SouthSide, aka Sizzle, aka Joshua Luellen, is a producer for 1017 Brick Squad, that’s Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka Flame’s family. Sizzle produced half of Gucci and Waka’s recent Ferrari Boyz, collaborated with Lex Luger on God knows how many smash records, and laid the foundations for one of the most jamming records on the most acclaimed hip-hop album of 2011. The song was “Illest Motherfucker Alive”, and the album, Jay-Z and Kanye’s Watch the Throne. Now Sizzle is back sending beats to Jay and Ye’, and is working in the studio with Waka on his forthcoming album, Triple F Life: Friends, Fans and Family. I remember four months ago people telling me I was crazy for thinking “Illest Motherfucker Alive” had dubstep influences. Now SouthSide himself confirms it. What more can I say…
Hey, SouthSide, how’s it going, man?
How you doing, how you doing, bro?
Good, how are you?
I’m good, I’m good. I’m in the studio right now with Gucci and Waka.
That’s awesome. What are you guys working on?
Just working on different songs, different shit. Just doing stuff, man. Just going crazy.
That’s cool. I was actually just watching your beat tracking thing online.
Your little beat tracking video/interview online.
Oh, the Streets Wanna Know, when I was checking out the beats and stuff for Ferrari Boyz.
Yeah, it seems like a real money-maker.
Yeah, you’re tracking beats out, that’s the money.
You ever get bored doing that?
Get bored with what?
Doing that. It seems a little monotonous, but I guess if the money’s there-
I’d never get bored of that. That’s how I eat and live my life, bro. Never ever. Every time they want a beat tracked I jump for joy. It’s my life, it’s my career.
So you get kicks out of it.
I get kicks, laughs, everything, bro. What it do though? What’s up with you, man?
Nothing, man. I was going to say, watching that video, I thought it was strange that there aren’t more women engineers, because chicks like things to go in their proper places, you know, seems like a good job for them.
You know what I think it is with women though, they don’t want to have to deal with what the men bring to the table, because a lot of men aren’t respectful. You don’t have a lot of men who were raised right, who will respect a woman. Because a woman could be working and she could be beautiful and a man could try to sleep with her but she’s just all about working.
So you think they’re afraid?
They just have to do their business, man. My whole team runs everything and they’re women. My manager, everybody, they’re all women. I listen to women. Women run my career, to be real with you. So I’m with it. [laughs]
That’s awesome. Are you working on anything else on the technical side, because it seems like you can almost do anything at this point, but are there some things that you wish you could do better?
Um, I’m learning dubstep right now. I’m learning dubstep, pop, I’ve been trying to get records together for Flo-Rida and shit like that, different stuff. I’m just trying to step out of this rap lane for a minute and get into some R&B and pop. I can already do it but I need to take over it.
Lex is doing a lot of that stuff now, with “That Way” and he had that crazy ScHoolboy Q record with the samples-
Oh yeah, but we’ve been on that stuff for years, bro. Lex and I are still sending out beats from two or three years ago. I ain’t begun to load up any new stuff off my computer yet. I’m using computers from three years ago still.
So you’re really into the dubstep stuff, huh?
Yeah. If I hear a type of music and I don’t know how to make it, that’s a challenge for me. I’m going to want to figure out how to make it.
Who did you hear dubstep from? Are you a Skrillex fan?
Um, naw, actually I couldn’t tell you any names of music, but if I heard a song I’ve seen a video for- like one of the songs I like they won an award this year for MTV, I think, for Video of the Year or something, it was a dubstep beat but the beat went with the video. An older producer I work with in our camp, he put me on it. He was like, “Learn this, learn how to do this.” At first I was like, “I ain’t learning that,” but now I’m like, “Hell, I’ll learn it.” I made one beat and then I was like, “I’m going to do this for real.” I’m going full throttle at it right now.
I always thought there was a dubstep element to that “Illest Motherfucker Alive” beat.
It kind of is. It kind of us. And see, what I’m trying to do, they have dubstep, but I’m trying to do a hip-hop dubstep, like take hip-hop beats and then do the same stuff.
Yeah, everyone was laughing at me when I said that about that song, but I guess- [laughs] I was a little bit right.
Yeah, you was. There is a dubstep feel to it.
I think it’s that echoing sound-
Where you from, bro? Where you at, bro? Where you in?
I’m in Toronto, man.
You’re in Toronto.
