Charlie Heat Breaks Down the Best Stories Behind His 5 Biggest Songs: Beat Break

“I make music to trigger emotions.”
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Charlie Heat stays true to his name. The Jersey-born multi-Platinum producer’s touch would make Midas quiver. Working with the likes of Kanye West, Denzel Curry, Kehlani, Travis Scott, DRAM, and most recently, Syd, a on some of their biggest records, the 29-year-old producer born Ernest Brown brings a sweeping grandiosity to every beat he produces. 

GRAMMY-nominated, his work is boisterous and awe-striking. Drums knock speakers off platforms, bass rattles walls, and melodies invigorate our ears for all-time. Charlie Heat makes bangers to remember, not simple playlist one-offs.

“I make music to trigger emotions,” Charlie Heat tells me over the phone. “My worst beats are when I try to get the point across, instead of emotion across. If I wanna make a beat [to prove] I’m the best producer, those beats suck. But when I make a beat to trigger an emotion, those are the ones.”

The ones, for Charlie Heat, were majority made in the span of a week-long trip to LA to first work with Kanye West. By the time his trip was over, Charlie had damn near seven songs with Ye under his belt, a G.O.O.D. Music deal, and a reason to quit his day job. His first day working with Kanye, Charlie produced “All Day,” which is currently RIAA Gold-certified. Literally, Charlie Heat turned drums into gold. And yet, the producer has a chipper demeanor about him. Nothing about Charlie strikes as pompous or enrapt in status. The man is happy to be working, and we love his work for that very reason.

In his own words, here are the stories behind five of his biggest beats.

“All Day” — Kanye West (2015)

Co-Producers: Kanye West, Noah Goldstein, Mike Dean, Allen Ritter, Plain Pat & Travis Scott
Features: Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom, & Paul McCartney

It’s crazy, ‘cause that was the first song I worked on when I first came out [to LA] to start working with Ye. I was working on all the [Lil] Uzi Vert stuff, and then when they called and brought me out and said they wanted to work… I landed that morning, and we went to the studio. Some of [the song] was done already, from the other producers, but then next thing you know, we had seven more songs done. That was the first one, though. It was crazy! I was in awe. 

I woke up in the morning, took a shower, had no idea what was going on and [thanked] God that my life was changing. That was the first song where I heard his vocals on my beat.

The big one was the [BRIT Awards] when he first performed it. I had no idea when it was gonna come out. It was a long time; it was a lot of leaks, but… When they did it at the [BRIT Awards] with the black outfits on and the flamethrowers, I was at my boy’s house in New Jersey like, “Man, this is crazy.” I was just in disbelief. It was a dream coming to fruition.

“Famous” — Kanye West (2016)

Co-Producers: Kanye West, Havoc, Noah Goldstein, Hudson Mohawke, Mike Dean & Plain Pat

“Famous” was a crazy process. Kanye brought in Havoc and there was a lot of other people on that one as well. I didn’t know Swizz was gonna be on that one. 

We did that one in Paris. The night we did that, Ye did a performance at the Louvre museum and came back, and we were trying to figure it out. I did the drums. It was just a Paris vibe. I was out there with Vic Mensa, Boi-1da. I’d never been to Paris before. The energy was just foreign to me. It’s hard to explain. Even the equipment looked different. 

The dynamic of us creating all this music in this hectic Parisian environment was crazy, but it turned out fire. Thank God.

“Waves” — Kanye West (2016)

Co-Producers: Kanye West
Features: Chris Brown & Kid Cudi

“Waves” is the first beat that we made together, from scratch. A lot of stuff we worked on, but this beat was made from scratch. That was a real moment. That might’ve been the first time we got to sit down and cook up and bounce ideas back and forth. 

We made “Waves” the same week we did “All Day.” In between that time, I was super juiced up because I quit my job. I was about to go home with no job, but a G.O.O.D. Music deal.

Kanye’s just a genius. I say it all the time. I’ll let him speak on his process, but some people are just gifted at things. He’s a gifted person, and his ear is just different. He might be better than anyone I ever met in person at coming up with a good product. [Working with him] just expanded my mind. Not just in production, but looking at art and life.

“Piss on Your Grave” — Travis Scott (2015)

Co-Producers: Kanye West, Mike Dean, Noah Goldstein, Darren Charles King
Features: Kanye West

Shout out to Noah, man, Noah Goldstein. He’s this engineer-producer, and he’s crazy. He’s the guy I first worked with from Ye’s camp when I first came to LA. He was like an assassin in the room. You would never see him coming, but he would always have fire ideas. He’s a great engineer. 

We were together and going back and forth, adding more samples. There’s a sample in “Piss on Your Grave” that he gave me the idea for. The drums, he helped me mix them. That was in the same week that we did “All Day” and “Waves.”

I was supposed to come out for a weekend, and I ended up staying ten days. I was like, “Bro, I got a job. I got to get back.” By, like, Tuesday, it’s like, “Oh, yeah, you can quit your job.” 

We literally just met.

“Cute” — DRAM (2016)

Right after all the Ye stuff, I started working on my album, and I went to New York. I played the album for my friends, and they pretty much said it was horrible. That it sounded too much like a mix between everything [I produced] up until that point. It didn’t feel good enough. 

I went home and made 15 happy, cheerful beats, and the “Cute” beat ended up being one of them. I had a session with DRAM two days after this whole experience. “Cute” was the first beat I played, and he wrote [the record] in 20 minutes. He’s such a great musician and has so much production input. He said that was one of the few joints he didn’t have any input on. It was a crazy vibe. It just sounded cute!

I DJ now sometimes, and that’s a favorite, because it just lights everybody’s face up 100 percent, every time. Honestly, music is music to me. It’s not even a mindset; it’s an emotion. I make music to trigger emotions. My worst beats are when I try to get the point across, instead of emotion across. If I wanna make a beat [to prove] I’m the best producer, those beats suck. But when I make a beat to trigger an emotion, those are the ones.

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