As T.I. enjoys the buzz surrounding his new album Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head, a former employee of the Atlanta emcee is enjoying his time in the spotlight for producing one of the year’s most buzzworthy songs.
Sir Clef and Jazze Pha pitched a record they co-produced for the album, and six months later, they learned that it T.I had laid vocals to the track alongside another Southern legend: Andre 3000. The song, “Sorry,” sees Three Stacks apologizing to Big Boi for his hermit-like status and missing out on tour money the two could have earned as OutKast.
“I’ve always been a Tip fan, and I’ve always loved Tip’s flow, so I was hoping that would happen,” Clef said. “But when they threw Andre on there, I was overwhelmed with the whole situation. That’s two of my favorite artists on my track.”
The placement is a coming of age for the Atlanta producer, who previously interned at T.I.’s Grand Hustle Records. A routine work day included promo work, handing out t-shirts, and setting up studio sessions for T.I. and other artists who would come by.
“It was really hectic. At that time, T.I. was the king,” he said. “He still is the king, but at that time, he was King.”
He admits that Tip’s reign has dwindled since consecutive prison sentences and his critically-panned album No Mercy, but he’s confident that Trouble Man will help him resecure his spot. He said that he thought that T.I. needed to return to the feel of his debut album I’m Serious, and that he had that album in mind when he helped produce “Sorry.”
“I don’t think it’s a sound. I think it’s just—what made people fall in love with you as a person? Every artist grows, but at the same time, don’t forget who you are or who you were,” Clef explained. “… When I work on something for artists, I always go back to my favorite albums from them.”
He took a similar approach to what seem to be successful submissions to Kanye West’s next solo album. He had his favorite ‘Ye album, Late Registration, in mind when putting together his hopeful contributions. He said that he wasn’t given a description for what Kanye was looking for, which made it a challenging process.
“[They just said] they were looking for Kanye records, and you know, that’s a big box. Some artists you go to, and you say, ‘Okay, I know what to make for this person,’” Clef said. “But for Kanye, you never know what to make. You never know what mood he’ll be in; you never know what he’s feeling. I just made, if I was in the studio sitting there with him, I made that. Thank God he liked it.”
Clef is currently working with a Def Jam singer named K’La, whose song “All Your Love” got burn on BET’s 106 & Park. He also has submitted music for Schoolboy Q, Wale, and Jennifer Hudson.