David Hodges, Natalie Hemby, Ester Dean, Mannie Fresh and Rick Ross participated in  BMI’s “How I Wrote That Song” pre-grammy panel at 1OAK. 

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The panel was moderated by BMI Vice President, Writer/Publisher Relations, Atlanta Catherine Brewton. Read some highlights below:

Rick Ross


Tell us about that collaboration [with Chrisette] and how it came about:

Justice League were the producers behind the track, it gave me one of those feelings of being really relaxed, and riding it, and enjoying that moment so that’s were the music came from, so before I started writing the lyrics I told myself I wanted to do something different and actually split the chorus in half. I told myself I wanted to actually, instead of one person doing the complete chorus; I wanted one person to do half, and another person to the other half.  So I’m listening to the music and I’m smoking as I usually do, and so I had an idea: call Drake. Drizzy Drake – I reached out to Drake and he told me he had right off, ‘lets do it Ross’. I reached out to Chrisette, she came down to Miami, she listened to it for two minutes and picked up my pen and that was the birth ‘Aston Martin Music’.


You’re super chill, funny, but super chill. Did you ever approach tracks in an aggressive way?

Most definitely. Shout-out to the legend, Mannie Fresh. He produced a record for me, Japanese Denim, and with that intro, that brought out that aggressive Rosé.


Mannie Fresh

Can you speak about your writing process?

I don’t really think I have a process, I’m kind of like: whenever the urge hits me, I’ll record, I’ll get up in the middle of the night if something keeps going over and over in my head, I’ll record it. Just like how you’re doing, I’ll record my hooks on my phone so I can remember them, but I don’t really have a process. If I had to define it: noise. I need energy all the time I hate studios with the lights off … I need people to be around me.

Who are some people you’d like to collaborate with?

All the people I’d like to collaborate with is dead!

During the panel Mannie talked about Cash Money’s roots.


A lot of people didn’t know Cash Money was a bounce label before Wayne. [Bounce,] that’s twerk in the early nineties, [Cash Money] was more of a twerk/bounce label, and the first time I heard one of my songs on the radio, I was like, ‘I’m not going back, this is where I need to be at!’. First song heard on the radio was by this girl Magnolia Shorty, who was with Cash Money, she was before Lil Wayne and all of them. I did a remix, mashed two tracks together and she did a bounce verse over it and they went crazy over that song in New Orleans, and I was like, ‘I’m a king!’.


On Lil Wayne:


Wayne was always the first one there, the last one to leave. If you missed a session, he always had a verse for it. Whoever missed a video, and we needed to edit that day, it was always Wayne. Wayne was like, ‘I got a verse for it, don’t worry about it I know all the parts, move, I got this.’ I knew this kid he was going to be a star. Any subject we could make up, he had something for it. If I came in there and said, ‘We’re going to talk about Jupiter’, he’d have a rhyme for Jupiter. And just how quick his approach was to songs. Perfect practice, that’s all I can say. Give him one take, he did the hook, the verses and everything.


On competition:


What was incredible with the Hot Boys was the friendly competition. A lot of rewrites! A lot of rewrites. So if Juvenile came and wrote a hot verse, Wayne would come back the next day and be like, ‘I gotta kill him on this, I gotta do [my verse] over’. That’s what made it cool, that friendly competition to outdo each other.


Name some of them!

Marvin Gaye! No, no, I’m lying. You know, I just know amazing people – sometimes it’s not about collaborating, it’s just meeting them, just being a fan of someone. I’m a fan of Kanye, I’m a fan of Jay-Z, and in my lifetime I had a chance to work with them. Sometimes it’s just me meeting cool people!

Ester Dean

What can fans expect from “Pitch Perfect 2”?

Yessss! Lot of music, lots of dancing, lot of makeup, lots of hair, lots of fun times. I’m singing a lot, I’m in it a lot. I’m so happy about that movie. It comes out on May 15.
What else is coming up?
I got a little tour that it looks like I’m going to be on. This is the first time I’m doing a tour and I’m just excited about the whole thing.
(photo courtesy of: Joe Scarnici)