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One Sample at a Time with Hollywood Cole

For music lovers, it’s second nature to want to know who produced a fire record. I’ve had that moment myself recently when listening to G Herbo’s “The Statement” and when the internet went crazy over the Drake & Lil Wayne collab on “BB King Freestyle.” The sample chopper himself, Hollywood Cole has been behind the scenes on some of these jaw droppers. Having produced for the likes of Queen Naija, Childish MajorNiko G4, Dom Kennedy and Quentin Miller; Hollywood Cole is making an impressive stamp in the producing league.

Cole and I spent some time talking about his journey so far in music. From interning and gaining knowledge from Dj Drama & Don Cannon, finding inspiration in the little things, past placements, and what’s coming ahead. It was one of the most down-to-earth and easy flowing conversations I’ve had lately. We covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time. We even discussed how Atlanta just has become a breeding ground for greatness and all things positive for Black people. 

Originally born in Seattle, WA, having lived in Boston, MA and  relocating to Virginia at a young age; Cole has pulled from these bicoastal influences when diving into his work. He currently resides in Atlanta which has become a Mecca of talent and Black creativity as well. Outside of demographic influences, Cole drew inspiration from legends J Dilla, Kanye West and Pharrell

“Dilla because he just crafted this whole sound within hip hop. He produced for Erykah Badu, Common, like he broke artists, Slum Village. But also Pharrell, he could give you something for Ludacris but also give you something for Gwen Stefani or Britney Spears. These guys broke artists, getting placements is great but to do that is amazing.” 

Cole also stated how he can become inspired by even the smallest sound. Whether he’s watching a movie and a particular scene stands out to him or simply living in that day to day trying to create. “I don’t try to force myself to make like 20 beats a day, it’s about quality. If you feel inspired then do it but don’t just try to like force output.”

After departing from Virginia State University, he made the move to Atlanta and began interning for mixtape legends Dj Drama and Don Cannon. Serving as his first experience in the studio really, he got to witness various artists on their rise from Lil Uzi Vert to Playboi Carti. This beneficial experience really opened his eyes to what working in the music industry was like. Interning for them exposed him to not only the lifestyle but the grind of it all as a producer. Before this internship, he got his foot in the door interning for artist manager Phillana Williams; eventually progressing to interning for Aaron Reid. Well-rounded to say the least, Cole used these experiences and connections to further his journey. 

Ci: At what point in your career did you impress yourself? Kind of like a “Wow, I really do this.” moment?

Hollywood Cole: (laughs) I haven’t done anything man. A point when I more so thought I was on to something would be when I got my first real placement, which was with Queen Naija. Around the end of 2018, I did a single called “Away From You” and when I did that I was like this is dope! But I’m just trying to keep my head down and keep cooking.

Ci: Do you have a preference on where you like to create? 

Cole: I would probably say the home studio. I’m a very relaxed, laid back person. I prefer more intimate settings as opposed to being out pre-covid. I feel like I would make some fire stuff being around water or like in a cabin with all woods, some snow. But I do know, I make good music when I’m comfortable at the crib. 

Ci: What placement so far have you been most proud of? 

Cole: One that was super crazy was the Dom Kennedy one.  I was working with Quentin Miller, and he was very helpful and kind of my start in this industry. He messed with my beats and fast forwarding, I ended up working on this song “Sh*t I’m On”  on the Young Nation Vol. 2 project. I made that beat at Q’s crib and he was like “Dom would sound crazy on this.” That started our relationship from there, I would fly out to LA often and we’d link up, hit the studio. I’m just thankful. Just last year I had four placements on his album Rap n’ Roll (“No Cell Phones,” “4 the lil homies,” “We Outta Here,” “No Vibes (outro).”) It just really came full circle, from my boy Tyler putting me on in college to now working with him. 

Ci: How do you feel about sampling in today’s music world as compared to in the past? 

Cole: I just feel like with sampling you have to try to just do something different. Even with this record I did with G Herbo, that sample has been used by Dipset, and so the way I flipped it, I kind of chopped it up and made it new. Even with the “BB King Freestyle,” I sampled Alicia Keys. The way I flipped it was I reversed it, pitched it down, chopped it up and they went crazy on it. And people have used these samples before, but I try to make sure that if I use it and I’m drawn to it, that I try to do something different. 

Ci: Anything cool coming up in this new year that you can share? 

Cole: I’ve been working close with Isaiah Rashad. There were some snippets that got leaked on a few blog sites the end of last year that we did. We’ve been working so I’m really excited for those tracks to come out. Isaiah is super dope and his fan base is crazy so they’ve been waiting on that. His new music is crazy. Also, I have a dope record coming out for Black History Month that I am excited for everyone to hear. There are some other placements coming out in the pipeline as well. 

Hollywood Cole is making strides behind the boards, one record at a time by adding his personal touch.  Stay on the lookout for some of his drops this upcoming year and a few teasers by checking out his instagram @_hollywoodcole.  

Written By

Educator & writer located in Richmond, Virginia.

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