Producer's Corner: Drew Correa
Earning money in the music biz is a blessing in itself, but Drew Correa has always wanted more. After attending Full Sail Recording School and interning at a Miami studio, he began engineering sessions for the likes of Pitbull, Trina, and eventually, being Lil Waynes exclusive recording engineer for his heralded Tha Carter II album. Cashing steady checks wasnt enough, though: after his work with Wayne, Correa quit engineering to focus on his true love: producing.
A Grammy nomination later (for Mr. Carter, the Jay-Z featured song from Waynes Tha Carter III), Correas producing several records from Lil Waynes upcoming Rebirth Rock album, as well as getting beats to the likes of Rihanna, Cassidy, Lupe Fiasco and others. In an interview with HipHopDXs Producers Corner, Correa talks about working with Lil Wayne and diversifying his bonds.
HipHopDX: First off, congrats on the Grammy nomination for Mr. Carter. What was it like being part of Tha Carter III, especially the song with Lil Wayne and Jay-Z?
Drew Correa: Thank you, man. It was an incredible experience. Im glad Wayne [click to read] chose that record, and for Jay [click to read] to be on it, it was even more special. I kept submitting beats to Wayne, a bunch of em. I had this weird dream where I kept hearing a hook similar to that, with a sample behind it, saying Hey Mr. Carter. I made it specifically for Wayne, I never expected Jay to jump on it. I had my friend Sharon, hes a singer out here, I had him sing the hook that I wrote, and I sped it up and made it sound like a sample. Then I pretty much went in on the music.
I told Wayne that I found this record, I told him it was an actual sample. Thats how I sold it to him.
DX: So you told him it was a sample, but
Drew Correa: But it wasnt, yeah. He was kind of blown away. Hes like, Whered you find this sample?
DX: When did you end up telling him that it wasnt a sample?
Drew Correa: I never did. [Laughs]
DX: [Laughs] So is he gonna read this interview and find out?
Drew Correa: Honestly, I dont even know if he knows. I never really spoke about it afterwards.
DX: Before working with Lil Wayne, you engineered for a lot of people. How did you initially get into that?
Drew Correa: I started deejaying in high school, and I was always interested in music. I was always wanting to produce. I went to a school in Orlando called Full Sail, they taught me a lot on everything. The engineering part, producing, and all that. I started interning at a studio called Studio Center, out here in Miami, just picking up acts, little gigs here and there. Wayne came in one day, and we vibed, and we really clicked. He asked me to be his personal engineer, so for two or three years, I was exclusively with Wayne, touring with him and all that. After that, I decided to quit that and do the producing thing full-time. I always wanted to mainly produce, but Wayne was just taking up so much of my time as an engineer. Hes an animal, he works like crazy. So I quit the engineering thing, and I kept in touch with Wayne. I would come through the studio and chill, and show him beats.
DX: How is recording with Wayne different from recording with other people?
Drew Correa: Its a totally different recording process. With everyone else, they normally sit there, write a couple hours, get the song all right, and they go and record. But with Wayne, its so much quicker. He doesnt write anything down, so its a lot faster of a process. Hell listen to the beat, then hell be like, Oh, alright. Hell have the first verse done, then hell go in the booth and spit the first verse. Then hell listen to it some more, and do the second verse or the hook, whatever order he feels or whatever hes vibing that night.
DX: I read that he has engineers or producers on call, and that hell just be inspired at some crazy time late at night. So everyone runs out to the studio at random times.
Drew Correa: He usually has one main dude. Usually, if that one dude cant make it, hell settle for another engineer. But the way with him, when he likes an engineer, he sticks with them forever, or until the engineer doesnt want to work with him anymore, whatever the case may be. Hes very particular about who he works with. You work for hours and hours, until the early morning sometimes. Ive had sessions with him where we go in to work at like 8pm., and we didnt leave until [2pm] the next day.
DX: Howd you get through sessions like that?
Drew Correa: Its tough, a lot of coffee and energy drinks to get you through it. But its tiring, Its exhausting. Its one of the reasons I kind of stopped doing it. I wasnt sleeping right. I still kind of go through the same thing when I produce. When I get a lot of records finished, and Im on schedule, making beats for ridiculous amounts of time. But Id rather be doing that than actually recording.
DX: Was it a difficult transition, going from engineering to producing?
Drew Correa: Yes and no. It was easy in a fact that its what I always wanted to do. I was always producing on the side, and now I was just doing it full-time. But it was also hard, because Im done with engineering, so I didnt have any steady income, so it was difficult on the financial side of it. I was making really good money with Wayne, and I quit. I didnt see any money come in for a while, and I was struggling. That aspect of it was the most difficult.
DX: What kind of differences did you see between Wayne during the recording of Tha Carter II and Tha Carter III?
