IllaDaProducer has a LOT to celebrate, and he’s not done breaking down barriers in the industry.
The 12x Grammy-nominated producer has worked with all the greats in the music industry, including Eminem, Megan Thee Stallion, Rick Ross, DJ Khaled, Chief Keef, Polo G, A$AP Rocky, Pusha T, Justin Timberlake, and many more.
The Florida native adds, “I’m also somebody who’s really bullish into Web3, crypto, and decentralization. I’m a music lover and a lover of tech and finance. Everything in the middle.”
Now, IllaDaProducer has his eyes set on a new venture: taking over the Web3 world.
Successfully launching his new NFT platform called WhoWho’s TreeHouse, which you may recognize by the company’s signature owl, Illa aims to leverage the metaverse to give back to the music community.
The business was created to onboard up-and-coming artists into Web3 via collaboration and education while prioritizing community over profit. Also, 20% of all secondary sales are deposited into a community wallet, as holders are given the rare opportunity to sit in the driver’s seat by voting on proposals during their music NFT journey.
AllHipHop spoke with IllaDaProducer, who was posted in Philly for a few days after Ape Fest.
Read below as we discuss his background, most significant influences, Fat Joe signing him, working with Scott Storch, his name, entering the Web3 world, donating profits to the World Wildlife Organization, reaching #1 on Opensea, how he got in with Eminem, collaborating with Kodak Black & Megan Thee Stallion, and more!
AllHipHop: You stay in Miami, how do you like it?
IllaDaProducer: I love it, it’s actually my coming home trip because I was in Los Angeles for the last 2 years. I left Miami, I was in Miami for 15 years. Then I signed a big publishing deal after working with Em and moved to LA for 2 years. Started working with Scott Storch, then he moved back to Miami. I’m like perfect, I get to go home.
AllHipHop: Where are you from originally?
IllaDaProducer: I was born in Guyana, South America. I grew up in Brooklyn and in central Florida. I came to the States when I was 7 and moved to Brownsville, Brooklyn.
AllHipHop: Biggest influences?
IllaDaProducer: It’s crazy because definitely Kanye, Pharrell, and then Scott Storch. He was really pivotal in my life. Because after I graduated college, I moved to Miami and he was one of the first people I met. I was doing a bunch of nonsense, taking chances I shouldn’t have been taking. I saw him make a million dollars in a week selling beats. I’m like, I’m doing the wrong s###. [laughs]
AllHipHop: In one week?!
IllaDaProducer: In a week, right in front of me. Selling beats.
AllHipHop: Do you remember when you first got on?
IllaDaProducer: When I met Fat Joe, Fat Joe was the first person who signed me as a producer. The point between seeing Scott make a million and Fat Joe signing me was 4 or 5 years. I just worked every day. I already had talent that I was messing with from when I was in college, that I wasn’t taking seriously. I didn’t think it’d be a career until that week with Scott. From there, it was Fat Joe who signed me. I said alright, I could make this a career. Somebody who’s a legend in the game sees that I’m talented enough to sign and put it in writing.
AllHipHop: Did you learn anything being signed to Fat Joe?
IllaDaProducer: I learned a lot. I learned everything there is to know about being an independent artist. Somebody who runs their own label. Somebody who deals with radio programmers, marketing and promotion. Everything from A to Z because he does that, he’s completely independent. Spends his own money on his singles, his album releases and promo. I was able to sit there right next to him and watch him make all these moves. I learned a ton from Fat Joe, and I still do till this day.
AllHipHop: What was the inspiration behind your name?
IllaDaProducer: Illa was my street name. When I met Scott, I could be honest when I first got out to Miami, I was everybody’s weed man. I was in the street hustling. That’s how I know Khaled, Ross, Cool & Dre, Scott, everybody. Khaled till this day when he sees me, he says “I’m so proud of you,” because he knows where I come from. Being in the street then being at the Grammys with Eminem is a dream come true. Getting there is amazing, but that journey is what I enjoy the most.
