Songwriter-producer Rogét Chahayed and rapper Jack Harlow’s musical pairing seems so destined that it’s hard to believe the seed was planted by DM. It was May 2021, with Harlow just beginning the conception of his just-released album, Come Home the Kids Miss You, when he reached out to Chahayed, whose credits include Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode,” starring Drake, Halsey’s “Bad at Love.” ‘ and Doja Cat’s ‘Kiss Me More’ featuring SZA. Chahayed, nominated for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical at this year’s Grammy Awards, has had his sights set on Harlow since he heard the breakout Top 10 single “Whats Poppin’.”
“I felt like Jack was onto something,” says Chahayed, leaning forward in the captain’s chair at his home studio in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, not far from where he grew up as the son of a Syrian father and Argentinian mother mother grew up. “Jack has such a fresh approach and sound and is so mature for his age. He really has the vision. He always comes first with the ideas. From the samples to the sounds, he chooses everything he wants, especially in the details. It was an amazing artist to work with.”
The collaboration resulted in Harlow’s first No. 1 solo on the Billboard Hot 100, “First Class” (Harlow had previously topped the charts with Lil Nas X’s “Industry Baby”), an honor he received in his debut week in mid-April back on the current chart – following Harlow’s performance at the Billboard Music Awards, which includes streams and airplay.
In fact, the numbers for “First Class” continue to rise, with 180 million on-demand streams to date, according to data from Luminate, and radio airplay that has reached 138 million listeners since its release. And it’s no wonder: from the opening notes that flow straight into an intelligent interpolation of Fergie’s 2006 hit “Glamorous,” there’s no denying the hook.
“Jack came up with the idea of sampling one of his favorite songs, Fergie’s ‘Glamorous,'” says Chahayed, who is credited with producing and writing First Class. “My co-producer Angel Lopez [Babe Truth] chopped up the sample and moved it into a certain key, then added the drums. Along with me, Angel, Charlie Handsome who helped produce the track, and another young producer, Jasper Harris, plus Jack, it took a few sessions to get it together and get it right, figuring out the chords and sounds, that we wanted. We took a softer musical approach: Rhodes, piano, strings. We basically played around the sample chord by chord. Each section has a different switch at the top. The first verse feels kinda. Then the second stanza changes. We wanted the song to feel like it was going somewhere and building up.”
According to Chahayed, he, Lopez and Harlow are the architects of Come Home the Kids Miss You. The album, which includes features by Pharrell, Drake, Justin Timberlake and Lil Wayne, debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 this week.
The songs on Come Home the Kids Miss You were created in person and on location, with no solicitation or acceptance of music from sources outside of the studio. Chahayed says, “To be able to create high quality music in this realm where people see songs as hits, the producer has a responsibility. It’s a combination of fresh sounds and a chord progression or riff that gives the song an identity. A hit must have this identity in the first few seconds of the song. Then the combination of that unique musicianship with a really good hook, something that people instantly grab onto and love. It’s like an addiction. Then you know you have something special.”
Chahayed began making beats while studying at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and earned a degree in piano playing. He was on Stat Quo with Dr. Dre’s protégé joined Mel-Man and began his actual training with the established producer and songwriter. Mel-Man brought Chahayed with Dr. Dre into the studio to be on call for keys or production.
Chahayed says: “It was a unique experience. If [Dre] would hit me again, I would go back and work with him whenever he wanted. He is a genius.”
Even with 10 years of production and songwriting practice, the last six hits have been decorated with DRAM with Lil Yachty (“Broccoli”), Miguel with Travis Scott (“Sky Walker”) and his first #1 with “Sicko Mode”. Chahayed’s years of traditional training – he studied piano at a conservatory – is omnipresent.
“In moving from musician to producer, I always keep this sense of musicianship, theory and technique that is ingrained in me,” says Chahayed. “But I’m also open to forgetting the practice and throwing in a more considered feel or groove.
“Working with Jack, Angel and all of these guys has shaped me to become a better producer, a better listener and overall a better visionary. When you really search and dig together you unlock some of the craziest musical moments of all time, especially while working on this album. It was like retraining to be quick with sounds, to be able to pull together what we want to hear together, to get better at all of those things for myself.”
https://variety.com/2022/music/news/roget-chahayed-jack-harlow-first-class-1235268923/ Producer Rogét Chahayed flies high with Jack Harlow’s “First Class”