Drew: Correa: It got to a point where he started getting a lot more creative and experimental, where he was singing and using more of the Autotune. Wayne constantly evolves, hes constantly changing his sound. If you listen from his first album, Tha Block Is Hot to Tha Carter, I think hes changed completely. From Tha Carter I to the Tha Carter III [click to read] is a completely different town. I think on Tha Carter III, he just decided to go a lot more experimental, and try different styles than he did on Tha Carter I and II [click to read].
DX: Where did this Rebirth album come from? Were you making rock-styled beats that he was feeling, or was he asking for those?
Drew Correa: I guess after Tha Carter III came out, he was like, I want to do a Rock album. I dont really know, because I wasnt there to see his transition for him to try to make a Rock album. I guess he was just a fan of Rock, and he wanted to do something different. He already conquered the Rap scene. Im assuming hes like, You know what? Ima go for this Rock & Roll shit and see what comes with it. One day I went in the studio, and I was like, Okay, hes really doing some Rock & Roll shit. He calls me up a couple days later to the studio to make a beat with him live.
Me and Infamousthe dude who co-produced Prom Queen [click to listen] went in there, and started laying down some drums and some guitars and bass. We edited that night. We actually did two beats for him that night. Wayne came back a couple weeks later, and hes like, You want to hear what I did to your shit? And he played Prom Queen. Im like, Holy shit, this came out pretty crazy. And he recorded to the other record, too.
DX: How much of that style of production had you already done before this project?
Drew Correa: The Prom Queen was the first time I did a full, straight-up Rock & Roll record. My other beats have Rock & Roll shit with guitars, but I always put some Hip Hop elements in there, like some 808 drums, a bunch of synths and stuff like that. When I went in there, I was expecting to do a rock album with some Hip Hop elements in there. But I started laying organs down, and Waynes like, Nope, take that off. I want it straight Rock & Roll. It was the first time I did a track like that. Im doing more shit like that now though, because a lot of people are requesting records like that from me.
DX: So what were you thinking when your first Rock record was picked Lil Waynes single?
Drew Correa: I lost my mind. He played it for me, and hes like, I think this is going to be the single. Me and Infamous were sort of like, Ahh, I dont know. We were sort of in disbelief that we got his first single, it was kind of a shock. We were in disbelief that we got his first single, and we thought he was just saying it to say it or something. We left that day, like, This is a dope record. We werent super excited, and we know how Wayne records, he makes like a million records. We were just praying that it would make the album, and it ended up being the single. I was in L.A. for the taping of the video, they just filmed it yesterday.
DX: And you said a lot of other artists have asked for beats like that ever since?
Drew Correa: Yeah, but I want to experiment with different sounds, also. Different styles of music. So Ill probably do a couple Rock records here and there. The records Ive been doing lately have had a few Hip Hop elements into it, but its going to have that Rock & Roll feel in there too.
DX: So how is the album sounding? How do you think people are going to receive it, considering its such a change-up from what Waynes already done?
Drew Correa: I think its going to intrigue a different audience to him. I was talking to him about it. Hes like, I already got this rap money. I see the rap Lil Wayne fans not liking Prom Queen that much, but Waynes like, Thats what I wanted. Im trying to reach out to a totally different audience. And I think that was actually pretty smart of him. Not many people can actually do something like that, and I think hes going to pull it off. I think hes going to reach out to the suburban, emo Rock kids. I think thats going to be dope though, because hell have more of a fan base now. Its going to make him bigger than he already is. Hes already started working on Tha Carter IV, and hes switching styles now, you know?
DX: Now youre getting to spread your wings, working with some other artists: Rihanna, Lupe Fiasco, Rick Ross, The Clipse. Who all have you finished songs with so far?
Drew Correa: From what Ive heard already, I have a song done with Cassidy [click to read]. He has a new album called Back In The Day, thats a pretty dope record. Theres one thats Birdman [click to read] and Rick Ross [click to read], its called Stuntin Hard. As far as the others, I havent gotten a chance to hear them yet. Im actually excited to hear the other records. Ive heard that theyve recorded to them, but Ive still got to hear them. Im also working with Travis, of Gym Class Heroes [click to read]. Hes doing a solo album [with T-Pains label, Nappy Boy]. I signed to Nappy Boys publishing company, so were all in that same little circle.
DX: Who all would you like to work with?
Drew Correa: Id love to work with Britney Spears. I want to branch out into the pop market, maybe some stuff with Britney, Fergie. Ideally, Jay-Z and Nas. Ive been a fan of them since growing up. Anyone, really. I enjoy working with up-and-coming artists too, they seem so much more hungrier than the other artists that have been out there. So Im working with a few newer artists that are up and coming.
DX: So it looks like youre taking the same approach as Wayne: diversifying your market just like he is.
Drew Correa: Absolutely. Ive always wanted to though, even before working with Wayne. I wanted to do some Pop records, maybe some rock stuff. And I want to do experimental stuff too, man.