04 Sep Interview: The producer responsible for some of Krept and Konan’s biggest hits, ADP, is a multi-genre beat-maker in a lane of his own
Producers generally hone their skills in one particular genre and become renown for that sound. A jack of all trades is a master of none, is what fuels that thinking. Equally, nobody said you can only be the master of one trade, a school of thought which ADP, a multi-genre producer, subscribes to and he seamlessly collaborates with a varied range of artists.
Raised in Croydon, ADP’s earlier production days saw him lean heavily on the pop-dominated world of the early 2010s, a decision which made sense at the time. Even when rappers got signed, they were asked to do pop, so naturally, it made sense to go where the money’s at.
ADP’s ascension will forever be tied to that of Krept and Konan’s, seeing as it was him who served as executive producer on their two biggest projects to date. One was a mixtape, Young Kingz, that charted in the top 20, the other was a debut album, The Long Way Home that debuted in the top-two, both trailblazing achievements in UK rap when they were released.
Beyond his work with the Crepes and Cones duo, he also teamed up with Play Dirty’s Yungen to produce his first top-20 hit, ‘Bestie’, while ADP’s production tag can be found in many spaces, having produced tracks for with M.I.A, James Arthur, Chris Brown and Dua Lipa, with plenty of plaques to follow.
Plugsville sat down with ADP to discuss his career so far. All photos taken by Zek Snaps.
What first made you want to get into producing?
My brother’s mate was a DJ. When I was like 14 or 15, his mate was a DJ and he always used to give out his mix CDs, which I thought was sick, so I just started DJing from that. I used to read the back of vinyl covers and CD covers, to find out who produced it, wrote it, which samples were used and things like that. I’d find the samples and then figure out how to remake beats, Timbaland, Scott Storch, Swizz Beatz, that era of hip-hop. I used to try and get the samples and recreate them.then from there, I realised that this is what I want to do.
You had a song on Radio 1 many years ago, one of your first, which made you around £600. Was it like to get your first cheque from music?
It was mad, I think I was in college at the time. Everyone was getting part-time jobs and I was thinking ‘maybe I need to do the same’. Bobby Friction and Nihal had an Asian show on Radio 1 and they just started playing bare of my songs all the time and I got a PRS check from it. That gave me an early taste of making money from music.
You studied Commercial Music at university. How did that degree aid your production abilities?
Production ability, it didn’t help so much, but it helped me on the business side. So with production contracts and what not, the language they use in contracts is mad. It’s all complicated and confusing, so I can understand the jist of what I’m signing most times without my lawyer or manager going through it first. Creatively, production-wise, it didn’t add much to what I do. The creative stuff was more like, you can choose to that, but the compulsory stuff was the laws and business side of music, which helped a lot.
When did your producing beats turn into a career for you?
After I did the Young Kingz tape for Krept & Konan, after that, I got my publishing deal right before their album started.
How did the link up with Krept and Konan come about?
Through my old manager, he had a meeting with their ex-manager at the time and played some stuff. He was looking for more club-friendly kinda beat and I played one and they liked it. Then from there, we linked up and did that one song, which never came out. Then after that, they said send other beats that you got, but back then, around 2013, Krept & Konan weren’t really on that sound anyway. Then I sent some over other beats, they liked them, then started saying they’re going to get Tinie on this, gonna get Giggs, Fekky. Then from there, it turned into a full-blown project.
So Young Kingz was originally going to be a four-track project?
Yeah, they were gonna all it ‘Quick Ting’ or something like that, and then it turned into Young Kingz.
While you were making Young Kingz, did you all know you were about to create something that would go on to hit so many landmarks?
It was a mad surprise. We put it hoping it does well and it just kinda went mad with it. Then they got the record deal from there, then we did their album after that.
You were executive producer on The Long Way Home. Do you feel there was more pressure on this project, considering the success of Young Kingz?
There was a lot of pressure, but we had time. It wasn’t like we had to deliver it in six months, for example. We spent just over a year working on it. We had a lot of time to figure out what they wanted to do and what their sound was gonna be for it. But the main bit of pressure on that was finding the singles. It was all of our first time making an album for a major label, so we ended up making the album, very ‘albumy’, if that makes sense. We didn’t start with, ‘let’s make the singles, then make the rest around that’. We submitted that album two times. ‘Freak of the Week’ wasn’t on there the first time, that song came around super last-minute, and that was the first single.
Was it difficult putting together such a big single like ‘Freak of the Week’ so last-minute?
