Fort Erie record producer Shane Lee Lindstrom has made a name for himself in hip-hop circles as Murda Beatz.
By Nick Krewen
Special to the Star
July 31, 2019
Raw talent is one thing, but how does a budding producer from the Canadian border town of Fort Erie become a top dog in hip-hop and work with the likes of Migos, Cardi B., Drake, Nicki Minaj, Chance The Rapper and 2Chainz?
If you’re Murda Beatz, you network.
“I had my networking tools ready and I was using them well – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram – everything I could get my hands on the Internet,” the man born Shane Lindstrom told the Star over the phone from Los Angeles on Tuesday.
“I was using my name to get out there; using people’s names that I was working with. Obviously it was a lot easier when I was working with Chief Keef and Migos to use their names.”
Actually, Atlanta’s Migos was the kicker: Murda Beatz, who performs on the Veld Festival stage headlined by Cardi B. and Skrillex on Saturday, managed to infiltrate the trio’s inner sanctum and provide production for four tracks on their second mixtape, 2014’s No Label 2, along with other prominent producers Metro Boomin and Zaytoven, that was released following their breakthrough single “Versace.”
So, how did he get that gig?
“My networking tool is that I’d contact people around them,” says Lindstrom, 25. ”I’d find people who had Migos in their Twitter names and their boys. I’d be hittin’ up people around them to get to them – to try to infiltrate in all areas.
“I found (Migos associate) Skippa da Flippa – at the time he wasn’t even rapping, he was engineering.
“I would send him stuff and I’d be like, ‘Yo, if you get these beats to (Migos members) Quavo and Takeoff, I’ll send you your own beats as well.’ He ended up getting all the beats and saying, ‘No, I’m engineering. I don’t even rap’ and he ended up playing the beats to them.”
As a result of the connection, Lindstrom flew to Atlanta and lived with the trio for a few months. He was on board for their mainstream breakthroughs: their debut album Yung Rich Nation in 2015 and their first No.1 hit, “Bad and Boujee” with Lil Uzi Vert in 2016 -although he didn’t produce the latter.
Atlanta wasn’t the only hot spot Lindstrom worked: as a member of SOCAN, the Canadian performance rights organization that tracks and pays songwriters broadcast royalties, he requested and received an advance from the organization so that he and his manager could travel to Los Angeles and make further inroads.
“It’s a big city – the City of Dreams – and you’ve gotta come out here and know how to move and navigate…you have to know how to conquer it, right?” Lindstrom says.
“Out here, we were supposed to stay for two weeks. We ended up staying for four months. You can just imagine all the parties we were at, all the artists we met and all the studio sessions we were getting in.
“One of the first artists who invited me into the studio – on Day Three of being in L.A. – was Nipsey Hussle.
“That’s what we did. We built the relationships. We built relations at the labels. We did our thing and then we were able to come back out here and just keep building and building from where we left off.”
For Lindstrom, whose biggest track to date is as co-writer and co-producer of Drake’s 2018 chart-topper “Nice For What,” it wasn’t only about who you know. As a contributor who specializes in rhythms, it’s also about confidence.
Lindstrom says he knew he had the magic from Day One, eight years ago.
“My beats were terrible but I knew this was what I wanted to do,” he admits. “Because I come from a musical background – I played drums growing up – even if my beats were trash, it was something I had a passion for. I knew I wanted to do it for the rest of my life.”
He initially tried to break into the business via Buffalo, since the city is located five minutes across the Peace Bridge from Fort Erie.
“When I was coming up, I was trying to get my beats out to places like Buffalo over Toronto at the time. Toronto’s rap scene was kind of behind and hip-hop was big everywhere else,” Lindstrom explains.
He reached out to Buffalo rappers John Boy, Conway The Machine and his brother Westside Gunn – the latter two who are signed to Eminem’s Shady Records – but it didn’t pan out.
However, Lindstrom kept hustling and within three months of starting out, landed his first placement with Soulja Boy.
Today, along with fellow producers Drake, Matthew “Boi-1da” Samuels, Noah “40” Shebib, Adam “Frank Dukes” Feeney, Ebony “Wondagurl” Oshunrinde, Anthony “Nineteen85” Jefferies and Jahron “PartyNextDoor” Braithwaite, Murda Beatz is part of an elite group of influential behind-the-boards Canadians determining and shaping hip-hop’s present and future, selling and streaming millions in the process.
But Lindstrom isn’t content with sticking to a single genre.
“This has been a year of growing and experimenting. I’ve definitely tackled a lot of different styles like country, pop, rock. I’ve been having fun with it,” says Lindstrom, who says he’s currently working with Migos and Drake on new material.
“Drake works very hard. We have good chemistry. A lot of time when we’re working though he’s sending stuff over text messages, but when we get in, we make magic happen. Last year, we were hooking up in Toronto, we made ’Nice For What.’”
Murda Beatz doesn’t say no when it comes to taking on new projects.
“I work with everybody that wants to work with me,” Lindstrom states. “People I want to work with in the future that will definitely happen? Rihanna, Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber. And I want to do something with Ozzy Osbourne.”
He considers production and beat-making to be two different animals.
“When I produce, I contribute melody, piano and I might bring in some musicians. I like producing records. With beat-making – you just sit there making beats all day.”
He also has no qualms about collaborating – and in some ways, prefers it.
“Music has always been a collaborative sport,” he notes. “You need the teamwork and you get the job done. If you go back to orchestras and bands – it’s never been a one-man show. I’d rather collaborate: instead of having one mind on something, you could have two great minds making music together.”
And he has no problem taking to the stage as an artist (he’s signed to Interscope and released Bless Yo Trap last year with Miami-based rapper Smokepurpp,) promising that his upcoming set at Veld – in which he scratches and works the mic – will be “the greatest time you could ever see.”
“It’s 45 minutes of the greatest bangers being played,” he boasts, adding that he’ll be touring with A$AP Ferg in November and December and that a Toronto date is likely.
“Honestly, I feel like if you go watch my set at Veld, it’s going to be a crazy time with crazy mosh pits – hopefully nobody gets hurt. I always like to make sure everyone around me is having fun.”
With his latest collaboration – “Found a Good One (Single No More, )” a track on Chance The Rapper’s debut studio album The Big Day that was released earlier this week – and that Lindstrom calls “’90s dance wedding music” – the producer hopes to announce a venture in the next six months that will help him build a legacy and break artists.
In the meantime, Murda Beatz is proud and grateful for his accomplishments thus far.
“I’m very proud,” he admits. “Especially coming from a town of 30,000 people and this year performing at Coachella in front of 60,000 people. That was mind-blowing, wake up calls and blessings all at the same time.
“I’m just blessed to be in the position I’m in. I’m blessed to have a passion for music at a young age, make a career out of it and support my friends and family.”