Many amateur producers never make it out of the bedroom, but fortunately Medi BPM isn't one of them. Growing up on classic rap like Bone Thugs N Harmony, Snoop Dogg, and Wu Tang, he finally tried his hand at making his own beats in high school. He's been on his grind ever since, with his persistence leading him to the studio with none other than A$AP Rocky, and he's now produced beats for the likes of 50 Cent and Jadakiss.
We caught up with the Los Angeles-based producer to discuss his track on A$AP Mob's recent mixtape Cozy Tapes Vol. 2: Too Cozy, what it was like meeting the late, great A$AP Yams, what keeps him inspired, and the advice he has for aspiring producers.
How did you first get into producing?
During high school, I met my friend Kas who had been rapping since he was seven years old and making beats since he was 12. We didn’t know each other at all, but we started talking because we were into the same clothing brands and rap music. He had an MPC and a bunch of records at the time. I watched him make a few beats really fast and was amazed.
I was already very curious about music which is why I was there trying to see his process. I remember dissecting beats in my head since a little kid listening to the radio, paying attention to how old samples were being reused to make current day hits and stuff like that. I just had no idea how it was actually done. So watching Kas take a loop from a record, put some quick drums on top - it sounded good! I was hooked. I knew I could do that. In the next couple years I bought turntables, records, a sampler, and started making music.
What inspired your producing moniker Medi BPM?
It originally came from a job I had in the medical field at the time when I got deeper into making music. And then BPM stands for “beats per minute.”
What's one of the first mixtapes or albums you remember hearing that had a major effect on you?
Wow, good question. I know Bone Thugs n Harmony - East 1999 was one of the first rap albums I sat with as a little kid, and it just blew my mind. Like 'WTF is this?' I loved it. Both Chronics from Dr Dre. Snoop's first two albums. DJ Quik - Rhythmalism and a lot of Wu Tang and No Limit Records. That’s the first rap I was exposed to - by my friends' older brothers - that had a big impact on me. My older cousin showed me heavy metal at an even younger age but that did not connect with me at all.
On some more current shit I would say Future's True Story mixtape had a major effect on me. Also A$AP Rocky -Live. Love. ASAP, those projects came out around the same time. They changed the direction of rap at the time and eventually mainstream music. I had not connected with any projects like that in years. I rode around forever with those CDs on repeat in my car. I did the same with Future’s next few mixtapes, also Ty Dolla Sign’s Beach House 1 and 2. I instantly connected with those tapes and knew those guys could be big stars like they are now.
How did you first link up with the A$AP Mob?
My friend Tone Lopez was tour managing Rocky in 2012. Tone and Joey Castillo introduced me to the mob's engineer Hector Delgado in 2014. My producer friend G Rocka and I played our beats for Hec back then and we started sending beats to his email after that meeting, but nothing stuck right away. Then in April 2016 I ran into Hec at a Revolve party at Coachella and he made me a Dropbox folder to send him new music.
You also met A$AP Yams before his passing, what was that like?
Man, that was very surreal. It was just a quick one time thing in the club in LA. I just took a pic and exchanged a few words about music. I'm definitely not trying to act like we were close friends, but he was very cool and respectful when we met. I'm rarely in the club but I’m so glad I went that night. It was a classic LA night, ScHoolboy Q, Dom Kennedy, DJ Mustard, YG, A$AP Mob and hella other dope people were there.
I looked up to Yams for years before his passing. Seeing a young Latinx dude like him put together a successful group and brand like that amazed me. I was paying close attention, watching and reading every interview he did; waiting for the chance to work with him. I thought it was just a matter of time before we linked since I already knew Hec and other mutual friends. I used to want to DM him on Twitter to introduce myself and send beats, but I would always hesitate - probably out of some dumb fear of rejection. Then he passed and I regretted that.
After that I stopped caring and holding back with a lot of shit. I reach out to people a lot more nowadays, always trying to create new opportunities and work with the greats because tomorrow is never promised.
His knowledge, vision and character was unlike anyone I had seen in rap before him. I don’t think anyone comes close to that level of taste and authenticity to this day in music. I think the whole rap game would be a lot different if he was still here.
Tell us a bit about creating "Coziest," how did the track come together?
October 2016 in the studio with Hec: My friend and I played a bunch beats that night, our own individual beats, co-productions, and song ideas, but he hadn’t picked anything yet. Then literally the last thing I played was the “Coziest” beat. As soon Hec heard it he said “Twelvyy need something like that” then asked me for the beat. Twelvyy wasn’t even there that night but Hec just knew.
Right after that, A$AP Rocky walks in the studio, and introduces himself and instantly gets into a deep conversation about Nikola Tesla - telling us about the amazing shit he invented and how he never got his just due. Rocky put on a Tesla doc as he was talking to make sure we knew it wasn’t BS.
Then Hec played the “Coziest” beat for Rocky and he was feeling it right away. As soon as it ended he looked at me and said “that sound like some Three 6 Mafia shit.” Which off top I took as a compliment because I know Rocky likes Three 6 Mafia. Then he asks me “What are your influences, musically, like old records?” I responded with Parliament Funkadelic, David Axelrod, Roy Ayers... all was well in the world.
I got to watch some of the other songs from Cozy Tapes 2 get recorded that night, heard some of Rocky’s new album which sounds epic. Also French Montana’s brother Zack ended up featured on “Coziest” which was crazy unexpected, I love what he did to the track.
What was one of your biggest takeaways from that experience?
I took away so much. How Hec has an amazing ear to only hear a beat once or twice, and recognize that it would work for Twelvyy. Then Twelvyy actually fucking with the beat and making a good song out of it.
I've also taken away a sense of confidence that I’m doing things right. Validation for all the years of grind paying off again. It's also a reminder that God, the universe, and some good people fuck with me. I'm very thankful.
What's a piece of advice you would give to aspiring producers?
Don’t waste time. Don’t criticize other artists. Focus on yourself. Don’t wait on anyone. It can take years to get great at making music. Then it takes years of building relationships, getting out of your city and comfort zone to get your music to the right people and situations. Patience is a major key.
For more of our interviews, check out our recent Q&A with rising R&B star Col3trane right here.