In a just a short while, Drummaholikz — JSDG Beats and NickFrsh — have amassed an impressive array of placements. JSDG Beats has done beats for Vado, Young M.A., and Kodak Black; and he has steadily worked with up-and-coming, like-minded artists who are pushing the boundaries of trap. Not to be out done, NickFrsh did the beat for Desiigner’s “Caliber” and also collaborated with Kodak Black, plus a number of other artists. In this interview, the pair discuss their hunger to make a mark in hip hop, their creative process and influences, Desiigner’s “Caliber” track, their pursuit of changing the way trap sounds, and why their beats sound like they are from 2050.
BeatTips: I see you (Nick) got a joint on Desiigner’s album.
NickFrsh: (Laughs) Yeah.
BeatTips: And Jah (JSDG Beats) you’ve been doing your thing with Vado, and Sha McFly. You and Nick are doing well.
JSDG Beats: Yeah, we got Kodak too. I’m supposed to have Young M.A. and Jim Jones soon, I’m still waiting for the song.
BeatTips: You have a song with Kodak?
JSDG Beats: Yeah, it’s called “Got Ma Bands Up.”
BeatTips: Where are you both from originally?
Nick Frsh: Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
JSDG Beats: I’m from the Stuy (Bedstuy, Brooklyn).
BeatTips: You think coming from the Stuy has influenced your music?
JSDG Beats: Somewhat now, but before no. Because before, I wasn’t really doing music as serious as I am now.
BeatTips: What do you mean?
JSDG Beats: I was a DJ first. Now I’m making beats. And it’s different, there’s a whole different mentality.
BeatTips: What about you Nick?
Nick Frsh: I mean, coming from the Heights, it made me want to go harder. You know, live life. I’m trying to go out and see other places. It made me want to get out.
BeatTips: How were you before the music?
Nick Frsh: Before music, I was just on my fashion stuff.
BeatTips: You were designing?
Nick Frsh: Nah, I was just in love with fashion. I was just fly, that’s it. That’s all I had going for myself.
BeatTips: And Jah, you said you were DJ’ing. You’ve always been a DJ or were you doing other things?
JSDG Beats: I was DJ’ing and drawing. But, Dj’ing is not done for me.
BeatTips: So what got both of you into actually making music?
JSDG Beats: I got into making music because I quit DJ’ing. Because of a family situation. I’m more of a business man, you know. I do discounts for people, but that’s for people that come with the business first. But there was this situation, where I had a relative that wanted me to do a party. And I said I’d do it. But then they switched the times to a later time, and I said you know, you’re going to have to pay for that time. But he said, “Oh, we’re family.” And so, I was like you know what, I’m not even going to deal with that, I’ll just make beats.
BeatTips: You were always interested in making beats or you stumbled into it out of frustration?
JSDG Beats: Nah, I always liked music. So, I just fucked with it.
BeatTips: What got you into production Nick?
Nick Frsh: Man, it’s a story. In High School, I wanted to be in a rap group so bad, and they said, “Well you might as well make beats.” They wanted beats, so, I started making beats. And then things don’t happen as they seem, so I just left the group. And then I met Jah. And that’s how it turned out.
BeatTips: What’s your earliest music memory?
Nick Frsh: When I made my first beat. Man, I felt accomplished.
JSDG Beats: Somebody leased one of my beats, over the internet for like $35, and then he sent me back that song. And back then, I wasn’t nice, so the beat wasn’t well-composed and then the song wasn’t well-composed. So I was just like, two wrongs don’t make a right, so I had to get better. That was a memory that made me nice.
BeatTips: In general, what’s that song that you remember? Your earliest music memory.
Nick Frsh: For me, I’ve always been around music, so I don’t even really have an answer for that.
JSDG Beats: A lot of Future. And I was always interested in seeing behind the vocals, and how the song was made.
BeatTips: Who are your influences?
Nick Frsh: I really got into the game because of Lex Luger. That was the producer that got me into making beats. I’ll never forget that.
BeatTips: Anybody else?
Nick Frsh: Well, you know, the cliché people like Metro Boomin, Drumma Boy. That’s who influenced me.
BeatTips: What about you Jah?
JSDG Beats: I’d say that my idols haven’t changed, but I’ve added to it. Like Cardiak is one of the main people. Then it’s Hit Boy, AraabMuzik, Jahlil Beats, and Tone Beats. Those are like the top people I look up to. But I mean, Jahlil Beats, I can’t idolize him anymore because I feel like he’s not keeping up with the sound. You know, he has that Meek Mill sound that he’s always going to run, but that’s the only thing he has. Like he’s not too versatile. Like AraabMuzik, he can do everything. That’s why I say my idols kind-of changed, but I didn’t take them out, I just added on. That’s why Metro has kind-of taken the place of Jahlil Beats, because Metro does everything. He has the bigger energy.
BeatTips: Who’s influenced you the most?
JSDG Beats: I’d say Cardiak.
BeatTips: How does a beat come about for both of you?
Nick Frsh: It just depends how I’m feeling. Like if I want to make a trap beat today, I’ll make it. But usually, Jah and I will vibe out and then we make it. Sometimes we’ll start out making a trap beat and what we end up making is something different.
BeatTips: Do you start with drums or non-drums?
Nick Frsh: Nah, I start with melodies first. Jah does a lot, he varies.
JSDG Beats: Yeah, for me it’s kind-of different. Sometimes, I tell Nick–like, we choose scales and stuff so everything has to be on key. It’s just like music theory. You have to know what goes together. So if it doesn’t go together, it’s not going to sound perfect. So sometimes, I just look at scales, and I choose the most random one. If it has like a L, a Y, a X, and a B in it, I’m going to choose it before I see something that says minor. Because I’m like, I already used minor, so I just pick anything that’s random. It just looks foreign, so I use it, and make a beat. When it comes to making the beat, the actual sounds, I’ve explored so much sounds that I just choose random sounds sometimes until it fits what I’m looking for.
Nick Frsh: Just know this, Jah and I are about to bring a new sound to the game.
BeatTips: How would you describe it?
JSDG Beats: It’s a modified trap, but fast. Like it’s around the 80s and 160s (BPM). If you count double time, it’s like 160 something. Or, if you count single time, it’s about 80 something. Like, Metro is the first person that started it. But I feel like we’ve pushed it into another direction. Because, you know, Meek Mill’s song, “Check?” It’s like that tempo, but it’s more precise and more dark than trap.
BeatTips: Do you have a name for it?
JSDG Beats: Nah, I mean it’s still trap—
Nick Frsh: I feel like our beats are from 2050. It’s like future trap. But we’re trying to bring that sound now, before someone else develops it.
BeatTips: What kind of feeling are you trying to bring to your beats?
Nick Frsh: Honestly, I’m just trying to make any and everything.
JSDG Beats: I’m just trying to get a hit! (Laughs) Just a hit, to start everything up.
JSDG Beats, Photo Credit: Alex Bourne
BeatTips: Since you both make a lot of beats, how do you maintain consistent quality?
JSDG Beats: We have top of the line sound. We don’t need to worry about quality. The sounds already bring the quality.
BeatTips: What’s your work routine like? You wake up and make a beat, get some lunch and make another beat?
JSDG Beats: It depends–
Nick Frsh: Man, I can answer that question for Jah. If you know Jah, everybody says he’s a robot. Because he just makes beats all day, never stops. He could be sick, but he will still be making beats.
BeatTips: What about you?
Nick Frsh: I mean, it’s like the same thing. But I feel like I can do as much as Jah. I mean, he pushes me. That’s why he’s my brother. That’s why we make music together, and we’re going to make it together.
BeatTips: How long did it take both of you to develop your sound?
JSDG Beats: I started in my Junior year of High School, while I was playing Basketball for Boys and Girls [Boys and Girls High School]. It was so much going on. At one point, I even got kicked off the team. It was from something mad stupid. My coach kicked me off the team and said like, “I didn’t kick him off, he just stopped coming.” So then I was like alright, since a grown coach is going to act like that, I’m going to find something in the meantime until I get back. Then I started working on my beats for that whole time. I didn’t play my Senior Year. So I was like forget that, I’m going to work on something that’s going to get me further in life than a lot of these people. Because everybody in the school can be nice, but basketball nowadays, you have to be next level, scoring 50 on people. Things change.
BeatTips: Nick, how long did it take you to develop your sound?
Nick Frsh: I mean when I first started, I had one sound. I was making boom-bap beats for the group that I mentioned before, that was our sound. And then I met Jah, and Jah took my sound to a different level. When I met Jah, that’s when my sound came.
BeatTips: How long have you been making beats for?
