Interview: Producer BL$$D Discusses How His Faith Led Him To Billboard Hits
Updated: Mar 28, 2020
As I reported with HipHopDX, multi-platinum selling producer Tariq “BL$$D” Sharrieff has a résumé many Hip Hop producers would covet. He’s worked with Swae Lee, Young Thug, Lil Uzi Vert, Future and Young Dolph, among others.
The Florida native’s first hit single, Ayo & Teo’s “Rolex,” has amassed over 700 million views on YouTube but you’d never know it talking to BL$$D. He continues to work hard as if he hasn’t found such success. It’s this humble approach that’s helped him build relationships and secure over 40 placements within the industry.
With his accomplishments, BL$$D could solely work with some of the most notable artists in the rap game. Yet he surrounds himself with young and hungry talent under his All Pop International banner, a production company he started to work directly with up-and-coming musicians.
BL$$D spoke with HipHopDX to discuss his journey from selling instrumentals on the internet to having multiple records on the Billboard charts. He explained how he was led by blind faith and a strong will to never give up on his dreams.
HipHopDX: I know you have a lot of hits and placements, but I want to start from the beginning. When did you make your first beat?
BL$$D: Oh so you going from the beginning, beginning. I was 12 years old in the car with my parents listening to the radio. I think it was one of the Britney Spears songs that the Neptunes produced, and I was like “Yo, dad who makes the artists sound the way they do and who puts the music behind them?” He was like, “Yo, son that’s the producer.” And from that moment I was like, “Maybe I want to be a producer.” I was playing basketball with this one kid, and we’re the only two people on the court. We’re just chopping it up. He was like, “I’m a producer, I make beats.” I’m like, “How you’re 12!?!” He was like, “I got this program, FL Studio.”
When I got home, I ran to the computer and downloaded FL Studio. I was like, “Yo, I’ma be a producer now.” The only thing is it’s really complex. Being a 12-year-old, I had no idea how to work it or what to do, so I walked away from it and kept being a kid. Then a month later, I remember having this dream — it was so vivid. I was within the program and God was giving me a step-by-step tutorial on how to work it. I woke up the next morning like, “Yo, that was a weird-ass dream, let me try this.” I tried it and it worked. From that moment on it just clicked.
So, for about a year or two, I just started making the worst beats known to man. Although I knew how to make beats, I didn’t know how to make good beats. Eventually from being in different groups on Facebook, I connected with other producers who mentored me and took me under their wing. When I turned 16, I started selling beats online.
That’s when I fell in love with the music and really I fell in love with the euphoria from watching other people enjoy something that God blessed me with, and I was addicted ever since.
HipHopDX: I know you were enrolled in college, and I’m sure your parents led you that way.
They’re paying for your education and eventually, you dropped out. What gave you the strength and the courage to go against the people that you love and follow your passions?
BL$$D: Honestly, it’s a one-word answer: God. In my second year in college, my ex-girlfriend and I were driving back. I was on the highway, only car on the highway at 4:35 a.m. I was just cruising back, just listening to beats, and all of a sudden, I just saw like the brightest light I’ve ever seen in my entire life pop up in the left-hand corner of the sky. I felt what felt like a candle being burned within me. I heard this voice, “From this moment on fully pursue music, leave college, move to Atlanta full-time and I’ll guide you the rest of the way.” When you hear something like that, you don’t really question it.
I came home [the next day] and I talked to my parents. At first, they were so against it because they sent me to like private school my whole life. They dropped so much bread on my education. They were like, “Hell no! We’re not letting you. I don’t care if God talked to you better pay us this money back.” (Laughs)
I was like, damn, all right. Well, at least I tried. Then the next morning I remember being woken up by my mom sitting on the bed and she was like, “Son, God appeared to me in a dream last night and I gotta let you go.” After that, I moved to Atlanta with two other homies to this apartment complex in Midtown. Two or three days right after I moved in, this multi-million dollar recording studio opens up right next door. I ended up interning there for a year and a half. I met everybody who would go on to have a major role in my career. So it’s crazy, but you just gotta believe.