AllHipHop: How does it feel to have your NFT project out?
IllaDaProducer: It feels amazing to have it out. To be one of the few black founders in the entire NFT Space, I’ll never lose sight of the importance of it. To build a project that gives independent creators, singers-songwriters, rappers from around the globe, who may have all of the talent in the world but may not have a platform, my NFT solves that problem. Just by giving them an actual platform to get themselves heard.
AllHipHop: The Web3 world is crazy to me. What was the process in releasing it?
IllaDaProducer: Luckily when I first got into NFTs, I got into Bored Ape Yachty Club. I learned the power of IP, I learned the power of community. I saw how to really deliver and always add value to your community. Taking those valuable lessons, I watched artists like Spottie Wifi, who’s a Web3 artist who released a song or album and sold out in 60 seconds. He was in Complex. There’s an artist named Latasha, she sells her videos you can get free on YouTube for $15K to $30K. I took the Bored Ape, Spottie, Latasha, all that information that I soaked up for 6 months, then I was able to comfortably come and drop something into the space. Because at that point, I was a known figure. I got the trust of my community, which is important.
AllHipHop: Talk about the philanthropic approach. You’re donating a portion to the World Wildlife Organization to help save endangered species.
IllaDaProducer: I’m an animal lover. I’ve always been an animal lover. Animals don’t have a voice, they can’t protect themselves so it’s up to us to protect them. It bothers me when I see more and more animals get put on endangered species list, people hunting animals. Now we’re this late in the game of evolution, all this information I still can’t figure out how people needlessly kill animals for tusks or whatever it is. There are other things you can use for that, so that’s why it’s important.
All of my 1 of 1’s in WhoWho’s TreeHouse are endangered species. My other philanthropic effort is to put STEM programs, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math into marginalized neighborhoods. I was a fan of Nipsey Hussle, that was an initiative he was really passionate about. I didn’t even know what it was until I heard him say it, then I started reading into it. Unfortunately he was taken away from us early in his life so I want to make sure that’s something I try to continue.
AllHipHop: Did you get to work with Nipsey?
IllaDaProducer: I didn’t get to work with him, but I met him several times because of my manager Steve Lobel. He’s a hip hop legend.
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AllHipHop: How’d it feel to reach #1 on OpenSea?
IllaDaProducer: I was in shock. I kept taking pictures of it over and over. [laughs] I’m #1 on Opensea music charts. It’s an idea that popped out of my head. Just like when I make a beat. When it reaches #1 Urban, I never take it for granted. Ever! Because I know where I came from, I know the struggle I come from. To get any of these blessings, I really stop and thank God. Appreciate the moment and then get back to work.
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AllHipHop: How’d you land that first placement with Eminem?
IllaDaProducer: This is a crazy story, I’ll try to make it short. I’m in Miami working, Fat Joe unfortunately had to go serve some time in jail. I was out of my contract, but I was selling beats. I was doing work with The Game, Cool & Dre. I was selling beats for $3K to $5K. I got close to a friend of mine named Jay Andino, he worked radio at Interscope. He had an artist named Phresher from Brooklyn, trying to get out. I came from Guyana to Brookklyn so anybody from Brooklyn who was in the streets trying to make music to get out, I try to help them.
He only had $500 a beat. I’m like “man, I make $5K.” He says “man I have $500, work with me.” I said “alright cool, at least give me something for my time.” So he bought 4 beats. He gave me $2K, I did 4 songs. One of them ended up being that “Wait A Minute” song. Everybody in New York was doing a remix of it: 50, Remy, French. Royce Da 5’9″ heard the 50 Cent version and did a Royce Da 5’9″ remix.
Eminem heard that and asked “yo, what’s this? Who’s this on the hook? What’s this track? This s### fire!” He’s like “oh, it’s this artist Phresher. Everybody’s remixing, so you know I had to put a Detroit spin on it.” Em said “I wanna work with this dude.” Phresher gets in the studio with Em and is like “Yo Em, you’re my fav rapper of all time.” Em lets him finish like “dope, so who did the beat?” Phresher is like “yo, that’s my man Illa!” So a $500 beat got me to work with Eminem.
