There's no question as to whether or not Shondrae "Bangladesh" Crawford is a hitmaker. He's been living up to the meaning of his name—a sound that's foreign to the ears—for over a decade, and now it's time for him to take things to a new level. The man behind tracks for the likes of Eminem, Ice Cube, Diggy Simmons, and more, is stepping out on the ledge testing his artistry by signing acts to his own record label, and prepping the release of his debut solo album.
Void of a title because it "has to just come naturally," and no official release date, Bangladesh plans to unleash his first full-length body of work sometime this year. In putting the project together, the Grammy winner tapped his extensive rolodex. No, he has not decided to test the uncharted waters of rhyming, but instead put his beats on a pedestal by marrying them with some of the biggest artists in the game.
Over the years the Iowa native has never craved the spotlight, opting to let the music speak for itself. But after a few publicized financial issues with Lil Wayne and the Cash Money crew, he started making headlines for all the wrong reasons. For what it's worth, he and Wayne have managed to put together some monstrous tracks. "A Milli" remains the ferocious beat that introduced the masses to Corey Gunz's flow and set Weezy up to take over the summer of 2008. Three years later they rebottled that same magic for "6' 7”," Wayne's introductory post-prison single that hlped propelled his Tha Carter IV to a No. 1 debut. With the non-payment debacle behind him, Bangladesh spoke with Hip-Hop Wired about his new album, working with 2 Chainz, and why he decided to give Wayne another shot.
Me and 2 Chainz, we all were around when Ludacris became Ludacris, so we have history.
HipHopWired.com: Tell me about your solo album?
Bangladesh: It's basically a production album, a lot of features on it. Rick Ross, Pusha T, Kendrick Lamar, Ice Cube, Game, 2 Chainz...Ke$ha. When I produce for these artists, I kind of do what they want me to do. It's not really what I want to do all the time. [This album is] bringing them into my world. For example, if I was to have Justin Bieber on the album, I'd have him rapping—different things like that. Dope production, dope song concepts. It's a body of work. People can just listen to every track, really.
I been collecting [tracks] because the thing is I gotta swap out with these artists. It's like the barter system. If I work with them, if it's somebody I want on my album, I'ma just get a favor from them. I knew it was going to be a work in progress, so I started early, I just collected songs. It's never gonna' be outdated, it's so ahead of the game, no matter when it comes out. I think I'm on the next level. I always try to do different things, try to give more than what was from the last time. It's my sound, that's what people f**k with, so that's what it is.
HipHopWired.com: You mentioned working with 2 Chainz, what can you tell me about that record?
Bangladesh: Me and 2 Chainz we're from the same camp. We came in together in a sense. We all were around when Ludacris became Ludacris, so we have history. It's really fun working with him because we could really never work together because the situation; it's deeper than rap. Sometimes it's unfortunate that people that really f**k with each other can't work together because of certain contracts and s**t. He was signed to DTP, I wasn't really on the radar. It [was] hard to work with 2 Chainz when he was in Playaz Circle, now it's fun because now [when] we do something together, it's gonna get cleared by the label.
"Justin Bieber he's a cool... It's cool to see this little white dude forming into more than just this gimmick pop singer."
HipHopWired.com: Is working together a full circle moment for the both of you, being that you came up together?
Bangladesh:Yeah man. It's just hard work, respect, amongst each other. It's just really good to see young black people doing something, working hard, making the best out of their situations. A lot of people have a lot of situations or opportunities that they can tackle but don't really do it. Instead of complaining about it, he just got up and beat the odds. I beat the odds. S**t's dope!
HipHopWired.com: Are you producing on his album?
Bangladesh:Definitely. We're going to do several joints. We've done a few sessions already. I think he's trying to release sometime this year too. I've been waiting for this day where it'll be easy to work, sometimes people make it hard.
HipHopWired: Can you tell me about the projects you're working on for Brandy and Justin Bieber?
Bangladesh: Brandy's stuff, it's a body of work, it's not just one Bangladesh joint, it's a couple of Bangladesh songs that really structured the album. She reached out to me a couple weeks ago and wanted me to produce the album. It was love because I didn't even know Brandy even knew about me! She said that she liked me and how much she f****ed with the sound. I f**k with people that f**k with me, if it's love I'ma show love back.
