Daringer Explains How He & Westside Gunn Created The Griselda Sound

Late last month, Queens, New York veteran MC Meyhem Lauren partnered with producer Daringer for a collaboration album, Black Vladimir (embedded below). The 15-track album involves Action Bronson, Westside Gunn, Conway The Machine, Flee Lord, Elcamino, and Meyhem’s brother Hologram and finds brilliant chemistry between two artists that go back years as friends.

In a new interview with Ambrosia For Heads’ What’s The Headline podcast, the two artists appeared together to discuss their album and synergy. Additionally, Daringer spoke about his career. The Western New York native who relocated to the Big Apple has built the sonic foundation for Griselda Records. He has produced albums and songs for label founder Westside Gunn, as well as Conway, and Benny The Butcher that have helped take the movement into the mainstream.

Meyhem Lauren & Daringer Break Down Their New Album Black Vladimir

At the beginning of the interview, Daringer points out an inflection point in his career, and in Griselda Records recognition as a movement. That attention began with founder Westside Gunn, especially on 2014’s Hitler Wears Hermes 2. “I feel right around when [Westside Gunn] did Hitler 2—I had a handful of beats on there—I feel like that one was the one that kind of caught on, and got us in the conversation. It was a project that people really f*cked with at the time.” Daringer suggests that respect crystalized by 2016’s FLYGOD, which brought Danny Brown, Roc Marciano, Skyzoo, Action Bronson, Your Old Droog, and DJ QBert to the Griselda sound. “That was definitely the one, and obviously FLYGOD [as well].” Notably, Meyhem Lauren appeared on the Daringer-produced video single “Over Gold.”

At 14:00, Daringer told AFH about establishing a sound alongside WSG. He speaks about the way past movements like No Limit, Death Row, and Cash Money had an in-house producer guiding projects. “Once me and Wes’ really locked in [and understood] exactly what the vision was, and what the sound needed to be, it was definitely, ‘Lock and load; this is what we need to do.’ I felt like we just started doing it, and then damn.” Westside Gunn recruited his brother Conway, who had self-released product, followed by their cousin B.E.N.N.Y., who had launched his Black Soprano Family movement. “Then I know Wes’ started laying a lot of this down, and then Conway [The Machine] came, and then all the pieces just started getting put together. Then, Benny [The Butcher] coming around after everything [was falling into place], it’s crazy [to see] where it is now, and everything that we did to get to this point. It’s a blessing for sure.”

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Meyhem weighs in, not just as a peer and collaborator, but as a fan. “I knew from early, I f*ck with these dudes. To see where they took it, I just couldn’t be happier.” In 2018, Meyhem joined Benny and Gunn for Tana Talk 3‘s “Echo Long.” Daringer continues, “Especially all of us coming from the [same] city. Most of the times, the producer lived outside of the city, maybe, when groups were put together. So for everybody to be from [Buffalo], and do it collectively, I feel like it’s a big thing too, for sure.”

Daringer is then asked where his distinct comes from. “It’s probably f*cking ridiculous to say, but sick and crazy for sure. There’s definitely something wrong with me at the end of the day for me to be choosing these particular sounds and putting drums on them, and making these feels. But sh*t.” Meyhem speaks about his album partner: “I’m not gonna lie; he has a devious sound. Like, I have a similar subject matter in general. But with Daringer, I feel like when I hear Daringer beats, there’s only one thing I can rap about, and it’s nothing good, bro. That’s just what it is.”

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The producer does flex his range. “There is a lighter side though. I will say that. The ones that get picked are more the grimy type of sh*t.” Meyhem jokes, “Maybe I’m sick? Maybe I’m the one who picks the evil? I skipped the flute samples and picked the evil.” Daringer says his collaborators bond with a particular style. “With all the music, it varies. It’s just dope that a particular thing seems to work.”

Daringer, whose father is a pianist, is asked what his father thinks of his career and acclaim. “I still think he’s trying to understand what’s going on. He’s not really sure; he’s like ‘One-bar loop, two-bar loop.’ He’s not really understanding the simplicity aspect of it really. But as far as pickin’ the samples out and finding the parts, and putting it together, he definitely appreciates that for sure. You definitely gotta have an ear to do it.

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He also describes working with artists beyond Griselda. Action Bronson and Meyhem Lauren were two collaborators, from Meyhem’s guest work to tracks on Action’s Blue Chips 7000 and White Bronco in 2017 and 2018, respectively. “I’d always been a fan of what Mey’ and Action had going on—out here bodying everything. Just the whole team, I’d been tapping-in and watching them on television for quite some time before. But [he] was definitely on my list of people I wanted to work with.” Sitting beside Meyhem in his foreign ride, Lauren chimes in, “I made the list!” Daringer says it was a matter of patience. “I was waiting patiently until we caught on, and got to meet everybody.”

Daringer has locked additional credits for Evidence, 38 Spesh & Kool G Rap, Termanology, Eto, and J Scienide, among others.

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The time codes for episode #88 of the What’s The Headline podcast (with hyperlinks to skip around):

0:00 Intro
0:22 Daringer discusses the project that put him on the map as a producer
2:00 Meyhem Lauren and Daringer detail the making of their new Black Vladimir album
5:10 How to make music that’s timeless
7:00 Daringer’s approach to sampling music
8:30 Producers who influenced Daringer
10:30 Meyhem names his favorite Queens MCs
15:00 Daringer explains how he and Westside Gunn created the Griselda sound
18:20 Meyhem Lauren speaks about getting into the food industry
20:00 Meyhem Lauren explains what “million dollar conversations” are
21:12 Daringer discusses how he makes beats
24:00 Black Vladimir is just the beginning for Meyhem Lauren and Daringer
25:10 Daringer has productions in the vault that sound very different than what he has released
26:50 Meyhem Lauren apologizes to Michael Jordan for a lyric on the album
30:00 Daringer and Meyhem Lauren name the MCs they most want to work with
31:38 How they’ve both stood the test of time in music
33:40 Daringer on how he is able to be so prolific in making beats
36:00 Who Meyhem Lauren and Daringer make music for
40:00 What keeps them motivated
41:40 The meaning of Black Vladimir

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Several selections from Black Vladimir are currently on the official AFH playlist. It also includes new music from Action Bronson, Black Soprano Family, WSG, Conway, and Roc Marciano & Alchemist, among others.

AFH readers can catch regular discussions about the culture on our What’s The Headline. The podcast also has interviews with Diamond D, Joell Ortiz, AZ, Blu & Mickey Factz, Kurupt, Evidence, Skyzoo, Pharoahe Monch, Prince Paul & Don Newkirk, Statik Selektah, Lyric Jones, The LOX, MC Eiht, Havoc, Duckwrth, photographer T. Eric Monroe, and Lord Finesse.

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#BonusBeat: Stream Meyhem Lauren & Daringer’s Black Vladimir album, featuring Action Bronson, Westside Gunn, Conway The Machine, Flee Lord, Elcamino, and Hologram: