Jahlil Beats is a legendary producer in the rap game, and he deserves all his flowers. Signed to Roc Nation, the Philly native is responsible for some of hip-hop’s most timeless hits, from Meek Mill’s “Amen” featuring Drake to Bobby Shmurda’s “Hot N##ga” to Lloyd Banks’ “Jackpot.”
And let’s not forget his own critically-acclaimed Legend Era mixtapes that reel in all the dopest features from old school to new school.
Born and raised in Chester, Pennsylvania, real name Orlando Tucker began producing at the young age of 11. With his dad being a producer, they had a home studio where Jahlil frequented, conjoining in the festivities of rapping and singing.
The day his father gave him FL Studio would change his life forever.
From there, he got hooked on making beats, eventually doing his own mixtapes with the hottest rappers in his city.
Producers wise, Jahlil always looked up to the likes of Swizz Beatz and Mannie Fresh.
In 2008, he met Meek Mill — the beginning of a decade-long working relationship and friendship. Aside from the endless plaques, last year Jahlil won a Grammy for his work on Anderson .Paak’s “Bubblin.”
AllHipHop caught up with Jahlil Beats as he was promoting his latest release, Legend Era 5, which features artists like Roddy Ricch, Lil Wayne, Dave East, Future, Gucci Mane and others.
Jahil as driving home from his son’s birthday party, but he took some time to discuss how he got his start with Meek, winning a Grammy, giving back to his city, and more!
AllHipHop: Bring us back to when you met Meek Mill on Myspace in 2008.
Jahil Beats: He had dropped his mixtape called Flamers 1, I hit him up on Myspace like “I’m a big fan of your music.” I used to always watch him on YouTube, his battle DVDs. That was my start. He said “send some beats,” I sent him 3 beats. One of the records was “I’m So Fly,” my first record on the radio. Another record “Hottest In Da City,” I was actually rapping on the hook. Third record was “Indian Bounce.”
AllHipHop: And Meek named his Flamers 2 tape: Hottest In Da City.
Jahil Beats: That’s when he got a cosign from T.I., he’s running around with Grand Hustle. Meek was super hot. He had a record called “In My Bag” buzzing heavy in Philly, I was happy to have the opportunity to work with him. He was coming up, I seen potential in him and I was hungry. As soon as we connected, he got locked up weeks later. He’d call me from jail like “when I get out, it’s on. We gon’ work.” He kept his promise. His manager at the time Charlie Mack (who ended up being my manager) reached out to me: “did you do the ‘Hottest In Da City’ beat?” I said “yeah.” He said “that’s all I need to know, you need to be running with us.”
He came to my mom’s crib where I was living. He sat down with my mom and said “I want to manage him,” the rest is history. When Meek got out, we’re in the studio from 12pm to 12am because that’s the only thing they let him do. He was on house arrest for a week, I’d come over there and he’d play my beats off his boombox. [chuckles] At his aunt’s house, he had no furniture. Our first day in the studio together, we did a record called “Make Em Say.” That’s our first taste of success, I was probably 19. We made the Billboards strictly from Philly. Killing the clubs: D.C., Maryland, Delaware were all playing it.
AllHipHop: “Amen” is one of my favorite Meek songs ever. What memories are tied to that record?
Jahil Beats: I’ll never forget, it was supposed to be for Dreams and Nightmares but it ended up on Dreamchasers 2. We were out in LA working, it was a sample this kid Key Wane (Big Sean’s producer) chopped up. Meek did the record and sent it to Drake. Drake said he wanted my drums on there, so Meek got me in the studio. I flew out, I got in the Boom Boom Room and did the drums. I took the sample and turned it into my own beat, the rest is history.
AllHipHop: That was such a moment in time. What was it like seeing Meek catapult to the forefront of hip-hop?
Jahil Beats: Right, it happened fast for both of us. He signed with Rick Ross’ MMG a month before I signed with Roc Nation. It was going crazy for both of us. At one point I was away for a minute. I was in Virginia working on Chris Brown’s Fan of a Fan with Tyga and Kevin McCall. I was working with Soulja Boy. Young Money, did a joint for Wayne called “Willy Wonka” for I’m Not a Human Being. I was in it too but Meek transforming into a superstar made me proud. If he’s winning then I’m winning, because I was there in the beginning. Me, him, DJ Difference, my man Conn, and Charlie Mack. Crazy because I met him in 2008. By the time 2011 hit, both our lives changed.
AllHipHop: Talk about your journey with Roc Nation, you’ve been with them 9 years.
Jahil Beats: I’m on my third deal, I love it over there. Doing all those records with Meek, working on Fan of a Fan, “Ima Boss” was the sole reason I got the deal over at Roc Nation. That was Jay Z’s favorite. They sent the intern to reach out to me, I was ignoring him like crazy.
AllHipHop: Why? You didn’t think it was real?
