'A Milli' Producer Bangladesh Talks Timeless Hit & Wanting to Work With Lil Wayne Again: 'He's Got a "Thriller" Album in Him'
Not many producers boast a resume that can stand up to what Bangladesh has accumulated over the course of his career. The super-producer hailing from Iowa changed hip-hop with an ear for flipping certain cadences into euphonious loops -- a production style that many attempted to mimic at the top of the decade.
This Tuesday (Feb. 13) marks the ten-year anniversary since the release of Bangladesh's most critically acclaimed work to date, which came about when he formed the dream team with Lil Wayne for the genre-shifting "A Milli." The track went on to notch the Des Moines native two Grammy Awards and powered Weezy's sixth solo studio album, which cemented his mythical status atop hip-hop's Mount Rushmore.
The talented duo reconnected on Tunechi’s first post-prison single off of the Carter IV, “6 Foot 7 Foot” featuring Cory Gunz to close out 2010. Both creatives have had their fair share of legal troubles with Cash Money Records. Wayne’s strife has been well-documented and Bangladesh hasn’t been shy about voicing his displeasure with the industry’s tactics to leave producers unpaid. " He made a cameo in Rick Ross' "Idols Become Rivals," video, which served as a scathing diss to Birdman about his treatment towards Wayne and unpaid producers.
Despite the recent mess, the “Bossy” producer still has plans to one day craft an entire project with Weezy, “I think Lil Wayne hasn't reached his total potential yet. Wayne's got a Thriller album in him.” Bangladesh cites “industry politics” as the reason he hasn’t collaborated with the 504 native again and admits, “The business cripples you sometimes.”
Bangladesh also recently reunited with Busta Rhymes on the latest single off of his upcoming album, which is expected to drop by the mid-point of 2018. "Get It" sees vocals taken from a separate Kelly Rowland studio session, subdued behind booming 808s in a manner only Bangladesh would think to attempt. Busta then reached out to have Missy Elliott speed rap on the track, finishing off the legend-filled record.
Billboard caught up with Bangladesh to detail how "A Milli" made its way into Wayne's hands and went from a Young Money interlude to a single that "took on a life of its own," reflecting on the impactful tune a decade later.
Billboard: Feb. 13 marks 10 years since the release of Lil Wayne's "A Milli." Walk me through the beginnings of how that epic collaboration came to be.
Bangladesh: I went to high school with a friend named Shanell, and after high school we would work together and had a relationship from going to school together. She started running with Lil Wayne and Young Money.
I gave her some beats and she played them for Lil Wayne. A lot of my placements and stepping stones have been due to personal relationships. I skip the management or executive steps and go straight to the source. We're the creatives, so I can communicate with them more. Somebody in the middle prejudging what it is and they don't even really hear it. I skip the middle man, so I'd bump into artists on my own and that was the hustle working for me.
She played the [beats] right for Lil Wayne and he picked what went on to be "A Milli." She calls me and says, "[Lil Wayne] really like this beat, he keeps playing it for everyone over and over all day." The song is from an interlude to a real song, which was the original idea. [Lil Wayne] had a bunch of his younger artists like Corey Gunz, Tyga, Hurricane Chris that he liked rapping on the beat, and this was the interlude that was going to be going in and out of his album.
When I got a whiff of this idea, I didn't like it -- I thought, "You're kind of wasting my beat with this interlude shit." I wasn't feeling it. Somewhere along the way he changed it up and he rapped on it and I think he did several versions of it. Corey Gunz was on there. When I first heard it my expectations weren't met. I didn't like it. I had different expectations and when you expect something and it's not like that you're kind of let down. It doesn't mean the shit isn't good, it's just I couldn't digest it.
Did you believe "A Milli" would become as big of a hit as it did?
I felt like it didn't have a hook on it, and that would hinder the potential of the track. I admit when I'm wrong. That record did something I didn't know it could. It took on a life of its own. I don't think [Wayne] knew what the record was. I knew what the beat was, just not what the record was. I don't think [Wayne's team] took the record seriously, because they weren't going to release it as a single, until it got leaked and took off. That video they shot for it is like a viral video, they didn't even have plans to do it.
