Tahj Morgan (better known as jetsonmade) is a producer, songwriter, and record executive who’s known as a pioneer of “the Carolina sound.”
According to The Fader, jetsonmade told his mother that if he didn’t get anywhere with music in 2018, he was going to take his money, get a commercial driver’s license, and drive trucks for a living. A short year later, he had a platinum plaque mounted on his wall, a deal with Sony, and collaborations with the likes of DaBaby, Lil Keed, and Young Nudy. Today, his producer tag, “Oh Lord, Jetson made another one!” has become highly sought after in the rap scene.
In celebration of the release of his new Make Me Spaceboy sample pack, below we take a look at three tracks from varying points in jetsonmade’s career and analyze how he utilized different sounds and production techniques to best serve each artist.
DaBaby’s “Suge” (2019)
One of jetsonmade’s biggest hits to this day, “Suge” is a boisterous track fronted by fellow Carolina-hailing trailblazer DaBaby. Aside from the rapper’s bold hooks and infectious ‘yeah yeah’s, what stands out the most by far is Jetson’s unapologetic synth line (transcribed below):
The synth line in “Suge” is voiced by Sonic Cat’s Purity
In his Deconstructed episode with Genius, jetsonmade says, “When we was in the studio, we said [the melody] sounds like Jaws. Once I did that, I was like, ‘I’m not gonna really add any more instruments to it, because it’s already got the suspense.’ Usually you have to add a lot of layers to get that feeling, but it was just like—one sound brought it.”
The key ingredient that brings the Jaws-esque suspense is without doubt the repeated chromaticism between the upper A and B♭. Furthermore, the tension is actually heightened by how Jetson kept the timbre stripped down to the minimalistic pluck, because it so effectively juxtaposes the intensity of the pitches and leaves plenty of open space in between each note for tension to build. DaBaby’s flowing lines feel like a release over the instrumental’s edge, and the result is a driving track like no other that had—and continues to have—millions of listeners hitting repeat.
Jack Harlow’s “WHATS POPPIN” (2020)
Just a year later, jetsonmade and Pooh Beatz followed up “Suge” with another smash hit in Jack Harlow’s “WHATS POPPIN.” While equally unapologetic, the track feels playful more than anything, with Harlow freely flowing from topic to topic (with lines including “In the ‘Ville and I move like a don / Eating fettuccine at Vincezo’s”) and calling towards the two producers within the verses (“This shit sound like an intro / Jetson, give me that tempo / Told Pooh he a fool with this shit / Told her don’t let her friends know”).
What makes this track’s production so effective is its balance between bringing energy and demonstrating restraint. The unwavering hi-hats, downbeat-focused 808s, and chopped and RC-20-drenched piano sample all bring Jetson’s signature bounce to the track, but there are no overcomplicated switch-ups or fills that distract from Harlow’s whimsical lyricism. Pooh Beatz describes their creative approach eloquently in another interview: “Ever since ‘Suge,’ I just realized that everything’s gotta be simple. A lot of people be sending us loops and it just be a lot going on… You gotta give artists room to be creative as well, so I always try to listen for the most simple piece.”
Queen Naija’s “Five Seconds (feat. Jacquees)” (2020)
While it might not be as universally known as “Suge” or “WHATS POPPIN,” “Five Seconds (feat. Jacquees)” is a recent track jetsonmade had a hand in that’s definitely worth discussing. In stark contrast to his other collaborations, “Five Seconds” is a gentle R&B jam that features smooth and highly melodic vocals from Queen Naija and Jacquees.
This track demonstrates Jetson’s ability to adapt, collaborate, and apply his musicality to a variety of different contexts. The beat programming on this one naturally takes on a completely different feel compared to his other works, swapping rolling hi-hats and rowdy 808s with open hats and thumping kicks. Jetson has mentioned in numerous interviews that he used to be a church drummer, and he absolutely applies that background for the groove in “Five Seconds”—while the sounds may be sampled and sequenced, the way they interact with each other is much more reminiscent of an acoustic kit. The result is a subtle but powerful production that, though in a different manner to something like “WHATS POPPIN,” also creates space for the artists to shine.
What are your favorite productions from jetsonmade? Let us know in the comments below.
Incorporate jetsonmade’s distinctive bounce into your own productions:
February 7, 2022