Producer Dez Wright Reflects on Crafting Beats for Drake and 21 Savage, Future and More
Interview: Kemet High
Editor’s Note: This story appears in the Winter 2022 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.
To no one’s surprise, Dez Wright had one hell of a year. The Grammy award-winning beat builder contributed to Gunna’s DS4Ever, Future’s I Never Liked You, a reloaded edition of Baby Keem’s The Melodic Blue, plus Drake and 21 Savage’s Her Loss, among others. Here, the 29-year-old Syracuse, N.Y. producer reflects on it all.
How did “BackOutsideBoyz” by Drake and 21 Savage come to life?
I sent Rio [Leyva] a pack of samples. And I guess he went through those samples and he picked one out and he did the drums in four minutes. It’s funny, that sample is very similar to Gunna’s “Mop.” Because I think I made the Drake one two days before the “Mop” version. But I just used the same synth and it kinda had the same feel to it. So, Rio made that beat and he was in the studio with Yachty. And Yachty cut to it. And eventually, just gave it to Drake, somehow.
If you were to play Yu-Gi- Oh! in real life, what three beats would you battle with?
[Drake and Lil Baby’s] “Wants and Needs.” I just feel like the music and the drums are so simple, but it’s something like you’ve never heard before. [Don Toliver and Travis Scott’s] “Flocky Flocky” is one of the hardest beats that I’ve ever touched. It has that crazy Cactus Jack energy. And [Pop Smoke’s] “Christopher Walking.” I think that’s one of my favorite Pop Smoke songs. Maybe I’m biased because I produced it, but I loved the energy on that.
What were studio sessions like with Baby Keem?
They were super chill. I would pull up some plug-ins and just start playing on the keyboards. And then he’d be over on his computer and start doing drums. And it was pretty crazy, Kendrick [Lamar] would walk in and not say anything. He would just walk right into the booth and then freestyle on the same beat. Them two, you can tell that they’re really family because of their energy in the studio. They don’t even need to talk to each other, and they just know. I feel like they’re telepathic or something.
With the whole 2022 in mind, what contributions are you most proud of?
I think “One Time” [by Nav, Don Toliver and Future] is one of my favorite beats that I’ve made, ever. I love the music in that and Don killed it. “BackOutsideBoyz” is gonna be one of my best beats ever, probably. I think that one just has such a good energy. And I think “Mop” [by Gunna and Young Thug], too. I think that’s one of my favorite samples that I’ve made or loops that I’ve made. Wheezy killed the drums on that, too.
Read Dez Wright's interview in the winter issue of XXL magazine, on newsstands now. Check out additional interviews in the magazine, including the cover story with Pusha T as well as conversations with Chance The Rapper, Ab-Soul, Freddie Gibbs, G Herbo, DaBaby, EST Gee, Murda Beatz, Morray, Ice Spice, Jeleel!, Armani White, Destroy Lonely, singer Kiana Ledé, actor Shameik Moore, plus a look at how new artists get on in hip-hop these days, hip-hop's love for wrestling, the ways in which women in rap succeeded in 2022, the rapper-run podcasts the game has grown to love and a tribute to rappers we lost in 2022.