From Travis Scott to Lil Wayne, Producer Sevn Thomas Breaks Down His Biggest Records of 2018
Grammy-nominated producer Sevn Thomas is one of the most in-demand beatmakers in hip-hop today. Hailing from Toronto, Thomas grew up in a Jamaican household where music consumed him. His uncle is dancehall artist Rappa Robert and both his parents had their own sound systems (Lover’s Choice and Love Choice International) where they would battle each other and host parties in their basement in Toronto.
Inspired by the music he heard, Thomas created a sound that blends multiple genres with his signature Caribbean-inspired bounce. Under the guidance of fellow Toronto producer Boi-1da, Thomas has garnered credits with notable artists including Drake (“Pop Style,” “10 Bands”), Rihanna (“Work”) and Kehlani (“Get Like”). This has already been a huge year for Thomas, as he produced songs on four of the biggest hip-hop albums of the year: Travis Scott’s Astroworld, Jay-Z and Beyonce’s Everything is Love, Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter V and Nicki Minaj’s Queen.
Despite the huge accolades, Thomas is far from enjoying his riches, as he’s planning bigger things in the coming months. “2019 will probably be the year I'm at the forefront when it comes to my work. It’s time for me to take things to the next level,” he tells Billboard.
Thomas sat with Billboard to speak about the five records he produced in 2018 and the deep connections he forged with the artists. Check out the conversation below.
Travis Scott - "WAKE UP" Featuring The Weeknd
[“WAKE UP”] was one of those things where ideas get repurposed. The intent was for it to be a Travis record regardless. Travis and The Weeknd have a really great working relationship, so I feel like they were in the studio with each other and whatever made sense for each of them. I think that's why it ended up this way. That's one of my favorite records, it means a lot to me. The Weeknd and I come from the same neighborhood in Scarborough, Ontario, in Toronto.
To share a moment like that with him is amazing. Travis is currently one of my favorite artists, so you know what that meant to me. I have the utmost respect for Travis and his taste and palette when it comes to sonics, the sound of music and where he's taking it. I was just super elated to be a part of that and to hear the finished product, especially the bridge where Abel just went crazy, I can’t explain it.
Travis Scott - “HOUSTONFORNICATION”
That is definitely one of my favorite beats I ever made. It's just a fucking heater, a slapper. It's definitely one of the more underrated records on Astroworld, and I feel like people are so wrapped up in the album that they probably haven't gotten to the second half of the album yet. I feel like it will be one of those records that creep up. I feel like it’s probably going to end up being one of Travis' best records ever. Shout out to Wallis Lane for collaborating with me on that one. It was one of the beats that were really special.
I started it and I had to live with it for a minute, you know what I mean? I was walking around, pacing to it, thinking about what I wanted to do with it. I sent it out and immediately heard something back. It's crazy because this happened in three different instances with me and Travis. I'll name a beat something, it inspires an idea and then it ends up being the song title -- which is crazy. I think we have an unspoken synergy because I actually never been in the studio with Travis before so there must be something that aligns us in the universe.
It's just an incredible thing to be on the same wave without being near each other. I feel like if Travis and I were to do a project, it would be fucking insane. I honestly feel like we can take sonics and production and everything to a whole new level if we did a whole project together.
Nicki Minaj - “Run & Hide”
I did that with my brother Rex Kudo. That was just one of those records that just made itself. We were up in the studio until like midnight from the night before because that's usually how we work -- we binge work. Rex played me a sample and I reversed it, pitched it, transposed it and I just built the whole beat around it and found the pocket. It just worked perfectly. It kind of has a bounce where you can really rap to it but I like what she did with the record because it was really soft and introspective.
Lil Wayne - “Let It Fly” Featuring Travis Scott
I think is going to be a slapper too. That one will resonate in the clubs and radio for a minute. I was listening to a lot of DMX at the time, specifically, It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot and Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood. I was just in that mood. I wanted to reinterpret what I was hearing from X's music. I did that with my brother Dirtwork, I'm super proud of you. It's dark and visceral. I feel like it's a 2018 DMX kind of record.
That record means a lot to me because Wayne is one of my favorite rappers of all time. The best rapper alive, actually. It's really special to me because it's a part of Tha Carter series. Growing up that series meant a lot to me. I feel like I got Da Drought-era Wayne rapping on that shit. I got to evoke that out of him like it motivated him to really rap and do something complex with it. Obviously, like I said Travis is one of my favorites, he just sounds good on everything so that was a perfect marriage of sound and sonics. Those two bodied that shit. I'm super-blessed and highly favored to be able to put that record together.
Jay-Z and Beyoncé - “FRIENDS”
That record right there is an anthem, you know what I mean? I personally feel like it should've been the lead single but that's my own personal feelings [Laughs]. Boi-1da was actually the captain of the production for that one. Much credit to him letting me be involved with that record. It was amazing and it's a very special record because what it means to a lot of people. It's a very relatable record lyrically and the sentiment behind it. A lot of the young women that I know reach out to me about that record telling me that's their favorite on the project.
The beat is hard enough for the fellas out there that appreciate beats and then the ladies that listen to it and relate to the message. Obviously, Beyonce and Jay are the G.O.A.T.S. So like I said, I feel super blessed and highly favored to be a part of all these massive records.