Eric G has served as Rapsody’s producer backbone since the early 2010s. The Jamla beatsmith has been responsible for some of Rap’s most enchanting, soulful, and cutting production choices. The “Eric” beat tag promises something unique and spiraling, something blooming in real-time, with Rapsody spitting as if her hip-hop heart depended upon her performance.
As a duo, the pair have been a perfect match for nearly a decade, pulling the best out of each other. On Rapsody’s latest album, Eve, Eric G’s production choices get weirder and wonkier, pushing Rap to get more breakneck and inventive with her flows. Together, they make Eve, Rapsody’s most varied offering, and her most fun.
“None of it was difficult, it was just fun,” Eric tells me over the phone. “It felt fun because, at a certain point, if you’re sampling and using drum breaks and doing the classic style of beatmaking… If you do it over and over, it feels like something you have to adhere to, kind of. You set up these false rules for yourself. It was fun to be able to go in and do whatever we wanted to do. It took away boundaries.”
The removal of boundaries resulted in some of Rapsody’s best work. Her adaptability on the mic, which Eric G swears by, was one of the most surprising elements of working together this time around. “Just how adaptable she is to every sound,” Eric muses. “She knows how to do everything. She also simplified her songwriting a little bit, in a good way. Refined. It’s just all muscle.”
That muscle pushes Eric G to work harder. As a duo, Eric and Rap bring out the best in each other by way of simply working hard together. They relate in their obsession with the craft, and when they obsess in the same room, as they did on “Oprah,” the result is pure magic.
“On ‘Oprah,’ there’s a bridge part,” Eric tells me while humming. “I did the ad-libs on that. I was sleeping at the studio and woke up, and Rapsody had already recorded her first verse, the bridge, and the hook. It was fun to do the ad-libs, and we thought the song was goofy. She did a lot of the recording on her own. A lot of it was making beats, hanging out, and eating food for the time I was there.”
The lax attitude and freedom to create make Eve a standout album in 2019. The pack Eric brings is an evolution on a sound he had always made, but rarely leaned into with Rapsody. Thankfully, the team decided to go for the eclectic. It worked.
Our full conversation, lightly edited for content and clarity, follows below.
DJBooth: When did you guys get to work on Eve?
Eric G: Probably October and most of it was done in December [of last year]. We just wanted to do something different, and I had always been making beats like 808, bounce type beats. As a group, we decided we’ll do it like this. I feel like every project anybody does should be left-field from the last one. Just to have a nice mix of your eclectic tastes.
How was the energy surrounding Eve different from Rap’s other works?
She recorded herself a lot. It was a lot more experimental and free. She already had the concept from the beginning, and that was her whole thing. We just wanted to go over a different type of sound. We had good energy after putting out Laila’s [Wisdom] and she and I got to go to the GRAMMYs. [Eve] seemed like kind of a risk, but the energy was pretty much the same. We’re so dialed-in with everything we do in-house, it’s like doing a song with your sister. We all get on the same page quickly.
The beats here are more varied, fun, and wonky than on Laila’s Wisdom. Why the decision to go off-the-wall?
Me and her had talked about it, like what the direction was gonna be. It felt fun because, at a certain point, if you’re sampling and using drum breaks and doing the classic style of beatmaking… If you do it over and over, it feels like something you have to adhere to, kind of. You set up these false rules for yourself. It was fun to be able to go in and do whatever we wanted to do. It took away boundaries. She opened it up for me to be able to fully try anything. I made some awful shit, for sure.
I remember Kash came into the studio around the time we recorded “Oprah.” I went up to North Carolina from Seattle for a couple of weeks. I had made that beat there, and I was making something else, and he walked in and was just honest. “This is trash.” I listen [to that beat] now, and it’s embarrassing that I played that beat loud in there.
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Were there a lot of mistakes along the way?
No, no. That was the very beginning. I think “Oprah” was the first one I did for the whole thing. That gave me a little confidence, and then I got shot back to reality after making some shitty stuff. I’ve always been making stuff like this, but we haven’t used it all that much. “GQ” from back in the day, I’ve always made 808 beats. It just developed. You know Jake One? He invited me to his house last year, around this time, and gave me the sample stuff that he makes on his own. He gave me his sample pack, and I think “Serena” is from that.
Which beat was the most challenging to make?
Shit, I guess… “Aaliyah.” I wouldn’t say challenging, though. I hit a weird stride. I just got really inspired off of life shit for a second. All the beats that are on here are from the same time period, but I would say “Aaliyah” because there’s a drum break in it. But in general, it’s been nice to make stuff and not overthink it and not really care what anyone else thinks. It takes a while to get there when you’re doing something creative. It takes a long time to get to that spot, at least for me. But none of it was difficult; it was just fun.
Favorite studio session story?
On “Oprah,” there’s a bridge part [hums], and I did the ad-libs on that. I was sleeping at the studio and woke up, and Rapsody had already recorded her first verse, the bridge, and the hook. It was fun to do the ad-libs, and we thought the song was goofy. She did a lot of the recording on her own. A lot of it was making beats, hanging out, and eating food.
What was the most surprising thing about working with Rapsody this time around?
Just how adaptable she is to every sound. She knows how to do everything. She also simplified her songwriting a little bit, in a good way. Refined. It’s just all muscle.
What does working with Rapsody pull out of you as a producer? How does she push you?
She pushes me by showing me that I need to work harder. She’s such a hard worker, and she’s so skilled at what she does. I’ve watched her grow as she has me and it’s not competitive at all, but I admire her so much. It makes me want to hold myself to the same standard, and it’s real nice to relate on that. It’s nice to share that [spirit], and we’re both super obsessed with what we do.
How do you challenge her?
With me and her, ever since we first started working together, we’ve always had this adventurous aspect. Years ago, we recorded a bunch of auto-tuned songs. We like to have fun, you know? It’s not necessarily a challenge to her, but I think we enjoy working together because we’re like, “Fuck it, let’s just try it.” I try not to think of it as a challenge, because our whole existence is this shit. If you’re in the moment, doing your thing, there’s nothing better than that.
What’s the biggest lesson Eve taught you about yourself?
That I’m hella tight. No, no…
It’s good to be confident, man.
It’s interesting too because I put out remix projects and stuff like that, that use those type of beats. I thought about it, and damn, no one has ever really heard these on this scale. With Jamla and 9th [Wonder], we decided to do this. It’s crazy because, in my head, I’ve always done this. But from the outside, looking in, no one had any idea.