OZ asks for a quick break in the midst of his interview with Billboard as he checks his phone and calmly reads off he’s No. 2 on the Hot 100 Producers chart this week — only behind Drake’s right hand Noah “40” Shebib. The Swiss producer is quick to point out he was No. 1 on the list at one point last year, but is still excited to continue his winning ways while he keeps delivering massive records to the world.
“It’s unreal, but I’m getting used to it,” he says of all the production accolades, piling up with three No. 1 Hot 100 hits to his name (“SICKO MODE,” “Toosie Slide,” “Highest in the Room”). “Every day, I wake up and realize what we just did in the last two weeks. I’m always excited when I have songs that do crazy numbers. It’s amazing having three songs in the top 10.”
Billboard be like drake drake drake drake drake drake drake drake drake drake drake drake drake drake drake drake drake drake drake drake drake
— OZ (@ozmusicproducer) September 13, 2021
OZ (born Ozan Yıldırım) landed four placements on Drake’s Certified Lover Boy album, all of which debuted in the top 15 on the Hot 100 — including No. 2 with “Girls Want Girls” featuring Lil Baby and No. 3 with the Travis Scott-assisted “Fair Trade.”
As the cherry on top, the 29-year-old pads his resumé by earning his first production credit for Jay-Z, as Hov reunited with Drake on “Love All” following the solo version’s track leak in 2020. He recalls “going crazy” at home when he heard the Brooklyn legend’s vocals on CLB.
Not many producers have multiple songs with Drake — never mind connecting with the 6 God on the boards for 12 tracks since 2019. And that’s exactly what OZ has done: With just one 2019 meetup at Drizzy’s Toronto estate, most of their magic has been made virtually by exchanging beat packs and song ideas, since the COVID-19 pandemic forced creatives into lockdown.
“Drake was saying the other day that he loves working with OZ, because they both find new sounds together,” OZ’s manager Simon “Steez” Gebrelul adds. “They have 12 records together, and all different-sounding records. Drake and I talk a lot, and he loves him because OZ pushes the boundaries for him. They find new sounds together and experiment and help each other get out of their comfort zones.”
As for what’s next, OZ produced Travis Scott’s next possible single, which is tentatively titled “Escape Plan.” La Flame has already teased the record on social media and performed it during his Rolling Loud set in July, as he heads into the world of UTOPIA.
Before that, read the rest of our interview with the chart-topping producer, as he delves deeper into his production wins on Certified Lover Boy.
Billboard: How has the feedback been on the new songs — and is it different in the U.S. compared to fans in Switzerland?
OZ: I realized in Switzerland, their favorite songs are different than the people in the United States. Over here [in Switzerland], they tell me they love “Girls Want Girls” — but when I talk to my U.S. friends, they love “Fair Trade.” I love the four songs I did, and production-wise I showed my best side with every song sounding different, and that makes me really proud. People really respect what I did on the album.
Can you speak to your relationship with Drake and how it’s grown from project to project and how much he also trusts you now?
Each project we grow together, and the more we work together, he trusts my ear. My sound really matches with him — and I’m working from home, because I couldn’t travel for the last 1.5 years. Even when I’m not in the room, I find the right sound that will fit him. It was a challenge for me being home and trying to find the sound that he’s looking for.
Let’s break down some of the tracks you crafted, starting with “Fair Trade” with Travis Scott.
Every song has a similar story, I was home making beats and working on some ideas. I sent the pack over to Drake and one or two days later he sent me an idea with what he did on it. We knew about Travis, but my job is really flooding Drake with beats. He sent me the first idea back, and we went crazy on that, and he posted the song on Instagram. It’s a lot of going back and forth. This was recent — It was summer. Other than “Love All,” they were all done this summer.
How about just getting a song with Jay-Z on “Love All”? That’s got to feel good.
That was an older record [leaked in 2020], and just Drake from what I know. Then Simon called me and I found out Jay-Z was going to be on the song. It was an amazing feeling, I can’t even describe it. I didn’t believe it until the album dropped actually. I waited until the morning over here and I was going crazy when I heard Jay.
What about “Girls Want Girls”?
I sent Drake the beat, and he right away told me this is a smash and that he went crazy on it. He sent it back to me, and from there I knew this was going to be a special one too. The rest is really history. He went and hit up Lil Baby and he got on the song.
I just saw Lil Baby was looking for producers to send him beats for his next album. Is that someone you hit up now, after he hopped on one of yours here with Drake?
That’s something that I’ll do through management. I can send him beats — like, I already do, honestly. I would love to work with Lil Baby. I saw his tweet before this phone call, and after this, I’m definitely going to build a pack together for him.
I need some 🔥 producers ! My next album gotta be different 😳😳
— Lil Baby (@lilbaby4PF) September 15, 2021
And “No Friends in the Industry”?
This song was built differently than the others. Nik D and I built the melody side, and we created a sample. Then I sent it to Vinylz, and he did the rest by adding the drums and other stuff… We made the melodies and sample, but Vinylz added the fast hi-hats, like a Memphis type of beat.
With you checking off a bunch of legends already, who else is left on your bucket list to collaborate with?
I would love to have records with 50 Cent. On the pop or R&B side, I’m looking at Ariana Grande, Giveon, and Beyoncé. I want to show people the other side of OZ.
Last year, you were looking for that producer of the year nomination at the Grammy Awards, how do you feel about your chances for next year?
I felt great last year, but this year, I feel even better to get nominated. I’m just praying — and I’ll keep working until I get nominated for Producer of the Year. These songs I did definitely could get me nominated.