Rich Forever’s The Lab Cook speaks on his creative process, family’s ear for music and more in an exclusive interview.
We all can admit that the Rich Forever camp has some of the sauciest rap styles in the music industry right now. From Rich The Kid, Famous Dex, and Jay Critch, their singles echo over speakers all over the world.
I recently had a conversation with their in-house producer and tastemaker, The Lab Cook, to find out exactly how he sparks up these incredible beats and vibes. Producers hardly get enough recognition for the sounds and base guidelines they lay out for a hit single. Canada’s own, The Lab Cook, is not a producer to sleep on. Indeed an inspirational individual and a focused businessman, check out all The Lab Cook had to say below.
What’s the background story to the origin of your producer name The Lab Cook?
I used to have this poster above my bed on the wall and it said the laboratory. I used to do art so I drew it. Years passed and I was sitting there making beats one day, and it had already been a couple of days that I was trying to think of a name, then I just thought of the lab. The whole metaphor that when you’re in the lab, you’re cooking up, so I just put the two together, and it sounded cool. At first, I was trying to think of other words that would go with the lab like The Lab Rat. I kept trying to figure out what sounded cool. The Lab Cook had a ring to it, so I just stuck with it.
Do you come from a musical family?
I got more knowledge from my family members, specifically my dad and my uncle than I did from most in the industry. They’ve been in the music industry for years, so they know all the business side of things. The best advice I’ve gotten from them is that no one is your friend in a way. It’s like, in the end, you have to have a mindset that everyone is in it for themselves and that no one owes you anything. If shit goes wrong, don’t let it get under your skin because that shit happens. It’s the music business; it’s a dirty game, so you have to keep your head up, handle business, stand for things, and know your worth. My grandpa is probably the most musical one in my family, though. He played the piano his whole life and can play any instrument. If you went to his house, he has no lie probably like eight clarinets and every other instrument you could imagine. He’s so good that he can listen to something like a chord or a song and can play it instantly, he just has to hear it. A few years ago, we were at a college, and he told me he could hear a train horn in the background. This happened late at night, we were on a dock, and he’s like ‘that’s a b flat. The pitch on the train horn, that’s a b flat. My genre is a little past my family’s time. My grandpa, he’s into classical and jazz music so if he hears rap he doesn’t like it. Don’t get me wrong he thinks what I do is cool; he doesn’t yell at me or anything. To each their own.
Do you see yourself doing something other than music or production?
Yes, I’m part of MESS ( Make Every Second Successful), the clothing brand. We have some significant collaborations coming up, I know we just put in a big order too. The whole MESS family is all going back to LA, and we’re doing a couple of pop-ups, one pop up with YBN in October I believe. Before music I had an interest in clothing, I tried to start up my brand. I thought it would be cool to make my own clothes so I would buy printable designs, the ones where you iron it on a t-shirt. I would even draw on shirts with a marker before that was cool. This took place a couple of years before I was Lab Cook. I think it was called underground king or something like that, but I honestly can’t remember it was so long ago.
I just ended up giving up on it so when MESS came to me with an opportunity to be a part of my clothing brand it was at the perfect time. I’m just so ready to get the clothing brand blown up and to continue making new clothes. We have tons of new designs coming out; I’m currently designing a new rugby shirt. It’s like a polo tee with the collars on it. MESS has been running for a few years now, but it wasn’t until a year ago that I got on board with it. I also do VyvydAudio. It’s a website with sounds that can be bought like sound and drum kits. I’m doing one next with PitThaKiD, the producer. He’s on MESS as well. We just dropped a sound kit together actually. I love to make sounds, you know people use a lot of recycled shit now, but I always like to use my own. It’s cool to do that, and I have a decent following, so people eat that up. But other than that, I’m about to start making my album and Rich the Kid is going to help me with it. It’s going to be a producer project where I’ll make all the beats, and I’ll grab some hooks from artists, just like a feature album. We’re going to branch outside Rich Forever artists too. We got some big names in mind and they’re pretty much locked in, but I can’t say too much right now.
How did you begin working with Rich The Kid and the whole Rich Forever team?
I had just graduated high school, and that following year I returned to high school. To fuck around for another year, so it wasn’t until that new year that It hit me. I thought ‘fuck what am I gonna do.’ I was making beats, but I didn’t have any placements yet at that point. I wanted it so bad; I had that feeling in me where I needed it so bad, so I started waking up early, making beats. I started hitting people up, dm-ing random people, anybody. I happened to hit up this one guy saying I’ll give you beats if you hook me up with any prominent artists if you know anyone. He said yeah Famous Dex is my cousin.
