There is often conversation about how the producer is an integral part of Hip-Hop but we still feel that they are not spotlighted enough.
Bongo By The Way is a producer who has contributed to songs from top notch artists in the past couple of years. After winning a GRAMMY for his work on Lecrae’s 2012 album Gravity and creating bangers for artists like Jeremih, 50 Cent, The Game, YG and several more, he caught the attention of none other than Kanye West a few months ago.
Since then, Bongo has found himself in the studio (and on stage) with Kanye on the regular, something he had never thought would happen. The Nigeria born, Florida-schooled and L.A. based producer contributed to the ye standout ‘All Mine’ (now platinum) and helped Kanye produce ‘Hurry’ from Teyana Taylor’s latest set K.T.S.E. with partner in crime, Ant Clemons.
Bongo has been working closely with Kanye on his upcoming album YANDHI, although he isn’t obviously sure what all will make the final cut. In our exclusive interview, he talks that plus his experience of being in the studio with someone that creative, having 10 albums worth of material with Jeremih and some of the other artists he has produced for in recent times.
This interview is slightly edited for clarity.
We’re catching up after almost a year. Last time we spoke, you had just produced new singles for 50 Cent and The Game. What all has changed over the past 12 months?
So much has changed man. I have been able to connect with so many of the people I grew up watching and listening to. I connected with my man Ant Clemons and the work we have put in together has just been amazing. I introduced him to Jeremih. It has truly been a blessing.
You have worked very closely with Kanye West over the past few months, contributing to both Kanye’s ye and Teyana Tylor’s K.T.S.E. albums. How was the experience?
It’s been amazing. Whatever you may say about him, he is an extraordinary artist who has defined how and what we listen to today. It’s a blessing that he loves my work. He just liked the vibe we had and we connected really well in the studio. Ant and I, we had worked on ‘All Mine’ together and when ‘Ye heard it, he wanted it for his album. It’s funny that the original name of the song was ‘Pooty Tang’. Shout out to Teyana Taylor too, she appreciated our work, doing ‘Hurry’ with her was a lot of fun.
(Bongo can be seen sitting on the couch behind Kanye in this video from Uganda)
Congrats on ‘All Mine’ going platinum by the way. You traveled with Kanye to Uganda too right? How was that?
Just incredible. I was only there for a few days but we worked on music in such a beautiful way. I hadn’t been to Africa since the time I was born there so it was great arriving in the home land. You get out of the plane and you see your own black people. You’re away from home but still feel kind of at home, you know what I mean? We created some dope music there. Can’t wait for it to come out.
Tell us something about YANDHI, what kind of sound can we expect this time from Kanye?
You know I can’t speak on it specifically but just expect great vibes. The music that I have been a part of and heard sounds amazing. For rest, you just gotta wait for the project.
Do you think the album will release on Black Friday as promised?
To be honest, we were actually pretty much done last time around too but Kanye felt he had more work to do and that’s when the idea of Uganda came about. But yeah, the album should arrive on time this time, I believe so.
How is working with Kanye different from rest of the artists?
There aren’t many artists in the game who are just well rounded artists like him. Like he’s really into the art. He’s always creating something – whether it’s writing, chopping samples, making beats, rapping. He will take a break from studio, do a quick business meeting outside and come back. Or design some clothes with his team for a couple of hours, then come back and kill a track. It’s a unique experience watching and working with him. He’s always thinking of new ideas. A lot of things he says get lost in miscommunication so people start to front but his heart is pure and he really cares for the art.
You produced Game’s new single ‘DTF’ as well. Are you doing more work on his new album Westside Story?
Yeah, we have done a bunch of records. We finished a few songs right before I left for Uganda but not sure what all will make the cut. We gotta see but yeah, we got some good stuff lined up. Me and Game always connect well.
From following you on Instagram, I can tell that you’re in the studio with artists a lot. Are you the kind who likes to create together more than just merely sending beats via email?
Oh absolutely. Aren’t we all? I love to be in the studio with the artists and go off each other’s energy to create something epic. That’s when the best work happens. I love to create together. Also shout out to my By The Way team who inspires me a lot: Ant Clemons, Ray Keys, Matt and Mike.
I also learned that you recently sent some more stuff for 50 Cent. Can we expect some new music from him produced by you? We’ve been waiting.
Oh yeah, I sent a batch there recently. Shout out Mario (G-Unit A&R), he loved it. I got some sh*t on it, let’s see what happens.
What upcoming collabs can we look forward to?
I got a bunch of stuff lined up, I’ve been really working. Did some stuff with YG, the YBN crew, Jeremih, Ty Dolla Sign, Kanye of course, Game. Also Joe Moses and Kap G.
You and Jeremih probably have tons of records together?
Yeah we probably have 10 albums worth of material (laughs).
I need some of that. There are other producers like Zaytoven and Metro Boomin who recently released their own albums. Do you have similar plans?
Yeah it’s definitely something I think about but I don’t wanna do it like the rest. I have some ideas how I wanna do it which will be different from the rest. I don’t want to force it at all, I really want it to be special. Every record on the project should be there for a reason.