The story behind Drake’s “Way 2 Sexy” beat
It’s a shame that the vote for Rolling stones 500 Greatest Songs of All Time had already been completed by the time Drake released his new album Boy in love certified. While the record is far from perfect, it does contain a song that I think deserves to be very high on the list. The much-discussed “Way 2 Sexy,” which arrived with its own absurd and therefore perfect music video, is one of those tunes you just have to let happen to you. The song asks nothing of its listeners except vibrations. Try as you might, it is impossible to escape his grasp.
“Way 2 Sexy” will undoubtedly be rinsed out by nightclub DJs. It will be blown from the cars in the streets and from the loudspeakers of gymnasiums around the world. You will surely hear it at sports stadiums, and probably at a few weddings. Very soon, your elderly parents will be inspired to take their first TikTok on the track. They probably won’t know how to download it, but what kind of grandson would you be if you didn’t get up and join them?
Produced by TM88 and TooDope, the song includes a sample from Right Said Fred’s early ’90s hit, “I’m Too Sexy,” and features verses from Drake, Future and Young Thug (who informs us that he is too sexy to count). As far as Ms. Aretha Franklin is concerned, this is a perfect piece of music. It’s also the number one song in the country right now, according to the RS 100, just behind Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers License” for the biggest chart debut this year.
The already prolific TM88 proved particularly adept at creating irresistible hits. He is known for producing songs by Future, Travis Scott, Wiz Khalifa and more. Basically, anyone who matters to hip-hop has probably worked with TM88 at some point. With the news of his latest creation’s record-breaking success on his mind, the Atlanta-based producer spoke to Rolling stone on how “Way 2 Sexy” came together. He also discussed some of the lessons he has learned from producing successful records over the years and gave us a glimpse of what to expect from his upcoming projects with Pi’erre Bourne Roddy Ricch.
So, “Way 2 Sexy” is the greatest song in the world right now. What is the story behind this beat?
Me and TooDope, who also helped me make the beat, had been in my studio for about four days going crazy, doing beats all day. That day we did, I think, about 12 beats. We were using a lot of the same drums, so I was like, “Next beat, let’s try a new drum.” Let’s try something else. And it ended up being the “Way 2 Sexy” beat. We tried these new drums from this kit that we got, and man it was getting so crazy. I had to give it to Future.
So you didn’t initially imagine Drake at all? Did you think it was a future beat?
Yes of course. And Drake leading the song, you see what she did. It’s on one of his most anticipated projects, and it’s going crazy, spreading like wildfire. It was just the single, which shocked me too.
How did you end up on the sample? Do you remember the first time you heard the original “I’m Too Sexy”?
I heard the song when I was a kid, I was just five or six and I was seeing the video on MTV – vintage MTV. And you would hear it all the time in the movies. But this sample was actually Future’s idea. He was like, ‘man, add that sample in there.’ And my boy who is his engineer, he said to me: “I understood it”. He found the sample and put this little piece at the beginning. It just happened to cross.
Is it crazy how many young people remember this song?
Oh, man. I’m a very nostalgic person so I love everything from the 90s and 80s and early 2000s and stuff like that. And with Future, he was already singing that line. He already had this hook in his head. So it was like, ‘If we’re going to taste something, that’s the only thing you can put in there.’
Did you get any feedback from older people who remember the song when it was released?
Yeah brother, my mom, my stepmom. It’s a song for every audience, I think. While the lyrics might not be for super kids, I feel like the beat might be for them. Old people love it. You may be at the gas station and you will see someone’s 50 year old dad stop banging that shit. Funny my trainer he loves that kind of music so I’m going to walk into the gym and he plays it while I walk in and I think he’s in his 50s.
It was a lot of good feedback. And with any song that comes out, there will be a lot of people who like it and there will be a lot of people who don’t like it. So you just gotta take the good with the bad. And the good outweighs the bad in this case.
Did you have to contact Right Said Fred?
I think Drake or Future contacted them and had it deleted. It also makes it much better.
How was it for you when you saw how important the song was to the charts?
