South Central's Schoolboy Q hit number one on Billboard last week with his major label debut Oxymoron. For many, the work is highlighted by first single, “Collard Greens,” which also features Q's crewmate Kendrick Lamar.
The song is elevated by an undeniably infectious groove, co-produced (along with THC) by Decatur, Georgia native Gwen Bunn. On an album produced largely by label Top Dawg Entertainment's in-house producers Digi+Phonics and household names including Pharrell, Mike Will Made It and Tyler, the Creator, most folks aren't familiar with Bunn. Also a musician and singer herself, we talked to her about her story.
See also: Riding Around South Central With Schoolboy Q
So how does a relatively unknown female producer end up co-producing a big single on a mammoth album?
I went out to Los Angeles to vibe with producers and artists that I had connected with through Twitter, one of which was Rick Bricks from the production team THC. We all started working on music together and the track that became “Collard Greens” was one of the last ones during that particular stay. The other THC member, Axel Folie, made a drum beat that I was feeling but I felt it needed something extra on it. He actually threw that beat away and wanted to move on to something else but I stopped him from doing that and added a bassline to his drum kick beat. After I put the bassline in, I added the synthesizers and completed the drum beat.
What happened next?
After I had flown back to Georgia, the guys from THC told me that they had a session with Schoolboy Q and he chose that very beat and said that it was the one for him. Schoolboy ended up playing that beat for Kendrick Lamar and he wanted to be a part of it too. Schoolboy and Kendrick added their magic to it and turned that song in to something really special.
When I made that beat, there was no real vision for it to be a single on a popular artist's album. We were just out to make a stupid dope beat. It's amazing too because that stay was my first time ever coming out to Los Angeles and it produced the first single for a number one selling album. That wasn't in my plans at all. I just wanted to go out there and do my best on whatever I happened to work on. I hope that more female hip-hop producers can experience something like that.
What's your background in music?
I started off playing the piano by ear around age 10 and began to watch other people play too. I noticed their playing patterns and my curiosity led to me asking a lot of questions. By the time I started high school, I became a member of the Ebenezer Baptist Church choir in Atlanta, which was the home church of Martin Luther King Jr. One random Sunday, the choir director asked me to lead without any prior rehearsal. That day changed my life because I learned what it's like to perform in front of hundreds of people and feel comfortable. Sports was my main focus up until that point but shortly after that I quit the basketball team and just focused on becoming a better musician and singer. My aunt had an ex-boyfriend who went to Berklee College of Music in Boston and she suggested to my mother that I should audition for a scholarship. By this time, I had already learned how to play several instruments and I was successful in getting a scholarship from Berklee. That school was a melting pot of musical geniuses from around the world and I was able to just absorb so much.
What are you working on now?
I'm back home in Georgia working on finishing my solo album Melody Dungeon. I released a song called “Epitome” which has been getting a lot of love on YouTube, and I'm looking to releasing the album sometime in May. As for production, I just made some tracks with Skhye Hutch who co-produced Kendrick Lamar's “Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst.” I've got some work coming up with producer Pop Wansel who has worked with Nicki Minaj and Kanye West.
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