was in marching band, I played snare drum and drum set. I started making beats in about the 10th grade. My senior year, I made an R&B song with my homie Cash. [Random execs] got us a studio and were trying to manage us. That was my first point thinking, “OK, I might have something here. My beats might be better than normal.”