Cardi B’s Engineer Describes What Went Into Making ‘Bodak Yellow’ A Smash Hit Celebrity News

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Cardi B’s Engineer Describes What Went Into Making ‘Bodak Yellow’ A Smash Hit Celebrity News

Behind every hit song, there are numerous artists, producers, and specialists working behind-the-scenes to lay a solid foundation brick by brick. An integral but often overlooked role is recording or mix engineer. This person gets an unfiltered look at an musician’s creative process and subsequently builds a relationship on capturing and molding special moments.

One such engineer is Michael Ashby, who began recording himself in high school and has since gone on to work with Migos, Fetty Wap, and Cardi B. He recorded “Bodak Yellow,” the song that helped the former Love & Hip-Hop star grab the distinction of having the first No. 1 solo single by a female rapper on the Billboard Hot 100 since Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” in 1998.

Over the phone, Ashby is candid and humble. His work ethic comes through loud and clear as he takes a break from working double sessions to speak with MTV News about what it’s like to work with arguably his biggest client, Cardi B, the expanding future of studio engineers, and insight into the making of “Bodak Yellow.”

The following interview has been edited for clarity and length.

MTV News: How did you and Cardi first start working together?

Ashby: Cardi’s management was looking for new studios around that time; this is about a year ago. They was studio hopping around, and someone they work with that’s within the KSR music team referred them to me because she knew of me when I was working with another client that she formerly was managing that was in and out of New York. Working with that client, she’s gotten to meet me, and by she, I mean Maudrey from KSR music group, Cardi B’s management basically. She knew me through another client, B. Howard, who we all know a multi-platinum producer and artist himself. She met me through B. Howard, because B. Howard was always, this was like the No. 1 spot for him whenever he comes to New York. So then she had followed him here instead of going to Platinum Sounding studios.

Ever since she met me, she had Michael Ashby, Krematorium Studios in her mind until the one day she just referred me to Shaft, Cardi’s manager. Shaft was looking for new spots, and that’s how we’ve been working ever since.

Your biggest record so far is “Bodak Yellow.” Did you know it would be a hit when you and Cardi were in the studio?

Ashby: Well, I did know that this song was radio friendly. I knew for a fact it was trendy. I knew for a fact it was sounding like a very… it was a now record. I was like, this is great, this needs to come out soon. But no, I didn’t know it was going to go double platinum, which is something we’re all thankful for and something that we all were excited for. That’s really great that it took off like that.

But I’m not surprised that it got there because the record was that tough — it really was. Sky’s the limit when a record is good. Sky’s the limit. It can do really well, or it can just do well. There’s a little bit of politics that goes into it and stuff; it’s great that everything worked out so that it did really well in this situation.

Provided

Michael Ashby, the recording engineer on Cardi B’s smash hit “Bodak Yellow.”

Was there anything that stuck out about the “Bodak Yellow” recording session or anything that sticks out about how she records in the studio?

Ashby: The one thing that really stood out about “Bodak Yellow” is her confidence when she was recording. I love the fact that in every new song that we do, she builds up a new level of confidence towards what she’s rapping about on the track, and that really reflects positively across the track. It makes her sound in control of the track, the beat. I like that. We need everything to lock into place and things to sound the way we need them to sound.

The role of the engineer seems to be expanding especially within the past few years. What do you try to bring to your sessions?

Ashby: Yes, it has been expanding because people don’t come into the studio with a whole team oftentimes anymore. Because a lot of people are independent. The independent artists are not as fortunate as people like Rihanna or Beyoncé to be in a recording session with a dedicated vocal coach, vocal producer, producer, and then you got a writer, vocal arranger. There are different people that specialize in different aspects of the song. A lot of times independent artist don’t come in with that crowd.

So oftentimes what I’m doing is I’m providing my clients recording-wise with the same guidance I’m used to seeing in a session with a larger amount of people, with a client that does have that kind of backing. I adopt that type of workflow and just pass it on to the people that don’t really have that type of support, and it really helped from what I’ve seen grow the artist. It really helped to make the artist expand more in his or her capabilities on the track, and that’s great. I tell people all the time like this is what you would have sounded like with a Roc Nation budget, for example.

Cardi B’s Engineer Describes What Went Into Making ‘Bodak Yellow’ A Smash Hit Celebrity News

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Cardi B's Engineer Describes What Went Into Making 'Bodak Yellow' A Smash Hit Celebrity News

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