AllHipHop: You recently met Eminem for the first time, how was that experience?
IllaDaProducer: Incredible! I still remember that moment, it keeps replaying in my head. It’s crazy some JPEGs got me to meet Eminem. Somebody I did 7 songs with I’ve never met, Bored Apes was able to make that a reality. I walk in the room like “yo Em, I just want to say thank you. You really changed my life. He goes “Yo Illa, not to cut you off, but you’ve done just as much for me that I’ve done for you.” I’m never gon’ forget that… never!
AllHipHop: My dog Slim is named after Eminem, because he’s the reason I fell in love with hip-hop.
IllaDaProducer: He’s the truth. I’d never thought in my wildest dreams I’d work with Eminem. Never!
“AllHipHop: Killshot” is history!
IllaDaProducer: Yeah, we got a Guinness World Record with “Killshot” together.
AllHipHop: What was he doing there?
IllaDaProducer: He dropped a song with Snoop. As a real song, a regular song on DSPs, and I believe it’s coming out as an NFT as well. They’re both Apes.
AllHipHop: Do you have a favorite that you did with Eminem?
IllaDaProducer: You know what’s crazy? It’s “Killshot” of course, then “Good Guy” with Jessie Reyez. I’m a huge anime fan and I sampled Tokyo Ghoul and some of the most beautiful chords ever. I never thought anybody would get that song, Em heard it and was like “this is amazing.” That was gratification like “okay, this is some of the most beautiful chords ever. I’m a make a beat out of it.” Then he heard it like “this is fire,” so I knew I wasn’t trippin’. All the anime fans still go crazy like “Yooo, Illa! You sampled Tokyo Ghoul!”
AllHipHop: Seen you with Kodak Black, did you guys make music/
IllaDaProducer: Yeah man, it’s funny because people always say me and Kodak look alike. We got in the studio together and we were vibing, because I got diamond teeth. It was crazy, we were doing a session with me and Scott. We were working with a pop artist, Kodak was in the same studio in Miami. He’s like “Scott Storch! Where’s Scott Storch at?” I’m like “he’s over here.” [laughs]
Kodak came in, Kodak’s a wild boy. He bum rushed the other artist’s session and asked us to play beats. He sat in this studio of her session for an hour writing his verse to his song. He finally was like “oh s###, this ain’t my studio. I’m a finish the song though, I’m a go record it.” [laughs] We have a big record coming with him too, it’s pretty dope.
AllHipHop: What Megan Thee Stallion on “Girls in the Hood”?
IllaDaProducer: Another amazing opportunity. She had the idea because she’s such a big fan of “Boyz-n-the-Hood.” She said “man I want it to sound exactly like that, but I don’t want to use the master. The only people that I know who could do this is Scott and Illa.” Everything you heard is replayed, there’s no samples in it. Eazy-E’s wife cleared it for us, it was a smooth process Kevin Liles, it’s one of his favorite records. I love Meg and we got more coming with Meg too.
AllHipHop: Goals yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
IllaDaProducer: Just to leave an impact and have a legacy like some of my idols. How Timbo has his legacy, Pharrell has his legacy, and Scott has his legacy. I want that Illa legacy, that’s my main thing.
AllHipHop: What is your legacy?
IllaDaProducer: Somebody who’s patient, helpful, and loyal.
AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let the people know?
IllaDaProducer: WhoWho’s Treehouse is still minting, it’s not going to be minting for long. If you’re a singer, songwriter, or rapper, wherever you are in the world reading or listening to this and you want to get yourself heard — and you want an Illa beat, mint WhoWho’s Treehouse. Follow me on Twitter, we always have a lot of great spaces. We do music content 3 days a week, Monday Wednesday Friday At 6pm. Come in, get yourself heard. Join this community.