If previously unaware, his music is rooted in Philadelphia, PA, where he produced for underground artists such as Joey Jihad, NH, Reed Dollaz, and even a young Meek Mill. That was just the beginning. As far as producing, you can now find the artist, born Johnathan King, on a range of hits from artists like: Game, Wiz Khalifa, Juicy J, Freddie Gibbs, Tyga, Mac Miller, ScHoolboy Q, Kendrick Lamar, and a, now, more established Meek Mill — to name a few. While slowly but surely elevating his status in music, SAP’s on his sophomore mixtape. It’s titled, The Invite.
We caught up with SAP and asked him a variety of questions as both a producer and lyricist. Each answer is inspiring, and his lyrical influences are truly apparent when it comes to his witty wordplay. Check it out.
Influences. Who are (some of) your influences as far as production?
Man, it changes, it varies from legends to new guys you know what I’m sayin’? Like, you got, of course, Timbaland; my favorite, Pharrell, I love Danjahands, and Just Blaze. Everybody that’s great.
What about as a lyricist? Who’s your inspiration in that aspect?
Kanye’s my favorite rapper. Definitely um – just people that really were just making jams man, like people – of course I like Jay Z. People like Kanye, people who have fun with their lyrics and just make jams– like Redman and Method Man.
Explain your grind. Where did it originate as far as beats and then also as a lyricist?
It’s random – as far as writing raps for my beats because making beats is actually the thing that’s really rolling for me right now. I’ll make a bunch of beats, come across some that I’ll just play around with. But then it’ll be some beats where I’m really like “yo, this beat is for me.” I usually don’t keep my best beats, I use the ones that just fit me best.
So according to your bio on the web, your first big beat placement was Meek Mill’s “In My Bag.” What’s the story behind having an artist like Meek use one of your beats early on?
Joey Jihad was the first guy that really gave me my real start. He was like the first rapper that actually had fans – like thousands of fans – on my beats. I produced on his mixtape when I was a junior in high school. I did like five beats on that joint. One in particular was “Boss Man”
– Ha! I remember “Boss Man.” That’s not too long after Meek and Joey were going at each other on tapes.
That’s why that record was so big, people remember they were beefing and then they got in the studio together and made the song. But, I remember Meek just hit me up one day on Myspace. He was like “yo, I need some beats.” He sent me his number and I hit him with a few joints – maybe like four beats. Out of those four he chose two and “In My Bag” was one an “I’m Not a Rapper” was the other. Then after that, that was it for me, man. It was like everybody around here kind of knew what was going on. That was one of those situations where – no matter how big anything gets, I’m always going to appreciate that moment. That started everything. It’s unreal – I was in high school when I did that record.
Now, what about the grind as a lyricist?
I think anybody in the music, whether you’re a manager, or anything, you try to write at least one rap. So, I just used to play around with it and I ended up finding my lane. As my beats got out there, I just started playing around with it, recording little verses here and there. A good friend of mine, his name is Shizz Nitty, he was like, “Yo, keep going at that, man. You got something.” So, over the past few years, I’ve probably been rapping seriously for about 2-3 years. It’s been progressing naturally. I’ll go into the studio and just write to different beats. It’s really a learning experience, I’m nowhere near the steps I’m at in the production game. I’m still learning as far as lyrics go.
That’s amazing because I hear the foundation, the influences that you mentioned earlier and it shines. Nowadays, you have a lot of people trying too hard.
Yeah, definitely. That’s what I’m saying; my rap (style) is simple. I might hit people with a few different things. Like, I might do wordplay with certain stuff, but by I’m not trying to be Eminem… It can be super simple but also super clever.
Like Kanye’s “Mayonnaise colored Benz, I push Miracle Whips.”
Exactly. Simple lyrics, but the line was so creative.
What’s your relationship with Cool & Dre, and how did that come about?
A homie of mine, DJ Young Legend – from Philly, reached out to me like “Yo, I know a few people. Do you mind if I send them some of your videos?” He had YouTube videos of me making beats. He sent the videos to Cool & Dre and then the next thing you know I heard back from him a few days later. He was like “Yo, I think Cool & Dre want to sign you, like mess with you.” Days go by, and after a night of grinding, I woke up to a ton of missed calls from Legend. So I called him back and he called Cool on three-way. He was like “Yo man, me and Dre just did this deal with Cash Money and we’re doing our own production team. We need a squad to help out with the production. We want you to get down with the team. So I flew out to Miami and we made a production deal happen and it’s been history ever since. They taught me so much, man. They’re my big bros. I definitely couldn’t thank them enough for that. The got me my first real commercial single, Game’s Celebration. After that I got on Tyga’s album and things started rolling.
So, is there anyone that you’d like to collaborate with?
My dream is to get that respect in the music business and as an artist and be like Pharrell and make a project I really want to make. Like, how he did “Frontin’” with Hov. Whether it’s Raphael Saadiq on the hook of something, Redman and Method Man on something and have the record switch up with a hidden track with the whole State Property on it, but I just plan to work with everybody that I really like, who I was influenced by.
-Jamaal Fisher (@jamaalfisher)