Murda Beatz is more than just a producer; the 24-year-old Canadian beat-maker is an institution. Like death and taxes, his lush, filtered trap soundscapes have become basically unavoidable. The only certainty in a splintering rap landscape littered with “-type beat” producers (of whom Murda once counted himself among their number) each doing their best to carve out a tiny slice of SoundCloud real estate, Murda has slowly, but surely, guaranteed that nearly every time you turn on rap radio or playlists you will eventually hear one of his masterful, signature sounds. Of course, he didn’t get here by luck, accident, or drive alone. His tale involves a conflux of all three, dressed with a condiment he likes to call the “Murda Sauce,” his fanciful term for the daily series of practices he uses to keep himself in alignment with his goals and take-no-prisoners, fearless attitude. Once upon a time, some might call it swag.
That swag, sauce, or whatever other term for “X factor” you choose has led him to working with some of the biggest names in music, from Migos (“Pipe It Up,” “MotorSport“), Travis Scott (“Butterfly Effect”), Drake (“Portland,” “Nice For What“), and Nicki Minaj (“No Frauds,” “FeFe”) to one of his own hit-making precursors, T-Pain. He just recently joined the “rappa ternt sanga” at his Atlanta home studio for a live broadcast of Pain’s Red Bull-sponsored beat remix show, Red Bull Remix Lab, where Murda flipped his host’s latest track with Gucci Mane, “Might Be,” for a live audience of entranced Twitch subscribers. Over the course of the show, Murda chopped it up with T-Pain about their mutual acquaintances in the music production game, their respective processes, and what it takes to remain successful in a trend-based genre like hip-hop, where the newest wave is already swelling by the time the current one breaks.
The broadcast, which cut between shots of the duo working in the studio and screen captures from Murda’s laptop, displayed a huge part of that process, FL Studio (formerly known as Fruity Loops), which Murda mastered as a teen growing up in Fort Erie, Ontario. That was when he was just Shane Lee Lindstrom, a kid with a drum set and a dream of being “the only white boy making trap music.”
“When I started making trap music, there was no white producers in trap music and people told me I couldn’t make trap music because I was white,” he explains after the broadcast by phone on his way to Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport. That’s the reason why in 2015, as just a 21-year-old, he hopped on a plane to Atlanta for the first time, courtesy of Migos, who had heard some of his beats online and loved that “Murda Sauce.” The result was “Pipe It Up,” one of the Atlanta trio’s first big singles.
“I feel like it’s just being a student of a game and learning about the culture, and then putting it into the music,” he says of his appeal and what drew artists like Migos to his unique sound. “I think it’s like a mixture of what my beats sound like and the relationship I build with these artists to perform their maximum potential on my beats.” He’s certainly drawn hit-making performances out of the rappers he’s worked with in the three years since that first success, including 2 Chainz on “It’s A Vibe” and “4 AM,” Gucci Mane on “Back On Road” (also Murda’s first appearance alongside Drake), and even R&aB singers like Zayn and PartyNextDoor on “Still Got Time.” The thing he looks for, he says, is “confidence.”