Yeah, I’m freezing my ass off up here.
Yeah, I got to get out there, man. I got to get up there ASAP.
Yeah, I was disappointed when Waka- I was on my way to the show and then I went on his Twitter and that was when he wasn’t allowed in.
Yeah, that was crazy. I gotta get up there, I gotta get up there and bounce around, get my feet wet up there and see what’s going on, man.
You ever been to Canada?
I’ve never been to Canada. I’ve seen Canada from Detroit. [laughs] But I’ve never been out of America yet. We’re trying to solve that right now.
Oh, man, you got to go on some vacations.
Yeah, I’m 22, bro. My birthday’s next week actually. I’ll be 23, but I’m young.
My birthday’s on February 5th. I turn 23.
Mine’s February 2nd. The 2nd of February. That’s crazy.
Shit, we’re almost the same age.
Yeah, so I’m starting all that now. I’m going to get overseas, but I’m trying to take care of everything over here first.
What are you doing for your birthday?
I’ll probably be with Waka somewhere working, man. Every day’s a birthday. We live every day like it’s our birthday.
I remember reading something about Lex, when he did the “H•A•M” beat, that Kanye and Jay flew him out to New York, or he worked with them in the studio. When you did the beat for them, for “Illest Motherfucker Alive”, that wasn’t the case, right?
Naw, that wasn’t the case. [laughs] They didn’t give me those privileges. [laughs]
Were you a little envious of that?
Naw, I’m not that type of person. I was glad to see my little brother make it up there and get to meet them.
Yeah, but obviously you’d like to get in the studio with them.
Actually I went and chilled with Kanye at his show, for like five or six hours, man. He’s a cool dude. He’s real cool. But it’s coming. I just sent more records to them, seeing about doing some more records.
Kanye and Jay?
Kanye, yeah, we’re working again. We’re on some other stuff again.
Oh, man. He sounds so good over your stuff.
Yeah, man, we’re working again. It’s on, man. And we’ve got Waka’s album right now, that Triple F Life album, we’re working on that full volume right now.
I’m really looking forward to that. When do you think we’re going to hear that?
March, April, May, it’s crazy.
Right in time for summer.
It’s going to surprise the world, a lot. His maturity, growing, all that. He’s going to surprise the world.
Yeah, that’s what I feel. I wondered on your beats, you have that voice, the tag, that goes ‘SouthSide’ or it’s like ‘808 Mafia’, is that an actual chick or is it you?
The ‘SouthSide’, that’s me. I’ve said that since I’ve been 17. I’ve just been changing the pitch on it on FruityLoops. The ‘808 Mafia’, I’ve got a whole clique of producers, Purps, TM, D-Bo, Jaye Neutron, there’s a couple of them. I tell them like, “Make tags, make something that everyone’s going to remember forever,” and one of them made the tag ‘808 Mafia’. I was like, “I need that. I’m running with that one”.
Yeah, I was just curious because the Maybach Music- the girl who does the tag, she was just in the news or something.
Oh yeah, I did that ‘SouthSide’ years ago, bro. I was underage when I did that. That was years ago. Actually that’s how I met my first manager. She heard that, because it said a whole bunch of other stuff at the end. I used to have it say, ‘SouthSide on the track’, and she was like, “I love that. You got to keep that. You’ve got to keep doing that.”
You also said in a recent interview that these young producers you’re working with, you’re really going to show them how to hustle and grind with their talent. I wondered if you could give me your top 5 pieces of advice for hustling, or just some key things?
I’m going to tell you how I look at stuff. I told you we have a camp, 808 Mafia, myself, Lex Luger, there’s a couple of us, all those names I just named. What I try to tell everybody is, and I got into a misunderstanding with someone about this, because they didn’t know what I was saying, I said that if everyone goes for the number 1 spot, if we all compete within the same company, we’re going to fill the top 3 slots, you feel me? Everything I’m doing, you do too. We’re the same company, so copy me. I stay on the internet. The internet is really the key. Lex put me onto that a long time ago. He pulled me to the side and was like, “Bro, you’ve got all the talent,” because he and I started in the basement together every single day. He said, “You’ve got all the talent, bro, but your internet game’s weak.” And I was like, “Huh? I ain’t gettin on no damn internet.” And Lord knows as soon as I got on the internet shit started going bananas. So what I tell young cats is, make people see your name so much that they go, “Man, what the hell is he doing? I keep seeing his name everywhere.” Consistency is everything. That’s the key to hustling. Just stay consistent and don’t quit.
