Musical producer

Producer Angel Lopez Finds Studio Identity While Working With Jack Harlow

In November, Kentucky-born rapper Jack Harlow texted producer and Columbus ex-pat Angel Lopez a Spotify playlist with about 10 songs.

“He said, ‘Yo, pick something out of this,'” Lopez said, speaking by phone from her home in Los Angeles. The idea was to find a song that Harlow and Lopez could sample and inspire a track for the rapper’s next album, Go home, you miss the kidsreleased on Friday, May 6. Right now, Fergie’s 2006 hit “Glamorous” jumped on Lopez, who got to work.

“There are a lot of people trying to do these recreations, but it’s not tastefully done. We want to be tasteful,” Lopez said. “I sat with it for a minute and then programmed some percussion. I actually made two versions of this one, and it’s the second version that stuck.

In the studio, Lopez and Harlow first worked with fellow producer Jasper Harris. “Jasper started playing this keyboard sound on it, and I grabbed the sample, chopped it up, then grabbed the a cappella, and we started conversing with the sample,” said Lopez, who later “opened it up” with Harlow and Rogét Chahayed, a recent Grammy nominee for Producer of the Year. “When we did it, Jack and I knew it was special. You couldn’t deny this one. We stayed strong alongside that song.

About a week before the single’s April 8 release, Harlow posted a studio excerpt from “First Class” on TikTok, which went viral. (Lopez is in the lower right corner of the Video clip.) By the time the song hit streaming services, “First Class” topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming only the The 60th song in history will debut at No. 1.

Recently, Lopez was listening to the song on Spotify while driving in Los Angeles, and when he turned off his phone, “First Class” was also playing on the radio. “That song made up this whole album, which is the perfect representation of Jack’s influence and what he wants to do artistically,” said Lopez, a Hilliard Darby High School graduate who has been deeply involved with the project since. he started working there. with Harlow in Miami over a year ago. It’s yet another step in Lopez’s journey, from crafting beats in the laundry closet of an apartment in Galloway, Ohio, to collaborating with some of the biggest names in music, starting with Timbaland and passing by Kanye West, Justin Timberlake, Coldplay and many others.

After:From Galloway to LA, the inspiring journey of producer Angel Lopez

Lopez said he and Harlow hit it off right away in Miami. “On the third day, we were texting each other. He hit me, like, ‘Hey, man, I really like your vibe.’ … And the next thing you know, he’s calling me and saying, ‘Yo, I’m going to be in LA, I want you to stop by,'” said Lopez, who ended up at recording sessions nationwide, including Atlanta, Phoenix, and Harlow’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.” It got to a point where every time he was in the studio, I was there with him. We have built a great relationship.

Angel Lopez

Lopez attributed some of that kinship to their shared upbringing in the Midwest. “We had a lot in common, and there were elements of certain musical eras that we both enjoyed, which started to translate into the music. It’s almost like an unspoken code that you encounter with an artist,” he said. “I remember getting a text from him saying, ‘I want you to help guide the ship on this album.’ And that’s an honor for me. … As soon as someone gives you that type of role, you know what you have to do. You have to step into the role and just be selfless and really focus on making that artist the best version of themselves. A producer only shines if the artist shines.

Harlow, 24, who is also a producer on Go home, you miss the kids, set the tone from the get-go, Lopez said, presenting a cohesive vision for the main production team of Lopez, Chahayed, Nickie Jon Pabón and Nemo Achida. “Jack is a crazy producer. It’s his baby, and we happen to be the guys who clicked and were able to take that vision,” Lopez said. “I feel like he’s a unique artist in ten years. … I hope people see the genius that I see in this kid. I’ve worked with so many artists, my brother, and I never felt what I felt for an act like I do for Jack.

Working with Harlow also helped Lopez fully realize her own role in the studio. “I have a deep new love for making music, and it’s because my work finally has its title. I’m not a beatmaker. I was able to find my identity as a producer,” Lopez said. “I graduated beat-making years ago, but it feels like I finally got my badge. I’ve been a producer, but having someone like Jack really enjoying it is what gets you the badge.

This turning point would never have happened, of course, if Lopez hadn’t come under legendary producer Timbaland, who recognized Lopez’s talent via Instagram around 2015 and later made him part of his team.

“I had the chance to work alongside the best. I was in the room with artists, seeing how he was doing this work, seeing how this music is made. … I have such an edge over people because of all the time I’ve been with Timbaland. I first walked into the studio with JT (Justin Timberlake) and Timbaland in 2016 – it was while Justin was working on The man of the woods — I saw this chemistry and this unsaid. They click, they understand each other,” Lopez said. “I worked with Coldplay, and I saw the way their producers work, and I was able to bring some of those colors here. I was able to bring my experiences with Kanye West – just little things that bothered me. marked on this trip.

After:Central Ohio Expat Angel Lopez Wins Grammy For Work With Kanye

As Lopez’s star continued to rise, he also fully embraced his Mexican American heritage and Midwestern upbringing, rooting much of his work on Harlow’s new record in the summer jams he listened to. when he was a kid in central Ohio, which fit well with Harlow’s vision and his Louisville roots. “I created a playlist on my Spotify called Midwest Summer. I remember I was 10 years old in Hilliard, Ohio, listening to those records. … There was a certain feeling that I would have, and my version of that album was like, how do I incorporate that? How do I bring that Midwestern summer feel? López says. “This album, for me, is a representation of what it was like growing up in suburban Columbus, Ohio. , in the summer, biking around Willow Bend in Hilliard.”

Lopez also incorporated a few Columbus collaborators on two Harlow tracks, bringing in longtime friend Mark Abrams, who previously worked with Lopez at Vaughan Music Studios in Upper Arlington, to record drum tracks from the Columbus musician. Steven Bustos. “I’m bringing work to town because I want people back home to be involved in this,” Lopez said. “There’s a lot of 614 for me on this album, and I hope people can hear it and connect with it. I hope I make Columbus proud.

It’s a strange thing to work on a project so intensely for over a year and then to be at the finish line. The sessions for Go home, you miss the kids are finished. It will finally be released to the world on Friday. “I don’t know what’s going to happen when this album comes out, but the one thing I’m hoping for – my biggest payout and compliment on this album – is that people will say, ‘Damn, these guys really care. of music,'” López said. “I so love making music with Jack and this group of people.”

The day after the album’s release, Lopez will be in Louisville celebrating with Harlow and his team at the Kentucky Derby, but he’ll also be bringing his grandfather. “My grandfather and I went to the Kentucky Derby in 2015, and we couldn’t even see the horses. But for us it was a blessing to be able to go, so we had a great time,” Lopez said. “This time I can take it again, and I think it’s going to be a bit of a different experience.”