Words by Eric Diep
Photos by Lauren Gesswein
Jahlil Beats stops our interview midway to take a phone call from Busta Rhymes, who is supposed to come through to his studio session at Stadiumred in Harlem. Although he’s in Atlanta for the weekend and cannot make it tonight, Busta is already plotting a full week with Jahlil when he returns to NYC. His “1001 hard drives” are in the city, and he has offered to buy hotel rooms for their entourages. For Jahlil, it’s nothing but a two-hour drive from Pennsylvania to New York, so he’s more than accommodating to book time with the seasoned veteran. “Busta’s crazy, man,” he says after hanging up the phone. “But that’s my dude though.”
Jahlil Beats prefers going to Stadiumred over other NYC studios because of the all-encompassing environment of Harlem. Once the home of jazz legend Ornette Coleman, the 125th and Park location has grown into a premier destination for hip-hop artists to venture uptown. On the walls are dozens of album plaques from the likes of Jay Z and Fabolous—a sign that timeless records have been created here. In 2010, the harmonic space expanded to include a “B” room specially made for superproducer Just Blaze, which he uses often.
In the large “A” room, the 26-year-old producer and his team are getting ready to shoot scenes for a documentary he’s putting together. In this particular shot, Jahlil will preview new tracks he has made with Meek Mill, before getting into an unfinished beat that he has been tinkering with. Dressed in an all-black everything look (with a hat similar to the late Jam Master Jay’s), and red adidas Superstars, his work uniform seems more in-tune with Harlem’s fashion-forward MC A$AP Rocky. But right now, he’s just zoned in on adding big layers to this track before heading out for the night.
Back in the studio’s lounge area, we sat and spoke about his process in the studio, why Swizz Beatz is his favorite producer, his relationship with Meek Mill, Bobby Shmurda’s incarceration, his upcoming projects, and more. This is how Jahlil Beats does his thing in the lab.
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