(AllHipHop Features) How many college students can say they produced tracks on an album by one of the most celebrated emcees of the last decade? That was exactly the case when Husson University scholar Nikolas Papamitrou was recruited to provide production for Meek Mill’s 2017 LP Wins & Losses.
The beat maker, professionally known as Papamitrou Boi (formerly Nick Papz), didn’t stop with his Wins & Losses placements. A year later, he also contributed to Meek’s chart-topping smash Championships. The critically-acclaimed project is home to the Papamitrou-produced records “Intro,” "Uptown Vibes,” “Respect the Game,” and “Cold Hearted II.”
Meek Mill had so much appreciation for Papamitrou’s track-making abilities that the Philadelphian signed Nick to DreamChasers record label. With an endorsement from this generation’s street rap leader and by drawing influence from producing legends like Swizz Beatz, Timbaland, Pharrell Williams, and Jahlil Beats, the Massachusetts musician is looking to eventually stamp his name among the culture’s all-time greats.
The DreamChaser is still at the outset of living out his dreams as a permanent fixture in the music industry, but his initial efforts indicate Papamitrou is on pace for a long career. His bandwagon is likely to fill up quickly, so the Hip Hop community should start getting familiar with his brand now.
AllHipHop: How did you first connect with Meek?
Papamitrou Boi: I got found by Meek from Instagram. I used to put up beats on YouTube. I used to post Instagram videos off my phone of me recording my speakers. I got contacted on Instagram from one of Meek’s right-hand people while I was in college. They said that they wanted to sign me. It was just unreal. They called me, I picked up my phone in class, I flipped up my desk, and ran out. Meek is my favorite rapper. I used to make “type beats” for him on YouTube, so it’s pretty much like a dream come true. Before I got signed, I was friends with Meek Mill’s deejay, DJ Bran. We connected through Twitter because he used to listen to my beats on YouTube all the time. So that was my entrance through the gate. I got the call from DJ Bran. They were saying, “We want to sign you. We’re working on DC4 and we want to fly you out to Los Angeles.” It was a life-changing moment.
AllHipHop: The “type beat” phenomenon has become really big. There are thousands of those videos on YouTube. What advice would you give to an up-and-coming producer to make their beats standout?
Papamitrou Boi: I had a way to make my “type beats” pop up on YouTube. Let’s say Meek Mill drops an album and went #1, I would capitalize on the name. I would make a “Meek Mill type beat.” You never know. If someone searches Meek Mill on YouTube, they could stumble across your beat. That attracts more viewers. That’s the strategy I used. I got to the point where I built my subscribers up. I didn’t want to capitalize on that too much, because what if I didn’t want to make a “PnB Rock type beat” or “Rick Ross type beat” even if they had a #1 album. Making “type beats” helped me develop my sound and what I really liked. I found out I liked “Meek Mill type beats” - the hard 808s. I fell in love with the “Meek Mill type beats” and stuck with that for about two years. Next thing you know, I’m on the team.
AllHipHop: You worked on Championships and you also worked on Wins & Losses. With Championships being Meek’s first album since being released from prison, was there a different vibe in the recording process for this album?
Papamitrou Boi: This is the first time I’ve seen him work super hard like he knew this album was pretty much putting everything on the line for him. He knew that this was his breakthrough. With getting out of prison and all the other stuff that happened, this was the biggest comeback of any artist that I’ve seen. He knew he had to do the best work. All that prison stuff that happened definitely influenced a lot of his lyrics. I’ve been in the studio with him a lot of times, and this is the first time I’ve seen him approach it like it has to be done at a specific time and the vibe has to be right.
AllHipHop: You have the opening track on the album. His "Dreams and Nightmares" is a classic album intro, one of the best in Hip Hop history. Is there any pressure knowing that you’re the guy creating the beat that’s going to be the opening track on his album? This is the second time for you.
Papamitrou Boi: Yeah, it’s the second time. It’s crazy because all of the Wins & Losses songs I worked on in my dorm room in college. I graduated, so this was the first time working outside of college. I’m free to do whatever I want, whenever I want. I was going to New York for Championships. They recorded that at Jungle City Studios. I live in Boston, so I was traveling back and forth twice a week for like eight to ten weeks straight to work on the album. The “Intro” I did on the spot for Meek. We actually had a previous version of that intro in 2016. He told me, “Hey, can you flip that Phil Collins sample again?” So I brought it up on my computer and he sat right next to me. I’m the type that has to sit by myself in the studio so I don’t have all this pressure of everybody else watching over me. So I just put the skeleton on, but the next day I sat down in the studio with Cruz, Meek Mill’s engineer, and did the whole beat. It came out amazing.
