Dreamville made history when the label Revenge of the Dreamers III compilation album debuted at No. 1 in June, as the effort became the most collaborative hip-hop album in history — with more than 65 guest spots — to top the Billboard 200 albums chart.
One of the producers earning his first No. 1 album on the set was in-house Dreamville beat maestro Christo, born John Christopher Welch. The Pittsburgh native has played an integral role in fueling J.I.D.’s rise, and also worked on Ari Lennox‘s delectable Shea Butter Baby debut.
Welch was part of the fabled Dreamville Revenge sessions that lasted 10 days at Atlanta’s Tree Sound Studios back in January. Christo says the environment breeded healthy competition, while rappers and producers sparred in a “battle of the beats and battle of the rhymes,” as he fittingly put it.
Topping the chart wasn’t necessarily a primary focus of the group’s, but when you’re looking to craft an elite body of work, commercial success is naturally an important piece of the puzzle. “It wasn’t the focus or anything, but that ideal goal was in our mind,” Christo tells Billboard. “We wanted to make something dope. The rhetoric of having one of the dopest projects of the year does mean going No. 1.”
After participating in his first rap camp, Christo is just thankful for the laughs shared and relationships formed with producers he would’ve never had the chance to share the studio with if not for J. Cole and the Ville’s vision. “The person who blew me away was T-Minus,” he says when asked to pick out one particularly inspirational figure. “Just getting to see his work ethic, as far as what he does and how he does it. That made me take some notes. He’s the GOAT.”
J.I.D.’s tour DJ would go on to land three production credits on ROTD3, including a couple fan-favorites like album opener “Under the Sun,” which has already sold 200,000 units in the U.S. as of July 22, and the “Wells Fargo” interlude, which finds Buddy kicking things off with a British accent, before the energetic crew storms the horn-tinged beat in one take.
Check out Christo breaking down the trio of tracks below.
“Under the Sun” Feat. J. Cole, Lute & Da Baby
I didn’t see Da Baby at the studio. If he was there, I didn’t see it. The integral part of the song is the sample that repeats. I heard that in a room with [co-producer] Pluss, and I knew he could put some dope Southern drums on and make it a good song. Out of nowhere, we got Cole and Lute, and then Da Baby hopped on. I heard the finished version when things were being mixed. With me being on tour with J.I.D., I wasn’t really [actively] listening to tracks.
Da Baby recorded his vocals in Los Angeles at a later date.
“Wells Fargo” (feat. J.I.D., Buddy, EarthGang & Guapdad 4000)
[Co-producer] E. Dan sent me the horn sample. It was recorded toward the end of camp. I had nothing in mind when I made the beat, I just wanted to do something crazy. That was the perfect unorthodox beat to make and give to my friends.
That song was so impromptu, it’s a one-take song. There’s no punch-ins or anything there. It was probably made in about an hour. All those accents and stuff came from the jokes all four of them [Buddy, Guapdad, JID, and Olu] had going on. They were all standing around the mic and joking around. Nobody saw those accents coming.
“Rembrandt… Run It Back.” (feat. J.I.D., J. Cole & Vince Staples)
That was a two-part song. I didn’t make the part with Cole and J.I.D. I just did the Vince Staples part. Vince just came in one day and knew what he wanted to make. We got together and everything hit. He had a clear-cut plan of the song he wanted to make, how he wanted them laid down, and who he wanted on them. It was very organic and it just sounded good following J.I.D. and Cole.