Since then, Play-N-Skillz have worked with Afrojack, David Guetta, LMFAO, Daddy Yankee, Steve Aoki, Becky G and most recently, South Korean group Super Junior. "We’ve figured out a way to rebrand and keep things within our hashtag: #NoGenres," Play says. "Whatever sounds great and whatever we’re feeling, we’re doing. Our mission statement is M.E.S.H., which is an acronym [that stands for] 'Mixing Every Sound Heard.' We’re trying to mesh the whole world together -- K-pop, Latin, electronic, urban. It’s just love, which is needed in a time like this."
Below, Play takes Billboard behind the scenes of seven of their biggest hits and shares the untold stories of how they came together.
2006: Chamillionaire, “Ridin'” featuring Krayzie Bone
Chamillionaire is from Houston, where we did a majority of our music for many years. When we were in our early 20s, we were going around doing shows with Paul Wall and Chamillionaire, who were in a group at the time. Chamillionaire is a very talented artist, and he was looking for production that was out of the box. We introduced him to Charles Chavez, who was managing us at the time and eventually ended up managing him too. He got a deal at Universal, and we began working on his album.
“Ridin'” was the last song that made it on the album. He actually didn’t want the song on the album. We were the last guys to work on it, even though we opened the doors for him to start working on a major-label album. Skillz actually sang the original version of the hook, and Krayzie Bone, who was our longtime collaborator and one of our mentors, put a verse down for us. He hadn’t even met Chamillionaire. We just told him, “Hey, this guy is about to explode.” When we played it for Cham, he was honestly nonchalant about it. I don’t think anybody knew what the song was going to be. [The label] put out the first single -- “Turn It Up” with Lil Flip -- and our manager leaked “Dirty” to radio. And history did what it was supposed to do. The song went to No. 1, and now he has a nice Grammy trophy to add to his name.
I thought it was a really good song, but we recorded so much material with him beforehand that we felt was so much better. I remember riding around in the car playing "Ridin'" for friends and telling them that it wasn’t the song I wanted to go on the album. So [its success] was a surprise to everyone except Charles Chavez, who pushed for the song. No one from the label nor Chamillionaire wanted that to be a single.
When "Ridin'" was No. 1, we were getting calls from every huge artist, every record exec, every A&R. I [remember getting] a call from a guy named Al, but this guy didn't sound like anyone I know, so I immediately hung up the phone. I hung up on Weird Al! He shoots me an email saying, “Hey, this is Weird Al. I’d like to cover your song.” And I was like, “Oh fuck, it is him!” When he does songs, he usually has his band remake the beat. But in this particular case, they couldn’t remake the track because there’s a weird synth that was actually a glitch. We hit a button on one of the keyboards that we played on, and it just kept repeating, but it sounded so good that we just kept it in there. There’s no way to replay it, so for the first time, [Weird Al] had to cover my actual instrumental. Once "White & Nerdy" came out and he did his thing in the video, it just took the song to another level. This was the ringtone era as well, so ringtones were going crazy on both sides. It was amazing how everything came together.