At that time I didn’t know who Famous Dex was so I looked him up, and he had a buzz going on at the time, his Instagram was at like 100k followers or some shit. After I checked his content, I actually fucked with him and his music, so I hit him up, and he actually responded so I instantly sent him beats. But I don’t think he fucked with any of them because nothing from them came out. It wasn’t until like a month later, I just kept working and sent him a new pack. It just so happened Rich the Kid found out about them and started recording on my beats. I found out through a couple of snippets on Instagram. It was crazy. That just made me go harder, so I hit up Rich the Kid myself. I had nothing to lose, so I gave it a shot. He responded to me in like 20 minutes, and I sent him more beats. After that, it was one day my buddy had picked me up from my job, and on Snapchat, there was Rich the Kid showing off a new song. I didn’t think it was my beat. I honestly thought he wasn’t fucking with them until I went back and realized oh wait that is my beat. So then he just started fucking with me more and more and a couple of months later he dm me saying he wanted to sign me. That was before I even met him, it wasn’t until months later where he flew me out to LA to work on his album. This was all at the start of the Rich Forever label. Rich started off signing Dex while I was right there in the same room and then signed me. It’s crazy because I used to listen to Rich the Kid back in the day. Like dam I never would have thought I would be working with them, never would I have thought I would have that opportunity. It’s crazy how the world works.
Give us some insight into what the process is like in the studio with Rich Forever?
When I’m in L.A, I’ll do my own thing during the day and then Rich will hit me up saying we got a session that night. It’s usually long, too, like 12 hours or something, 5 to 5. Before I pull up, I’ll already have put some content together. I’ll have a little hard drive called a memory stick, and I’ll throw a pack of beats on there so that when I pull up to the session, sometimes I’ll play instrumentals, but most of the time I’ll hand the stick over to Rich’s engineer. They can play the tracks they want to so I can just be cooking up. I’ll make more beats while they’re listening to other ones from the pack. I’m usually in another room while this happens but, I have cooked up with Rich before, too. We’ve cooked up together, sometimes even Dex will come in the place, and we’ll put some headphones on together and go from there.
When “Plug Walk” went platinum the first time how did you receive that news?
When it dropped, I put it out on Instagram, and I had a feeling it was going to be a big song. Everyone kept asking me about it, and I remember my buddy called me saying this was the one, the one that was going to change my life. You can be an underground producer making dope songs for so long, but it’s not until you get a mainstream song out that you get noticed by labels, publishers and other producers and artists that want to work with you. This song was a game changer and changed the trajectory of my career. I knew it was going to go platinum when it went gold in like three weeks. I was like damn this is going to go platinum. I can’t remember where I was, but I know me and my buddy went and celebrated. I guess you could say I was waiting on the platinum call.
What’s your advice for upcoming and aspiring producers? How can they stand out?
Producers are very oversaturated now. Anyone can make beats; you don’t have to pay two grand for a keyboard anymore, all you have to do is download FL studios for free, right? Like literally anyone can make beats now or at least try. They have way more access now. So my advice is to own your craft, be patient, and don’t try to do what everyone else is doing because that’s precisely how you get stuck in the mix. You know Pierre Bourne was a big wave and then everyone started making beats like him. Being different is how you label yourself and establish your sound. Every producer should try to be different, experiment with new sounds and different stuff, don’t just copy someone else’s beat. You need to try and make a new wave.
When I first made beats, I had a buddy with me, and he made tracks too. He would make Chief Keef type beats, and he was good at making them but what established him differently than anyone? There are 100 or even 1000 other producers doing the same thing. With my beats, I’ve always had people telling me they never heard anything like that before, they were just different. If you’re different long enough eventually you’ll get good at being different because it will become normal to you. Just networking. Hit people up and try to establish some real connections. You can’t have one without the other. You can have great beats, but if you don’t know how to properly market or network yourself, then nothing is going to happen. Got to have a balance of each.
Would you say it is more rewarding to build with one artist or have a lot of different placements?
Both. I would say I have a decent amount of music with other people, but I love working with Rich and he’s helped me out the most. He also puts out snippets the most, too. Like I sent him beats last night and he already put out teasers of them. I like to hear that, a lot of times artists will record on my beats, but I don’t see anything about it.
Whether it is producing, putting together drum kits, or making clothes for his brand MESS, The Lab Cook seems ready for it all and for more to come, too. Staying humble isn’t easy at such a young age, but Lab appears to have a circle in place that he trusts and an ear for hits. His grandfather may have the more classically trained ear, but Lab is making his signature sound heard on speakers around the world on a daily basis.
We look forward to seeing what else Lab can cook up in the coming months. It probably won’t be long before he has to make room for another plaque on his wall.