“Run that back Turbo,” can be heard at the onset of plenty of standout records from Lil Baby and Gunna‘s discographies, making the versatile producer the perfect choice to assist in curating the burgeoning ATL duo’s anticipated Drip Harder, which released in full on Friday (Oct. 5).
The beat maestro’s sonic brilliance shines through on a number of records on the joint effort, for which Turbo served as the project’s executive producer, outside of working solo on highlights like “Drip Too Hard,” “Off White VLONE,” and “Close Friends.” “I kind of just touched up everything,” he explains to Billboard over the phone, fresh off a flight. “My role was to put the finishing touches on to make everything come together sonically,”
Turbo’s friendship with Gunna dates back to 2013, and the producer even knew Lil Baby prior to him ever picking up a mic. The trio began to cross paths in the studio thanks to the beacon of friendship that’s known as Young Thug. The “Drip Too Hard” producer looks at linking up as a family affair — first laying the foundation to their distinguished rapport outside of music.
It wasn’t until after the strong reception from fans following the release of Lil Baby and Gunna’s April collab “Sold Out Dates” that the idea of a collaborative mixtape from the two rising stars began to pick up steam. “The song just starting getting bigger, so it was something the fans were begging for. Then it all came together,” says the Playmakers CEO.
The lethal combination of Drake and Tay Keith also once again unites to shake up the hip-hop landscape on Drip Harder, via the project’s “Never Recover” — which finds the 6 God dishing out another assist to the duo on the triumphant closing track.
Check out the rest of our conversation with Turbo, where he touches on the origin of his friendship with Lil Baby and Gunna, notching an appearance from Drake, co-producing Astroworld‘s “Yosemite” for Travis Scott in Hawaii, why Drip Harder is album of the year, and much more, below.
Billboard: Define your role on the Lil Baby and Gunna project, serving as a producer on certain tracks, and executive producer on the whole thing.
Turbo: It was one of the biggest roles I’ve had this year. With all three of our schedules being busy, we had to figure out doing music together and finding the right sound. As the executive producer, I kind of just touched up everything. I both record and engineer. A lot of the music was recorded out of town on tour and involved sending files back and forth.
How did your friendship come about with both Lil Baby and Gunna?
It started around Young Thug and being in the studio with him. It’s all family-oriented. Even when Lil Baby wasn’t rapping, we would all just joke and kick it inside the studio for hours. That’s how our relationship started all together. It all took off when we started working together.
When Lil Baby started rapping, he needed help recording and putting his studio together. My line was one of the first he called. We helped each other. We would be together almost every day and became family. I met Gunna in 2013 through Shad Da God. We’re from the same side of town and would always see each other.
When you produced “Sold Out Dates” for the duo, was a joint project already in the works?
Nah, because “Sold Out Dates” leaked. We didn’t have a choice really but to put it out, just to save the quality of the song. When the song started doing good, that’s when conversations about the mixtape came about. It was just talking because of our schedules, since we weren’t all the way working on it yet.
How do you feel Gunna and Lil Baby’s flows complimented each other on the mixtape?
I think they complemented each other well. Gunna is going to give you that melodic music that’s going to take you back to a certain place and capture a feeling, where Lil Baby is going to give you that story. With them two combined, it’s kind of like a new sound. I think that’s why everyone is receiving it so well. You never heard this before. It’s perfect they did this project together.
What did you think about the project leaking a day early?
Yeah, I think it came out early overseas and people in the United States got on it. The hardcore fans were still going to get it, and it ended up working out good. It actually turned up the anticipation three or four more notches, with everyone starting to listen to it early.
Walk me through how “Off White VLONE” came together with Nav and Lil Durk?
We were in Atlanta and Lil Durk was around. It’s never anything that’s planned. We just go to the studio every day and anything can happen. They didn’t all the way finish the song in the session. Durk and Gunna were in the studio and I didn’t even like the beat at first, until they put their vocals on it. It was one of those times where they would stop me when I was running through beats.
They laid down their vocals, and we saved it for a few weeks, and then Lil Baby came to the studio and heard it. Gunna kept telling him to put a verse on it and Baby was putting it off for awhile. The song was still short after he put his verse on it. We were trying to figure out who would bring it out and give us a whole new sound. Nav was the perfect fit.
Even before it came out, that was one [song] that family and friends kept telling us to play again. It’s doing real good on Apple Music and my comments are [all positive]. Artists are sending over art work, and it happens to be the first song to set the tone for the album.
Did Drake send over what went on to become the Tay Keith-produced “Never Recover?”
Yeah, he had been saying that wanted to be a part of the project, but he’s been touring too. [Drake] sent over that record and it was just kind of perfect for the situation and the project. [Lil Baby and Gunna] did their verses and it just came out good.
I liked that you guys kept a pretty concise track list, was that something you thought about at all?
Everything was calculated with this project. We didn’t want to give too much to the point where it got boring, or not enough to the point fans didn’t feel satisfied. We went through a lot of songs and changed the track list a few times. I’m happy how it came out with 13 songs. I felt like it was perfect timing for them to come together and do a collab for the fans to appreciate. It’s always better when you team up and the family is together.
You also co-produced “Yosemite” for Travis Scott. How was going out to Hawaii for the Astroworld sessions?
Travis Scott was finishing up his album and him and Gunna were speaking a lot, so he wanted to get him on Astroworld. When we got there it was like a creative island. There was so many artists and producers out there. We had a bunch of studios set up inside a huge Airbnb house. I never experienced anything like that myself, it was definitely an eye-opener as to how far we can go with the music.
I collaborated with a lot of producers that night. Travis set the tone for everybody to be creative and not worry about anything. It was the perfect extension for his album. “Yosemite” happened to be the first song they did that night. When we went back and listened to all the songs, that’s the one that stood out with a “Sold Out Dates” kind of vibe. Then Travis put his own twist onto it.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on building up my production company, The Playmakers. Getting a lot of the younger guys producing with good work ethic and just working together to try to get them more placements. That’s mainly been my focus right now.
Is Drip Harder album of the year?
I would say so. What do you think? You should have this at the top of your list. Drip Harder and than everybody else. In my opinion, it’s the album of the year. If Turbo say so, then you should go with that.