Richie Souf on Whole Lotta Red, Future, and beat block

Richie Souf is shrouded in mystery.

While the South Atlanta-hailing producer has worked alongside hip hop and trap heavyweights including the likes of Playboi Carti, Future, and Young Thug, many details about him — his face, the details of his background as a producer — remain ambiguous. That said, in celebration of the recent release of his “No Face” sample pack, we had the rare opportunity to sit down with Richie Souf to learn more about the untold stories behind his most notable past and upcoming releases – read highlights below.

“All da Smoke” by Future and Young Thug (2017)

“All da Smoke” is widely considered a standout from Future and Young Thug’s Super Slimey. How did this song come about?

Souf: I think it was mid-2017, like June. We were having sessions with Thug three months straight. I’m talking every day. I was waking up at 2:00 P.M., making beats, and going to the studio. I’m in the studio until 8:00 A.M., then sleep and cycle all over again. But the thing is, every day was a session with Thug and Future.

So let’s say we just book a studio for a whole week. I think when we did “All da Smoke,” it was at Tree Sound. I already had this pack of beats. I had a ten-pack ready. So I pull it up. I don’t think Future was there when I pulled it up, because I pulled it up pretty early just to cook up. By the time he pulled up, I had that whole pack ready, and gave it to Future’s engineer Seth. We got to that beat, and he just went in.

The way he records, he doesn’t really think about what he’s doing. He’s just off the top of the head. There was a guy who came in with a bucket of ice for everybody. If you wanted some cold drinks, you’d get the ice, but you had to break the ice. You know what I’m saying? So that’s what was playing in the beginning – just messing around with the ice bucket.

So he just brought the ice into the booth?

Nah, they don’t even record in the booth. They record in the room; that’s why you heard it. Because nobody really records in the booth anymore, you hear a lot of shit if you just listen closely to songs. You can be like, “Oh damn, I hear people talking,” or, “I hear this, I hear that,” just because it was in the room.

I like the sessions with Future, Thug, and Carti because they’re in their own lane. Some other artists don’t make you feel like you’re at home; they just make you feel like you’re a producer and you got the beats. But, certain types of artists give you this atmosphere that makes you feel welcome. That’s where I feel like Carti is so different, because he made me feel like I was with Future. I don’t know – it’s just certain artists that have that kind of vibe to them.

“Ain’t Coming Back” by Future (2019)

“Ain’t Coming Back” has a slightly different sound than some of the other stuff you’ve worked on with Future in the past. Can you talk about how that one came about?

Bro, that was probably one of the ones that I wasn’t first there for when he did that. But I think he was with FXXXY when he made that. They had their own chemistry, so I’m pretty sure they pulled up the beat and just started going in on it. But that song, bro, I don’t know – I still play it a lot to this day, just because of how good it is.

Yeah, it’s a great one. When you’re working with others, whether it’s Future or Thug or Carti, do you go into it making material specifically for them? How do you balance prioritizing what you’re feeling with the stuff that you know they’ll like?

So, I had a friend who was Future’s engineer – Seth. He passed three years ago. Before he passed, I was talking to him every day, because obviously, he would know Future’s vibe as far as what he likes or what he wants. One day, he just told me, “Yo Richie, just make what Richie likes.” After that, I just stopped thinking about what these artists liked. Obviously, I would still think about it, but not as deeply as I used to. I used to ask things like, “Oh, slow? Fast?” You know what I’m saying?

So I just took that advice, and I still go with it to this day – “Make what Richie likes.” I really just pull up with the beats that I like to make. But, they’re still in the lane of the artist, and then it just works.

Have you hit any ruts during this time in terms of creativity, or have you been able to stay motivated and inspired?

I’ve never really had any issues with beat block. When people ask me how I get through beat block, I just tell them, “Bro, don’t even think about beat block – just make the beat.” I feel like beat block is when you’re just thinking too much about how to make the beat when you shouldn’t be. Just make the beat. Finish the beat – even if it sounds ass, bro.

People got to teach themselves to not really overthink making the beat, because once you get past that — once you just start making the beat and stop thinking about making it — then you’ll be able to make ten beats in one night. Some people go, “Shit, I’ve done 15 in one night.” Just locked in – just robot-mode.

You got to remember, artists like Future and Carti and Thug, they’re making ten songs a day. Their albums are 20 songs, bro. And they’re recording for… with Super Slimey, it was three months. You can imagine how many songs we made, but we picked out 15. That’s why you just make 500 beats. You pick out the best ones, and send those out. That’s how it works, bro. Not every beat is going to be ‘the one.’

Whole Lotta Red by Playboi Carti (upcoming)

Obviously, everyone’s anticipating this album. Every time anything gets leaked for it, everyone goes wild. Have the reactions to those snippets being out there changed anything for the rest of what’s going to come?

So the whole direction — what I’ve seen — is that he’s just working. He’s still making songs. I don’t really think he knows or is paying attention, really, to his fans reacting. He’s just making songs. He’s working. I don’t want to say too much. I don’t think it’s really changed the direction, because he’s making songs every day. Whether or not it’s done, he’s going to be making songs every day regardless.

Then, he’s always tweaking. Whenever he likes a song, he’ll just tweak it. He’ll probably call his engineer Roark and say, “Yo, let’s work on this,” or, “Let’s tweak this a little bit.”

What does a typical Carti session look like?

Honestly, bro, it’s literally the same thing as Future. It’s the same thing. He calls you – “Yo Rich, pull up.” I’m like, “Alright,” because I just know where he’s at. So I just pull up and he’s there. Sometimes we’ll chill for an hour and talk about clothes and shit, or talk about what we got going on – catch up. If I haven’t seen him in a week, we’ll catch up. But usually, I’m with him a lot. Then I’ll play the beats. He’ll tell the engineer, Roark or whoever, “Yo, pull this one up.” He’ll just go in.

That’s the type of artists I like working with. They just get into work mode. They don’t ‘write’ – they just go in and amazing songs come out of that.

When did you originally connect with Carti?

Man, I want to say 2018. He hit me up through DMs, like, “Yo, let’s lock in.” Then that night, I met him at the studio. That session — the first ever session I had with him — it wasn’t like work. It was like, “Let’s catch a vibe with each other.” So I was with him all night, just playing beats and talking about music.

I think Iggy was there. Roark was there. That was really it. We was just vibing about music, talking. I think we probably recorded a bunch of songs that night, too. But I think the main focus was just vibing out. Then, after that, it was every day. If I wasn’t with him, I was sending beats. If I wasn’t sending beats, I was with him. There was a point where I was going for a whole month.

How important is catching the vibe with someone and just getting to know them more when it comes to collaboration?

That’s real important, because I feel like if you have a friendship with the artist, that’s just going to take you to the moon, bro. Remember, you can’t be friends with everybody. Everybody has their own different vibe. But when you find that artist and you guys are actual friends and you can call that artist and not talk about music, then that’s some real shit.

Me and Carti will be on the phone for an hour or two, not even talking about music. I’ll be on the phone with him for an hour on FaceTime. We just talk about shit. Just bullshit. Just regular shit. You know what I’m saying? That shit means the most. That means the most to me – when you just find that artist and y’all just click and y’all make good music.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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November 28, 2020