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Kid Hazel Interview: Slaughter Gang producer finds balance between dark and ‘divine’

Las Vegas native Kid Hazel dug his feet into Atlanta’s trap scene with divine desire — soon establishing himself as one of hip-hop’s most sought after producers.

In 2017, Hazel was working at Costco pushing carts and working long hours as a short-tenured producer. His only major placement was on Lil Baby‘s “Narcs” from his 2017 project Harder Than Hard.”

Day by day, he would send dozens of beat packs out to artists’ managers. His sound was inspired by some of Atlanta’s finest in hip-hop, so he attempted to link with Atlanta rappers to build his career.

Around that same time, he had his first daughter, motivating him even more to find success in producing. Shortly after, Young Nudy would use a beat made by him for his song “Since When,” featuring 21 Savage.

Savage was particularly fond of Hazel’s sound, and would soon make Kid Hazel the first producer on 21 Savage’s label Slaughter Gang. This led to Hazel hitting the road with Savage for Post Malone‘s “Beerbongs & Bentleys” tour in 2018.

Since then, Hazel has worked on 21 Savage’s two most recent albums I Am > I Was and Savage Mode II with Metro Boomin. Also, he found placements on the “Mortal Kombat 11” movie soundtrack for 21 Savage’s song “Immortal” and “Spiral: From The Book of Saw” soundtrack this year as he produced three of the four songs.

In March, Hazel crafted the beat for TikTok viral “BIG PURR (Prrdd)” by Coi Leray with Pooh Shiesty.

Kid Hazel’s trademark sword-slash producer tag has helped Slaughter Gang establish cohesion, continuing to elevate Hazel’s career. He recently sat down with OGM host Hakeem Rowe to discuss his career, his vegan lifestyle, his spiritual side and his focus on mental health in this new Our Generation exclusive.

HR: Do you believe that your come-up was divine?

KH: Yeah I do. I definitely do. I was raised Christian, but once I was able to get into the right frequency and awaken, I started to understand that the true creator gave us the power to create our own path and our own destiny. So I started understanding that and I really started applying that manifestation aspect to everything. As soon as I stopped praying and asking for something, I would ask if from within myself. I believe God created us all in his image, so anything is possible.

HR: How has your spiritual side affected your beats? Because you’ve got some dark sounding beats.

KH: That’s what it comes to balance. I like to look at each beat as an energy. Because when you’re producing a beat, whatever energy you’re feeling at the time, that’s going to reflect in the beat. So when I want to make some dark, trap music, I’m like ‘let me get in the vibe.’ When I did the “BIG PURR” beat, I actually had to get all the way into the vibe. I lit a candle and turned off all the lights. It sounds crazy but when you match the vibe of the beat you’re creating, it’s going to create something that’s directly from that source of energy.

HR: What is your creative process?

KH: It all depends what I’m creating. When I know I’m doing something dark. For example, when I did the “Immortal” beat. Mortal Kombat said I had to make 13 beats. Instantly when I started making those beats, I went and bought a red light and put it in my studio. It made me match the vibe. When I’m making certain beats, I like to have it where my energy is isolated. When you start to get more and more sensitive with energies around you, it starts to affect your creation as well.

HR: How did “BIG PUUR” come about? How did you and Coi link?

KH: So, the first time me and Coi had linked, she had met and we went to the studio. We just chopped it up and I played her some music and she put some to the side. It was really just creating that friendship vibe. Then when I had made the “BIG PURR” beat I had actually texted the beat to Pooh Shiesty as soon as I made the beat. As soon as I made the beat I heard Pooh Shiesty on it. The energy did its thing. 

HR: How did you and 21 Savage meet? How did you end up signing to Slaughter Gang?