Nick Frsh: I’ve been making beats for like 3 years, since I was 16. But I didn’t really take it serious until last year, and that’s when I got better.
BeatTips: Talk to me about some of the challenges you’ve faced as a beatmaker.
Nick Frsh: Broke people! People that don’t want to buy beats. They’ll hear the product and say it’s heat, but they don’t have money for it.
JSDG Beats: Major Key Alert! That’s a big problem. But the thing is, I network so much, and I’m teaching Nick how to network so much. I always find someone that spends money. We have an artist named Showtime, he looks out for us as if we were relatives. Like if we need a ticket to come to the studio, and he has a studio session, he’ll buy both of us a ticket and put us in First Class, to make sure we get to the studio, make sure we eat. And so it’s people like that, like it’s not many of them. And so like we can’t just work with one person to grow, but we have one bonafide person that we work with, that we want to build with. But other than that, people buy beats, but it takes them too long.
BeatTips: Are there any challenges that you’ve faced while developing your sound? Or is it only business-based challenges?
JSDG Beats: It depends. Since I took that year off from playing basketball, I advanced faster than a lot of people. Because when you’re doing multiple things, you can’t focus on one and master it. When I was on the ball team, I was going out with the team, we would go to parties and shit. But I wasn’t doing that the next year, I was just working, getting money from beats and stuff. I wanted to be nice, I can’t stress it enough. The way we’re progressing, we just want to get out the hood. We’re seeing people get out the hood, so we just took that time to grind. It’s a lot between Nick and I that a lot of people don’t know.
BeatTips: Things like what?
JSDG Beats: Nick’s moving in with me. I have my own house upstate. And he’s moving in with me because his moms is moving. And that’s crazy because Metro Boomin moved in with Sonny Digital. You know, he dropped out of school. Then they grew more. And when we people saw that move, they were like, “Man, that’s going to be crazy.”
BeatTips: So you feel like your stories are similar to Metro”s and Sonny’s and how they came up?
JSDG Beats: Somewhat. It’s close. But we came from a different angle. We came from a city where there’s a lot of hate. They came from a city where there’s a lot of love, (there’s a lot of hate there too), but New York is hard to make it out of. If you make it out of New York, you good.
BeatTips: Have you studied any beatmakers that you’ve learned from and innovated upon?
JSDG Beats: I mean, all my idols. I’ve gotten sharper. And I’ve taught Nick a lot from what I’ve learned. Like Cardiak, his way of production, he has a certain swag to his beats, that Fab and Rick Ross and them rap over. Like the soulful beats with the samples and the keys. I buy all his kits. His kits are like $25, $40, and I have all of his kits. And I give them to Nick. And then when we’re making a beat, and we use different kits, we’ll always remember what feel it’ll make when we use a different sound. Like Cardiak, he has a drum, that once you put it in there, it’ll change the whole feel. So then we’ll build off of that. When we use a kit, we already know what we’re aiming for once we go into that kit.
BeatTips: Nick, what about you?
Nick Frsh: Yeah, like my idols. Like Lex Luger, when I first started making beats, that’s how my trap beats sounded. I’m not copying, I’m just influenced by him. I feel like everything I learned from them, I can make my own beats now. Now I have my own sound.
BeatTips: What’s your production setup like?
Nick Frsh: I just use a regular computer with FL Studio.
JSDG Beats: Well, my mans and I, we have our own studio, besides the one in my house, and that’s just Pro Tools, an MPC, and FL Studios. But when Nick’s here, we mainly use FL Studio, because that’s what we came up on. And that’s where the best sound comes from. Like the MPC, we mess around, but it doesn’t sound as good as when we both get on FL Studio.
BeatTips: Which MPC do you mess around with?
JSDG Beats: The biggest one, MPC Renaissance.
BeatTips: For both of you, what do you feel most comfortable with, making sample-based beats or non-sample-based beats?
Nick Frsh: Shit, I can answer that question right now. I like making beats from scratch.
JSDG Beats: Facts.
BeatTips: You mean, without samples?
Nick Frsh: Yeah.
JSDG Beats: Yeah, but the thing is with me, I love making beats from scratch but sometimes, like I said, the way I start my beats is random. So I really don’t know how I’m going to start, I just choose random tempos sometimes. And then, on top of that, I can choose any random sample and change it to any tempo that I feel comfortable with and make it into a trap beat. Like I did it before, and people were like, “What the hell?” Like, “You just took a sample, and put random stuff over it and it sounded good.” I didn’t know what the sound was going to come out like. And people don’t even think it’s samples, they’re like, “Oh, I thought you played those keys.”
