DJ Snake is in-studio with Zane Lowe on Apple Music’s Beats 1. He talks about how ‘No Option ft. Burna Boy’ was originally meant for Rihanna, what he had to do to make it as an artist, including booking flights with stolen credit cards, his background in hip-hop, how he emulates Dr. Dre’s career, and more.
DJ Snake: Finding Inspirations | Beats 1 | Apple Music
On “No Option ft. Burna Boy” originally being meant for Rihanna
DJ Snake: I made the beat in Paris last year and the first person, maybe a couple hours before I made the beat that I would send the record to was Burna. And my boy Nick sent it to him and he killed it. And you know I made the beat around midnight. 6:00 a.m., Burna’s vocals in my box. Straight away. Shout out, Nick. And you know, he just killed it and we never touched a vocal again. That was for Rihanna. She wanted this record for a year and we ended up using it. You know because I fell in love with this record and I don’t know. I don’t want to say like the wrong things so all the Rihanna fans is going to kill me, but you know I just felt like there was no options. Like I had to put this record on my album.This is legacy man. I just gotta follow my heart. That’s it. And I could have had bigger names on the album, like way bigger names. But you know the records were not right – what I’m saying is I’m not chasing names. I’m not chasing the biggest name drops, billing, and stuff. We got monsters on the album- It’s all about everything had to make sense and it’s all about the balance and it needs to be authentic and organic. I want to be proud of this album in 20 years. I don’t want to be like, “Yeah, but when I dropped this record, I kept this record just to get more plays or more radio plays, whatever.” No. I want this to be timeless and this is what we’re doing.
On his origins in hip hop and the state of unrest in Paris
DJ Snake: I grew up outside of Paris, like in pretty bad area, and we grew up all together. Every type of people every colors, every religion. We grew up together and you can tell like on my album there was reggae, there was Indian music. You have music from Brazil. From everywhere. My mom’s Arab. My Dad is French. So me, I’m a mix. and this is just like the City of Paris. It’s a big mashup, you know what I’m saying? And you feel it in my music. I didn’t want to do one type of music. This is boring and I didn’t grow up like this and this is not who I am. And of course we grew up with hip hop and you can feel it. It’s a different type of approach with all the DJs. We don’t have the same background. Everybody’s different, but I do my thing and you can feel it. I do this with love with my heart. I make my best records when I’m in Paris. What’s happening right now is people are starving, bro. People are starving, they’re paying too much tax. And there is no hope, there is no job, there is nothing. And the energy’s like … I’m not going to say that people are hopeless right now. But it’s getting bad. And people are just tired of the same politics. You’re going to have a new president, but nothing’s going to change and people are still going to be starving and struggling. And people are tired, and you got to listen to the streets. And I think it’s time for a big change, but I don’t know if it’s going to happen. But I give props to the people going to the streets and fighting for this.
On ‘Made In France’
DJ Snake: This record was made in 2012. And I wanted to do Crookers type of stuff. I think they don’t work together no more. But I was trying to make some Crookers-slash-Mr Oizo. And this record was in my laptop for a couple of years. And one of my friends was like, “Yo, why don’t you just refresh this beat and drop it on the album because this is still … that sounds hot.” And I was like, “Yeah, you know what? There is nothing that sounds like this right now, out right now.” So it’s special and this is like some different vibes. And I wanted to bring this back for the kids. No matter what you’ve just got to be like true to yourself. This is why Ed Banger always had a lot of respect for me and everybody from Ed Banger to David Guetta to the old scene in Paris. Because they all saw me growing up selling mix tapes in the streets because I was the one selling their records in the streets. I quit school around 16. I was 16 years old and I got a job in the most iconic record stores in Paris. And I was that kid behind the turntables that was scratching those records and playing. I was hustling, I was like, “Yo Pedro, Bob Sinclar, Guetta, Cut Killer, all the legends from our country. I grew up and I do my thing and now, we all have respect for each other because I have my own story and they saw me grinding. And I was working, hustling and now it’s all love and respect. They opened so many doors for us. Guetta, Daft Punk, Justice, everybody. And now I’m here and I do my thing and I’ve got to make history for my people. But it’s all love, all love and respect. And I’m going to do the same thing for the next generations.
On what he had to do to make it and advice to artists just starting out
DJ Snake: You’ve got to be somebody on your block and then you got to be somebody in your city. Step by step, but you’ve got to build that stuff. And now I’m worldwide. I used to be hot in my streets, and now, step by step with a lot of passion, work super hard, flex so many years, like decades of passion, of fight. And now we here. So if I can help the next generations and give them a little advice and stuff for them to be stronger in a better situation. Because so many people played me-I used to come to LA to work on big albums and stuff. And I had no money, with stolen credit cards, we came here-Yeah, we used to book flights with stolen credit cards and stuff. This is bad. But you know, I had to survive. I had no options. So I came, I did my thing, sleeping on couches. And you don’t get paid but you learn. And you go back to your hood and you tell them, “Yo I was in the U.S. I was in the studio with him, with him, with him.” “Oh yeah?” And now you rich. Nah, I’m still broke because, I have no lawyer, I don’t know the language. So I used to come here with somebody that translated what the artist wanted. Six years ago, I couldn’t speak English. Because I have no option. I swear, No Option with Burna Boy is like, that’s the anthem. Because we have no option. And when you have your back against the wall, this is where you get the best thing ever. And this is how you can change your life like this. Because you have no option. Like there is no way, I’m not surviving in this jungle. And this is what I want to share with the kids. It’s like, anybody can make it. You just got to be better than your competition and you’ve got to work super hard and work on your vision and the hustle. Don’t sleep. Keep hustling, keep hustling. That’s it. Thinking about it, that could end super bad for me. I could have been banned from the U.S.-Go to jail or something. But when you’re young, you think about those things. You just go and get it. You’re like, “Oh, this is what it takes to get there.”
On wanting to be like Dr. Dre
DJ Snake: I want to make timeless music. And so I want to be like Dr. Dre. It’s not even like I’m competing, but this is the people that I look up to. And I want to be great like these people. It’s not easy. It’s almost impossible to reach this level. But this is the type of move I want to make. I want to make classic albums, classic records, timeless. I want my music to … I don’t know how if it’s correct in English, but to getting played in in 100 years. He’s the gold. Everything’s perfect from the mix to the verses to, I don’t know, it’s just greatness, you know? And he never tried to ride no waves. He’s the wave and you know I just want to be like that guy. That’s it. The sound, everything like-but, it’s a lot of work. I know you spend like weeks and months on the snare or some stuff like this. And this is what he gets, greatness. This is what makes the difference. You know what I’m saying? There was no script.