Husband and wife producing duo Priority Beats have become Hip-Hop's go-to hitmakers. Residing in the music hub known as Atlanta, Georgia, their recent work with Lil Baby, and Polo G has landed them the title of platinum producers. As they find the time to balance love, marriage, hitmaking, and being professionals, it is clear that they will be around for a very long time.
I had the pleasure of catching up with Ashley and Derrico (Priority Beats) for a candid interview centered around their success as platinum producers and working with some of the biggest artists in music. Check it out below.
Priority Beats Interview
How does it feel having 3 albums you have worked on currently in the top 10 on Billboard?
Derrico: I remember I woke up and grabbed my iPad to go on the Billboards website after Anuel announced he had landed on the billboard. This was the day we both found out there were 3 albums that we produced on just sitting at the top 10 on Billboard’s chart list. I only saw Polo G and Anuel at first not even realizing Lil Baby’s album was still at the top of the list. I guess I got used to My Turn being at the top of the charts so when Polo G and Anuel also placed within the top 10 I got that urge to take a screenshot. Everyone familiar with that urge knows what I'm talking about. That was definitely a major accomplishment within our career.
Ashley: Somewhat unrealistic, but very much deserving considering all of our hard work. I honestly don’t think we’ve truly been able to actually process it and feel in this moment because we’ve been on go since signing with Sony/ATV.
What does it feel like knowing that you will possibly become a Grammy nominated/award winning producing duo for your work this year?
Derrico: This question still blows my mind at the end of the day. It is crazy to think we gained success by putting our heads down and just grinding. As a producer you always get caught into the moment when you find out an artist is going to use one of your tracks. The hard part is the anticipation that comes with a placement because not ever artist will drop a song immediately after they record it. Most of the time, the artist might record multiple songs and if you’re lucky… they’ll go back and either finish the record or send it off for a feature. Even in this scenario you still have to be patient. The placement game is a very slow game and if you’re making music for the wrong reasons you’ll find yourself discouraged from the lack of placements.
Ashley: Unbelievable, honestly. I’ve always envisioned being nominated or winning a few Grammy’s lol, but I definitely didn’t expect it to happen so soon. It’s truly a blessing though. I’m finally appreciating the blood, sweat, and tears we’ve put into our business because it definitely hasn’t been a breeze in the park for sure.
When did you know that you all both wanted to pursue serious careers in entertainment?
Derrico: For me, that pursuit began when I graduated from college. In previous interviews, I shared how I was a collegiate athlete playing basketball for Northeastern University and while we weren’t on the court or in class, I was making beats in my dorm rooms, hotels, on planes, etc.. Once I graduated college, I still pursued basketball professionally but the passion for music seemed like it was much stronger. I could lose sleep being in studio sessions all day and it would not bother me. You eventually learn how passionate you are about a career/task when it no longer feels like work.
Ashley: I’ve always known since a child; approx. around 8 or 9 years old. I taught myself how to sing and play the piano by ear back then until I was able to actually take lessons when my grandparents moved me to South Carolina in high school. I’ve always pursued my dream, but something or someone would always take me off track. Meeting my husband definitely sealed the deal though.
When did you guys catch your big break? Like what placement changed the game for you all?
Derrico: I’d have to say the night we linked up with Young Dolph at Patchwerk Studios located in Atlanta, was the official night that we got our feet wet. It was the very first session Ashley and I had together where a major artist selected beats from our hard drive, recorded to them that same night, and released his album shortly after. Seems like we have not had the time to blink since then because the industry has been demanding and we are here for it!
Ashley: I honestly would like to say this year. The records on those 3 albums currently on the charts: Polo G “Wishing for a Hero,” Lil Baby “Live Off My Closet,” and Anuel “Antes y Despues.” I think each of those placements changed our lives in different ways, but Anuel is definitely the biggest in mu opinion.
What does your process of signing producers and songwriters look like?
Derrico: Considering we are still in the process of signing producers and songwriters, it has been a unique experience. The easy part is finding the talent. The hard part was bringing the vision to reality. Rome was not built in a day but when your work ethic is imPECKable (Yes I made that word up for the sake of our last name) you’ll start to see buildings move for you.
Ashley: It’s kind of like American Idol, but for producers and songwriters lol. Everyone had to submit their best three tracks/songs or references to our email on a deadline. We went through over 200 submissions which was unbelievable and a blessing within itself. It’s been very tedious because really went through everyone’s submissions and speculated. We’re not just signing any and everyone though. We’re signing talent and hunger.
Where do you all draw inspiration from when creating music as you have several hit records in 2020?
