We Spoke to Murda Beatz, the Canadian King of Trap Music
How did an unknown teen from rural Ontario get his beats to some of the most popular rappers while living in Fort Erie?
It’s hard to know what to expect of a guy named Murda Beatz, seeing as how the only known facts about him are that he murders beats, that those beats are rapped over by the Migos, and that he lives in Fort Erie, Ontario — a town known best for being the easiest way for Canadians to get into Buffalo to do some discounted outlet shopping. His resume is stacked with artists like Migos, Young Thug, Soulja Boy, Ty$, Lil Durk, and Rowdy Rebel, but Murda Beatz, also known as Shane Lindstrom, is more than just your typical trap beat maker. Throughout our phone call he revealed himself to be a musically-inclined 20-year old who was born in Niagara Falls and raised in Fort Erie, and a producer whose success is directly tied to how well he understands networking on the internet. His entire story can be traced back to the fact that he knew who to email, and when.
His first claim to fame as a producer came when he just started out at 16 years old and the effervescent Soulja Boy hopped on a remix to Rocky Diamond’s “Young N—a”, a song produced by Murda Beatz. Having a big name feature on your song so early into your career would likely cause a false sense of accomplishment in most, but Murda Beatz knew that this was just the start. Since then, he’s been consistently working, pursuing music in place of school, where he would currently be studying “something like engineering, or the piano, or something like that.” His music is being passed around through Atlanta and being heard by artists at all tiers of Atlanta’s hierarchy, reaching all the way to the highest ranks. Recently, T.I. put together a Hustle Gang posse cut over a Murda Beatz track with “Got Me a Check”, giving the Canadian a co-sign from the top of the pile.
Murda Beatz’s career arc is a case study for modern day producers who are trying to get their music in front of relevant artists. Although he doesn’t have an official album placement as of yet, Murda Beatz has become an established act in the mixtape circuit. On one hand, this is fiscally meaningless, since mixtapes don’t make the producers money in the same way they do the artist that can tour the project. On the other hand, it’s damn near impossible to break into mainstream production without paying dues on the mixtape circuit. Mike Will, who is arguably on his way to being the biggest producer of this generation with his work in the pop music realm, started off in the same mixtape circuit as a rookie, providing beats to the likes of Gucci Mane, Scooter, and Future before making his way onto Miley Cyrus. We spoke to Murda Beatz to find out what the young producer is planning to do with the rest of 2014, what he thinks about Atlanta’s strip clubs compared to the ones in Fort Erie, and why Lex Luger is a god.
I see some of the stuff is tagged as Murda, and some of the other stuff is Murda Beatz. Are you having an identity crisis?
[laughs] It’s Murda Beatz, but I’m really trying to drop it down to just Murda because it sounds a lot better.
So how did a 20-year old from Fort Erie start making beats for Migos, Lil Durk and Rowdy Rebel?
I started making beats when I was 16 years old. It pretty much started out like a hobby that I was doing with my boys, and I ended up getting more serious about it. I could always play the drums, so I have some musical talent, but I don’t live in Atlanta or L.A., so I can’t just randomly bump into major artists. So instead, I started building my fan base and my name by networking through the internet. Mostly through Twitter, Youtube, Instagram and Facebook.
Who is the first big name artist that you worked with?
Big name…the first person was YB the Rockstar from the Bay. Then Rocky Diamonds, and then I got Soulja Boy on a song too and that was all in my first year producing — I’ve only been producing for three years, total.
How did you end up working with Migos?
Right before their mixtape Y.R.N. dropped, I saw they were getting a lot of buzz on the internet and so I ended up hitting up someone on Twitter who was close with them, and it ended up being Skippa Da Flippa; at the time he was just engineering their music, so I just hit up the right guy. I DM’d him like ‘yo I’ll hook you up beats if you can get beats to Quavo and Takeoff for me’ and he was like ‘I’m actually their engineer, so I’ll play them beats when they’re in the studio.’ I sent him a bunch of beats and two weeks later he hit me back like ‘we got some hits! You need to keep sending beats bro, they’re fucking with your shit.’ Later that day the Migos page followed me, they called me up, and they wanted to start messing with me from there.
