Maejor Ali’s Tips to Becoming a Successful Songwriter & Producer [Exclusive Interview]
Maejor Ali is confident — for good reason. Formerly known as Bei Maejor, the songwriter-producer has written songs and crafted beats for some big names in the business. He’s penned tracks for Iggy Azalea (‘Murda Bizness,’ ‘Million Dollar Misfits‘), Justin Bieber (‘Love Me Like You Do,’ ‘One Love‘) and Trey Songz (‘Check Me Out‘), and produced the Andre 3000-featured ‘Ride’ (Remix) for Ciara, Wiz Khalifa‘s (‘Rooftops‘) and Frank Ocean‘s (‘Dust‘).
When asked about his next project, Maejor Ali didn’t bother telling The Boombox. He instead showed his answer. The Detroit native got up from the couch and walked to a nearby computer where he played a beat he’d been working on. It’s a weird one that has all the energy of a charting song, but the vibes of a haunted house. Think ‘Beetlejuice’ meets trap. Despite its oddities, it sounds like the makings of a head-nodding track — he actually made the beat in his spare time.
Brandon Green, who actually changed his alias to Maejor Ali because of his admiration of Muhammad Ali’s stand against the Vietnam war, has taken pride in this sort of experimentation. That route has led to the biggest success of his career yet: ‘Lolly.’ The single is his first song as a lead artist to make it in the top 20 of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Plus the track combines two guests from completely opposite ends of the spectrum: Bieber, who’s in a moody R&B mode with his ‘Journals’ LP; and Juicy J, whose recently released album, ‘Stay Trippy,’ is one aggressive club-banger after another. The ‘Lolly’ video has 53 million views and climbing.
“I don’t check all the time to see the number, but when I heard I was like, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of people,'” Ali tells The Boombox. “I’m glad that it’s making that kind of impact, but I’m not going to say I’m surprised or anything. It’s going to continue to grow, because I think it’s creative. When you’re doing something new or creative, people will appreciate it. A lot of times with some of the structures of formats of music or radio they might not understand certain things at first. That kind of collaboration is so unheard of really, but I think people will appreciate it.”
Ali also says listeners will continue to hear these sort of odd match-ups and experimental song compositions as he’s making music.
“The main thing I want to do with collaborations is bring people from different worlds together,” he explains. “Kind of like Juicy and Justin, because I think that it’s just fun for people to see name that they wouldn’t expect to work together, and when they hear it, it somehow works.”
Trying out new things is one action burgeoning songwriters and producers should do if they want to make it in the music business, according to the professional. Of course, that’s just one of many steps to take. Check out Maejor Ali’s Tips to Becoming a Successful Songwriter & Producer.
Make Honest Music
“When I make music, I’m not trying to make an identity. I’m just trying to make what’s honest. I always try new things as far as the format, so hopefully my identity would be in the creativity.”
“Be creative and be yourself and unique. A lot of people when they’re coming up in music, they just try to copy other people. That’s good, you know, to learn and stuff. But to stay out, you got to do something that’s you. If they want to get the person you were copying, they could just get them. Don’t be afraid to try something new with your music.”
Don't Expect to Get Paid Out the Gate
"When you first start doing it, you’re not going to get paid. So if you’re doing it for money, that’s not going to happen right away. You have to be passionate about it and have love enough to do it to get through the times when you’re not getting paid. Passion is everything, because without that you won’t even have the drive to keep going.”
Check Your Internet Presence
“I never did any spamming or anything like that, just because that’s annoying. But I think social media and the Internet is important. I’m from Michigan and I probably wouldn’t have all of the opportunities I had in the industry without the Internet. I had a website when I was like 16 and it had my beats. I may have been 17, something like that. But at that age, having something like that reaches more people. I definitely think it’s important."
“Some people get management or get signed to publishers. Some people hustle themselves. There’s different paths people can take. I can’t say that every person should do the same thing. Some people just like to lay back and just work on the music and have someone else [put their names out there for them]. Whatever you do, I think the most important thing is to have the right music and I kind of think people will find you to some extent. If your music is really, really good, it’s not going to stay on your computer. People are going to hear and people are going to like it.”
Start with Computer Software
“The first thing was all in the computer. So one of my friends brought a CD to school and showed me some programs. I forgot what we were using. Maybe Cool Edit, FLStudio, Logic… all that stuff back then. Now I pretty much use anything … equipment isn’t that important to me. It’s moreso ideas."
Hone Your Craft
“You can build yourself to be anything. You don’t have to be born with anything. People think that, but whoever is doing it was once a kid just like you. You can do anything, so people can definitely learn to be a songwriter or producer. If you love it a lot and dedicate yourself to it, why not? Absolutely.”
“Learn the business. Understand it so you have real expectations of what’s going on, so you’re not thinking, ‘Oh I did this. I should have this.’ Try to learn the basics of the business. Talk to people or go to YouTube or whatever your web learning is and try to understand something about it just to get educated.”
Be a People's Person
“I’m cool with people and I generally like to go where people are. So it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.”
Seek and You Shall Find
“I think [the proverb 'seek and you shall find'] is true. I think if you’re looking for something hard enough, you’ll find it. You just have to really want to find it.