Banx, 28, produced “What Ya Say” for Chaz French, “Under the Sun” for Wale, the newly released “French Freestyle” for Baby Keem, and six of the 12 tracks on IDK’s applause-worthy debut album, IWASVERYBAD, but none of his previous placements has had the same visibility as his four contributions to ROTD3.
In addition to being the musical mastermind behind Cozz and REASON’s robbery fantasy “LamboTruck,” Banx lent JID and T.I. a soulful backdrop for their vibrant reminiscing on “Ladies, Ladies, Ladies,” and delivered the menacing first half of J. Cole and JID’s tag team on “Rembrandt...Run It Back” is also his handiwork. Banx doesn’t count his small contribution to the ChaseTheMoney and Pyrex tag-team production, but those are his crunchy, double kicks sprinkled across the J. Cole and Young Nudy-assisted “Sunset.”
How does an up-and-coming Dallas producer enter J. Cole’s orbit? How did Banx manage to attend Dreamville's fabled Revenge Of The Dreamers recording sessions in Atlanta, Georgia, with some of his best and brightest peers in the game, and somehow end up with four records on the final project? These are the questions Banx answered during our 45-minute phone interview.
From how he met J. Cole to his outlook on life after the sessions, the vignettes Kal Banx paints are nothing short of miraculous. Kal is counting every blessing, and he's working hard to create more.
On Meeting J. Cole for the First Time
Before the TDE Championship Tour, I did a lot of work with Jay Rock. He took me on the road to produce after Moosa [Tiffith] really pushed for me to be on the tour. So Mackwop, Q's [ScHoolboy Q] DJ, let me take one of his slots to DJ, which was to open the show. We were in Raleigh, North Carolina, and it’s my second day DJing on the tour, and everyone is saying Cole will be at the show. I’ve been a fan of Cole for a long time. I used to sneak into his shows and try to play him beats. Two of the shows I got kicked out of [laughs]. I was with Keem, Q’s [ScHoolboy Q] road manager, and I tell him about getting kicked out of the Cole concert, and he tells me that would be a fire way to start a conversation with him.
I leave Keem’s room, and Jay Rock and Cole are walking toward me. Rock comes over and introduces me to Cole. He bigs me up. He even tells Cole about this particular record we have that didn’t make Redemption. I made the beat with a sample that one of his uncles had given him and the way I flipped it end up becoming one of Jay Rock’s favorite songs that we did. He told Cole about that song. Cole is like, “Oh shit, we got to work.”
On Learning About the ROTD3 Sessions
So the night I met Cole he gave me his number after I told him about getting kicked out the shows [laughs.] It’s a long story, but I ended up playing beats for him. On the first one, man, Cole’s expression. He was like, “Yo! Yo! Cut it off! I don’t want to hear it anymore until I can write to it. Send that to me right now.” He reacted that way to four beats. He said, “Kal, we working.”
Cole tells me we should FaceTime the next day and chop it up. I called him, and we talked for maybe an hour, bro. We talked about music, but we talked about everything. He told me when he comes to Los Angeles, we would link up. He hit me, and we linked up at my good friend Om’Mas Keith’s studio. We connected. After the session, he asked me to hop on the road with him for the KOD Tour.
Two weeks after that, I met him in Dallas; they had a production room at every stop for me; I just made beats in every city. I would go into Cole’s room and play shit, or he would come into the production room. We had our little system going on. That’s how I got close with the Dreamville team. Naturally, when the new year came around, they hit me up. Cole was like, “Come out, we’re doing a camp.” IB [Hamad] hit me with the official pull up. The next week I was in Atlanta.
On Making “LamboTruck”
I made the “LamboTruck” beat maybe two to three weeks before the sessions. The crazy thing about “LamboTruck” and “Ladies, Ladies, Ladies,” both of those beats were made during a seven-minute drill. Cole had me doing that shit on tour. It’s like, make a beat in seven minutes and see what happens. Both of those beats I made in seven minutes. Literally, the name of the “Ladies, Ladies, Ladies” was "7MINFAIL+" and the “LamboTruck” beat was called “QUICKIDEA.”
From what I hear, Cole has all his younger artists and producers on Dreamville do a seven-minute drill. Write a song in seven minutes. His whole thing is like, letting it flow and not think about it. If you’re in the flow of things, you’ll make some fire shit because you aren’t overthinking it. It’s not being crunched for time and trying to make a beat as fast as you can, it’s being in a space where you don’t have time to think about it.
