HEAT RISING: Young Chop goes from obscure teenager to sonic ringleader of Chicago’s drill movement
by Aaron Zorgel
January 24, 2013
Producers are an integral part of music creation, but so few of these sonic gurus get the recognition they deserve. HEAT RISING looks at the best beats by an up-and-coming producer, and talks about where they’re from (ROOTS), what they’ve done (RESUME), and why they’re an exciting presence in music today (REASONS TO WATCH).
ROOTS: A little more than a year ago, Young Chop (a.k.a. 18 year-old Tyree Pittman) was living at home on Chicago’s South side. He’d been working with FL Studio since he was eleven years old, but had not yet made a name for himself in the music production world — his only notable credit was “Smash,” a heavy blown-out beat with jittery triplet hi-hats that appeared on the second mixtape by an up-and-coming rapper named Chief Keef. Keef was only sixteen years old at the time, and after a much-publicized altercation with the law wherein he allegedly drew a pistol on an officer, Keef was ordered to spend thirty days under house arrest at his grandma’s house.
As soon as Keef’s home confinement was over, he went back to work, hungrier than ever. Young Chop says that Keef called him immediately, and the two got together and banged out the song “3 Hunna,” a beat that Chop made in just twenty minutes off the top of his head, in one session. A music video for the song received twenty thousand views in one day, and suddenly Chief Keef, Young Chop, and Chicago’s burgeoning “drill” music scene was getting some widespread attention. Chief Keef signed a deal with Interscope, Lil Reese and Lil Durk signed deals with Def Jam, and female rappers Sasha Gohard and Katie Got Bandz are two unsigned prospects who could break big in 2013. Drill is aggressive retaliation rap inherently connected with the Windy City, and while Keef isn’t the first to do it, he was the first to take it to an international level. As a result, the beats of Young Chop will always be referenced as an integral part of the movement.
RESUME: “3 Hunna” put Chief Keef and Young Chop’s dual-assault of hard-hitting beats and deadpan street rap on the map, but it was their follow-up breakout hit that caught the attention of fellow Chicagoan Kanye West. “I Don’t Like” was orignally featured on Keef’s Back From The Dead mixtape in March of 2012, and a high-profile remix from Kanye West made Keef a superstar overnight. Young Chop went public with how he wasn’t too fond of West’s changes to his beat, which earned him a couplet on Pusha T’s “Exodus 23:1″ (“You can keep your beats, nigga / We’d much rather share your bitch, nigga, bitch nigga”). Young Chop couldn’t be too mad, because West’s remix gave “I Don’t Like” a level of exposure that was then unimaginable. It wasn’t long before the beef was put to bed, and Pusha T hopped on a Young Chop beat (“Blocka“) to make nice.
Young Chop has produced for a bevy of Chicago drill upstarts (Lil Reese, Lil Durk, King Louie, Sasha Gohard, Yale Lucciani), but after Keef exploded, he successfully placed beats with some of the most established names in hip-hop, including Birdman, Soulja Boy, Gucci Mane, French Montana, Big Sean, Freddie Gibbs, and more.
REASONS TO WATCH: Chief Keef might be on his way to juvie for two months, but nothing’s standing in the way of Young Chop’s productivity. After acting as primary producer on Keef’s debut album Finally Rich (he produced seven out of twelve tracks), bolstered by a publishing deal with Warner, Young Chop’s melodically-laced drill beats are bound to find their way onto the biggest hip-hop albums of the year.