How Rick Ross’ “BMF” Made and Almost Broke Lex Luger
In our last behind the beatThomas Hobbs spoke with Lex Luger about how producing Rick Ross’ “BMF (Blowin Money Fast)” changed his life – for better or for worse.
The beaming smile on Rick Ross’ face said to producer Lex Luger (real name Lexus Arnel Lewi) everything he needed to know. It was the couple’s first time meeting since the release of their “BMF (Blowin Money Fast)” collaboration, and there was a euphoria in the air that one usually only encounters at awards parties. diplomas.
“I landed in Miami and this Rolls Royce Phantom pulled up. A fucking gigantic guy got out of the driver’s seat. He opened the door, kind of like a butler, then I saw Rick Ross sitting on back seat, laughing,” the Suffolk, Va.-born producer recalled in a phone interview. “So I walked in and Ross handed me a box full of about 50 blunts, all loaded with Kush.”
The duo had a lot to celebrate. Released on June 29, 2010, “BMF” left a crater in the epicenter of hip-hop, giving the trap genre a new national anthem and hard-coding the words “I Think I’m Big Meech, Larry Hoover” into every gangsta rap fans. subconscious. For four minutes and 10 seconds, Ross rapped with a growling voice so powerful it hit you like Zeus barking at his followers from atop Mount Olympus. Even the raucous “urghhhh” ad-libs served as a statement of intent.
Every lyric in this song is a potential catchphrase – cocaine “so white” that Rozay is 100% justified in charging you double for a shipment. If 2006’s “Hustlin'” had established the portly Florida rapper as a star, then the raucier “BMF” cemented his mainstream impact. He was now one of pop culture’s biggest bosses, with shark-like black eyes hidden behind Louis Vuitton sunglasses and an iconic beard that reminded us of Isaac Hayes. “He was the definition of ‘bawse’ luxury,” Lex said. “And it was inside and outside the studio.”
The song also boosted the career of its producer, becoming the kind of instrumental that every rapper on planet Earth felt compelled to record a freestyle. When Lex was growing up, he wanted to be the Black Han Solo, and the “BMF” beat later contains a recurring sci-fi synth pattern that mimics the sound of the Millennium Falcon lighting up at the speed of light. It became Lex’s signature. Tic-tac hi-hats, on the other hand, are like a Capo tutting because someone just tested their gangster, and the combination of those two elements is so intoxicating that it’s hard to stay still.
“star wars was my shit. Lex talked about the unique “BMF” rhythm layering. “I really liked the idea of mixing sci-fi and trap.” Growing up, Lex was the drummer in his church band, sitting on his grandmother’s lap as she played the keyboard. Therefore, he instinctively knows how to create drum patterns and keys that can fill large rooms.
“With the beat on ‘BMF’, I started with the horns and added a few little leads over it, but I think the drums are what made it so strong. The song drives people crazy because of the way she presents herself with that footstep. When you hear that shit, it sounds like a war is about to start. It feels like going into battle.
It’s fair to say that 2010 was a transformational year for Lex Luger. Before his escape, he lived in the basement of rapper and friend Waka Flocka Flame, hidden in a makeshift studio where he created trap beats on Fruity Loops Studio. “The basement had no internet, no TV, no games, none of that,” Lex said. “So I was just out there, pretty much all day, every day, creating with the Brick Squad.”
Away from the sunlight, Lex produced Waka’s massive single “Hard In Da Paint,” which mixed the gutter with the tempo of an over-excited school marching band. It became so popular that it spawned parodies of President Barack Obama on YouTube, and Lex suddenly went from eating Pop Tarts to charging six-figure sums for beats.
Spliff TV, which had directed some of Rick Ross’ music videos, emailed Lex, telling him the Miami rapper would like to spit a freestyle on the instrumental “Hard In Da Paint.” In response, and rather boldly, Lex returned 100 beats he had recently made. This bold chess move paid off, with Ross hearing two instrumentals – “BMF” and “MC Hammer” – which would become the beating heart of his fourth studio album, teflon donation. The two songs sound so similar because they were originally on one beat, with Lex eventually deciding to cut them in the middle.
