Production Credit: Nik Dean
Interview: Mackenzie Cummings-Grady
Editor’s Note: This story appears in the Winter 2023 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

After Nik Dean began producing at 18, the Austrian creative’s career picked up some serious steam in 2017. He won a contest hosted by Foreign Teck, who had just snagged a Grammy nomination for Bryson Tiller’s “Exchange.” Things haven’t been the same since. Nik Dean has gone on to produce for dozens of significant rappers such as Gunna, Kodak Black, and, most recently, Travis Scott. The 33-year-old beatsmith speaks about the latter below.

XXL: Travis Scott’s “Skitzo” is a really big record. How did that record come about? How did you connect with him? Discuss the process of it all.

Nik Dean: The process was a roller coaster. Travis Scott recorded the demo and all of that, and [a writer] told me, “Yo, put this one on the side ’cause Travis just cut it.” Sometimes, rappers cut songs, and they forget about it. So, I tried not to be too hyped about it. Then my manager flew out to Italy because Travis had a little festival there. [I went] backstage with Travis. I still didn’t know at this point if I’m on the album or not. Three or four days passed, and he still didn’t reach out to me, and the album was dropping in two days or something. Then one day after, [the A&R] literally called me and said, “You got one. It’s confirmed.” You know I was going into hype mode.

You posted a tutorial on your Instagram for Tory Lanez’s “The Color Violet.” It’s a pretty unique beat. Why is that beat so close to your heart?

Because it was something that I actually don’t produce. It has this ’80’s vibes and I actually made this beat for The Weeknd back then for his After Hours album.

It seems like many of the records you like you made for Tory Lanez. What was your creative relationship like with him?

From the moment we could have started a real relationship, all of this stuff with Megan Thee Stallion happened, and it was kinda sad.

That must be disappointing.

Yeah, because I really thought like, this could have been the first artist that I had a deeper connection with. Like, a real relationship and then this happened, and you had to go to jail. It was kinda sad for me.

How do you keep focused, avoid getting too hyped and be patient?

Well, I’ll say it this way: I cannot influence anything, you know? Whatever happens happens, and then I just have to focus on what’s next. I don’t wanna sleep on whatev- er happens. I don’t wanna live in the past.

Read Bas' interview in the Winter 2023 issue of XXL Magazine, on newsstands now. The new issue also includes the cover story with Latto and conversations with Killer Mike, Flo MilliDD OsamaMaiya The DonMonaleoMello BuckzzSexyy RedBigXThaPlug, plus more. Additionally, there's an exclusive interview with Fetty WapQuality Control Music's Coach K and P discuss 10 years into the label's growth, in-depth stories on the popularity of sampling in hip-hop in 2023 and the state of hip-hop touring, and the best moments of hip-hop's year-long 50th anniversary celebration.

See Photos From Latto's XXL Magazine Winter 2023 Cover Story