Could you tell me a little bit about Uncle Poogie (sp?)
Oh, Uncle Pooky (sp?) [laughs] You’re crazy. [laughs] Uncle Pooky. Man, my uncle, you know how it is, he’s young but he’s your uncle still. He’s older than you but he’s the youngest. You know you’ve got those kids who have everything but are just bad for no reason? That was me as a kid. The only thing my mom could do was punish me. So I had to sit in the house for months. My uncle came in the house one day with a laptop. I don’t know how he got it or nothing. [laughs] But he came in our house with a laptop and was like, “Man, what you doing? You do your homework?” I was like, “Yeah, I did my homework.” He was like, “You clean up your room?” I was like, “Yeah, I cleaned up my room.” He was like, “Look, I’ve got this laptop. There’s a program on here. It’s called FruityLoops. You can make beats on it.” He was a rapper. He was like, “You can make beats on it. Start making beats. Learn how to make beats.” I just started fucking with that shit. He came home the next week. I had like four or five beats done. He was like, “Damn, you’ve put this together already?” I was like, “Yeah, I’m figuring it out.” And now we’re doing it. Shit’s crazy. [laughs]
Uncle Pooky played a big role. I talk to my uncle on a day-to-day basis too.
He’s a rapper?
He used to be a rapper. He’s getting older now. He raps for fun now, but he used to rap and was trying to do something back in the day.
Is he your mother’s brother?
Yeah, that’s my mother’s brother, my mother’s youngest brother. Actually that’s not her youngest, she’s got another brother, he’s her middle brother. I’ve got two uncles. I’ve got another uncle who raps. Both of them rap actually.
What did your mom think when he brought the computer over?
It switched from me not being able to go outside to me not being able to make beats. [laughs] Everything switched. She was mad. She always used to tell me like, “Fuck that music. Go getchu a job. That music ain’t going to do nothing for you. That shit is a dream.” She used to always say that, and I was like, “Alright, it’s a dream.”
Did you ever go out and get a job?
Yeah, I had a job, because I have two kids. I had a child when I was eighteen years old. I never knew my father growing up. I could never do that to my child, so I went out and got a job, worked every day. But I went to work one day and I just sat at the job- and Waka’s always been my friend. He’s always been like, “Boy, you can turn up.” And I was working so much I was missing everything, and he and Lex were turning up everything. I was in the job one day and I was sitting there thinking like, “Man, this ain’t for me. This isn’t what I want to do.” I just walked out and I’ve never been back.
Yeah, wow, where was the job?
In plastic. I was an operator. I used to make plastic, like the containers you’d eat salad out of and stuff like that, I ran the machines that made the plastic. I fixed them and made them. I had a good job, an alright job.
But then one day you were just like, “Fuck it.”
Yeah, I worked there for a little minute. But it was just like, “Fuck it,” spontaneously.
Did that feel like a big risk at the time?
It felt like the biggest risk of my life, but the way our company is set up, it’s all family, so at the end of the day you always know you won’t be on your ass. We all help each other.
So you had that support from your friends.
Naw, it’s family. Mizay Entertainment, that’s a family, man. That’s not just a management company. There’s a lot of support there. People don’t know that. It’s a business but at the same time it’s a family. We go kick it. We’re always together. We see each other. I knew I had their support and I knew that’s what Waka really wanted me to do. He was like, “Bro, you got to turn up, that ain’t for you, that ain’t what you supposed to be doing.”
What’s your mom think of it now?
Man, they proud of me. They love it. They’re like, “Damn, that’s crazy.” She still has a hard time believing it because she’s not on the internet much, so when I tell her like, “Mom, I was in the studio with B.o.B,” she has a hard time believing it. She’ll still be like, “Aight…” I told her months before that I had a Kanye West record and they ain’t believe me, nobody really believed it, and then the shit came out and they’re like, “Ohhhh…”
Did you ever wonder when that song [“Illest Motherfucker Alive”] came out that it had that long break before the beat drops?
I found it weird, but I understood what he was trying to do at the same time, just like, “We’re the illest motherfuckers alive, who else would do that shit? You’re going to wait and listen to it.”
Every time I put that on in the car everyone’s like, “What is this?”