HipHopDX: That eventually led to your hit record “Rolex” that has 700-plus million views on YouTube, it’s crazy. Can you talk about the process from being an intern to your first hit? I’m sure it was a lot of ups and downs.
BL$$D: Before “Rolex” came out, I was in one of the hardest periods of my life. I had to struggle and grind more than I’ve ever had to in my entire life. My whole life, I’ve always had this safety net behind me. My parents had good jobs. I was blessed to have a really fortunate upbringing. I always had everything I wanted and needed, things were good. After I decided to leave college, my parents were like, alright, we’ll let you do this and we’ll support you for a little bit.
But after that six, seven-month period, I was on my own. I’m not making money, how am I going to be able to pay rent? And literally — I swear — every single month miracles would happen. I would just have the money I needed for rent, usually either the day of or right before so many situations popped up.
One day my phone got stolen. Some guy randomly gave me $600, which is what I needed for my rent that day. I was like, “How does this happen?” It really showed me that as long as you rely on your faith and work hard every day, God will always make sure you have exactly what you need. It might not be a penny more, but you’ll have just what you need to get by.
I know a lot of people struggle with that. They might not have wealth in abundance, they just get bits and pieces here and there. But just know it’s almost like a bunch of crumbs leading up to a big ass Thanksgiving dinner. You just gotta take it crumb by crumb until you get the feast.
HipHopDX: I’m glad you said that because on social media, people see your highlights, but they don’t see the process. You have a lot of highlights but that took some grind. It also took time. I know you have over 40 placements. Can you talk about some of the other artists that you’ve worked with?
BL$$D: Yeah, so recently I’ve been doing a lot of great work with Young Nudy. That’s my brother. My boy Swae Lee, we’ve known each other for a long time, so we got a bunch of great records. Hopefully, you’ll be able to hear them soon. 24kGoldn, my big sister Priscilla Renea. This artist that goes by Money, watch out for her ’cause it’s going to hit you from left field.
HipHopDX: That’s great. I saw your photo with Pharrell. How was it meeting him?
BL$$D: Pharrell is my idol. I just felt like this connection to him. As a kid in high school when I was producing, a lot of people are like, their goal is to win a Grammy. Their goal is to get plaques, blah, blah, blah. My only goal was to meet Pharrell. That’s all I wanted. We ended up meeting at this Interscope party. I remember it was right after “Rolex” came out.
I was introduced to him and I just talked to him. It was a short conversation, but I felt the energy. And more than that, I felt my lifelong dream being accomplished. If I could manifest that from being a 13-year-old kid then anything is possible.
HipHopDX: Absolutely. With all the success that you’ve had, have you had a moment to digest it and take everything in?
BL$$D: Honestly, it’s really just … it’s surreal, it’s unreal. But one thing I do and I’m very stringent on this, every day I set aside seven or eight minutes to meditate, no matter what’s going on. I might be in a session, boom, dip off to the bathroom. Just really just reflect on everything that I’ve been blessed with, get into the right headspace and ask God to bless me with more incredible, awesome memories and beautiful moments.
If you don’t meditate or if you haven’t tried meditation, definitely read into it. Check out the app Headspace. Google it and center yourself. Because if you’re not centered and you’re not grounded, then how can you elevate?
HipHopDX: That’s facts. It’s something I learned later. There are so many things that come to you when you meditate. So who haven’t you worked with that you want to work with?
BL$$D: Hmm, that’s a tough question ’cause I really been blessed to work with some incredible names, a lot of my favorite artists. But I gotta say I really want to work with Beyoncé. I feel like we can do something very special together and make something for the world that is going to be cherished forever.
HipHopDX: What about some of those favorite artists that you did work with? Who are some of them?
BL$$D: Future. I remember being in high school my senior year. I’d be driving my little sister to school and like we would just listen to Pluto nonstop. When he hopped on “Relationship,” my mind was blown.