Jahil Beats: Yeah I didn’t think it was real. He said “I’m from Roc Nation.” He was so persistent, he’s like “Jay wants to sign you at Roc Nation. He wants you to come up.” I came up one time, had one meeting with an A&R. The second time, one of Jay’s close friends Emory Jones reached out to me. He’s at dinner with Jay like “I want you to come up again, Jay wants to sign you.” The last time, I came up with my lawyer. He’s looking at the contract for 2 weeks. I signed my contract, they took me in the back to Jay Z’s office.
AllHipHop: What were those initial words with Hov?
Jahil Beats: He was mad cool and down-to-earth. He said “yo, congrats.” I was about to have my daughter, it couldn’t have been a better time. I remember walking out of his office, he grabbed my shoulders and shook me up. They grabbed bottles of Ace of Spades, we toasted. They took me out to dinner, it was a blessing.
AllHipHop: How was dinner with Jay Z?
Jahil Beats: It was an out-of-body experience, I couldn’t even believe it. He invited me to a 40/40 party. I’m sitting in this VIP area with him, Spike Lee, Warren Buffett, Swizz Beatz. Crazy.
AllHipHop: How’s your relationship with Hov now that it’s been almost a decade?
Jahil Beats: It’s all love. It’s crazy because I saw him right before I won my Grammy last year. He’s asking about the family and showing love.
AllHipHop: How’d it feel to win a Grammy for Anderson .Paak’s “Bubblin”?
People don’t know that Dr. Dre won a Grammy with us too, he mixed the record. Crazy for me because Dr. Dre mixed my record, he’s the greatest producer. I knew the video was crazy, but I didn’t know it was going to win Best Rap Performance. When I found out, I was in Miami. We celebrated hard because I’ve been in this game for a long time, since 2008. That’s my first nomination.
AllHipHop: It goes to show the work ethic is worth it, a lot of producers’ end goal is that Grammy.
Jahil Beats: Honestly, I never thought I’d win a Grammy. I love making music and doing what I do. I didn’t think we’d win because we were up against Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Future, Cardi B. I actually was late to the red carpet. “We probably already lost, I’ll get there when I get there.”
AllHipHop: Was it in LA or NY at that time?
Jahil Beats: LA. On my way to the carpet, I got on Twitter and my mentions were flooded. Everybody’s like “oh s##t, you won a Grammy! Congrats.” Roc Nation had tweeted me, Warner Music had tweeted me. That’s how I knew it was real, I’m like “holy s##t.” We ended up going to the red carpet, taking pictures, and leaving. We got f##ked up, I didn’t even watch the Grammys.
AllHipHop: Did you turn up with Anderson?
Jahil Beats: I actually turned up with him the night before. Our birthdays are on the same day, so we got it in. He got sick, him and his son ended up leaving the hospital and going to the Grammys. We celebrated on our birthdays. He had a party that night, we went in.
AllHipHop: How do you gauge Anderson’s mindset as opposed to Meek when you’re creating a record? I love producers who actually study the artist and cater to them.
Jahil Beats: With me and Meek, we create with a lot of energy. Meek’s on everybody’s playlist when they’re going to the gym. We make anthems. We go into the studio with the mindset of making anthems. Outside of telling stories, we’re focused on club music or street anthems. With Anderson .Paak, it’s a lot more melodic. A lot more melody, a different type of structure. I put way more into “Bubblin” than I did to “Ima Boss.”
AllHipHop: Why’s that?
Jahil Beats: Because the music. Antman Wonder put an orchestra into that whole piece. With “Ima Boss,” it’s some brass horns, some synthesizers, that’s pretty much it. Only thing both of those tracks have in common are the hard-hitting drums. They’re both 2 different artists. Anderson Paak does a lot of live drums. The first time I worked with him, I did the “Come Down” remix with Schoolboy Q and Ty Dolla $ign. He’s like “do you, do your drums.” A lot of the records he did before “Bubblin” were live drums, “Bubblin’ had a lot of trap elements to it.
AllHipHop: Do you know the majority of the time if it’s going to be a hit?
Jahil Beats: Never, ever. I’m just happy to make music and work with artists I’m a fan of. I love to keep that mindset because you never know, life is crazy. You never know what blessings will come your way. I like to take it one day at a time, so I apply those elements of making music. One track at a time. There’s even tracks I think are the greatest beats I ever made, that rappers pass on. You have to take it with a grain of salt. I don’t even come in like “yo this is going to be out of here.” Whatever happens, happens. I never knew “Hot Boy” was going to be this big.
AllHipHop: The Bobby Shmurda record? That record is legendary!
Jahil Beats: I always look at my music as art, whether rappers are on it or not on it. When I put out instrumental tapes, I’m creating art. I’m an artist by myself. I started putting out instrumental tapes. Bobby Shmurda and Rowdy Rebel were big fans of everything me and Meek Mill were doing. I put out this mixtape called Crack Music 6, they did “Shmoney Dance” and “Hot Boy.” Ended up going viral on Vine and Instagram.