Na, because luckily, Jeremih had the idea that he’d started with Mustard. When he sent it to them, it was literally like the bass-line and a four-minute freestyle, so there was no actual song. We were thinking it could be sick because of the sample, then I went through it, pieced together what I thought should be the chorus. Once we figured that out, I re-made the track, finished it and added everything to it. Then Jeremih came to town for a video shoot or a show, flew down to the studio and re-recorded what is now the chorus and finished writing it. It was sick, very sick experience to work on that single.
Produced Yungen x Yxng Bane – ‘Bestie’, Top 20. That track was something of a slow-burner at first, right?
Yungen came to see me one evening. We were talking for a couple hours, then I was playing around the on keyboard after we ate, and he liked the beat I played him, and just started writing to it. He had a different chorus for ‘Bestie’ which I made him sing, but he’s not really into singing. He liked it, but he wasn’t sure because he’d never done it before. Then he said, send it to me without the chorus and just my verses, I’m gonna send it to Yxng Bane. Bane had just done ‘Fine Wine’ around that time. Then Bane sent it back with the official ‘Bestie’ chorus and released it. It wasn’t even like a proper single, with a campaign and what not, it just organically grew.
Yungen went to Dubai, shot the video himself and just to put it out as a soft release kinda thing. Then six months later, it started growing on a mad level, then it kept growing and kept growing, then it started getting played on radio and got played on Radio 1. There was a couple months before it took off commercially, but as soon as it went into that commercial world, that was it. It just kept going. The radio were hammering it, then it went onto Capital FM, and I was like ‘okay, when it’s on Capital FM, that’s when you know it’s a hit’.
Also worked with James Arthur and M.I.A. Is it difficult having to cater for many different sounds. A lot of producers stick to one sound
It’s not easy, but over the years, I’ve just got used to juggling so many things, being able to make a rap song one day, a pure pop song the next. Just before my publishing deal and the Krept and Konan phase, I was mainly making just pop music, because I thought that’s the way in. Any rap artist that got signed around 2011-13, once they got signed, they were doing pop songs, like fully, with a pop singer, break-beat drums, piano, strings… there was no urban element to it, apart from their rapping. So I think from doing that, I’ve been able to juggle things easier. I’ve never boxed myself in into being a producer that makes just one sound, but I still have an urban foundation to it.
Linked up with Jeremih on ‘No Good For Me’ on your first official single release. Did that collaboration come off the back of ‘Freak of the Week’?
Surprisingly, it didn’t. I had a song with an artist called Vori, who’s from Kentucky. He co-wrote ‘Don’t’ with Bryson Tiller and he’s on the ‘Break Bread’ song with Bryson as well. I met up with him in LA and I was gonna keep him on it and put a feature on the last verse, then my publisher sent it to Jeremih for the feature. Then when Jeremih heard it, he ended up singing the whole song and doing the verse. So I ended up keeping Jeremih on it, taking one of the original verses off and kept the new verse, so then I still had a space for a last verse, so I put Ebenezer on it. Once he jumped on it, I thought it would be sick to do a UK-US link-up.
Was there a risk of fans engaging less with the track because you’re the feature artist now? For example, Jeremih feat Ebenezer (produced by ADP), is different to ADP feat. Jeremih and Ebenezer, in the eyes of some fans. Did that come into your thinking before its release?
Yeah, I was mad nervous, but I thought that I’d done enough for other people, so I felt that it was time for me to put my own stuff out. Even if they don’t know who I am, they can do a quick Google and see who I’ve worked it, and from there, hopefully gain a fan.
Latest release alongside Ebenezer again and also Kranium and B Young – ‘Movie’. How did you merge all of those different sounds together on one track?
Luckily I didn’t have anyone in the room at the same time and nobody had heard anyone else’s verse. All they had was the chorus. I had Ebenezer’s verse originally from when we made the idea, but I sent it to B without it and just gave him the chorus and the beat. He came back with his bit and it was sick, then my publisher sent it to Kranium, again with just the chorus, then he came back with his bit somehow all worked, miraculously.
Because their all singing, even though they’re completely different in sound and what they do, because they’re all singing, it kinda just worked. It took me a while to figure out the positioning of everyone. Originally I had Ebenezer first, then B Young second, Kranium last and it felt weird, so I was doing a lot of juggling. The song starts with the chorus now, but at first, I tried to go straight into a verse. I figured it out and meshed nicely together in the end.
A lot of plaques on your wall… favourite three?
Bestie, working on M.I.A’s album. That was her last album and I did the first single, and what she stands for is amazing. And then one I got from working with Chris Brown.