The hit “Hrs & Hrs” takes its time to wrap itself around Muni Long’s sultry, breathless, and subtly repetitive chorus of “I could do this for hours / and hours and hours.” Before reaching the climax of the twilight chorus, Long rhymed everything from “giving you your flowers” to “champagne showers” to ordering “shrimp and lobster towers,” not to mention his ” Super powers”.
Certainly Long knows how to create a song. Under the name of Priscilla Renea, her first name, she has written songs for Rihanna, Mary J. Blige and Mariah Carey, among others. Dylan Graham, who co-produced the mid-tempo R&B track off Long’s 2021 EP, “Public Displays of Affection,” helped her achieve “Hrs & Hrs,” and its slow, cool, looping production and its gliding rhythm.
Prior to “Hrs & Hrs,” Canadian-born, Orlando-based Graham — Variety’s April 2022 Hitmaker of the Month — honed her glassy, breezy sound by working with singers such as Summer Walker (“Toxic”) and Jill Scott (with Conway the Machine on “Chanel Pearls”), as well as rappers Wale (“Let It Go”) and Young MA (“No Love”).
In fact, to achieve the soulful, soulful brilliance of “Hrs & Hrs” and its romantic subtext, Graham had to travel miles in rock music.
“I started playing guitar at 11 and did the whole grunge-metal band like, say, Nirvana until I was 15,” says Graham. “I quit it to produce hip-hop and R&B and never looked back.”
Graham was a fan of Timbaland and Dr. Dre, but found other mixologists to obsess over by digging into Soundcloud and digging deeper into SoundClick, where studio heads store their best stuff. “You could find so many great unknowns there, really talented people like Epik The Dawn and Tone Jonez,” says Graham. “They are really an inspiration for what I do as a producer. Even more recently, there’s Robert Glasper and D’Mile, who worked with Silk Sonic.
Graham began selling beats, piano loops, and drum breaks and posting them on YouTube, through BeatStars, or on his own Flash site store. His first name production internships took place in 2018 and 2019 with Wale and Young MA
Graham says, “With Wale, it’s actually kind of funny. Someone had taken my drum loops and chord progressions, put them together and placed them with him. We didn’t find that out until six months after the track came out, and then we had to research that and do business with it.
One of the ways Graham is now able to exert more control over his work is by owning and hosting his own online sample and drum/beat store, SampleStash. “Rather than someone finding me or randomly buying, I thought why not create my own site?” he explains. “I play keyboards, I write, and I post my progressions and drum beats. Sometimes I do my own guitar parts or ask someone else to play or sing after I send them vocal notes. They will replay it, I will put together packs of 10 titles and sell them on my site. It was lucrative: not only sales of packs, but also getting placements and production jobs from there. I hear about big names in the industry all the time for gigs and collaborations.
Among them are hitmakers like London On Da Track and PartyNextDoor. “Many artists and producers search online for samples, loops and beats – original compositions – that are unique and fresh,” adds Graham. “I have them.”
When it comes to working on vocal tracks for Summer Walker and Muni Long, the tune Graham brings to his production is his own special sauce, honed through years of practice.
“Giving a singer space to breathe is 100% my goal,” Graham says. “Like so many newbie producers, I spent most of my early days overproducing, adding far too many instruments and layers to the mix. If you’re wondering why you’re not getting cuts, this is it. : You do too much. You have to leave room for the artist. Especially when it comes to R&B.
He admits to using a little AutoTune, but cautions: “You don’t want to sound like T-Pain. There needs to be a balance between voices that sound natural and correct. In the end, it’s not about your beat or your sample. Everything revolves around the artist and all of his product.
Summer Walker and producer Active By Night found Graham via YouTube, purchased one of his sample packs via SampleStash, and “Toxic” was born. A similar progression occurred with Muni Long and “Hrs & Hrs” co-producer Ralph Tiller.
“Ralph got the sample from me, flipped it on YouTube, and got a million streams with his beat before Muni found it,” Graham explains. “What’s interesting, though, is that other artists wanted to cut that track specifically with me. We almost sold it to another artist – like signing for him that day – when Ralph called me just before Christmas and told me that Muni Long had posted his version on TikTok and was doing really good numbers. I thought what she did with the track was awesome. I called my manager [Mike Heron] who suggested we sit on the case for a minute. Next thing you know, Muni’s TikTok exploded, and so did his streams. Halle Berry reposted the lyrics. It sealed him.
As of this writing, the song has nearly 40 million views on YouTube and 75 million streams on Spotify (150 million streams in total, according to Def Jam, who she signed to in March). “Hrs & Hrs” also peaked at No. 1 on Urban and Rhythm radio, reached the Top 5 on Apple Music and the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100.
What about the Graham track that brought out the best in Long’s passionate vocals and the songwriting’s 6/8 timing?
“Hrs & Hrs’ is a very authentic sounding and feeling R&B record,” says Graham. “There’s not a lot of authenticity there right now. Also the hook, he connects with people if they’re in a relationship. Muni is an amazing songwriter, and that lyric, in particular, is so relevant. It doesn’t sound like a single, but the combination of his song and our track just worked.