BeatTips: Do you feel a difference when you’re making beats?
JSDG Beats: Yeah, with samples you have more grooves to it. When you make a beat by grid and you click it in, you have more of a grid based, everything is on point, there’s nothing a little off with a different swing to it, it’s strictly to the grid.
BeatTips: Nick, how did the “Caliber” song come about?
Nick Frsh: I can’t even front, it’s like I said, Jah is really the key to me producing. Because Jah put me onto one of his mans (Ty), and I gave the beat to one of his guys, and I thought it was just going to him. So I was like yeah, you take it, they thought it was hard. Then I found out Desiigner was going to be on it. And I was like, “Oh, that’s dope.” And that’s right around the time he was coming up off of “Panda,” so I was like that’s dope.
BeatTips: So originally the beat wasn’t intended for Desiigner, it was for somebody else?
Nick Frsh: Alright, so Jah told me to send the beat to one of his mans (Ty), and he thought the beat was fire. So I thought he was going to rap over it. But he said Desiigner was going to rap over it, because I sent the beat to one of the members of Desiigner’s supporting group (CTD.) LOD is Life of Desiigner, his main group, and CTD is Chasing The Dream (an affiliate of his.)
BeatTips: So when you heard Desiigner rapping on “Caliber” when his project dropped, that was the first time you heard the song?
Nick Frsh: Nah, I heard this song since last year. That’s why when it comes on, like I’ll bang my head to it, but I’ve heard this song so many times. So when everybody is now listening to it, Jah and I already heard the song a million times.
BeatTips: Do you remember what it was like when you were producing “Caliber?” Or was it just a beat you had in the archives, or you worked on it a lot?
Nick Frsh: Nah, I don’t really. I just remember when I made it, it was hard, and I knew someone was going to rap over it one day. That’s how I feel about all of my beats. Because all of my beats, there’s always one person that’s perfect for it. And to be honest man, that beat is really old, I just sent that to them, and it just ended up being a hit. That’s how it is. That’s what I learned in the game, you could’ve made a beat three years ago, and it can be a hit right now. That’s how it is.
JSDG Beats: Yeah, that whole situation is crazy. Like, I went to school with somebody, and he knew I was making beats. Like we even played on the same team. And in January, I posted a video when Nick and I were in Quad studios. And he wanted that beat out of the video. So I told him that it’s from people in my group. I’m not just going to send a beat if you’re not paying for it. It’s people in my group and we’re all trying to make money. We’re all trying to get songs out. And he was like, “Oh, I’m not trying to pay for it.” And I’d already established myself, like I had a name, and a little buzz already from working with artists like Sha Mcfly (“Yes, Yes”) and Breadgang’s ZaySmoove & TySmoothh (“Elite”), and these songs had the streets pretty lit at the time.
So I was like, “I honestly don’t care if you want the beat for free. Like even though I know you, it’s still a business.” And so he was like, “Forget it then.” So I told him, well, I can find somebody for you, and I went to Nick. And Nick was like, “Hell no, he has to pay me.” But I was telling him, it’s worth it to take a chance. Because at this time, I had all the credits, and Nick was just building, he was trying to get his name up, and a lot of people were ignoring him a little bit. Like I had to be a voice, like, “Yo, answer his e-mail.” Or something like that. And it took them mad long to pay Nick. And I already knew how they were, that’s why I was like you have to pay me up front. But they didn’t want to pay me up front, but I already knew it would be a good credit, so I told Nick to take it. I mean, he had credits, but it was credits from him and I collaborating, but he didn’t have too many on his own. So this jumpstarted a lot.
Nick Frsh: Nah, to be honest, I didn’t have any credits at the time of “Caliber.” Even before “Caliber,” like when Jah was working with Sha Mcfly that’s when he was lit, he had a lot of credits. I didn’t have any credits at the time.
Nick Frsh, Photo Credit: Alex Bourne
BeatTips: What do you think of our generation? Do you think we make disposable music?