AllHipHop: You mentioned that Phil Collins sample. You also used a pretty familiar sample on “Respect the Game.” Did you ever find out Jay-Z’s reaction to using the same "A Garden of Peace” sample from “Dead Presidents”?
Papamitrou Boi: A lot of people used that sample like J. Cole [for “Dead Presidents” I and II]. I think it’s time to recreate these iconic samples like “Dead Presidents.” What’s cool about the album is it goes from “What’s Free” with Jay-Z to “Respect the Game” with a Jay-Z sample. I thought that was a pretty cool idea.
AllHipHop: You also did "Uptown Vibes.” Did you envision a Latin artist on that track when you were making the beat?
Papamitrou Boi: Yeah, I always had a thing for Spanish music. I love Reggaeton, Daddy Yankee, J Balvin, all of those artists. I asked Meek, “Would you ever rap on a Spanish beat?” He said, “I’ll try it.” So I tried making a Spanish Trap beat. You don’t hear a lot of that. If you hear, for example, Bad Bunny, that’s a normal trap beat and it sounds Spanish because he’s rapping in Spanish over it. So I tried taking the influence of Spanish horns and mixing it with some hard Trap stuff. I put the tempo and drum patterns in a specific way that I know Meek is going to like. I played that in the studio for him and he immediately makes his face. There’s a specific face Meek makes when anyone plays a certain beat, and he’ll tell you to run it back like twenty times. So I knew from the start when I played that beat it was going to be a hit.
AllHipHop: You work with other producers. What’s it like creating a track in a collaborative way?
Papamitrou Boi: It’s awesome. I’ve done stuff with a big influence on my music - Jahlil Beats. He and Meek have created together. Meek is still my favorite artist to this day. Me and Jahlil have done some stuff together. Me and Maaly Raw. Me and DJL. I was just with Swizz Beatz in the studio which is unbelievable. Everyone has different vibes.
AllHipHop: Championships came out too late to be eligible for this year’s Grammys. Do you expect the project and maybe you as a producer could be competing next year at the Grammys?
Papamitrou Boi: Hell yeah, definitely. I’m trying to become one of the biggest producers. I’m trying to be the next Murda Beatz or Metro Boomin. It’s really all about marketing and branding yourself. That’s the biggest thing. You can come out with fire beats, but if you're not branding yourself I don’t know what’s going to happen.
AllHipHop: Who else have you worked with besides Meek?
Papamitrou Boi: I’ve worked with Rick Ross, Desiigner, Don Q. On Meek’s albums I’ve done features with Future, Yo Gotti, Guordan Banks, Fabolous, and PnB Rock. It’s been a lot of people. I can’t name them all.
AllHipHop: Are there any dream artists that you’d like to produce for?
Papamitrou Boi: I have two top artists that I’m dying to work with. The first one is Tory Lanez. The second one is Lil Baby. Those are my top two right now. They got a good sound. Tory Lanez got that summer vibe that I love.
AllHipHop: Meek teased that he’s working on another Dreamchasers. Can we expect that anytime soon and have you put in any work on that?
Papamitrou Boi: We were just in the studio a few weeks ago. That whole session was recorded over my beats. They recorded six songs. Meek’s in promo mode right now, so I don't know what’s going to happen. If Meek wants to drop another album, he could. He’s got over 600 songs in the stash. Some of them are unfinished but he’s got a lot of stuff. He did announce on Instagram about a Dreamchasers tape, but we don’t know when. I don’t know when. It’s on his time, whenever he feels it’s right. But we’re working.
AllHipHop: What’s next for you? What do you have coming up this year?
Papamitrou Boi: To keep making fire and try to market myself on another level. My biggest thing is to become an influence for the youth as well as up-and-coming producers. I started off as a college student making all the Wins & Losses beats in my dorm room. I want to portray that image - how college and high school students can do it too. Whatever age you are, or if you’re working a 9-to-5, you can still do it. I always tell people: as long as you put the work in, you market yourself right, you’ll get somewhere. Everyone’s life has a different clock. Everyone’s time is just different.
AllHipHop: If this was a superhero movie, your origin story would be pretty amazing. You started off as a producer in your college dorm room.
Papamitrou Boi: I know, right? I really should make a movie out of this. It would be crazy.