Bro, I’m still dealing with it now. It’s crazy to me because I’ve been in the game for nine years now. And we’ve had a lot of success so far. Between 808 Mafia and myself, we did a lot of number one albums. But to get song number one? My brother, that’s a whole different feeling that I can’t even explain. A lot of people ask me ‘How are you feeling? To be honest, I don’t know. I’m still in the studio. I work everyday like I don’t have a number one because I strive for more. It’s a lot more projects coming out and it’s a lot more work to do. You have to stay in the gym.
Your phone has exploded since the release of this song?
Many artists have always struck a chord with us. But right now, as you can imagine, it’s getting crazy. Drake even hit me two days ago and said, “I need more beats.” It’s to the point that I don’t even try to leave the studio anymore. I try to do as much work as possible because I know I’m going to have to start traveling again soon. You need to be ready when the time comes. Maybe you are in the studio with Kendrick or Cole and you want them ready to go.
You and Future obviously have a deep working relationship. What is the creative chemistry like between the two of you?
It’s hard not to beat up and be like ‘man, I’m going to send this to Future.’ So most of the beats that I do, if I do trap stuff, it’s to respond to Future’s rap style. Because a lot of people who come to us for beats, they want the type of beats that Future would rap on. So if I’m already in that mode and still thinking about it, then I always have beats for him when he’s ready to rap. Being able to go into the studio knowing that you’ve got 20 beats and he’s going to rap out of 20, and out of 20 at least 18 songs is going to be crazy, that’s an amazing feeling. And I have the impression that with Future, I work the best. I don’t know, I feel like we have the best chemistry among 98% of the artists I work with.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I have this Pi’erre project coming out, its name is Balmain. And I work with Roddy Ricch, with Future, with a lot of people. I also try to bring out new artists. So definitely in the mix of everything we’ve got going, I want to be able to bring some new talent to the game. It’s a lot of stuff: R&B, hip-hop, everything.
And it’s been COVID for a year. How did it go for your own productivity?
Now I have time to sit down and think and bring some good vibes to the table compared to before. I was constantly absent 24/7. I haven’t seen my house for two years. I would be at different sessions and doing beats on the spot. And you don’t really have time to sit down or read or research or anything like that. So I was able to start learning more about the keys and trying to bring my rhythms to a whole new level. I know a lot of people would say, “Man, your beat is crazy.” But it’s still more levels. And every year you should strive to improve yourself from last year. On top of that, I was able to relax more with my daughter and I feel like this is a very important part of my growth as a man. To take this time to watch your child grow up. It humbles you and gets you where you need to be.
You entered the game quite young, what have you learned over the past decade in hip-hop?
The fact that times are changing. And that’s what I think some producers don’t understand. Like, you have to change over time. It doesn’t mean that you change your sound to sound like someone else. But at least your business needs to adapt to what’s going on. Just being able to stay relevant through the different waves that are coming. I have also learned that it is important to stay in your own lane at your own pace. Just because someone else got it doesn’t mean you’re supposed to have it right away. Take Southside, for example. He put out a bunch of records before I was even with him. I can’t come in and be like, ‘Oh, I think I deserve what he’s got.’ You have to work for what is yours and strive for it.
Speaking of keeping in touch with young people. How did you bond with Pi’erre Bourne?
We have known each other for years from different studios. In fact, we met through a mutual friend. His name is Strick, he’s on YSL. We were in Atlanta and he said, ‘Dude, I have a producer that I know. He designed for me. And I met him, and we’ve been cool ever since. We always wanted to work together, but it was a question of timing. We finally got to a place where we thought, “Brother, we’ve got to do something. Our fans will love it. It will be something new and refreshing for young people. So we finally found each other. I think we have 12 songs on this project. I basically wanted to step into Pi’erre’s world, understand how he was thinking, and then bring him into my world and make it a whole new world from the process. Fans will hear a new wave of music.
When you first met he was about the same age you were when you first entered the game. Do you on some level feel like you are passing the torch to the next generation?
Yes boy. But Pi’erre, he did it himself. So I feel like it’s more like we’re trading powers. Like we’re characters from Dragon Ball Z or something. We can share the energy and create something neither of us expected. This is exactly what happened.
Is there an artist that you still haven’t worked with that you would like to partner with?
I sent Cole beats a lot, we talked for a minute. I really want to be part of one of those Cole projects. And I also want to show that I can do R&B. I just want to show the growth and show that we can do any kind of rhythm.