“What is this?” [laughs] He says- [laughs] That’s crazy. It was weird, but I was glad to have a track with them. That helped my career out a lot.
Those little sections in-between songs are pretty cool too, the things they did with the intros to each song, you know what I mean?
Like the little sound? Yeah, I love that. That’s crazy. They had that at the concert. Kanye, what I learned about him is that he’s an all-around entertainer. He sets up his own show. He wants to do the art, he wants to style the show, all that. That man’s got a big vision. That’s somebody I look up to. He changed my whole thought process when I met him and actually chilled with him. He’s a cool dude.
Which show did you get out to?
The last one, the one in Atlanta, the Watch the Throne concert with him and Jay-Z.
Yeah, was it pretty sick?
It was crazy.
I missed the one- or two up in Toronto.
I’ve been to a couple of concerts but that was the craziest shit. I’ve been to a lot of concerts actually. I go to all of Waka’s shows, but that was a crazy concert. That make me be like damn, “That’s where I’m going to be in five years. I’ve got to be there.” It was inspiration to me.
Yeah, Kanye’s an inspiration to everyone. You live in Atlanta now?
Yeah, I’m Atlanta raised. I’m a Georgia boy. Always been, yeah.
Your family all the way back too?
My dad comes from California, L.A., and my mom is from Florida, from Jacksonville, Florida. But they met here. They met when they were in high school. My mom was pregnant with me when she was 18 and in high school.
Did your mom find it weird- well, not weird, but coincidental that your dad was a rapper and then you start making beats?
My dad was a producer. My dad was a producer for OutKast before they were OutKast. [laughs] My dad couldn’t stay out of jail. I never knew my dad either, bro. That’s the crazy shit. He couldn’t stay out of jail so they moved on. He got out of jail after five or six years and they’d already blown up, Goodie Mob and all them. When I was younger my dad- I’d never met him, but he sent me a beat machine signed by the whole Organized Noize, by everybody. I never used it because I was so mad that I never knew him. I never used it. I sold it and everything. I wish I had never done that though.
What was his producer name?
Cat One (sp?), he was with that whole era. You remember Cool Breeze? You ever heard of Cool Breeze?
He was an artist who ran with OutKast and Organized Noize back in the day. In Atlanta he was popping. That was one of the first studios I ever went to, Cool Breeze’s studio and I was a little boy. I was like 13, 12 years old.
You have a crazy history.
Yeah, I do. You ever heard of Rico Wade? He’s the head person over at OutKast and Organized Noize. I’ve been meeting a lot of older cats lately that have a lot to do with history. I don’t know why, but it’s happening. It’s teaching me a lot.
Which member of the family do you get all your energy from? I have to speed up my voice with you- I usually talk slow but I’ve got to match your energy, man.
I get that energy from Ms. Debs yo. [laughs] In this family if you don’t talk loud you don’t get heard.
I thought maybe it was the fertilizer they use down there in Atlanta or something.
[laughs] Yeah, man, I just love life, bro. I was raised if you don’t talk loud you don’t get heard, so I talk loud and quick. You’re going to hear me speak when I speak.
Sick, man. What are some new records to look out for?
Gucci Mane, Trap Back, Waka Flocka and B.o.B “Fist Pump”, that’s new. The “Wild Boy” record with Machine Gun Kelly and Waka Flocka. The Waka album, I’ve got crazy stuff on his album. I’ve got new stuff with Meek Mill, new stuff with Travis Porter, all the records Slim Dunkin was doing before he passed.
My condolences about that, man.
Yeah, he’s in a better place, bro. But I’m everywhere right now, bro. I’m bouncing around. Everybody who’s doing something with rap I’ve met. I got to meet Juicy J.
You think any of those will crack the radio this time?
Yeah, I’m actually doing it now. A lot of people don’t even know that, because my name doesn’t come up. But “Wild Boy” is on the radio, and it’s been number 1 on 106 & Park, right?
You did “Wild Boy” with MGK?
It’s a long story, but yeah, that’s mine. I did that, yeah.
I didn’t know that. That’s pretty cool.
He’s coming to Toronto soon so hopefully I’ll get to hear what that beat sounds like live.
I’ve definitely got to get at you when I come up there, man. You sound like a cool dude, man.
Thanks, man. I appreciate that.
I’m going to come up there and kick it with you, man. It ain’t nothing to it, bro.
- Special thanks to Shante Traynham