JSDG Beats: There’s good and bad music honestly. A lot of people don’t like, for example, Lil Uzi Vert. I fucks with Lil Uzi Vert, he makes good music and he has a melody to him. Like people say he can’t rap, he can’t this or that, but it’s not always about being able to rap, it’s about making music that you can vibe to. And a lot of people think that music is trash, that’s why they don’t listen to it, because they just want to hear bars and shit. But sometimes you don’t want to hear bars, people just want to have the melody, and you chilling, but the beat is fire and he says something catchy. But everybody has their own views on that.
BeatTips: So do you think that this music will last and stand the test of time? Do you think in 10 years, or 30 years, we’ll look at his music the same way we look at Nas or B.I.G.?
JSDG Beats: It’ll probably be a little bigger than that because the generations are changing. Back then, the older people had different views on things. These younger kids now, they just want to get hype honestly. And songs are going to get better, so they’re going to be like, “Oh, a new version of him came out.”
BeatTips: So you think trap, drill, etc. bodes well for hip hop?
Nick Frsh: I feel like drill music is a waste of time, because I feel like it’s not going to get any radio plays. I feel like the only drill song that got radio play was the “Hot Nigga” song. That was big and it had a dance. And I just feel like trap is just always going to be there. Like people say, “Trap is never going to die.” I feel like there’s going to be new sounds of trap.
BeatTips: What’s your take on New York rap right now?
Nick Frsh: Sheesh. I feel like there’s a big argument right there.
JSDG Beats: That is a big argument. And it’s because there’s so many different lanes. I have so many different artists that I know, that do different things. Like Bam Bino and them, they make drill music and trap music together. But like that’s just one lane. Then you have the other people who just love bars. Then you have the Soho rappers, they’re kind of different, they need more boom-bap.
BeatTips: So you think New York rap is going in the right direction?
Nick Frsh: I feel like it could go in the right direction if everybody worked together, like how Atlanta’s scene is. New York is full of hate. Like everybody has to respect each other’s sound, because we’re all trying to eat at the end of the day.
BeatTips: When it’s all said and done, what do you want to be known for pioneering?
Nick Frsh: Just as young kids that made it, really.
JSDG Beats: Facts. I just want to like– We have to stuff to prove, it’s mad behind-the-scenes stuff, like we’ve seen mad people switch up on us. It’s people that don’t pay us any mind until they find out things. It’s a lot that goes on a producer. As a rapper, you’ve got to be more public, you have to have more of an image, but as a producer you’re behind the scenes and people think you type weird, and they don’t really understand what you do.
BeatTips: So you have a chip on your shoulder?
JSDG Beats: Hell yeah! I come from the hood. I’m not trying to see the same block. I came back home from College, and saw the same person on the block, in the same spot than when I left for College. And I’m just like, “Hell no!” I can’t do that. I don’t even want to come back to see that. I want to see a better place.
BeatTips: What do you two have coming next? Any projects or songs coming out?
JSDG Beats: We might have Curly Savv do a song. He was bumping “Caliber” on Snap (Snapchat), and I was like, “You know what’s crazy, my boy made that.” And he was like, “Who?” and I was like, “NickFrsh,” and he was just like, “Wow, that’s crazy.” So I told him like, “We can work with you, we can send beats, just let us know.” And he was like, “Hell yeah, send beats now.” And also, I’m supposed to meet A Boogie later today, at one of his events, so maybe that’ll open up another path for us. And I met A Boogie’s producer, the one who made “Not A Regular Person,” through Twitter, and he was like, “Your beats are hard, let’s make some beats together.”
BeatTips: What’s the name of your group?
JSDG Beats: Drummaholikz.
BeatTips: Do you have a project coming?
JSDG Beats: Yeah, we have a beat tape coming. It’s going to a push a crazy sound, a sound that New York has not heard before. Like the trap beat, they’ve heard a trap beat before, but they’ve never heard our type of trap beats.
BeatTips: When do you plan to release that tape?
Nick Frsh: We could release it today if we wanted to. (Laughs)
JSDG Beats: We could release like 4 or 5 beat tapes if we wanted. And that’s just off our collaborations, not even solos. We both have beats.
The music and video below is presented here for the purpose of scholarship.
Desiigner – “Caliber” (prod. by Nick Frsh)
OnPointLikeOp Feat. Kodak Black & King Luther – “Got Ma Bands Up” (prod. by JSDG Beats & Nick Frsh)
Sha Mcfly & TySmooth – “Yes, Yes” (prod. by JSDG Beats)