So, when was the first time you went out to Atlanta?
Sometime in the last year, after I started working with the Migos.
What do you think of Atlanta?
I love it. I actually love it. Atlanta is a very good scene for the type of music I’m making. The biggest radio stations are all trap or rap stations. All the clubs are just based around this music and just the southern sound, that’s what I really love about the city.
What do your parents think of you being a trap producer?
Honestly, when I was in school, I started making beats at the end of the school year and they didn’t know what to think. They were trying to make me got to school, and I was going to go to college for business or something because I didn’t really know what the hell I was going to do with my life. But then this shit started to pop off, I started doing my own thing, and now they understand. I teach my mom a lot about the game and who's hot, so she knows I’m working with pretty big artists down in the Atlanta and that I’m not just wasting my time.
How did you connect with Lil Durk?
I actually met up with him on Twitter. Before Migos, I was actually messing with a lot of underground Chicago artists. I was messing with GBE, Chief Keef and all those guys. I have a good relationship with Gino, Marley, Fredo and SD, so that s kind of how he knew me and he also really messes with the Migos really hard too. I just hit him up and told him I was Migos’ producer, and we just started working from there.
How about Rowdy Rebel? How did you get stuff to him?
Honestly, I saw Bobby pop off and I was like ‘damn I would murk it with these guys.’ I started looking into more of his group, I hit him up on Instagram and started sending him beats and shit and then he was hitting me back. Then I went to a Migos show in Rochester and he was there with Durk and then when we're on stage performing stuff he probably just knew that was me, because I’m the only white kid. And I know in Atlanta, I’m the only white kind in these clothes, so people know who I am.
What type of advice would you give to another producer who is the 16 year old version of yourself? What should he do to get the level that you’re at now?
Honestly, it takes a lot of dedication and sacrifice. When I was trying to get better a couple years ago, I was not going out. I had a couple of people get mad at me, I wasn’t going out and partying I was just doing what I had to do to get better. Saving my money and doing stuff that would help me get better. It’s all about networking, because if you’re not from Atlanta — I know there’s a lot of producers from Europe trying to make it — you gotta just network and hit people up. Its not even about just sending beats to an email anymore, it’s about building relationships around the artist. If you're trying to get to — let’s just say youre trying to get to 2 Chainz — you’ve got to fuck with Cap1 a little bit get a relationship there. You have to build your way up, like a ladder pretty much.
What was like your daily routine like around the time you popped? Give me a day in the life of your hustle before Migos.
I went to school and then I would like get out of school early because I had a last period spare, and I’d walk home just to beat the bus by half an hour, just so I would have that half an hour to make beats. I did that every day for like a year or two, and then in the summer when I was doing stuff with Migos I was just waking up and working. I’d maybe go walk for a little bit, come home, then back to work. Everything’s work.
Have you gotten a major album placement yet, or is it all just mixtape stuff for now?
I don’t really have a major album placement yet. I have some album placements in the works right now, but I know I’m going to be on the Migos album and that’ll be in stores around Thanksgiving or Christmas time.
Nice, what’s that going to be called?
I have no idea. Its suppose to be called Y.R.N. 2 but I don’t know what they’re going to call it it might be Y.R.N. The Album but I don’t know, they haven’t really decided. I know we have a mixtape coming out called Y.R.N. 1.5, that’s coming out soon, so just look out for all that stuff.
Who would you say has been the biggest influence on the type of sound you create?
I would have to say it was Lex Luger, because that was the come-up. I was sitting there, watching his interviews, watching his in-studio tapes. That was my favourite producer when I was coming up, and I actually had the chance to meet him and colab with him at Tree Sound Studios in Atlanta with Rich tha Kidd a couple months ago, and we made a hot beat together. Lex Luger is a legend!
Slava Pastuk has driven through Fort Erie on the way to buy shirts - @SlavaP