Topper Atwood Talks Sampling, Nashville Rappers, and His Start

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Since the explosion of the mumble rap wave and the new “SoundCloud rap” era, producers now are being credited more than ever before with their creations that have jump started the careers of countless rappers. Brooklyn pariah 6ix9ine engaged in one of his many online tizzies against Pi’erre Bourne, a rapidly ascending producer armed with a Jamie Foxx beat tag and godly knack for melody, because Bourne claimed his instrumentals were the catalyst for the sherbet haired MC’s overnight success.

Since so much of the new era rapper’s success hinges on his producer, the beat-making game is more lucrative than ever seen before, and producers now sign their craft with their own unique “tag” like some Renaissance savant on canvas. These tags make or break songs. A listener is much more inclined to be a fan of a particular track if it opens with, “Metro Boomin’ want some more,” or, “Yo Pierre! You Wanna Come out Here?” 

Behind every great rapper is an even more hard working producer, and in front of many of Nashville, and the internet in general’s, songs is the highly sexualized and very memorable declaration of, “I wanna be on top.” 

Topper Atwood is a Swiss Army knife in the world of beatmaking. Any melody or any flow can be matched by his keen ear for musical expression. At times his beats are so complex and so layered that your average listener would be easily tricked into thinking Atwood had sampled a song to use in the background of his track. His packages are diverse and his array on sounds at his disposal are endless. From drill music to the spacey, trancey shit that many a SoundCloud “connoisseur” dickrides, Topper can and will master it.

His beats are effortless. So many “producers” nowadays just ejaculate a load of 808s and hi-hats onto FL studio and claim it to be their “art,” but Atwood is in every sense of the word a producer, not some shmuck on his friends couch who makes beats.

The proof is in the pudding. Just listen to songs produced by Atwood compared to songs by the same artists that aren’t. The other tracks do not compare. Topper Atwood has a gift, and can perfectly match an artist to his “type beat,” without pushing the laurel rester into his direction.

My personal favorite beat from Topper to this date came off of the relatively new BukuSteez mixtape, on the song “Top Chef.” Atwood incorporates a vocal sample that immediately suctions to your cerebral cortex and leaves the five word fragment on your mind for hours to come, only to seamlessly transition into a track perfect for the intended artist’s styling.

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Music City Underground had the privilege of interviewing Topper recently:

MCU: How did you first get into making beats?

Topper Atwood: I got into making beats when I was in eighth grade, I got a macbook and taught myself on Garageband. I used to take piano lessons in middle school so I had basic theory and chord combinations down. Started to love it, and switched over to FL studio. Still use it.

MCU: What is your relationship with Nashville rappers?

Topper Atwood: I was born and raised in Minnesota, but I moved to Nashville in 2015 to go to Belmont. I met a lot of connections while I was here, and got to know a lot of talented rappers. After about two months I got kicked out for having weed in my dorm, so I moved back to MN. Just moved back to Nashville in March, and am living here with Eddy Niz until I finish school or want to move somewhere else.

MCU: What are your feelings on sampling? 

Topper Atwood: I love sampling when it’s done in a subtle way and is layered with new sounds. I think the recreation and reinvention of older songs is essential because that’s how making beats started, so it’s always been a part of rap music. I don’t really sample much anymore though, I feel like I have more control over a beat if I’ve made every pattern and can edit anything at any time. Plus, copyright issues can be completely avoided when you just make everything yourself. I also got so sick of listening through samples trying to find something, I’d rather just mess around with a VST until something sticks. When I’m listening to music though, I love songs with old samples incorporated. Take “On Sight” on Yeezus for example, that kind of sampling is my favorite. Just comes out of nowhere. Kanye really is a sampling god.

Topper has a new track with artists Kami and Melo entitled “All Pressure,” that was recently featured in Lyrical Lemonade. He also recently released a singled called “Eddy, I Do.” with Nashville MC Eddy Niz, and has an EP releasing soon with BukuSteez.

Check out Topper’s SoundCloud here:

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