tdf is making 808s big enough to blow your speakers up

tdf’s productions can bait a certain kind of rap fan, down to his drops. Littered across his projects RELIGION and BLUEPRINT are vicious insults sampled from Instagram Live: tdf is a dickrider, tdf fell off, tdf has the Cheese Touch; tdf wants to be Pi’erre Bourne so bad, tdf keeps putting “random ass n***as” on his beats, tdf is “the worst prod in history.” “I don’t really take that stuff seriously, so I just put it in there,” the 20-year-old tells me over the phone.

Based in Minnesota, tdf (née Tyrese Jones) mostly collaborates over the Internet. In the four years since he started taking music seriously, he’s worked with some of the underground’s key figures, including xaviersobased, d0llywood1, iayze, Polo Perks, Yhapojj, Maajins, Tana, and zee!. And despite the relative geographic isolation, he’s cultivated a tight-knit crew of friends and collaborators with fellow Minnesotan Okaymar as well as OsamaSon, perc40, wildkarduno, 1oneam, and Smokingskul. “[The fans] call us Slayworld Junior,” he chuckles, a reference to the Yeat-adjacent musical collective.

Heavily inspired by MexikoDro and yes, Pi’erre Bourne, tdf’s beats combine the lullaby melodies of plugg music with kick drums warped beyond all recognition. When tdf started producing around the age of 14, he was making “Playboi Carti type beats,” but quickly grew bored as his skills improved. “I just don’t want to be known as a clone. It’s cool to start off making type beats, especially if you’re a kid,” he says. “[But] if you want to go far, you definitely got to make your own sound.”

“I don’t like to really put names on stuff. The way we think about it, we just make music,” tdf tells me. “But for the supporters, they like to classify us as ‘dark plugg.’ But I don’t think I make dark plugg. I always tell everybody ‘don’t box me in,’ I don’t like being boxed into a subgenre.” The end result of tdf’s sonic tinkering is familiar but fresh, more playful than rage but more abrasive than a StoopidXool beat. “His 808s sound like a fuckin microwave,” per the outro of “lemme see.” A DJ drop at the end of “tables turned” announces, “It’s midnight hoe. We just blew your speakers up.”

“The whole meaning behind BLUEPRINT, why I named [the album] that. This whole little wave? I started that,” tdf explains. “Back then everybody used to be like, what the fuck is he making and now you hearing more of my influence on everybody’s beats in the scene.”

I caught up with tdf at the end of March to talk about his musical inspirations, his start as a producer, carving out his own sound, and the impending release of i love you 4.

tdf is making 808s big enough to blow your speakers up

From left to right, wildkarduno, OsamaSon, perc40, okaymar, tdf, 1oneam, and Smokingskul.


Tell me a little bit about where you grew up and how you started producing.

I was born and raised in North Minneapolis. I started making music the last day of school, [when] I was about 13 or 14. We was just trying to find something to do for the summer, and one of my friends was like, “we should make music and give it a try.” When I first started I wasn’t even a producer, I was a rapper. I think it was in 2017 when I started producing. My mom handed me down her laptop and I was using that half-broken laptop for a minute.

Taking it back even further, before you started making music, when you were a little kid — what kind of music were your parents playing in the house?

My dad, when I was growing up, he listened to a lot of Michael Jackson. Then on my mom’s side, she listens to a lot of R&B, all that good stuff. Beyoncé, Tyrese — that’s how I even got my name, because my real name is Tyrese. I was named after [him]. My mom used to listen to a lot of Kanye West. My dad used to listen to a lot of old-school rap, but I didn’t really get into that. I’m not really fond of old rappers besides Tupac and Biggie.

What are some of the first plugg songs you heard that stuck with you?

Before that, like in the middle school days, I used to listen to drill rap from the Chicago scene. Like Chief Keef, everybody in Glo Gang, like P. Rico all that. Rondonumbanine, it’s a whole bunch of people. The first plugg song I ever heard might have been — one is ”Broke Boi,” or that song with Rich The Kid, Carti and Kodak. The first Carti song I ever heard I think it’s called “No Pressure” with Rich the Kid and the other one is called “Sauce.”

Was Chicago drill big up in Minneapolis?

Most definitely. The type of school that I went to, that’s what everybody listened to. It’s like drill rap, Chief Keef, everybody was big on Lud Foe, he had the song everybody used to sing, “I’m Da Man.”

What were some of your favorite songs out of that era?

I got a few, you know Young Pappy? I like the majority of his songs, and then Chief Keef — he got a whole bunch of classics, I’m going down memory lane. “Love No Thotties,” “Macaroni Time,” “Morgan Tracy.”

What kind of beats were you making when you started?

