"Rack City" Producer DJ Mustard Personifies Ratchet Music for a New Hip-Hop Generation
For the last year and a half, West Coast producer DJ Mustard has been killing the clubs and the radio waves with a sound that the streets of Los Angeles have named “Ratchet Music.” Having produced hits for the likes of Tyga and Y.G., DJ Mustard has become one of the most sought out new producers with artists looking for his heavy bassline and snap sound.
All in all, Ratchet Music is simplistic and even a reworking of previous musical trends, but there's no denying its popularity, especially with the females. AllHipHop.com caught up with the young rising California producer to talk about his sound and style:
AllHipHop.com: What made you decide to roll with DJ Mustard as your moniker?
DJ Mustard: Dijon is my first name. One day, my cousin was playing with a Mustard bottle, and he started calling me Mustard. It's stuck with me ever since.
AllHipHop.com: No other name before that?
DJ Mustard: I've always been Mustard.
AllHipHop.com: I'm looking at a picture of you right now and you've got a huge gold and diamond Heinz Mustard bottle as a chain. Is that “Rack City” money right there?
DJ Mustard: [laughs] Almost.
AllHipHop.com: How long have you been making beats?
DJ Mustard: Probably like two and a half years.
AllHipHop.com: Say what? You're still new to this then.
DJ Mustard: Yeah, I'm real new.
AllHipHop.com: There are dudes who have been making beats for years, and they haven't been on the radio yet.
DJ Mustard: I just take it as a blessing. I've been DJ'ing since I was a child. My uncle let me DJ at a family party when I was like 11 years old. It was all older music, but I was familiar with it because of previous parties. After that, I started to frequently DJ more as I got older. As for beats, I watched a lot of my producer homies, and then I was able to grasp on to it. I just kept trying and trying, and then one day, I finally got it. That process took me like a year.
AllHipHop.com: What led you to create the style of music that you are known for?
DJ Mustard: Los Angeles wasn't known for dancing and having a good time. For years, the music had been gang oriented. I just wanted to make music for people to have fun to and to bring the party back to L.A. I want people to have fun and not to worry about fighting. I do this for the crowd.
AllHipHop.com: You've worked heavily with Y.G. How long have you two known each other?
DJ Mustard: For about six years.
AllHipHop.com: Did you know that he was going to one day become a young rap star?
DJ Mustard: Kind of. When I first started working with him, he had a lot of haters. He still does somewhat, but there were a lot more back then. Now here on the West Coast scene, people are a little more happy. There's less hating going on between the artists. We aren't doing this to be violent. We are doing this to bring the West Coast back to the spotlight.
AllHipHop.com: I can imagine the resistance that you felt at first with your music, because a lot of West Coast rap fans probably felt that you weren't being true to the West sound.
DJ Mustard: I felt some of that hate, but it never bothered me. I knew that it was going to catch on, and that people were going to roll with it. If the streets roll with you, then you don't ever have to worry about anybody else.
AllHipHop.com: You use snaps in a lot of your beats, and they've been around forever, but your snaps are super crisp with an echo sound.
DJ Mustard: For a lot of my beats, I use the same snap and the same 808s. I hardly ever use anything different. Those two things together just make people want to dance. You can't resist it. It's ear candy, and when you hear it, you want to dance. These things have been around like you said, but when you present it in a different way, it rejuvenates everything.
AllHipHop.com: I've seen people criticize the “Rack City” song, but the beat has received a lot of praise.
DJ Mustard: It started off as a fast beat. I was in the studio just making a beat for YG, and I never thought that it would become what it became. Tyga was looking for beats, and I didn't know what to send him. I ended up sending him the “Rack City” beat and he had the song done in less than two days. I mixed it the following day and we put it. The song took off from there.
AllHipHop.com: I love the bassline for that track.
DJ Mustard: I listen to a lot of country and western, so that's an inspiration sometimes. I also love that old school sound like the way that DJ Battlecat makes his beats. I want to try to capture all of that but in a new way.
AllHipHop.com: The style has been called, “Ratchet Music.”
DJ Mustard: "Ratchet" can mean a good thing or a bad thing. The way that I see it as far as the music is concerned, it's people having fun. You can go to a turned up party, and that can be “Ratchet.”
AllHipHop.com: You've made hits for YG and Tyga. Who else have you produced for?
DJ Mustard: I just did tracks for Red Cafe, Bow Wow, and Meek Mill. There's a lot of other artists, too. The phone's been ringing a lot. People want stuff that sounds like “Rack City”, but I also do other type of beats. I can make R&B and serious tracks – not just the club bangers. Every time I send an artist those type of tracks, they tell me that they want the stuff that I make for Tyga and YG. I can't get my other stuff out, because everybody wants the party music.
AllHipHop.com: You throw a lot of those “Heys” in your party tracks.
DJ Mustard: I do that for every beat. That's like my signature. That just makes a party crowd want to really “go.”
AllHipHop.com: Sounds like you've got some producers following your footsteps. I've heard a few songs that I absolutely thought was your doing, but it turned out to be someone else.
DJ Mustard: You've got to roll with the punches. I'm glad that I'm setting a trend, though. I remember a couple of months ago, I heard that one dude said that he'd never do a beat like DJ Mustard. Next thing you know, he comes out with a similar style record. I don't care, though. If you're going to follow my style, that's cool. I want all of Los Angeles to be happy and successful. I'm not a hater. If you do something that the people like, I'll like it, too.
AllHipHop.com: Do you have any personal projects in the works?
DJ Mustard: I do, but I was talking to YG recently because summer is coming up, and we should do a Ratchet mixtape together. I plan on doing one for myself, but I really want to focus on YG. I know that I can do a tape anytime. The last mixtape that [YG] dropped, showed a different side of him. I feel that it also showed that he can rap as opposed to just making dance songs. But this mixtape that I want him to do with him, I want it to be Ratchet. He's already done four songs for it. We'll see how it goes.
AllHipHop.com: When you get around to your project, are you going to continue with the Ratchet sound or try to showcase those other sounding beats that you mentioned earlier?
DJ Mustard: I'm doing this for the Ratchets [laughs]. Seriously, though, I'm going to wait until I'm a bit more established, and then I'll bring out the other stuff – kind of like how Lex Luger did. In the meantime, look out for that mixtape with myself and YG.