KH: It was a dream because everyday, before I ever had contact with Savage, I would be sending out beats. This was in 2017, and I had my daughter in 2017, and I all I had was that Lil Baby placement, “Narcs.” At the time I just knew how to make beats, I didn’t know anything about the business. I sent a pack out that had the “Since When” beat in it. I sent it to Nudy’s email. Then Nudy got Savage on it, and then Savage was like, ‘Who produced that?’ He had Meezy (21 Savage and Young Nudy’s manager) reach out to me and was like ‘Yo, Savage fuckin’ with you, you trying to be the first producer in Slaughter Gang?’ I’m like ‘Hell yeah!’ It was really an honor to do that and right after we went on tour with Post Malone. 

HR: Briefly you mentioned the Mortal Kombat soundtrack, and you just worked on the Saw soundtrack. How different is it to work on a soundtrack than it is making something for an artist?

KH: The soundtrack is 10x more pressure. It depends on the person, but I’m an overthinker. “Spiral,” the single that Savage did, I sampled “Hello Zepp,” shoutout Charlie Clouser, he was the one that created all the original Saw sounds. They told me ‘Hey Hazel want you to sample ‘Hello Zepp’ for the main song that Savage is gonna use.’ So I made that same beat five times, I had five different versions of “Spiral.” The other songs had that same type of pressure because the creators of Twisted Pictures (production company that made the Saw franchise) told us ‘Look we don’t do this type of music, we’re gonna let you guys go crazy. Hazel, where is it supposed to go?’ They let me know the scenes and asked me how long songs should play in certain parts. Yeezy and Savage put a lot of trust in me.

HR: You produced songs on Savage Mode II and I Am > I Was, collaborating with Metro Boomin. What was the process like with Metro?

KH: It was crazy because as a producer coming up Looked up to Metro and still do. It was a dream come tru to be able to work with somebody I watched in the beginning. Metro’s a real cool dude, especially if you present yourself the right way. If you don’t do any crazy stuff it’s always gonna be love. On I Am > I Was when we did “asmr,” he had some starters that he had made, and said, ‘Hey Hazel I’m gonna send you these and let’s go crazy.” He sent me the pack, and I went back to my hotel and made the “asmr” beat. I wanted to show him how serious I was, and want to make sure the next time I saw him everything he sent me was done. He sent me five starters and I spent all night banging those out. 

HR: What are the unspoken rules of being a producer?

KH: When you get in the studio with people you gotta cook up something from scratch, at least one time. The first interaction we gotta cook up something from scratch. You also can’t steal sauce. It’s okay to look up to a producer or craft your sound around somebody but it comes a time where you have to venture off and create your own sound. 

HR: How did you come up with the “sword slash” producer tag? Where did it come from?

KH: When I had first signed with Savage, I’m sitting on the tour bus on the Post Malone tour, and I knew I needed another tag, because I had “Kid Hazel on the beat” and “Kid Hazel you killed this one.” I’m thinking to myself, Savage has “Issa knife” and I like to be a team player, I like to make sure that when I do something with another artist, they need to know it’s Slaughter Gang. I was going through a pack of miscellaneous sounds and I found the sword swing in there, and I’m like, ‘this crazy.’ Sword, Slaughter Gang, Kid Hazel, branding, It all made sense. It says Kid Hazel without saying Kid Hazel.

HR: How do you feel about producers paying for collabs?

KH: I think paying for collars is good. I paid for collars coming up. Even though sometimes things might not come out of it, some thing might come out of it. It’s all about the process, it’s all about the learning experience, it’s all about locking in those relationships. Any producer that’s paid for a collaborator with me, we meet down the road it’s already gonna be love. You already showed me that you’re trying to work and that you’re serious. 

HR: Who are some artists or people you want to work with?

KH: I want to work with Brent Faiyaz for sure. I want to get something in with Cardi B because I like the wave she’s doing. She’s showing the world that Latina women, and women in general are powerful. Women are doing their thing right now. Shoutout all the women artists, all the women producers that are rising right now. Nicki, I’d like to work with her too. I like building artists. I want to build an artist from zero and we work up to something. I’ve been working with an R&B artist right now, her name is MEISH. We got some shit coming.