Photography by Ryan Shorosky
Fashion by Julia Ehrlich
It’s safe to say there’s a Murda Beatz song on the radio somewhere right now. I would put money on it. The 24-year-old producer, born Shane Lindstrom in Fort Erie, Ontario, is responsible for monster hits like Drake’s recent “Nice for What”; Migos, Nicki Minaj, and Cardi B’s “MotorSport”; and 2 Chainz “It’s a Vibe” (featuring Ty Dolla $ign, Trey Songz, and Jhené Aiko).
He’s in the photo studio in Silver Lake, leaning back in his chair in a black tank, a diamond encrusted chain around his neck, saying “Murda.” He’s got the confidence of someone who makes producing #1 hits look as easy as cracking an egg. It’s not true, though, he says. “Hardest work ethic in the game,” he tells me, leaning back even further in the chair to the point where I fear he might slouch out of it onto the floor. “I work crazy hours, and I’m never satisfied, right? So I’m always trying to beat what I do. We’re at, what, seven weeks number-one right now with ‘Nice for What.’ I’m always looking at how I can get a bigger record or what I can do better.
“I’m from Canada, so my production style is a mixture of the ambience and sounds of Toronto and the bounce of down South,” he tells me. “I feel like I have hard-hitting drums from Toronto, and the ambience of the music, and I get the bounce in my drums from down South. The ‘Murder sauce’ contains a simple kind of melody, or a dark, dark trap melody, or now a sample with just a nice bounce and good drums, you know? I have the hardest drums in the game, so, I’ve gotta stamp it as a Murda song.” Growing up a Leafs fan in small-town Ontario, across the river from Buffalo, New York, Murda Beatz was exposed to East Coast hip-hop at an early age. “My introduction to music was, like, 50 Cent and Wu-Tang,” he says. “The first rap video I fell in love with was ‘Hate It or Love It’—The Game and 50 Cent. That really made me get into beats. But my introduction to me producing was definitely trap music.”
In the three years since producing two tracks on Migos’s debut album, Yung Rich Nation, Murda Beatz has worked with nearly everyone—his discography features a veritable who’s on top list of names. But there’s still a few people he deigns to work with. “Everything now is reality,” he says when I ask him about his dream collab. “We turned dreams into reality, but definitely Beyoncé, Rihanna, gotta get some stuff with Justin [Bieber] in. And just a bunch of new artists—I love all the new artists coming up. I want to work with all them, and just start to break my own new artists. Sign my own people and stuff. So look out for that.” For now, he’s working on his debut album, tentatively titled Keep God First II, a follow-up to the mixtape he released of the same name. That, and he’s been mashing buttons. “I play a lot of video games,” he says. “It’s my vice, because it distracts me a lot of the time. I was in a [celebrity Fortnite] tournament. I finished 11th. All proceeds went to the charity First Book Canada [an early education organization working with kids in need], so that was good.”
Hoping for an exclusive, I ask him what his next hit is going to be.
“A lot of the time, you don’t know, but there’s those rare occasions like when I made the ‘MotorSport’ beat, I was like, ‘Yo, this beat’s fire. I know it’s gonna be big,’” he says. “And then there’s times when I made beats like ‘Portland’—I think I knew it was a dope beat, but I didn’t know it could be a hit. So, when me and Quavo made ‘MotorSport,’ I’m like, ‘Yo, this is a fire song. I love this song. It’s my favorite song.’ And then when he sent it to me with Cardi B and Nicki Minaj on it, I’m like, ‘Hey, this is gonna impact the culture like crazy,’ right? Same with ‘Nice for What.’ When I made the beat, I was like, ‘Yo, this beat is fire.’ And then when he did his thing to it, too, we both knew. He told me, ‘Yo, this is a very special record. It’s gonna be a huge record.’ In certain ways, you can tell it’s going to be a hit, but a lot of times, you can’t tell.”
Hair: Vernon Francois
Makeup: Charlotte Prevel
Photo Assistant: Julian Berman
Stylist Assistant: Grace Lynch
Makeup Assistant: Keely Maroney
Production Coordinator: Tim Oliver