No lie, I found out late. Kevin Durant had tweeted me like “yo this your beat? This s##t’s cazy.” I reached out to Bobby on Twitter, he gave me his number. I called him, he said “I’m trying to get out the streets, trying to do music full-time.” I told him “you have my blessings, do what you gotta do. If anything big happens with it, we’ll handle the business down the line.” A couple weeks later, my man Sha Money XL reached out like “we want to sign him at Epic. Him and Rowdy, let’s take care of business.” They paid for the beat, put the machine behind it and it was outta here. Ended up being a #1 rap record.
AllHipHop: Free Bobby Shmurda. Isn’t he supposed to get out soon?
Jahil Beats: Yeah, I think he gets out in December. I talked to Rowdy weeks ago, they’re both good. As soon as they get out, we going in.
AllHipHop: Congrats on the release of your new mixtape Legend Era 5. How does this compare to your other projects?
Jahil Beats: I just wanted to put some music out. I dropped Legend Era 4 last year, right after my birthday. I got that feeling that I wanted to put music out. A lot of unreleased stuff on there, stuff I worked on this past year with Lil Durk, Meek Mill, Lil Wayne. I got Rich The Kid on there, Gucci Mane. Exclusive joint with Future. Travis Scott has a freestyle on there, Kevin Hart freestyle, Bad Bunny freestyle. This kid I work with all the time, Jinsu, he’s been there from the beginning. Got some instrumentals on there too. Putting something out for my followers, anybody who follows me. Feeding the streets. Getting a lot of good feedback too, I’m happy with that.
AllHipHop: What does it mean to have Meek Mill on the project, given your guys’ history?
Jahil Beats: It’s good. It’s crazy, the Lil Durk record was actually Meek’s record. We’d gone to Atlanta, he was working in Atlanta for one of his EPs, Legends of the Summer. I did that record, my brother co-produced it too. I did this record called “1 AM” [for Meek]. Lil Durk ended up snatching “Bougie” and putting it on his album — but that was meant for Meek Mill. I love that beat, that bounce was different. The tape is a whole bunch of records that I love, my favorite records past and present. I wanted to feed the streets and do what I do. I’ve been doing this since 2011.
Jahil Beats: I have a loyalty towards DatPiff. My boy’s KP from DatPiff. You rocking with me, I’ma always be solid with you. Next week, I’ll put it on every other streaming service. Or I might give my followers and fans a treat and make it an all instrumental project.
AllHipHop: Your deal with Roc, is that management or label? You get to do whatever you want.
Jahil Beats: That’s the best thing, it’s a publishing deal. They make sure they take care of me on the sync licensing. Every month, they license my music out and keep that bag coming in. I work on placements. They got me a sync license with the last Men In Black movie. We had “Bubblin” in there. I did the official Beats by Dre commercial, through Roc Nation too.
AllHipHop: If you could battle someone on VERZUZ, who would it be?
Jahil Beats: I’m not looking for nothing, but I’m not running away from no battle.
AllHipHop: Is there anyone that you think would be on par for you to battle?
Jahil Beats: It has to be someone from my era. It’s about nostalgia that makes these battles so great. Honestly, this is how I feel. The biggest battles are from a lot of dudes who have a lot of years in the game, besides 1da and Hit-Boy. I’m not even going to say no names. They have to come with their A-game because it’s different. A lot of dudes have hit records, but a lot of dudes don’t have them bangers. Them anthems hit different.
AllHipHop: Talk about investing in Kognition, the artificial intelligence company that locks doors.
Jahil Beats: Kognition is an artificial intelligence company I brought to Chester, made in Philly. Their technology is in the World Trade Center, they’re from Philly. I’ve been building up downtown Chester, PA for about 3 years. I wanted to make it safe. It’s software that weeds out people coming in with guns or weapons, people looking for trouble. Not even targeting anybody but making sure the downtown corridor is straight and businesses can thrive without being robbed, them stealing, or any type of danger. It could possibly be a billion-dollar company, I hope so. That’s why we started at Chester, putting them in all the commercial properties that we own.
AllHipHop: You’re only 32, what are some goals for yourself?
Jahil Beats: I want to be a billionaire one day. It’s not even about me, I want to help a whole bunch of people on a large scale. I want to help the world, you need money to do that. I want to change my city, my biggest goal right now. I want to build my city up, start with the sneaker stores. I got a DTLR franchise, it’s the first signature store in Chester. I have 2 clinics. One was supposed to open up but with COVID-19, they had to cancel their ribbon cutting. I got another clinic coming with PA Health and Wellness coming. We got mad big companies coming in, for sure. I’m also doing the residential thing too. I’m doing affordable housing. I’m coming, trying to build the city up and do some innovative things.
AllHipHop: You have a love for sneakers too?
Jahil Beats: Big love for sneakers, I got a crazy collection. I wouldn’t call myself a sneakerhead because I don’t really know the history like these dudes. I got a great collection though, I can tell you that much.
AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let us know?
Jahil Beats: Legend Era 5 out now. Vibe out to the music!