When I first started [around 2017], I was making Mexikodro-type beats. I made a few XXXTentacion beats, a few Brent Rambo-type beats, shoutout to Brent Rambo. Basically, Playboi Carti type beats was the main thing. When I first started producing, that’s when Carti dropped self-titled [Playboi Carti]. I had just found out about Pi’erre Bourne and I fell in love with his beats. That’s like my main inspiration. Fast forward to now, my main inspiration is [more] plugg producers like MexikoDro, StoopidXool… I fuck with XanGang heavy too, he’s definitely one of my inspirations. I was like 14 when I first made my first-ever beat. But I didn’t start taking music seriously until like [2019], when I met my friend Okaymar from that class.

You mentioned that this was around the time you started taking music more seriously.

Really because of him I ain’t gon lie. We did a song and it got a few [more] likes than it usually do. We was making good music. We was just pushing our songs and it was like hit songs to me, really good songs. And I wasn’t really sending out beats during that time to get placements and stuff like that, I was just doing music for the fun of it.

I’m curious to hear more about how you make the sound that you make.

I was making type beats before and I was like “I don’t want to make type beats for my whole career.” I don’t want to make beats like another man, you know, I want to take this serious, I want to build my own name, my own legacy. So when I first started trying to make my sound, I was taking inspiration from the plugg stuff and inspiration from the Pi’erre stuff and kind of forming it together and experimenting. I would make beats every day just experimenting, experimenting, trying to see what I can do different, see what sounds good. And that’s how, it was all coming together slowly by the time I met Okaymar. And then me and him was just building, my sound would keep on evolving from there. Cuz my beats now… I’ve always had the sound, they sound similar, but it’s been evolving every single year — proud of the progress I’ve made since then.

You used to do the occasional song where you rapped on your own stuff, but now it feels like pretty much everything you do is a collaboration with another vocalist. Is there any particular reason you don’t make as many songs where you’re rapping now?

To be honest, I do want to get back to rapping more. There’s people in my DMs who tell me like, “when are you dropping a song again?” Sometimes I just overthink — I like to perfect stuff. Especially because I feel like I’m way better now.

I was listening to BLUEPRINT a lot this spring/winter — there are all these little interludes or skits that are basically people shit-talking your production. Where did those come from? And why did you put them on there?

It’s people who hate on me. They just hate on me for no reason, I couldn’t even really tell you. And I don’t really take that stuff seriously, like I always say “if you don’t have haters you’re not doing it right.” So I just put it in there. All of those are real Instagram Lives. Fans will screenrecord and send them to me. I don’t know if you noticed but like me and perc40, we put tags on our beats, like just some random shit. Sometimes it’ll be funny sometimes it’ll be other stuff, but I just wanted to put some more people shit-talking. But yeah all those are from Instagram Lives, none of those are fake.

You bring up the idea of these [Instagram Lives] functioning as drops or sound effects, and on the tape with Kura you’re doing a lot of drops that are almost like Gangsta Grillz, DJ Drama talking shit on the beat type shit. And with that tape, you have this whole separate SoundCloud page for a bunch of your collab tapes.

The whole point of that page at first, I just wanted to put together a random tape of throwaways for just for the supporters, just to show love back. And it was doing good and stuff so I was like, “I’ma start posting tapes and collab tapes on here, stuff that wouldn’t go on the main page. And I’ve just been doing that since 2021.

What makes you think “this is something that I want to save for a tdf project” that’s going on the main page and DSPs? Is there a big distinction, or is it just whatever mood strikes you?

To be honest, it really depends on the era. I would like to call myself a perfectionist, and I kind of space out my drops, on my main page at least. I like to build up anticipation.
Everything that I put on my main page, those are like newer beats. I guess you could say that separates it. If I have something that’s in the vault, that’s been in there for a while and I want to drop it, or a song on an old beat, [that’ll go on the i love you page].

You’ve got i love you 4 coming later this month, correct? Is that mostly stuff with other people, and what kind of sound are you going for?

Yeah, I’m thinking April. I can’t really say who’s going to be on it, all I know is it’s a compilation tape of songs in the vault. Grails and stuff, just songs people been wanting and a lot of songs I been meaning to drop. Every time I do tapes like those I make like 20-some songs; I’m probably gonna do 25 this time, or something around there.

Earlier you said you’re proud of how far you’ve come, but you’ve still got a ways to go to get where you want to be. What are you most proud of in terms of your development as a producer?

The thing I’m most proud of is that I crafted my own sound. And I actually have supporters that like that sound and fuck with me for who I am. I remember when I first started, like I said, I was doing it for fun, just out of love. I still do love music, but I’m just speaking for back then. Back then — it sounds crazy, but I didn’t even think I’d ever hit 1,000 followers on any platform. I swear to God, I didn’t think I’d ever hit 1,000 followers. And I think now I got 12k. It’s pretty crazy. That’s what I’m most proud of.