It won two Grammys for best rap performance and best rap album. I got two from one record. I think that track sold him a million in a week -- literally "A Milli" in a week. When "A Milli" dropped, it was the substance and steak and potatoes of the plate. I think that substance made people buy the album.
Didn't Busta Rhymes say you brought hip-hop back in 2008?
Yeah, he said that back when I did "A Milli." I met Busta Rhymes in 2006, I remember I had just done "Bossy" for Kelis. With people on Busta's level, you need to have something that matches them. "Bossy" was a current record and I told him I did that for Kelis, and [Busta] took my number and we were communicating for two years before we actually worked in the studio.
[Busta] was in 1 OAK with JAY-Z and all these big music executives and "A Milli" had the building rocking. [Busta] said, "He'd never felt the building rock like that." That night Busta said I brought hip-hop back with ['A Milli']. I'm not an egotistical kind of guy, so you could stroke my ego, but I'm not gonna be like, "Oh yeah, I'm that dude..." I'm more figuring out why he said that. What makes that real?
I started dissecting that. It really is like old-school hip-hop with a chop, and the way Lil Wayne raps on it is real hip-hop. I started to understand. In the time of this new wave of trap, it will stand out. Hip-hop's back.
How do you reflect on "A Milli" ten years out and what do you think its place in hip-hop is?
I reflect on that it's crazy it's been ten years already. It feels like it was yesterday. Just the impact that it had, it was great to be a part of something that changes and inspires people. It's dope to be able to say, "When I did this, everybody started making beats like that." It just changed the tempo of sequencing the 808 sound and it changed the game.
That's all I wanted to do. I don't see why you're doing music if you're not trying to add to it. I look at people trying to be hot and get money. They're taking away from the table and not bringing anything to it. I feel like you've got to create something new, why create something if it's not something new to present.
It's dope that records like this are against the grain and are typically said to not work. ["A Milli"] broke the barriers down with no hook and three or four sounds in the beat. It's dope to put some simplicity together, that was so eclectic at the time. It touches you in a way where it inspires you to want to make beats. A lot of young producers you hear now were inspired by ["A Milli"].
Do you have plans of working with Lil Wayne again? Why hasn't there been any communication since the hits you crafted together?
Yeah, I'd love to work with Lil Wayne again. I think the politics make us not work and that goes for anybody. I would love to work with a lot of people. The business cripples you sometimes. Creative people don't get to see greatness because of this other part going on. It's not Lil Wayne, it's the politics of it. I ask the people, why haven't we worked together? We did two impactful records ["A Milli" and 2011's "6 Foot 7 Foot"] -- we should do a whole project together.
Speak it into existence so it happens. I think with the business part of it, he's going through something. It's not really a good time. Once we get past that we could be in the studio all day. I think Lil Wayne hasn't reached his total potential yet. Wayne's got a Thriller album in him. He could do great things -- Tupac shit. I can produce that out of him.
What do you have going on with your label, Bangladesh Music Group, going on for 2018? You're planning on releasing an album of your own, correct?
Basically, I got artists like Famous To Most, the two-male rap group, who actually created the Nae Nae and one created the Whip dance. These are actually the creators of the dances. They do music and they're good at it. They don't make dance songs like Silento did. There's no longevity in that, so I didn't want them to do it. Their audience is the dance community.
I also have Precious Way, who is a female rapper from Chicago, we got the "Taste Good" video out now. I have Brendamada, she's from Belgium, and she'll remind you of coming up in the early Rihanna lane. She's got a low tone to her and an awesome voice and she's beautiful with a French accent.
I'm working on my album and I have a lot of features on it. I'm taking meetings with labels trying to get the right platform that can put these major records on a different level. One of my songs I got: Ice Cube, Kendrick Lamar, The Game, and Nipsey Hussle. I'm trying to finish the hook with YG. I got a record with Jeremih. I got a record with Gucci Mane that's so hard -- it's like "Lemonade" again. I got a record with Sean Paul. I've been working with Sevyn Streeter. I'll be in the studio with Twista next week and I've been in the studio with Dae Dae lately.