Malibu Babie’s path to becoming a sought-after producer started when she was just five years old. Growing up in Olympia, Washington as the daughter of construction workers, the producer would record herself playing the piano and later hand the CDs out to her friends.
It wasn’t until her senior year of college, though, while studying political science at Vanderbilt University with the thought of going on to law school, that she decided to pursue music professionally. “I was standing in my apartment and I remember being like, ‘Man, every time I think about law school my stomach sinks,’ and all of a sudden I heard a voice in my head go, ‘Well, that’s because you’re not supposed to be a lawyer,’” recalls Malibu Babie. “You’re supposed to be a musician. You’re supposed to write songs and sing them.”
She quickly added an elective songwriting class to her schedule, for which she wrote and played an original song to the class on piano. Her professor took notice, and suggested she work as a studio intern for a company called ZMG on Music Row, in the heart of Nashville’s music and entertainment industry.
Malibu Babie — whose moniker was inspired by her blonde hair and slim physique, and who signs off emails as “Beat Barbie” — spent the next six years mastering her craft and trying to make her mark on the industry. This year, she finally did, producing two Hot 100 hits, one of which topped the chart.
And while success came fast, Malibu Babie affirms it hasn’t been easy. “Whether you’re new or whether because of your gender or whatever, people underestimate you for sure,” she says. “But I realized quickly, if I did the work and if I came into the studio and knocked the socks off of whoever was in the room…they would give me the respect of their business people.”
Nicki Minaj, “Super Freaky Girl”
Malibu Babie’s persistence and hard work led to her co-producing a Hot 100 hit for Nicki Minaj this year (alongside Dr. Luke, Vaughn Oliver and Aaron Joseph) with “Super Freaky Girl,” which samples Rick James’ 1981 smash hit, “Super Freak.”
“This is a [title] I had in my manifestation journal for years,” says Malibu Babie. “I was just doing a beat day with two of my favorite-ever collaborators, and when we landed on that sample we were like, ‘Okay, this is a big sample. Like, if we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it right,’” she recalls. After several hours spent fine-tuning the beat, it ended up in the hands of LunchMoney Lewis, a close friend and collaborator. “The idea came together and gets played for Nicki, and within 24 hours, she writes the whole song.” What came next was even more surprising: Malibu Babie received a recording of the rapper laying down a verse. “I was like, ‘Holy fuck, is that Nicki’s voice?’ And then it all happened so fast.”
The No. 1 hit helped Malibu Babie become the first and only woman to debut at No. 1 on Billboard‘s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs as a producer this century. And though she and Nicki have yet to meet in person, Malibu Babie says, “I’m so grateful to her.”
Megan Thee Stallion, “Her”
Nicki Minaj isn’t the only megastar for whom Malibu Babie helped score a Hot 100 hit. Also this year, the producer cooked up the beat for “Her” off Grammy award-winning Megan Thee Stallion‘s second studio album, Traumazine.
“This was the last idea of a 6-8 hour session — I usually like to call them Hail Mary ideas,” says Malibu Babie. “They’re always the best work because all the pressure’s off.” She says in this instance, she didn’t even mean to play the bassline, which close creative partner Vaughn Oliver created, now heard at the start of the song. “I just started adding pieces, like hi hats to get the hip-hop thing and a little house, and just kind of playing with the balance of the two and adding the slot machine for fun,” she continues.
Though she and her collaborators wrote over the beat, once it landed in Meg’s hands (they sent the demo to her team) the Houston native rewrote the whole song — while on tour. “I honestly was not sure if it would fit her vibe at all, because it was pretty different,” admits Malibu Babie, “so for that one to get placed and be successful too was like, ‘Wow, it pays to take chances.'”
Malibu SZN Vol 1 Mixtape
Now, Malibu Babie is taking a chance on herself. In November, she released her Malibu Babie SZN Vol 1 mixtape, with the viral Instagram and TikTok breakout, “Barbiegurl.” She’s dropped its visual, saying she hopes it sparks “confidence and joy. That’s all I want, to make people happy.”
She says that kind of attitude is key to her work as a producer, and she encourages all women wanting to explore and enter the field to just jump in. “Be confident in your abilities and to literally tune out all the noise,” she offers. “I’m hoping that [my own music] will inspire women to know they can be any type of way. You can be feminine, you can be masculine, you can identify however you want, dress however you want, look however you want. As long as you have the talent, that’s all that matters.”