Drake waits for the second half of Boy in love certified deploy the dark R&B bomb that has been one of his most trusted weapons since Take care. That album included “Marvins Room,” which found Drake drunk at a club plotting the smallest revenge – calling out her ex and messing up her new boyfriend. The dynamics are reversed on Boy in love certified‘s “Race My Mind:” This time, Drake’s object of interest is “all night dancing” and “coming home drunk” – if she comes home. Drake’s delivery is soft but weary, eyes glassy and slightly irritable; his dignity is quickly dissipated. “I hit you like, ‘please come home,'” he sings. “You don’t understand, no / You’re going to make me beg, make me plead.”
“Race My Mind,” which has already amassed over 17 million streams with just three days of data available, is co-produced by 23-year-old, sample-obsessed, multi-instrumentalist, Scott Zhang, singer who records under the name of Monsune. His major placement comes despite his low profile – he only has six songs under his belt and had never had a phone interview before speaking with. Rolling stone. Like most producers the morning after their name appeared in the credits of a Drake album, he seemed pleasantly stunned by the whole experience. “I feel like [Drake] hasn’t really done an injured R&B track in a while, ”Monsune says. “I’m glad he brought that energy back.”
Monsune grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, where, like many children, he developed a healthy obsession with the Beatles. But unlike most of his peers who admired the Fab Four, Monsune was pressured to try and emulate their blend of accessibility and technical magic while still in college. “Do you know that song ‘Because’ on the Abbey Route album? “he asks.” The first thing I ever recorded was I was trying to do the vocal harmonies for this. ”
His music consumption was intense and omnivorous – “I would just come home, listen to music and play guitar; for a long, long time, that’s all I did, ”he explains – and his enthusiasm for a wide range of talent, from the great Brazilian Gal Costa to harpist Dorothy Ashby, from Tame Impala to Prince, bleed through the phone. “What partly fueled my obsession [with music] was the fact that my parents were immigrants from China to Canada in the 1980s, ”continues Monsune. “They didn’t have a standard for Western music and didn’t play it at home, so I felt like I was a little late. I thought I had to dig harder because I don’t have as much of a starting point to start from.
He started piano lessons early and added guitar, drums and some trumpet to his repertoire before high school. But Monsune also became increasingly passionate about the art of sampling, which allowed him to play with all the sounds he loved, even ones he couldn’t play on an instrument. “I ran into these people, J Dilla, Madlib, 9th Wonder, the ones that are really the big guys when it comes to sampling,” he says. “I was very attached to this idea of taking samples and using them in a pop music context. “
In 2017, while attending university, Monsune decided to release one of his sample-rich compositions for the first time. “It was just a youngster’s desire to share something he was proud of,” he says. “There was no real expectation. Monsune is erased; he calls the video for “Nothing in Return”, made inexpensively with friends at a local park, “such high school type shit.”
But only the most awkward listeners could apply this description to the song, which begins with a striking sample that sits somewhere between the harpsichord sound of Ne-Yo’s early hits and the wind chimes quivering under the pressure of intense winds. The beat is a funky lope, and Monsune’s vocals are convincingly angsty: “If you made me wait for your word / Would you give me nothing in return?” The horns add a lively shine to the middle of the track, adding a richer texture; this might be a sample, but it’s Monsune’s playing – “I’m not very good”, on the trumpet, he said modestly, “but I can still play simple shit” – which helps put the piece in motion despite its depressing final line. “I guess your silence keeps me warm,” he sings.
The warm response to “Nothing In Return” convinced Monsune that it might be worth trying to pursue a musical career. “Let me run with that, see how far it can go,” he recalled thinking. He returned to his parents’ house to reduce his cost of living and focused on producing more music. He didn’t release anything for almost two years. “It took a long time,” he says. “I tend to take a long time.”
Monsune’s next batch of tracks built on the funky promise of “Nothing in Return”. This was especially true for “Cloud,” which positions the singer as a one-man neo-soul outfit, and “Outta My Mind,” which has some of the lush beauty and beautiful harmonies of late yacht rock. from the 70s. The video of the piece breaks the reverie with a fight at the restaurant; in the song, Monsune also unleashes an unbridled cry of the kind rarely heard in modern R&B – or any other genre – which he sees as a tribute to Prince’s “International Lover”.
“Listening, did I really do that?” Said the singer. “It was really teen experimentation stuff. I’m like, ‘I actually did. It is so forgiving. But listeners don’t seem to care, as “Outta My Mind” has amassed over 28 million streams on Spotify alone.
Back when Monsune was going out Tradition, his first EP, he also received an invitation to a Red Bull Music Academy event in Calgary where he connected with a number of producers, including Nile Goveia, who later became a friend. “He’s one of those best-kept secret guys,” Monsune says. “The first time we teamed up we did three beats,” including what would become “Race My Mind”. Goveia “spoke to some people of OVO back then” and sent in some instrumentals, which is more or less how modern big budget albums come together. (Goveia also co-produced Drake, Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne’s track “Seeing Green” starting in May.)
While waiting and pondering the fate of “Race My Mind”, Monsune quietly began to build his CV as a beatmaker for others, collaborating with his friend Jonah Yano and co-producing Foushee’s single “My Slime”. “Working on something on my own, putting my own voice on it, sharing it with the world is a little stressful,” says Monsune. “I feel like working on other people’s music is less of a personal puzzle.”
After the credits of “Race My Mind”, it is likely that Monsune will have many opportunities to work with other artists, if he wishes. He is not in a hurry. “Over the next two weeks, I’m going to climb that high,” he says, “and eat a lot of good food.”