A rap album
I executive produced “Casanova” by Brian Fresco. I engineered, mixed, and mastered every song, adding instrumentation, working with the other producers/beatmakers/vocalists/instrumentalists on the album to put out a strong record that fit Brian’s vision. Detailed credits here
In the spring of 2015 I got connected with Brian Fresco from Savemoney. After moving to Chicago, I really wanted to make rap music. I’ve produced beats my whole life of making music on computers, and at the time had about 50 or 60 beats I had made during the time in my loft studio in Kansas City and wanted to get into it.
At the time, Savemoney was a burgeoning rap collective with lots of really good music, but no household names (yet). Over the 18 month period I was working with Brian day in and day out to create Casanova, we saw all that change. Joey Purp got Best New Music and a glowing 8.2 review from Pitchfork, Vic Mensa signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, and Chance the Rapper became an international megastar.
I was sitting with Brian in the studio as his crew ascended to fame, but also I was with Brian and his friends as Laquan McDonald’s killer was acquitted, and as the institutions in our country were finally beginning to wake up to systemic racism. Beyond that, I spent a year and a half hanging out daily with Brian and his friends as he lived his life one foot in the streets, one foot in the studio. One hand writing music, one hand on a gun.
It’s pretty impossible to do a good job at summing anything like this up in a short read, but I’m infinitely thankful for the creative experience of diving in to rap music head first, and for the time I got to spend getting to know Brian and his world. I co-produced a song with producer Boi-1da, and I made a beat that Chance the Rapper got on, but I also came to understand in a small way this world that as a white guy who grew up in the wealthy suburbs of the Bay Area I never had any opportunity to get close to.
Two of my favorite songs on the album came out of my reflections at the piano over the year I was with Brian. I made hundreds of beats over the year, and only a few made it on the album. It’s a strange coincidence (or not?) that two of the beats that made the album and grew to have such meaning started with me sitting at the piano trying to make sense of things, and in the studio with Brian they grew:
The song with Chance was a crazy process. One night I booked studio time for us to work with Chance, and he bailed because he was with Beyonce in New York. Then, it finally happened: