No I.D. on Grammy Success of JAY-Z's '4:44': 'Everything We Did Was a Labor of Love'
The producer is nominated for five Grammy awards tonight.
Last June, JAY-Z unloaded his truths onto the music world with his magnum opus, 4:44. The 10-track album was packed with boastful raps, candor, and gems about financial freedom that made everyone second guess their credit score.
Hov also unabashedly tackled the elephant in the room -- his infidelity to his superstar wife, Beyonce. With the help of revered producer, No I.D., 4:44 transformed from a musical body of work into Hov's personal journal of refuge.
The soundscapes created by I.D. allowed people to see Hov in a bevy of pockets fans normally weren't accustomed to seeing him in. The precocious producer skillfully sampled Hannah Williams and The Affirmations "Late Nights & Heartbreak," which enabled Hov to wrestle with his demons and sinful deeds. He also utilized samples from the likes of Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder and The Fugees, giving 4:44 the extra soul needed to quench Hov's thirst for mental liberation.
Because of his immaculate production on the album, I.D. earned a whopping five Grammy nominations at this year's festivities, including one for Producer of the Year. After flirting with rap immortality for his previous collaborations with Common, Kanye West, Big Sean and more, I.D. will hope to solidify his standing at tonight's 60th Grammy Awards.
Billboard briefly spoke to I.D. at the Roc Nation Brunch on Saturday (Jan. 27) about 4:44 and its unprecedented success. Check out the interview below.
Billboard: I remember when you first got the news of your Grammy nominations for 4:44, it didn't really hit you.
No I.D.: Well, because I was asleep and laying on the phone. So I didn't even hear it.
But now knowing that the Grammys are just a couple of hours away, how does it feel to know that Jay has eight nominations and that you're up for five, especially for producer of the year?
It's surreal. I don't know, man. Until this week, I haven't even thought about it too much, to be honest, just because I mean, I really just create from my heart. Everything we did was a labor of love and not intending to get accolades.
It was really intended to be a cultural elevation of what's possible with our art. So, that excitement was so high that I never wanted to even pay attention to an accolade of any type as a verifying or justifying way of what we do. I just wanna stay on this path.
Everybody loved how you pushed Hov to the next level, especially on the title track, "4:44." How were you able to get him to that state of vulnerability?
Let me tell you something about being a producer: You don't really want it to be about you. That's rule number one that really helped. It wasn't about me getting him there, it was me knowing he wanted to go there and me knowing he wanted to go where he wanted to go.
I think that sometimes as producers, we just service the artists who's really just the main front or person. You know, our roles are really just to help them get where they're supposed to go. So, I think I would kind of word it a little differently than I made him go somewhere.
I think he wanted to go there. You know, maybe other producers are not thinking about giving him the pieces or conversations he needs to go there because we also want money, hits, and stats, but I just didn't care about that. I think that was a big plus.
A lot of rap junkies are already dubbing 4:44 a classic body of work and are asking for you and Jay to team up once more. Do you think you after a special project like that you try to duplicate that kind of magic or do let that moment breathe?
You gotta let it breathe. I mean, I haven't even done much producing since that album. You gotta reload, you gotta find some of those moments that make it a little different and find a different perspective. I know right after we were like, "Let's go again," I kind of felt like, "Man. I'm a little drained. [Laughs].
I might just want to think about it creatively a little bit. That's why I say, I've been even thinking about it creatively like, "What's the next steps?" more than celebrating because you know, you don't just want it to stop there and then we go and celebrate off into the night as if it was some marketing scheme. That's real life what happened.
You've helped groom a lot of young artists like a Vic Mensa and Logic. Is there a new artist that you're going to try to put your energy towards?
Absolutely, there's a few. The singer Snow Aelegra I've been pushing, who's really about to get there. I really like G-Herbo. I got some artists that I signed, but I can't wait to see [what the future holds].