Two Grammys, 10 Grammy nominations, 45 times platinum – that’s a one-of-a-kind success story. But !llmind – the New Jersey bred, Brooklyn-based producer sometimes known as the Blap God – has never been one to rest on his laurels. In between making hot fire for Kanye West, Drake, Future, J. Cole, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, and Travis Scott, the last few years have seen him releasing cult drum kits known as Blap Kits, minting his own $BLAP coin, and even starting a marketplace for buying and selling sample packs called Kitsi.
!llmind epitomizes the East Coast hip-hop hustle like no other. Raised in a family of Filipino musicians, he was quick to find his own instrument as a pre-teen – picking up a Roland KR-500 keyboard which he would flip a couple years later for an Akai 20 sampler and Cubase software. Starting off sampling his dad’s soul and funk vinyl collection, a young !ll learned a lot of arrangement skills that would help him later on, whether producing for Jay-Z and Beyonce’s The Carter album or putting together remixes of America’s favorite musical with Lin-Manuel Miranda for the Hamilton Mixtape.
“I learned how to create beats with very little resources,” !llmind recalls. “I didn’t have too many keyboard sounds back then and I didn’t really have drums, so I relied really heavy on vinyl… All of that tedious sort of like chopping and finding stuff – all that work! – molded me into the producer I am right now. That was all like school for me. From going through all these records, you learn song structure – like, intros versus pre-hooks, hooks, choruses, bridges. I still keep a lot of the same process that I used to go through when I first started making beats but now I get to just create everything myself.”
We got insight into how !llmind creates his own samples and flips them when we met up with him at Gold Diggers Studio in Los Angeles, right after the 2021 Latin Grammy awards in Las Vegas (where he took home another statuette for his work on Nathy Peluso’s Calambre, which won Best Alternative Music Album). Using Reason software and our Komplete Kontrol S61 keyboard, he swiftly put together a moody rap instrumental using our new KOMPLETE NOW subscription bundle.
Starting from scratch, got inspired by pads and ’80s-type synth sounds in HYBRID KEYS and gritty textures in LO-FI GLOW, which he layered to make the main melody; after that, he made the whole thing club ready with huge sub bass, trap hi-hats, and hard-hitting kicks from MASSIVE X and BATTERY NOW. Watch this video and learn production and creative workflow tips from !llmind, plus hear a brand new track that sounds fresh while also referencing his work with NYC greats like 50 Cent, Redman, Joell Ortiz, and Nas.
If you like this beat, download the stems to !llmind’s Sketches track and remix them to win Native Instruments prizes. Click here to enter the Metapop competition.
The track in this video was made entirely with NI’s new KOMPLETE NOW monthly subscription bundle. Try it for FREE for a limited time.
Check out all of our SKETCHES series here.