Just before Cardi B and Nicki Minaj got into it again on social media, JWhiteDidIt visited the Global Grind offices to chat about his success with Bardi Gang’s formidable leader. As the producer behind “Lick,” “Bodak Yellow,” “Money Bag,” “I Like It” and her latest offering “Money,” JWhite has assisted Cardi in growing her credibility as an artist—in July, Billboard reported that Cardi is the first female rapper to earn two Billboard Hot 100 no. 1 records with “I Like It” and “Bodak Yellow.” Swish!
In our interview the Kansas City producer talks all about watching Cardi progress. He also gets into why “Bodak Yellow” became the hit that it did, how her team decided to do a Spanish record, opening more doors for Latin music, and compares Cardi B’s success to that of a young 50 Cent. Get into it.
On Cardi Honing Her Craft & Taking The Reigns
“How I came in, I was a producer and Cardi was working on the mixtape and just trying to get records. I know as a producer we lead the show, so it was more like ‘Ok Cardi, we gonna do this, we gonna do that.’ But now, over the years she has developed an ear for what she likes and I think that’s dope for anybody to grow—and she’s been growing rapidly, as we all can see. I’m proud of her.”
On “Bodak Yellow” & Why It Was Such A Big Hit
“Timing, to be honest. None of us knew that it would be a hit record, we just knew that it was different and it was hard and it just felt good. You could hear the frustrations in Cardi’s voice, you could hear the hunger…and I think a lot of people at the time felt that.”
When asked if the goal was to make a classic NY record, specifically, he added “No the goal was to, in my head, get a song that’s bigger than ‘Lick.’ ‘Lick’ was doing OK for the streets, but I know Cardi wanted that song on the radio. My job as a producer, and her team at the time, was to help give her that record. That was the goal, really.”
“Honestly I thought ‘Bodak Yellow’…was [only] going to get us to another record. I didn’t think number one… ’cause it’s a weird record,” he said. “She’s from the Bronx and I’m from Kansas City and I think that mashup of sound…felt good for everybody and I think that’s why it worked. Cardi was something new, a breath of fresh air to this industry. Now look, she’s still commanding the airwaves.”
On How “I Like It” Came About & The Decision To Incorporate More Spanish Into Her Sound
“We were at the Atlantic offices and the CEO, Craig Kallman, he [told me] ‘I have this idea. I don’t know what record, I don’t know what song…but she needs a Latin record, but trapped out. It needs to have that ‘Bodak’ feel, or it needs to have an urban feel to it. We need to flip the song.’ So, that’s how that happened. I went to his house and he played me a lot of records—literally.”
JWhite said Kallman played him so many records that he eventually started to doze off. “He’s playing me each Spanish record and…all I hear is ‘Yeaaaah baby!’ and I was like ‘That’s the one.’ The Pete Rodriguez joint, it woke me up because it was already a classic record. It’s hard to do but, we made another classic out of an already classic record, which is crazy. Everybody was a part of that record, because man it was work! On the production end…going through the sample, chopping it up the right way, just making it seem simple. But it paid off to get another number one.
Later in our chat, he said the record “will open more doors for Latin music.” “It’s crazy hearing all these new records that have the Latin influence,” he adds.
On Cardi B Saying She’s In The Game To Make Hits, Not Be Lyrical, & His Own Goals When They Create
“Is she making money?! Is she making hits?! [Her statement] was real! I know how I feel about it is: it definitely feels good to makes hits, it feels good to make money, but it also feels good to bring people together—something that ‘Bodak Yellow’ did for the freaking culture! What song had a TV special? We had a TV special on Revolt…about a song!”
He goes on to compare Cardi’s success to a young 50 Cent’s: “I feel like ‘Bodak Yellow’ is the female ‘In Da Club’ when that was out. I might be reaching, but I feel like it’s one of the biggest female hip hop records ever, if not the biggest. We had the most gangster of gangsters rapping it and my granddad, he’s a preacher, he knows the song.”
On Working With Mary J Blige & More
JWhite revealed he’s worked with a ton of artists, including Eric Bellinger, Fetty Wap, LeToya Luckett, and more—but working with living legend MJB seemed to be a highlight of his career. When asked if he saw her recent (drop dead gorgeous) photos, he talked about how beautiful she is inside and out:
“When I seen Mary J. Blige in that studio I said ‘Halleluuuujah!’ I said ‘I dont know what done happened up in here!’ She’s beautiful. That outside is beautiful, but so is the inside. Me really hearing her talk and seeing who she is as a person, I got so much more respect for her, this legendary person that was so gracious enough to do two days with me in the studio and was open and excited about music…and to see somebody that’s been in the game that long…crazy!”