When you’re producing for DaBaby, Drake, and Future, life changes quickly. German producer Ambezza knows this well. With two credits on DaBaby’s KIRK (“POP STAR,” “PROLLY HEARD”), and a credit on Drake and Future’s “Life Is Good,” among others, including Tinashe, Killy, and more, Ambezza’s life as a creative will never be the same. Ambezza, 24, first began producing music in 2008. The German-born-and-based producer was put on to a loop-making program by a buddy after school and began to take the art seriously in 2016. By mid-2017, he saw the fruits of his labor.
“The money thing is always difficult,” Ambezza explains. “I’ve been taking it seriously and doing it full-time since the end of 2016, but making money is always a different story. For the first one and a half years, I hadn’t made any noticeable money. It starts when you get in touch with major labels, and you get paid properly and get everything set up. Around mid-2017, [I started making money].”
According to Ambezza, despite being in Germany, social media has made it easier than ever for him to get his career popping. Networking on Instagram and Twitter has eased some of the barriers to entry into the US market. That said, barriers still exist—namely, the language barrier and his inability to be in the studio with artists. However, neither of these barriers stopped Ambezza from landing his DaBaby and Drake and Future placements, a testament to his natural tenacity.
“For ‘Life Is Good,’ for the Drake part, I did the melody back in June 2018,” Ambezza explains. “That one always stuck out to me. I sent it to OZ in October of last year… he made a beat, and got it to Drake, somehow.
“[OZ] told me to put it aside and not send it out anymore. That happens all the time, but doesn’t really mean anything; you just keep it moving. I came across a snippet on Twitter that a Drake fan page posted of Future’s Instagram Story, which had the first snippet of ‘Life Is Good.’ It was five seconds, and I remember thinking, ‘Yo, that would be one lucky guy, to have that [placement].’ I played the sound, and I didn’t even realize… I couldn’t describe how I felt. Goosebumps. I was shaking. Without the paperwork, though, you never know. So I tried to not gas myself.”
Lucky indeed, Ambezza is making sure to keep a good head on his shoulders. He believes his distance from the music industry, his consistency, and his work ethic will keep him grounded. Ambezza understands success comes in waves; he’s not hyping himself up too, too much.
“That’s just how it goes, you gotta be patient,” Ambezza concludes. “Just because you’re up right now, doesn’t mean you’re up forever.” Amen.
Our conversation, lightly edited for content and clarity, follows below.
DJBooth: When did you first get into production?
Ambezza: The first contact I had with music production was when I was 13, which was in 2008. My friend had shown me this program, where you pull together sounds and loops. We were messing around after school, having fun with it. I [didn’t] take it seriously until I was out of University, which was [at the] end of 2016.
How long have you been producing professionally and making money off your craft?
I’ve been taking it seriously and doing it full-time since the end of 2016, but making money is always a different story. For the first one and a half years, I hadn’t made any noticeable money. It starts when you get in touch with major labels, and you get paid properly and get everything set up. Around mid-2017, [I started making money].
Do you see any barriers to entry into the US Market, being from Germany?
The barriers to entry are at an all-time low because you have the Internet. Instagram and Twitter have been my way of working myself into the American industry and music business. There [are] obviously still barriers: the language barrier. If you’re not a good English speaker, you’re gonna have some difficulties. Also, the barrier of not being local and not being able to be in the studio at all times. Especially in the beginning, you’re heavily relying on networking through social media and email. It’s pretty much the same for people who don’t live in LA or New York. It’s a barrier not to be present, but it’s not as high as people would think.
You have some heavy-hitters in your discography: two DaBaby placements, and Drake and Future’s “Life Is Good.” Can you walk me through the DaBaby tracks first?
I have two records on the DaBaby album. First one is “POP STAR,” featuring Kevin Gates. I did the melody part, and the instrumentation for that in May 2019. I did the loop, which was pretty regular, and I sent it out to my guy CashMoneyAP, who did the drums. A couple months after, he hit me and said DaBaby hopped on [the beat], and it’s probably gonna be on [KIRK]. Luckily enough, it ended up on the album. The second [song] was “PROLLY HEARD,” which was a whole different story. On that one, I did the drums. I got the loop, the melody, from this guy named [Flip_00]. I sent the beat back to him, and he got it placed through his management and the help of DJ Clue. Two different stories where I wasn’t involved with DaBaby’s camp, but still made it happen somehow. That just goes to show: you can make it happen without being directly connected.
How did “Life Is Good” come together?
Pretty similar to “POP STAR…” As an explanation, I do both [loops and drums]. Now, through networking, in hip-hop, there’s this big thing where multiple people will make the melody and the “bigger producers” with the direct link to the artist will finish up the beat and make the drums, and then send it off. I usually do both; I probably do more drums. From placement to placement, you never know. It’s always been important to do both. For “Life Is Good,” for the Drake part, I did the melody back in June 2018. I don’t know about the Future part. That one always stuck out to me. I sent it to OZ in October of last year, and I’ve been sending him ideas. If I’m still sending out a melody from mid-2018, it’s gotta be one of those ones. I always had the feeling it was something special. I guess OZ liked it, he made a beat, and got it to Drake, somehow.
[OZ] told me to put it aside and not send it out anymore. That happens all the time, but doesn’t really mean anything; you just keep it moving. I came across a snippet on Twitter that a Drake fan page posted of Future’s Instagram Story, which had the first snippet of “Life Is Good.” It was five seconds, and I remember thinking, “Yo, that would be one lucky guy, to have that [placement].” I played the sound, and I didn’t even realize… I played it back, and then I realized it sounded familiar! OZ took the melody and pitched it up, and I noticed that’s mine, and I couldn’t describe how I felt. Goosebumps. I was shaking. Without the paperwork, though, you never know. So I tried to not gas myself.
Four days before the record dropped, OZ hit me up on FaceTime: “Yo, we got one with Future and Drake, it’s dropping on Friday.” I was so happy. Then it came out!
How has your life changed since “Life Is Good?” Any new opportunities?
You’re probably looking at a prime example of what can happen after you get a big cut. At that time, I didn’t have a manager. I had no deal. I was 100 percent independent. With that being said, [“Life Is Good”] opened a variety of lanes. There’s a lot of new people hitting me up to work. Producers as well as artists. The existing people are more eager to work. That’s natural, and I expected that, but also… It’s been sparking up this whole array of publishing companies and major labels hitting me up for publishing deals. Through those connections, there [are] a lot of new connections being made. It’s starting to calm down, but a lot is happening.
What have you learned from these high profile placements?
What it’s taught me and starting to show slowly, is you shouldn’t get too hyped. It’s amazing, don’t get me [wrong], but just know: life as a producer [comes] in waves. One month you might have nothing going on, and next month you’re up there. It’s the same thing with every other placement. People are gonna chase you that one month, and you gotta take advantage of that because the time will come when there’s a dry spell. That’s just how it goes; you gotta be patient. Just because you’re up right now, doesn’t mean you’re up forever.
As your star continues to rise, how will you ensure you stay grounded?
I wouldn’t say it’s a challenge, but I get how people can get lost in [the hype]. I’m from Germany, from a city with 300,000 people, and it’s always been humbling to keep my family and friends close. I don’t feel the hype around here, because of the distance. It’s different if you’re in LA. In Germany, I’m still the same. I’m still working in the basement.