Over his career, Grammy-nominated engineer J. Rich has been behind the boards making sure Quality Control’s sound lives up to its auspicious name. He’s helped Lil Yachty steer his Lil Boat, recorded Offset shortly after the Migos rapper’s car crash in 2018 and may be behind the next City Girls hit.
“My favorite weed to smoke while engineering is a strain called Sharklato. It’s the best weed out right now,” he said. “Lil Yachty supports Sharklato a lot. We’re going to be dropping a song soon with him and [Yung] Marley called ‘Sharks.’”
J. Rich was introduced to the new strain by Yung Marley, and it’s been making the rounds in select hip-hop circles. Moneybagg Yo, Jadakiss, Lil Baby and Lil Yachty have all been pictured with the strain. For the engineer, cannabis’ sedative qualities help him focus in the often hectic environment of a studio session.
“It helps your intuition,” he said. “Weed helps your creative intuition because you’re constantly under pressure to finish this, hurry up and record, finish this. Artists move so fast they be like, ‘Alright, next song.’ I’ll be like, ‘God damn, I didn’t even get enough time to make you sound good. You’re going to want this [session] bounced, get home, hear it and then blame me that it doesn’t sound good.”
That same intuition was instrumental in building the foundation that one of hip-hop’s biggest new stars stands on. Before Lil Baby was released from prison on July 1, 2016, he had never recorded a song. J. Rich not only engineered the first song he ever recorded, he meticulously sifted through disparate freestyles from the inexperienced spitter and stitched together the framework of the MC that had two projects certified platinum and gold, and amassed more than one billion streams on Apple Music, only a few years after not knowing how to make music.
“Weed had a lot to do when I was working on Lil Baby’s first song [‘Options’] and his first project [Perfect Timing]. I had to be very creative when I did that because I had to put each word together. He was freestyling and I was putting the song together word by word.”
Cannabis didn’t just put J. Rich in creative spaces, it also physically put him in the spaces necessary to bring these songs to life. “A way I actually started [in the industry] is off of selling weed. It would put me in different rooms, and I knew if I always had good weed artists would fuck with me,” Rich said. “So, I always made sure I had good weed when I was around people, especially big celebrities. If I rolled up some good ass gas, people would fuck with me.”