Take a daring and honest message, slap it over an undeniable groove, and you’re gonna get people moving for years to come. L.A.-based DJ and producer Wax Motif‘s latest single “Divided Souls” just dropped via his new label of the same name, and while it’s as new as a crying baby, we have a hunch it’s gonna be one of those 3:00 a.m. club classics everyone loves to quote.
How could it not when it features hip-hop production, style, and legendary mogul Diddy dropping cuss-laced realness about how (more than anything) he needs sucker DJs to grow enough balls to play 20-minute versions?
“You can’t even get into your thang on a four-minute version,” Diddy says over Motif’s bass-riddled rhythm, his voice dripping in cocky swagger. “This album goes out to all them motherfuckers that like 15, 20-minute versions of a motherfuckin’ record… them divided souls, them motherfuckers that’s catching the holy ghost through the music.”
The boastful rant is backed by Motif’s equally bold hook to conjure a perfect storm. Its dark rhythm is punctuated by synthetic drum hits and background vocal quips, making it a solid choice to launch Motif’s new Divided Souls label.
“Divided Souls” the single is roaring through DJ sets around the world, notably in the recent back-to-back headline set from DJ Snake and Malaa at Hard Summer music festival. Billboard Dance caught up with Motif to hear how he came to work with Diddy on the track, and how Divided Souls the label plans to keep the groove steady.
I heard the track in DJ Snake and Malaa’s recorded set from Hard Summer, and the vocal totally caught my attention. It blew my mind to find out it was Diddy. What is the story behind all this?
It’s slightly crazy to me, too. I randomly got my hands on it through a homie. It’s not really a song. It’s not from anything. It was just sitting on my laptop for ages. One day, I made this loop … I put it on, and it worked really well. I have a friend who’s really close to Diddy, so I hit him up like, “Hey man, I made this thing. Can you send it to him and see what’s up?” He got back to me that day and was like, “He’s vibing with this. Let’s put you in touch with everyone from Bad Boy.”
As a DJ, are you a fan of the 20-minute version?
The pressure has been mounting so hard to make [a 20-minute version of “Divided Souls”] that I’ve started doing it. Initially it was like, “Maybe I should,” but then I was like, “Who’s really going to sit there and listen to a 20-minute version?” But since we started promoting the song, everybody just keeps asking me for a 20-minute version, or giving me shit for not having 20-minute version. So, a 20-minute version is coming.
There’s all kinds of crazy YouTube loops of the same four seconds of a song for like 30 minutes, so I’m sure there’s some sort of market out there.
Yeah, I’ve seen those. I’m going to try and not make it is as simple as that. I’m going to try attempt a version that you might wanna listen to.
You’re naming the label after the track. That must say something about how much you like it.
It was just that line that really stuck out. I feel like it says something about people in general, but also about myself and my music. I like rap — most people know that — and I like house music. I think a lot of people don’t see them in the same sphere, but I also think a lot of people like different genres now. There isn’t a kid out there that doesn’t like some DJ and Migos or whatever. The crossover is pretty strong, so it’s a reflection of that, not really feeling like it’s from one side of the coin or the other.
Does that speak to the label’s overall ethos?
I would like it to. Ultimately what I want to sign is good songs, regardless of the genre. If something comes along that I am really drawn to it and it’s not necessarily 126 bpm house, I’ll strongly consider signing [it], and maybe I’ll just do a house remix. The main goal is to not follow exactly in my peers’ footsteps. My friends AC Slater (Night Bass) and Tchami (Confessions), they have really well established labels, and I don’t want to be the third option for that – which is why I didn’t really start anything until now and focused on the radio show first. Direction-wise, I’m just going to see how it comes as I start building.
Why is now the time to begin on a venture like this? What’s different about today than maybe last year or six months ago?
I’m ready to get on my own time, not have to juggle the balance between so many labels. You can see my last two years has been spread between a bunch of different labels (Mad Decent, Deadbeats, Musical Freedom, Spinnin, Night Bass, All My Friends, Confession). As fun as that’s been, it hasn’t really contributed to me building something for myself. Also it’s just hard to juggle schedules, dealing with other artists that maybe need more priority and their schedule takes preference — not in a bad way. I understand that.
There’s also an album coming up from you on the label?
I’ve been working on it for a long time. I don’t think it’s any secret I work with a lot of songwriters. I’ve been squirreling away lots of really good bits, top lines and song ideas over the last few years. Now, I’m finalizing all that stuff and seeing what works together. I don’t want to lead my fans astray where they feel like they’re not getting what they’re expecting. I’m just trying to find this balance of what the fans are expecting and new stuff I wanna introduce into it.
Well this is a really great kickstart.
It’s really cool to see the reactions from DJs. I’ve never had so many DJs on both sides of the coin playing it, from the deeper house and techno guys to the big room guys. It feels good. It feels like it hits a good middle ground.
“Divided Souls” featuring Diddy is out on Motif’s Divided Souls label now. Listen to it below.