Young Thug is another one. I remember the first time I heard Thug, it was on the Streets On Lock mixtape that Migos and Rich The Kid dropped. He had a song on there with MPA Duke. When I heard his voice I was like, “I don’t know who this guy is but I know he’s going to be special.” I remember I was talking with my friends at the time, I was like, “Yo, this guy’s got to be the next Lil’ Wayne.” And then, you know.
HipHopDX: He took off. What’s the worst thing about working in the studio?
BL$$D: It’s like a time chamber. You come here like 2 or 3 p.m., it’s bright outside, birds chirping, sun shining, all of that. You get so caught up and then go outside for Postmates or something, it might be completely dark outside. You’re just like thrown off, or it might be like bright again ’cause it’s the next day. They say time flies when you’re having fun. So, I mean, I’ve lost track of a lot of things just being locked in the vibe. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
HipHopDX: Yeah, it’s like a casino really.
BL$$D: Yeah, for real. This is literally the casino because every time you’re going in your energy is like your money. So, you’re building energy every time and it’s like you’re playing roulette, you know what I mean? And sometimes you win, it’s a jackpot. It’s a huge hit record. Sometimes, you lose it and it doesn’t do anything or it never comes out. But it’s all about the fun you have playing.
HipHopDX: Yeah, that’s a good comparison. Speaking of that, what record have you done that took off and you had no idea it was going to be that big?
BL$$D: I gotta say “Rolex.” When I sent them that beat, I knew I really liked it, but I had no idea that it would be so platinum and literally create so much joy throughout the world. But that’s the beauty of it. It’s usually the songs that you don’t even like that much or don’t believe in as much that end up being your biggest records. People have always told me that but experiencing it has been unreal.
HipHopDX: What artist do you have the most chemistry with? Almost to where you don’t have to say anything y’all connect sonically in the studio.
BL$$D: Honestly, that’s a tough one. ‘Cause I feel like I have a great chemistry with a whole lot of artists I work with. Over the past week, I’ve been locked with my boy 2Feet Bino. It’s almost like we have like a telekinetic connection. We just clicked, the ideas just flow and we really don’t even have to speak. He’ll just be like, “Yo, give me something like this,” and within 10, 15 minutes, we got it.
I can’t even put his music into words. It’s like the perfect combination of joy, pain, litness and emotion. We’re working on a project called 2 BL$$D right now. I just know when the world hears it, it’s really going to touch people in a way they haven’t been touched by music ever before.
HipHopDX: So on the flip side of that, you met Pharrell — one of your influences — and it was what you imagined. But sometimes they say don’t meet your heroes because they turn out to be not what you thought. So, is there anybody you met you weren’t impressed by or just didn’t vibe with?
BL$$D: I got to say I feel very fortunate to be named BL$$D because I’m blessed to have not been in any of those circumstances. Everybody I’m around, I have a true genuine respect for it and that respect is always reciprocated.
HipHopDX: I see you started your own production company, can you talk about that?
BL$$D: Me and my big brother Aaron Reid, we got A-Pop and we’re always looking for talent. We’re looking for songwriters, we’re looking for producers, talented artists. If you want to become a part of something bigger than yourself, if you want to build the next biggest wave to infiltrate the music industry and if you want to make music that lasts forever, follow @AllPopInt on Instagram, meditate every day. Stay blessed and keep prospering.
HipHopDX: What’s the best business advice you can give to up-and-coming producers?
BL$$D: Don’t sign any contracts or any paperwork without having anybody look over it. That’s a death wish. Do not do that. Make sure your brand is protected and you’re building your brand properly. Know your worth. There’s a lot of people selling beats for very cheap on the internet. I feel like we’re in a culture where quality is less than quantity right now ’cause everybody wants to just make hundreds of beats and sell them for $25 or $50.
Stand your ground on your value. You always get what you deserve. It might be harder and it might take longer to get there, but when you get there, people will know what it is. Be firm in your beliefs and just don’t stop believing. Watch the tutorials every day. Make sure you’re always making at least one beat every day. Even if you’re not necessarily feeling tired, push through it. That can be the song that changes your life.