Rap Genius is an amazing tool. One of my favorite features of the site is the “Verified Artists” feature, where artists, producers, and designers can explain the underlying truths behind their work and share anecdotes about their creations. RG nabbed one of our favorite producers Ludwig Göransson shortly after Childish Gambino‘s Because the Internet dropped to discuss his contributions to the project. Check out Ludwig’s stories from the BTI mansion sessions, and get tickets to see Gambino live on his national “Deep Web” tour here.
Track 3: “Worldstar”
“Worldstar” was one of the last songs we did for BTI. We needed something really hard, and we came up with an idea to make a beat based on the metronome. I recorded Ableton’s click on my iPhone and then put a bunch of different FX on it. There’s a ping pong delay in Ableton that’s really cool that I use a bunch. The 2nd part of the beat came out by accident when I just slid the kick + 808 a quarter note, things got very interesting timing wise. The best part of the production is the ending. Donald told me he wanted something pretty. I was like: let’s have a saxophone solo! I called my Swedish friends, Jens Filipsson and Edvin Nahlin, who are the dopest jazz cats, and they put down 3 different takes just improvising over the chords. They sent it to me, and I started to chopping it up. I transposed the entire alt sax solo down an octave to make it a bit more chill — then towards the end of the solo I slowly pitch the saxophone up again to the normal register (3.37 – 3.40), and I let the saxophone end in its normal register.
Track 5: “The Worst Guys (ft. Chance The Rapper)”
Donald played me “dial up,” [and] I was like, this is really cool, let me do something with these sounds. A couple of hours later the beat for “Worst Guys” was done. I had always wanted to experiment with 808 bass lines, and I think the chromatic pattern that came out is really cool and jazzy. It’s in fact my fav part of the song haha. I had so much fun playing the guitar solo in the end, it’s like my inner child’s dream coming true. Donald was like: just take it over the top times a hunna. The guitar solo was influenced by Joe Satriani and Pat Metheny, [so] I hope they get to hear the song someday. Two days after I finished the beat, Chance came up to the house, and we played the beat for him. Chance immediately started singing “all she needed was some,” and we all started laughing–you can’t just say that?? Anyhow, after a while we where like, yeah, you can, this actually works! Press here to see me play the guitar solo.
Track 6: “Shadows”
Thundercat and Donald had written this beautiful song called “Shadows.” But it needed something in the end to take it to another place, [so] Donald called me and was like: hey I need to do something crazy with this ending part. I thought, yeah, let’s do something weird. I put on an organ sound and played some chords that worked with Thundercat’s vocals. I re-harmonized everything and then in the big part when hell breaks loose, I did my version of Thundercat’s melody played with a weird bell sound from Minimonsta. I also added a distorted “Beck” kind of guitar and doubled the new bass line with it.
Track 7: “Telegraph Ave (‘Oakland’ by Lloyd)”
I started with the chords you hear in the beginning. During the recording of this album, me and Donald used the G-Force Minimonsta plugin a lot. We had our fav sound in Minimonsta, and I remember running it through a guitar amp to get that distorted more vintage sound for the main keys. I added a simple 808 bass line to go with it. I think what really made the beat was when I put down a talking drum in there. I remember first putting it in, and it sounded really cool but something was not quite right. I experimented a bit with it and tuned it down an octave and also ran it through a guitar amplifier. I love stuff that sounds nostalgic so after that I told Donald to sing this little vocal line, and I recorded it on my iPhone microphone so it almost sounds like a sample. That vocal line gave it a very “indie” vibe, which was interesting because the other sounds I use in the chorus are a bit more commercial and “2013 rap production” sounding.
Track 12: “No Exit”
Donald wrote the “murderer” hook a long time ago. It was a totally different song back then–very poppy. I had kind of forgotten about it until Donald brought it up again. I was like, let’s take this into a totally different direction. I remember playing a Metallica-esque guitar riff that I chopped up and pitched down in Ableton over and over again. After a few hours of chopping and reversing the shit out of that guitar, it finally started sounding the way I wanted. Next thing I did was import a drum loop and then replace every drum hit with new drums sounds. That’s why the drums have kind of a weird timing to them (it’s also what makes the song bouncy). The synth I used to play the chords with was u-he’s DIVA. Great synth.
Track 14: “Flight of the Navigator”
This is the first song I did on BTI. I remember coming to the mansion and wasn’t really sure about what to expect in terms of my involvement on the album. I hadn’t seen Donald in a while, and I felt I had something to prove in terms of being creative and coming up with new sounds if it was gonna be good enough for BTI. We had talked about the movie Flight of the Navigator earlier during the day, so I named the song file “Flight of the Navigator” even before we started writing the music. First, I sat down with Donald’s shitty acoustic guitar and played some sweet chords. He recorded it on his iPhone and then sent it to my email. I put it into Ableton and timed my playing and also pitched it down like 7 steps. I found a crazy sound with someone going “wowowowowowowwowweeee.” It sounded so strange, so I just had to put it in there. Then, I had this old ’70s synthesizer movie sound that I put in the beginning. Donald sang a melody into his iPhone–in fact, all [of] the vocals on the first half of the song are sung into his iPhone! A cool layer that comes in around 3:30 is strings + Donald humming, running through a side chain with the kick drum. It almost sounds like hummingbirds. Another unique thing is the whistle solo in the end. It’s Donald whistling; he is not a very good whistler, but I told him to not worry cause I’m gonna pitch it down an octave. It sounds like a saw or theremin or something out of space. I really like how it came out. Also, Donald’s vocals and the melody he wrote were just magical.
Track 15: “Zealots of Stockholm (Free Information)”
I woke up a morning in the mansion and thought I had bed bug bites all over me. Anyhow, it turned out it was just a spider bite. I really felt like experimenting, so I made a coffee and went into the mansion’s office (studio). I came up with an idea to make a beat with a 3/4 feel that then goes over to a 4/4 feel. It came out pretty cool, I think. I also had Donald sing a little background vocal line similar to what we did on “Telegraph Ave.” I didn’t think this song would be on the album, but a month after making the beat Donald played me “Zealots,” and he had made a whole other new part in the middle that really surprised me, and then it came back to my beat again. I like how Stockholm plays a part in the story.
Follow Ludwig Göransson on Twitter here, and check out his song on our exclusive mixtape Sunset Selections.