Timbaland Speaks On Uniting Hitmakers At BeatClub, ASCAP's Songwriting Camp


Photo: Amanda Barona/ASCAP

On a cool night in Miami, Grammy award-winning producer Timbaland arrives at Rebel Eleven Studios ready to put in work with some of the best minds in the music industry. As soon as he walks into the door, the BeatClub founder immediately ventures into each of the six studios full of songwriters, singers and artists who worked effortlessly on new music for the past six hours.

Timbaland teamed up with ASCAP to host an exclusive songwriting camp with an all-star roster of talented artists. It’s one of many camps the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers has hosted in the past, but it’s the inaugural collaborative event with BeatClub.

“Our camp was incredible,” Timbaland told iHeartRadio. “We had a lot of talented people there that I want to thank for supporting BeatClub. “We are going to have BeatClub sessions all over the world, that’s my goal.”

After holding camps virtually since the start of the pandemic, ASCAP decided to go big by bringing the event down to Miami to tap into the talented market and curate a more refreshing vibe for all the musicians. Their overall goal is to help create opportunities for ASCAP artists, and that’s exactly what they did. With help from the rest of its Rhythm & Soul team, ASCAP Urban worked together with Timbaland, who previously received ASCAP’s Voice of the Culture Award during the peak of the pandemic, and members of BeatClub’s team to facilitate the two-day songwriting camp.

"There's no right answer for an ideal camp," Assistant Vice President of ASCAP Urban Jonathan “JJ” Jones said. "They can be set up different ways. Here we have six different rooms working at the same time. So it's more so catching a vibe, putting together writers and producers. We have artists floating throughout. They're coming in and just cooking up ideas and vibing with each other. They'll come in an catch a good vibe, a great idea and build off of that."

ASCAP and BeatClub invited accomplished songwriters from different backgrounds like Aleicia, Justin Love, Ricki, Monique, Liana Banks, Stacey Barthe, Phoenix James, Simon Said and others to collaborate with recording artists like Trinidad Cardona, OhGeesy, D-Smoke, Baby Tate and Kali just to name a few. They, along with producers like !llmind, Mike WiLL Made-It, OG Parker, Chrishan of HitMaka, Icee Red, Daniel East and others spent two days and two nights locked in for music-making experience none of these artists will ever forget.

"This is our first time partnering with BeatClub on a song camp and we're just super excited about it,” said Nicole George-Middleton, Senior Vice President of Membership at ASCAP. “JJ here had the bright idea of pulling this song camp off. We were thinking about ways that we could just engage our members at ASCAP since we've been inside for so long because of the pandemic so we thought about a song camp and JJ reached out to BeatClub and got the ball rolling. Timbaland has been a longtime ASCAP member - a member for 30 years - so what better person to partner with on this endeavor.”

BeatClub is a digital platform for artists to connect with other musicians, producers, songwriters and record labels. Since its launch earlier this year, BeatClub has invited thousands of users to sign up for the blockchain-backed online marketplace for hitmakers. J. Cole, Tainy, Scott Storch and Justin Timberlake are just some of the prominent hitmakers on the roster. So far, Timbo says BeatClub has "already put $2 million back into members' pockets."

Timbo also explained that BeatClub plans to focus more on artists in the future as well as producers and songwriters. His songwriting camp with ASCAP was the perfect opportunity to find potential new members. It allowed BeatClub beatmakers to join forces with a wide-range of artists, most of whom are ASCAP members, to cook up some amazing music.

After popping into other rooms to observe everyone’s progress, Timbaland ended up in Studio D with Kali, Angelina Sherie, Aleicia, Liana Banks and Monique Winning. All five ladies had just sent the afternoon cooking up a song over a beat produced by !llmind and Don Mills. Prior to Timbaland’s entrance, it had just been all four ladies working on the track. They spent an hour or so finalizing the lyrics after Monique added a dope drum pattern to the instrumental. Sherie had just complimented her on the beat when Monique noted that she hadn’t been in an all-female session in awhile. Kali admitted it was her first one.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a session with all women before,” Kali said. “It’s a first for me.” 

“When I first signed, I wasn’t aware of the whole writing process,” she continued. “I thought I had to come into sessions with songs written or get ready to freestyle, so then when I started working with writers, I had to start getting comfortable with people so it was always like one or two males.”

Timbaland sat in her session for a few minutes and vibed to the song her and the other ladies just made. This was their first time meeting and she made a good impression with her smooth hook and slick bars over the flute-heavy instrumental.

“That verse is poppin,” Timbo said. “Play it again.”