The “BMF” beat is all-metal beating, arguably an early inspiration for Chicago’s burgeoning drill movement (Lex would go on to work with Fredo Santana on “Street Niggas” in 2013). But it also carries a hardcore rock energy, with telltale crowds opening up mosh pits to the song at Rick Ross concerts. “My mother always played alternative music. It was always inside of me. André 3000 is actually my mentor and he told me recently that the rhythm of ‘BMF’ reminded him of Bad Brains. He said I was a black punk.
Lex having a mentor is a hint that the massive success he enjoyed in the early 2010s didn’t exactly go to plan. The success of “BMF” would lead to encounters with The Throne (Lex co-produced JAY-Z and Kanye’s ambitious trap symphony “H•A•M”) and massive levels of attention, like being profiled by the New York Times, but that didn’t necessarily stop the producer from feeling lost.
“The ‘Hard In Da Paint’ and the ‘BMF’ sound so aggressive because at that age I was lost, confused, angry, hungry, ambitious, depressed and determined,” Lex said. “All of these things come out in the sound. It was a stressful time [for me]. I was going too fast, I didn’t know what to do with all the money. I made a lot of money and took a lot of drugs just so I could work all night. My addiction ruined a lot of relationships and I made a lot of mistakes that I still regret to this day.
This subtext means that “BMF” is a bit of a bittersweet memory for Lex. While arguably his greatest production, it also harkens back to a time he likens to being “like a bullet train” heading for derailment. However, now sober, the producer is in a much clearer place, where he can finally enjoy that “Blowing Money Fast” platinum plaque on his wall.
“I realized the song is much, much bigger than me,” he said. “If you’re in the club, you don’t have to be the dope boy to sing ‘BMF’. You could work a 9 to 5 and the confident way Ross raps will inspire you. He has this very broad appeal because that it celebrates people who made themselves no matter where they come from It’s a beautiful thing To have The Lox’ Styles P rap about sitting on a stack of $100 bills in its guest verse also helped broaden the song’s appeal, ensuring it came out of Yonkers speakers and not just Carol City.
The title of the song refers to the Black Mafia Family, the Detroit street gang (founded by Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory and Terry “Southwest T” Flenory) who established the distribution of cocaine throughout America. There’s also a clear reference in the hook to Larry Hoover, the incarcerated drug dealer and co-founder of the Gangster Disciples of Chicago. Critics argued that Ross’ references drew negative attention to these men, giving the captions of the imprisoned hoods a cartoonish look. However, Lex insists the song was never intended as a tribute.
“Ross was paying his debt to the culture of drug dealing that rap music is built on,” he said. “The Black Mafia family now has a whole TV series about their lives; it’s amazing to see. Ross captured how rock stars these guys were to people in the neighborhood. It was all just love. »
Lex Luger clearly learned a lot of lessons from his time in the rap game, appearing today as someone who crossed over and turned into a human being. The producer is currently working on new material with Juicy J and recent production work on Chris Crack’s flute-heavy “Raw Sex As Friends” hints that his sound has moved into a more serene space. At just 31, he feels like his best days are still ahead of him.
The other day, Rick Ross DMed Lex, telling him he’d like to meet. Could “BMF 2” be on the horizon? “I couldn’t tell you man. I’m just happy to be here. I’m looking at my house, I’m looking at my kids, I’m looking at these plaques and I’m finally in a place where I can enjoy it,” Lex said. “I see DMs of all these young guys saying they look up to me, and I’m in a position where I can help them so they don’t make the same mistakes I did. Good or bad, whatever had to happen happened. We came out with a classic song. I will always be grateful for that.
Thomas Hobbs is a freelance journalist specializing in UK culture and music. His work has appeared in The Guardian, VICE, Financial Times, Dazed, Pitchfork, New Statesman, Little White Lies, The i and Time Out. You can find him on Twitter: @thobbsjourno
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