I like to work with Reason so much; I know the shit that gets his juices flowing. Rob [REASON] was in a super, like, fucking killer instinct type of mood. I’m trying to be on every song and kill every verse mood. That was his mentality throughout the whole thing. So I knew that beat, he would go at niggas necks. I played it instantly. That was the first beat I played, and they end up recording to it.
They went fucking nuts, bro. I left them with the beat, and they just did it. I got so many songs with REASON; I already know what he’s about to do.
On Making “Ladies, Ladies, Ladies” and “Rembrandt...Run It Back”
I didn’t play “Ladies, Ladies, Ladies” for JID as I did for Cozz and Reason. I ran into him, I think in the Groove Room upstairs. I told him I had some shit that I wanted to send. I didn’t know he was recording his verse to “Ladies, Ladies, Ladies” when I walked in the room. My whole thing was going to different rooms. I’m just fucking around and shit. I’m trying to walk in, talk some shit and he’s recording over my beat.
I knew if JID heard the “Rembrandt” beat he would [record over it]. I didn’t expect Cole to fuck with it. He pulled me in the room and asked, “What do you think about this shit?” He played his verse. Man, my reaction, this shit is CRAZY.
There was one point where I went into three different rooms, and they were recording to my beats. I went to [Studio] A, they were recording “LamboTruck.” I went to [Studio] M, the room in the back, and K.R.I.T. and JID were doing a song that Cardiak and I had done. In the Rasta Room, Cole was doing his verse for “Rembrandt.”
At this point, I knew I had fire, but I had to stay focused. There was so much fucking heat around that camp I was praying that it breaks through. I wanted to get as many songs as possible on the project.
On Securing a Unanimous "Yes" in the Producer Beat Battle
The first day of the sessions, I walk in Studio A and Cole, Cozz, Lute, Omen, Elite, Matt [McNeal], and a few more guys are all having a beat battle. Soon as I walked in, Cole’s like, "Look! Kal's here, load up. Don’t even think about it, load up; you’re playing after Elite." I’m never scared of no competition. I’m playing some beats or whatever. They’re fucking with it. There’s a video of me playing a beat I knew I wouldn’t be able to use on the album if they liked it, but for the sake of competition, I played it. I can’t lose!
The rules of the game were: Whoever gets a unanimous “yes” across the board, everybody would go record to the song. So I played this one beat, and I was the first one to get a unanimous “yes.” But Cole said it was unanimous with an asterisk. I’m like, "What the fuck does that mean?" Guess who came behind me and won that bitch? Cristo. Man, he came and smashed. He got the unanimous yes without the asterisk. Everyone got up and went to record the song.
Cole gave me the asterisk because of the way I chopped this sample. The sample, in my opinion, was infectious. I knew they would fuck with it. But Cole saw something else. He pulled me to the side and said to take the beat to Ron [Gilmore] and let him move the sample where it makes sense with the drums. He wanted to record that shit ASAP. I took it to Ron, and he starts working on it in studio M. He stretched the sample out, Cristo did some shit with the sample, too, and Ron replayed a bunch of different shit, and it sounded beautiful.
On Life After the ROTD3 Sessions
I felt amazing, bro. Going into the sessions, and not to get too personal, my mom was going through a lot. She’s been sick since I was 13. She had a bad episode a few weeks before [the sessions]. I wasn’t in a really good space. I knew it was a crazy opportunity, but I wasn’t sure how to be successful while feeling like that. I had to see my mom in the hospital, man, that’s depressing. It just sucked. I’m a very spiritual person. I honestly don’t believe it was me doing that shit, man. That was completely God. The way doors were opening it… I was playing just one beat and then boom, let’s do it.
Coming out of the sessions, I had a higher understanding of the flow. I thought, "This is not you; it’s God." So don’t even put that pressure on yourself to even do shit. Stay on this wave of God, bro. On top of that, the network I’ve gained? We still have our Rap Camp group chat. And these people are my friends. I can truly say that Childish [Major], Groove [Producer]; these niggas are my friends.
From meeting Cole to the sessions, man, God had this written out for me.
By Yoh, aka Yoh Banx, aka @Yoh31