Not everyone has had the honor and pleasure of working with this generation’s most influential artist, XXXTentacion. The Florida rapper passed away on June 18th, after being shot in broad daylight. The tragic news affected the hip-hop community and beyond, as fans around the world grieved and mourned the loss of their favorite artist. Read more…
Meeting up with Jimmy Duval, the co-producer of XXX’ breakout single, “Look At Me”, I couldn’t help but feel his loss. I’ve been a huge advocate of X and his talents, seeing the impact he had on the youth and recognizing his ability to relate to the masses.
For those who don’t know, who is Jimmy Duval?
I’m a music producer originally from Oakland, CA. Then I ended up moving to Miami and that’s really where I got my start professionally. My first major record was “Look At Me” with XXX, but I’ve worked with Smokepurpp, Trippie Redd, Lil Pump, KiD TRUNKS… the whole Florida scene, I really came up with them.
When do you move?
I moved when I was 18. I went to the University of Miami for one year and then I dropped out and just started working professionally.
What it the music that made you drop out?
Yeah, it was definitely the music. I originally started working with Poe Boy records, Flo Rida’s camp.
How does being from the Bay and moving to Miami play into your life and career?
I have a lot influences. It’s cool to go from one side of country to the other side of the country and see all the scenes going on. Different bounces, different swings, different things people are talking about — I feel like I have a good understanding of the whole genre.
How important is it to come to LA as an up and coming artist?
It’s very important. The last two years I’ve pretty much spent half my time in LA. It’s good to start in Miami because you’re like bigger fish in a smaller pond. But then when you get big in that scene, you can really come out here and do a lot of work. I’m in LA more and more every year, constantly.
What was your reaction when you found out XXX passed?
It’s tragic. It’s tragic for anyone that’s worked with him or anyone that was a fan of him, any artists around him, for his team. It just happened so fast. He had such a bright future and he was on such a good path, it just feels like we got robbed of an amazing creative. A lot of kids in the world just aren’t really breaking the rules like he was or pushing music forward. It’s just absolutely a shame.
Can you talk about your relationship with XXX?
We’re both really busy people. We did “Look At Me” together and had a lot of success together. We made history together. We’d see each other at a lot of events and shows. We were just working on new music which is really sad because his next project was going to be incredible. There’s not a lot to say. [pause] It’s definitely hard for anybody that knew him or has worked with[ him, to lose a creative influence like that or a person like that who was such an inspiration.
How did you guys link initially?
We initially linked kind of just randomly through that beat I made. He ended up getting on the record and it ended up just really blowing up. That’s really what brought us together, was that success.
Being that “Look At Me” is one of his greatest hits to date, what does it mean to be part of his legacy?
It’s beautiful, you know? Obviously, everyone wishes it wasn’t so short. But it’s a blessing. I think that song changed both of our lives and a lot of people in the scenes’ lives. That song was a real blessing for I know my career and his career. And a lot of the artist I came up with loved that song an inspiration to them. It was definitely a major record for anyone involved in it.
Can you talk about that studio session with X?
We weren’t really in the studio together, but he’s just a really passionate creative. He’s always pushing the boundaries. He doesn’t want to do what he’s done before. He’s always doing something new. I want more artists to be on that tip. There are so many people trying to do what other people are doing — every single day, following someone else’s tail. I have so much respect for anyone who’s not doing that, who’s really doing their own thing. And that’s what he was doing.
Your portrait tattoo of X is beautiful. Talk about that whole experience and the tattoo artist you chose.
Thank you. Shouts out to @IAmCompton, he’s like the best. He’s done a lot of Uzi’s face tattoos. He actually just decided to post “RIP X” right after it happened. I hit him up an hour after it happened and was like, “Let’s just throw a tat on my arm just out of respect.” I just got it right after it happened.
How long did it take?
It took about six hours. It came out really good. He did a great job. I’m glad I got it. It’s just a way as a creative to keep his artistic aura always around me. I’ll never forget that inspiration in my life.
Where do you see the state of hip-hop as it stands?
I think hip-hop is in a really creative place. I think it’s doing a lot of genre blending with rock and pop. Every hip-hop artist that I work with has tried to do something different and unique. Every genre is going to grow and change forever. I think hip-hop is in a really open space to blossom into a lot of things. You’re just hearing a little bit of everything right thing row: crazy distorted stuff, dope singing stuff, a lot of amazing R&B, a lot of amazing urban pop music.
I’m really excited. I think it’s really creative. You have a lot of people just pushing the boundaries more than ever, and I love that. As a producer, that’s always what I’m looking for.
Did you see Dame Dash called him the Biggie or Tupac of this generation?
Yeah, I’ve been hearing that a lot. I almost like to think of him as the Kurt Cobain of our generation, a little bit. I think he was just so like… that tortured amazing artist that was just a vessel for creativity in such an odd and unique way. It’s amazing.
Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
Sublime’s lead singer, Bradley Nowell. My next tattoo is gonna be a Sublime tattoo. We’re born on the same day, I love him. I’ve always loved his music. RIP, Bradley.
Who’s your dream collab?
What’s next for you?
I’m working with a ton of really talented upcoming artist from South Florida and from LA. Just out of the studio with Scott Storch last night, which is amazing.
I wanted to ask about that, that’s legendary!
I’ve always looked up to Scott. He’s such an amazing creative and he’s such a legend in Miami. It’s crazy to be in the studio with him just cooking up, making amazing music. It’s really a blessing to learn from people like him: eight Grammys, sold over a 132 million dollars worth of music in his life, Producer of the Year at one point. It’s dope. It’s always great to be working with artists, but to be working with legendary producers as a producer, it’s incredible.
I talked to him about working on the Marshall Mathers LP. He hit me last night and was just showing me his text with Dr. Dre about his new singles. [laughs] He was just talking so casually.
He’s so funny. Every time I see him when he’s out, he’s just so reserved.
He’s a humble dude, ‘cause he’s just so talented. He’s so amazing in the studio. But yeah, I always like to just let records drop and people know what I have out. Because if you say everything you’re doing, you kind of curse yourself. I’m really working with everyone I wanna be working with right now — aton of XXL Freshman, so that might be a good hint for you guys.
I’ve been blessed with that XXL list the last two years, over half of them I’ve already worked with. Just working with all kinds of young talent and then finding different genres to be involved in. Doing rock sessions, pop sessions, everything. I was with Sum 41 the other day.
No way! They’re still around?
Yeah! They’re killing it. Anybody that has that big of catalog could be touring the world forever.