Alex Da Kid: The Idolator Interview
You may not know producer Alex Da Kid by name just yet, but trust us, it’s a temporary situation that’s about to change in 2011. The London-born 26-year-old is the man behind the beats in Emimen and Rihanna’s “Love The Way You Lie” and B.o.B and Hayley Williams’ “Airplanes”—two of this year’s summer radio staples that have now earned the onetime professional soccer player (real name: Alexander Grant) five Grammy nominations.
In our sitdown with hip hop’s rising behind-the-scenes star, he discussed his recent productions (like Diddy-Dirty Money’s “Coming Home” and Dr. Dre and Eminem’s “I Need A Doctor”), what he learned after the way things went down with Nicki Minaj’s debut single “Massive Attack” and the possibility of working on Christina Aguilera’s new material. He also sang the praises of his frequent collaborator and recent signing Skylar Grey. “She plays like nine or ten instruments,” says Alex. “She writes amazing songs. She’s the real deal.”
Catch our full one-on-one with Alex Da Kid below! IDOLATOR: Congrats on your five Grammy nods! ALEX DA KID: Thanks, man. I really appreciate it. It’s been a pretty good year so far!
How did you celebrate after finding out about your nominations? A: I didn’t actually celebrate. I kind of just went home, I think. It was kind of surreal. I didn’t really do much. I went home and had to be in the studio early the next morning.
Have you gotten any requests to work with artists since the Grammy announcement? A: I’ve had a lot of requests just in general. I’m sure the Grammy thing doesn’t hurt, but not so much just because of the nominations. I do get calls from people that are kind of crazy that want to work me. I’ve been getting that for a while now, since “Love The Way You Lie” came out.
Who rang up that really blew your mind? A: There are a few, but I probably shouldn’t talk about that yet. [Laughs] The whole music community has definitely embraced me, which is a good thing. Even if it’s not for work, even if it’s like words of wisdom, I get people calling me.
Were you surprised at just how big “Love The Way You Lie” became? A: I always knew it could do well. When we were [recording] it, I always had a really good feeling about it. But you never know—you could have a good song and things could go wrong at the label, and then it could not see the light of day. So you never 100% know. But I knew that if it got the right attention—which an Eminem single pretty much does—I thought people would really embrace it. Which they kind of did.
Another collaborative effort you’re behind is T.I. and Christina Aguilera’s “Castle Walls.” Tell us how that one come to be. A: I really wanted to work with T.I. but I wanted to do something a little different. I didn’t want to do the same things he was doing on the past album. I knew people around T.I., like his manager, but I didn’t really know T.I. I knew where he would be, so I would pretty much just show up wherever he was and just randomly hang out. This was post-“Airplanes” and “Love The Way You Lie”, so I didn’t get thrown out of anywhere. I would just show up and start talking to him. After awhile we spoke about a few things and he was into it. So after stalking him, I sent his A&R “Castle Walls”—like the beat and the hook—and he loved it. He laid his verses, and then we were thinking about who we should feature. They had their own ideas, and I just thought immediately—Christina. So I sent it to her and asked her what she thought and she loved it. We recorded it, and T.I. heard what we did and he loved it. And that’s kind of how it happened. It’s a lot of me stalking people! [Laughs]
Well, I always say stalking is the highest form of love. Will you be doing more music with Christina? A: We haven’t started anything. To be honest, both of our schedules are really crazy. We spoke about potentially working together, but we haven’t even got dates and a schedule. She’s promoting her movie and I’m really busy with my new label. If it happens, it will happen in the new year.
Skylar also features on Dr. Dre and Eminem’s “I Need A Doctor.” Can you clear one thing up about that song—is it meant for Dre’s long-awaited Detox or will it feature on a re-release of Eminem’s Recovery? A: That’s for Detox. I can’t really talk too much about it, but, yeah—that’s for Detox.
What’s a dream collaboration you would like to work on? A: My dream collaboration is definitely Lil Wayne and Cher. [Laughs] That would be fun! I would make Lil Wayne sing and have Cher do some gangster stuff. It’s sort of a joke, but at the same time I think that would be cool. I want to do things that have not necessarily been done in hip hop, things that create interest for people. So I’m joking when I say Wayne and Cher, but it’s not too far from what I think.
Well, if you pull that one off, next you have to work on getting Snoop Dogg and Susan Boyle on a track together. A: [Laughs] Now you’re talking!