Derrico: I recently felt like my music was beginning to slow down as I was taking on new roles. Ashley and I have been balancing family life with the industry life and as all creators know, that can be one hard task within itself. You have to have a complete understanding and I’m grateful for my partner because she is as spontaneous as I am. We’ll go on vacation just to change the scenery so our brains can be refreshed. Ashley is still employed and works from home whereas I work for our business and Sony ATV. Like I mentioned before, when you are doing what you love everyday it’s no longer considered work therefore the inspiration is endless.
Creating music and those recent hit records were all within God’s timing and God’s plan. We simply just move with extreme humbleness and we would like to continue to show gratitude to the many people who helped us and who told us “NO.” That inspiration from rejection hits harder than anything else. Next time you get that answer, go make a song, I can promise you it will have an effect on your sound regardless if you produce or record.
Ashley: My inspiration has always been leaving a legacy for my family. My grandparents raised me and have always instilled hard work, so it was definitely to pay them back. Unfortunately, it feels like it took losing them to get to my next steps in life; God works in some mysterious ways. I think on a more creative spectrum, our inspiration comes from one another because we’re always pushing each other to do greater, especially changing the dynamics within the industry. We want to touch every single genre out there, so there’s literally no limitations. It’s just keeping the energy going because it does get tiresome trying to jungle our personal life, marriage, family, and our business.
Can you all talk about your relationship with co-producers The Superiors?
Derrico: The relationship that we have with The Superiors is like no other. You rarely get a chance to sit down with creatives that have similar visions/goals. Our workflow and process is amazing and when we’re in a space to actually collaborate…greatness comes shortly after. Thanks to The Superiors we were able to create a beautiful masterpiece along their side with Polo G at Columbia Records. Wishing For A Hero really was a record for our generation.
Ashley: We have a really dope relationship with The Superiors, hence forming our collective, Superiority. Derrico has known them longer than I have, so of course their relationship is a lot more in depth, but we all treat each other like family within the business. We don’t hold each other back from opportunities, we share the opportunities. We don’t believe in greed.
How did the “Wishing For A Hero” single by Polo G come about as that is a smash hit on the billboard charts and another record that solidifies you all as premiere hitmakers?
Derrico: Wishing for a hero came about when The Superiors enlightened me that Polo G was looking to remake Changes by 2Pac. I was at work when I got the text message stating they’d like for the song to be remade and at that point, I only had one option. Tell my boss it was time to go. I remember calling my wife to inform her of the placement opportunity and that it was a drop everything and go create a type of ordeal. Many producers miss out on placements due to random inconveniences. Even for myself I found random inconveniences the reason why i missed out on placements.
Something as bad as not being able to find a ProTools session due to the name not being the same as the final version of the record. Organization is key and I will say that’s the beauty of my situation being that I married my Production partner. Other producers may not be so lucky. So always organize your files. You never know when they’ll need those track outs on one of your “throw away” beats.
Ashley: The Superiors literally just told us Polo G wanted to either sample or interpolate “Changes” by 2Pac, but we went a little further by going back to the original by Bruce Hornsby “The Way It Is.” Derrico and I got on the piano and vocals, etc. then went back and forth with The Superiors and Polo for months. I originally did the vocals for the hook just as a reference. It eventually got sent to Bj the Chicago Kid and Gitty. Now, here we are.
I personally knew from the first time hearing Polo’s lyrics that it would be a hit; his lyrics were so deep and hit home. I’ve lost a fellow friend/creative (Anthony Hill) due to racist, police brutality. So, I felt him regardless. It just so happened to be released at the perfect yet worst timing. I say worst because we shouldn’t have to keep fighting for the same cause 400 years later. Initially, the song was called “Still No Changes” and I agreed.
Who are some artists you all hope to work within the near future?
Derrico: I actually have never taken the time to answer this question because I don’t have anyone in particular because we are always eager to work with new artists. I will say I mainly enjoy working with artists that are open-minded and take direction well. I’ve always been a team player so hits are made the same way championships are won. Teamwork makes the dream work.
Ashley: Drake, Ed Sheeran, Sade, Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Karol G, Bebe Rexa, Lil Nas X and everyone honestly. I want the whole industry calling for Priority Beats.
What are the ways that people can go about contacting you all if they are trying to land a placement with you?
Derrico: I have so many callbacks already. It’s getting overwhelming but I love it! I plan to get better with my scheduling so I can take the time to build more relationships but the easiest way to get in contact with me directly is on IG using our name @PriorityBeats where our email is included on the page as well.
Ashley: The best way at the moment is our IG’s; @prioritybeats, @priorityap, @prioritydp. I’m currently redeveloping our website which is taking a bit of time with how hectic our schedules have been. It also takes us some time to get around to our DMs, but we definitely do get around to taking the time to get to them. It’s just all about patience and persistence. If you truly want to work with us, it’ll happen and we’ll cross paths regardless. It’s happened so many times to me, so I know.
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