Justin Bieber he's a cool talented young dude, he's just good at everything. He's producing, he's writing, he's dancing, he sings great. It's cool to see this little white dude forming into more than just this gimmick Pop singer. He's artistic. I think people don't really know that, as he grows the more that's gonna come out. The labels gotta play it safe with him, so coming up with the music for him you gotta really do a certain things. The words gotta be perfectly fit for him, the subject matter gotta be on point. That's a work in progress. He's cut a couple records that I gave him but at the end of the day you never know how safe they wanna be. Bangladesh might be too hard for him, they might not wanna come out like that right now. I know they're gonna be scared of it, everybody else be scared of it, but if you leave it up to him, I'd be all over his album. I got what he likes to do, he loves it but he knows he can't really go there for real. It's a blessing to even be in the room with him, and be able to create songs.
HipHopWired.com: Justin has gotten a lot of co-signs from the Hip-Hop world, jumping on track with Kanye and Raekwon, and Ludacris. What is it about him that makes people embrace him?Bangladesh: He's just a rebelious kid. He's like the cool muthaf***a. He gives his opinion. If it's cookie-cutter, he don't like it. He's just a young rebellious kid that wants to be cool, be around normal people. Being in his circumstances, he's so big he don't really know who to trust. He can't be cool with everybody, all he wants to do is be a kid. The music he likes, it's Hip-Hop, he likes to rap, he raps on the beat, it's just fun.
HipHopWired.com: What can you tell me about your label Bangladesh Records?
Bangladesh: Breaking artists is a work in progress, it's about finding the right person. It's a lot of people man, you work with them, you get to a certain point when things happen you don't really get to the finish line. I been signing producers and writers, building the whole foundation. I'm about to sign Shawnna. I don't know if you remeber Shawnna from DTP. She's one of the best lyracists that hasn't really had nobody to pay attention to her, to give her production, and the energy that she needs. She's gonna be the first official artist off the label.
HipHopWired.com: Why is it that Shawnna hasn't been paid the attention that she deserves at DTP, is Ludacris to blame?
Bangladesh: People do what they wanna do. No telling what the whole entire situation is. Females have their flaws. A female artist is hard to work with sometimes, no telling what she was going through. I don't think DTP was really making the right moves for her. I think she needs a producer to produce her and give her beats and hooks where she can just rap. Lyrically, she's killing anybody, and she's writing. She's not ghost writing, she's writing this. She's spitting this, she's swaggin' it, she's killing it man!I was the only one campaigning about my bread, so it made me look like a G.
HipHopWired.com: Since you have had issues with Cash Money in the past, are you collaborating with them on your album?
Bangladesh: Oh yeah, Baby is on my album. He's on a song with me and 2 Chainz, it's called "Phantom of the Opera."
HipHopWired.com: So just to clear things up, there are no issues with Cash Money?
Bangladesh: It ain't no issues.The issue was when the issue was raised. The issues got dealt [with]. You gotta get the attention raised, people be on the go too much they might not follow up with what they need to deal with. I was the only one campaigning about my bread, so it made me look like a G. I got everybody else paid, ni**as was scared to talk about it. I got them paid. I see them and they thank me for getting them paid and being the one to speak up. I don't regret anything that I did. I read a lot of blogs, people from the outside looking in, they don't really know what the real is about how people get paid.There's several ways that producers get paid. We get upfront fees for selling a beat, when the album sells we get royalties, the single [sells] we get publishing. People were saying, "Why would you work with them again? You know you wasn't gon' get paid!" Well when we fixed the first situation—the royalties situation--that's why I did "6' 7”." When I did the "6' 7'" I didn't get paid for my production, I didn't get paid for my beat. So, it's two different things going on. That first situation was already dealt with, that's why I did that. Then I didn't get paid for that, my thing is it wasn't even about the money.
Producers get paid for selling beats but producers also give beats to artists that are established.Wayne is an established artist so I wouldn't even charge Wayne for the beat. It's not about the beat, it's about the relationship. If we can't get a relationship, if I can't call you to do something for me, then I need my money. It's either or. Me and Cash Money are doing other business. They offered me a 10-song deal, you know? They offered me some money, I'ma take the money, I'ma give them [their] 10 songs, and we working. That turned nothing into something.--Photo: Urban Daily