In 2016, DJBooth published a deep dive into the “Drizzy Effect,” better understood as the impact a Drake co-sign can have on boosting a rap career. In 2018, Memphis rapper BlocBoy JB was named a XXL Freshman, no doubt powered by the strength of his massive single with Drake (“Look Alive”), as well as a strong follow-up project, Simi.
The Drake Effect is undeniable, perhaps even ubiquitous. A$AP Rocky credits Drake for putting him on, Kendrick Lamar credits Drake for introducing him to a whole new audience, and 21 Savage attests that not nearly enough people give Drizzy credit for his side hustle as the industry’s A&R. They’re not wrong. Drake is, without a doubt, the co-sign God—for artists.
But what does the Drake Effect look like for a producer, and not just any producer, but a regional veteran who helped engineer the staple sound of New Orleans? Calling up the venerable BlaqNmilD, who co-produced two tracks on Scorpion: the empowering bounce smash that is “Nice For What” as well as “In My Feelings,” which struck gold by way of spawning its own dance challenge, we found out the Drake Effect manifests in the form of endless, life-changing phone calls.
“The phone’s been ringing,” Blaq tells me gleefully. “A lot people been contacting, doing their homework, and starting to see that I’ve been a genius [laughs].” His tone is exclusively gracious, which is impressive considering his decades of work in the New Orleans music scene, producing for one of the bedrock bounce artists: Big Freedia. “I’m grateful with the way things happen,” he assures me. “Everybody’s career is different. My journey’s took a little longer, but it prepared me for this.”
Having signed to Master P's No Limit label in the early 2000s, it’s obvious that BlaqNmilD’s optimism was critical in ensuring his career outlived the label. When asked what life-changing calls he’s had, he smirked and alluded to there being plenty he cannot discuss, while adding: “Even the one that I’m on right now is life-changing, yes Lord!” It’s a cheerful and modest response, and nice to hear as the interviewer, but also reveals the necessary temperament an artist (or producer) needs to successfully transition from regional to national acclaim in a matter of moments.
“They are the biggest [records] that I’ve worked on in my career, right now,” Blaq emphasizes. He shares credits on “Nice For What” with Murda Beatz, who has his own history of trying to link with Drake, and TrapMoneyBenny has a co-credit on “In My Feelings.” For each track, Blaq was charged with adding that authentic and frenetic bounce flavor. Blaq first floored Drake with his work on “Nice For What,” and launched into work on “In My Feelings” soon after.
“Right now, [these songs] mean everything to me,” he continues. “At the moment, it’s the top of my career.”
Over the course of the interview, it becomes clear that BlaqNmilD’s primary setting is “Go.” Not two weeks out from Scorpion’s release and the producer is already plotting ways to outdo himself, which is part two to his recipe for longevity in music.
“It’s a bar-setting moment, and I just gotta reach higher,” Blaq explains. “I know I can reach higher. I never settle on anything I ever did, I always felt it was my best. That has driven me for years, to stay in the studio and constantly work. I have a lot more to come for the world to see. ‘Nice For What’ and ‘In My Feelings’ are great, but I have much greater.”
What exactly does greater look like? Well, greater starts with bringing bounce to the masses and then moving beyond bounce. BlaqNmilD believes he has a lot more to offer, of course. “Don’t no producer wanna be just known for doing one type of sound,” he reminds me. “Right now I’m known for bringing that bounce, but I have a lot more to give. When I get around to that and the world sees that, that will be the greater side of me that I wanna show the world.”
With that, BlaqNmilD’s success sends an important message to other producers in New Orleans. “It’s a very strong culture down there in New Orleans,” he says. “We have producers who work on bounce music 24/7. They don’t even do other sounds of music.” Now that BlaqNmilD is winning on a national level with a rich, regional sound, New Orleans producers receive the message that their sound and their culture do not have to be confined to the city. And credit will be given where credit is due.
As BlaqNmilD moves on to other production styles—because he wants to explore and not because he had to change to earn a plaque—we can take his steady rise to national acclaim as proof that the Drake Effect is ever impactful, but having the talent and track record to back it up is all the more important.