The fuse of rap producer Jimmy Duval’s career was lit when he joined his Oakland elementary school band. Later he snared a music scholarship to the University of Miami but dropped out, ultimately. Despite this seeming setback, his momentum began to build once collaboration commenced with Flo Rida’s camp. He has since worked closely with Florida-based rappers Lil Pump, Smokepurpp and, perhaps most notably, recently-killed rising star XXXTentacion. Indeed, Duval co-wrote and co-produced his first hit “Look at Me,” which has earned more than 100 million YouTube views since its May 2017 posting.
Along with friends Ski Mask, Lil Pump and others, Duval was integral to the development of the South Florida trap rap sound, which is typified by deeply distorted bass, intentionally clumsy mixing and fast tempos. “That was a career-defining moment,” he recalls of the sound’s genesis. “Most people are chasing someone else’s tail, musically and sonically. At that time, with young, talented kids, there was so little scene. It felt like a time to create a whole new wave. We kept grinding, doing sessions and the [SoundCloud] numbers kept going up, which transferred to selling music. The rules got broken more and more. It was fun to watch and be a part of.”
Every producer has unique, individual methods with which to draw the best from an artist. For Duval, mining authenticity is always key. “It’s about letting the song happen naturally while making sure it represents that artist correctly,” he asserts.
Beyond that, Duval’s production philosophy is one that emphasizes versatility. “There’s engineering, production and songwriting, which I consider the triangle,” he explains. “The better you are at all three, the more control you’ll have over how good a record comes out.”
XXXTentacion was gunned down on June 18 in Florida. Like anyone scarred by tragedy, the event shook Duval deeply. But it also triggered the realization that the artist’s legacy was too vital to die with him. “He was one of the most ground-breaking artists we’ve had as a generation,” the producer observes. “He never wanted to do the same thing twice. He was always on to the next thing; pushing how music got made. As a producer, you work with so many people where it’s not that way. Any of the amazing artists involved with him––it’s in their hands to carry the torch and run with his message.”
Duval has found that invitations to success’s after-party are only received after countless hours of work. “Think of this like a sport,” he suggests. “If you don’t get many hours of practice, you’ll fail. I say make a thousand songs and then release your best 20. That helps to hone your craft.”
Duval is obliged to remain mute about many of his current and/or upcoming projects. But certainly a collaboration with Ski Mask is on the horizon as are records with prominent pop and rock artists. He works largely from his Miami studio, known informally as “The Stache House,” after his label and publishing company. His future looks perhaps even brighter than his present and more great things can be expected.
Contact Luke Hincapié - Stache Records, [email protected]