Over in Studio B, OhGeesy was in the studio with producer TNT working on a new record. During their session, OhGeesy, who's preparing to drop his Geesyworld 2 in February, previewed a few unreleased tracks, but was still fixed on perfecting his upcoming song.

"This is the first time I've ever done some sh*t like this so it's a whole different experience but i like it,” OhGeesy said. “I didn't even know what I was expecting. I just came here trying to vibe and I was vibing. When I was in the room, all the ideas and the creativity just started flowing because I feel like I'm around a bunch of creatives.”

Later on in that same studio, 88-Keys set up shop for the night to work with Stacey Barthe, who penned tracks for Rihanna, Nipsey Hussle and Beyonce. They joined forces with Syd, Eric Bellinger, FNZ, Chrishan of HitMaka and OG Parker to catch a vibe and work on new music. It’s not often when 88-Keys, who produced JAY-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church In The Wild” and Pusha T’s “Diet Coke,” makes it out to song camps, but he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to collaborate with all of these unique musicians.

Studio A was the epicenter of the song camp. Timbo hosted his own session with OG Parker, Mike WiLL Made-It, Afrojack, NLE Choppa, Drew Love, Lionchld, Baby Tate, Ball Greezy, Liana Banks, SkipOnDaBeat, !llmind, Sonny Digital, Syd, D-Smoke, Kaylan and others. The massive session was like free-for-all for all the artists in the room. Some were writing lyrics on the spot while others felt the vibes of the bass-filled beats.

The Ear Drummerz founder sat in the middle of the room as he made up melodic drum patterns off the top of his head on his MPC machine with !llmind off to his right pulling up more instrumentals. At one point during the session, Timbo was feeling the beat enough to add his signature beatboxing to it. Everyone in the room watched as he laid down his whispered scatting in the recording booth. Liana Banks was also in the room as all the artists continued to play beats and record until 1 a.m. The singer-songwriter, who’s worked with Saweetie, Ari Lennox and others, has been a part of many songwriting camps in the past. She said the main concept is collaboration. 

“I think with camps in particular it's a more collaborative effort,” Liana Banks said. “So I kind of try to be less alone like how I usually am when i'm in other places and more like ‘Ok let me shoot this idea out and see if this person like it and let’s bounce ideas off each other.’”

By day two, several songs had been made, and plenty more were in the works. In studio D, Baby Tate, D-Smoke and Phoenix James are cooking up two songs produced by Hagler. During their session, Tate and Smoke figure out ways to make James' flow sound even more angelic. They record their lyrics while Smoke chimes in with his ideas and offers positive affirmation after each part of the song is completed. ”This is tight,” D Smoke said after James finished her verse. In between recording, D Smoke also sketches drawings on a white notepad, and in the Notes app on his phone. 

“I’m big on productivity so while I’m here we gonna create something,” D Smoke said. “Something that people can listen back to and enjoy. It’s too much talent in the room and its too many capable people to not have something to show for it. I want a couple songs that people can press play on and be like ‘that happened there in that space at that time.’”

Towards the end of the night, there were several massive sessions happening simultaneously. Afrojack returned to Studio A to show off an assortment of beats that were completely different from his usual EDM sound. He was surrounded by Timbaland, !llmind, Mike WiLL Made-It, SKIPONDABEAT, and others. Later on, NLE Choppa returned and created new songs with asisistence from Ball Greezy and another female writer, who helped them come up with a new phrase that’ll definitely catch on in the clubs if the song drops. In the adjacent studio, 88-Keys, Stacey Barthe, Syd, Kaylan, Justin Love and others were having a separate session of their own. No expectations, just pure vibes. There’s no word on where any of their records will end up, but each artist involved with every completed record hopes their creation will become a unique, marketable song.

"They can go far," JJ said about the music made at song camps. "The goal is to first and foremost foster creative collaborations, right? But ultimately we want these songs to be placed. We've had in the past songs get placed from our camps over the years. After the songs are written, we pitch the songs to labels, managers, artists directly. So they can go far for sure.”

There were numerous songs made during ASCAP and BeatClub’s first songwriting camp. D-Smoke, Baby Tate and Phoenix James definitely have a hit on their hands. Kali already got a title for her rare collaboration with Aleicia, Angelina Sherie and Monique Winning produced by !llmind and Don Mills. NLE Choppa cooked up several records in Studio A with Mike WiLL Made-It and Timbaland. Trinidad Cardona may even have an amapiano-type record on the way. It's possible that these songs can appear on upcoming projects, but the sky's the limit. Their new music can end up literally anywhere from a new album for another top-tier act or the soundtrack of an upcoming film. All artists who interested in joining an epic studio session like this should find out more about ASCAP and BeatClub now.

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