As a producer and engineer, Pi'erre Bourne is a certified platinum expert in playing to an artist's sound and creating a superstar. Case in point: Playboi Carti.
From providing the disorderly template for Carti's 2017 breakout song, "Magnolia," to crafting the serene sounds of the internet's favorite leak, "Pissy Pamper," one could make the argument that without Pi'erre, there would be no Playboi as we know him today. (He also helped spark Tekashi 6ix9ine's unprecedented rise by producing his first hit, "GUMMO.")
Pi'erre has shaped an irresistible sound with punchy, rebounding kicks and dizzying loops straight out of an '80s arcade game. He's also turned the catchphrase, "Yo Pi'erre, you wanna come out here?," into a cultural phenomenon. But at the base of his success is an uncanny ability to tap in with rising artists and bring out the best in them.
His newest and most promising prodigy? Jelly.
Hailing from the East Side of Atlanta, 25-year-old Jelly is signed to Pi'erre's label, SossHouse, which also houses other upcoming acts like Chavo.
Jelly and Pi'erre first met in South Carolina where they attended the same high school. Jelly was a grade below Pi'erre, so they never became super close until they reconnected in Atlanta post-graduation.
After struggling to build a musical connection with the legendary trap producer Zaytoven, causing him to lose some confidence, Jelly turned to Pi'erre as a friend and mentor. "It wasn’t about music at the time, it’s just always been about our relationship," he recalled during our phone call in February.
Near the beginning of 2020, Jelly finally revealed a taste of his real potential by dropping an impressive debut mixtape, The Wolf of Peachtree. Executive produced by Pi'erre and featuring SossHouse label mate Frazier Trill, Jelly positions it as his "first real project." (He had a practice round a few months earlier with Wolf SZN.)
Recorded over the span of about a week in LA, all Pi'erre had to do, for the most part, was load Jelly up with about 60 beats and watch him tear apart each one like a wolf at an all-you-can-eat buffet. "I went through all them bitches, like every single last one," Jelly said. "Back to back, back to back, back to back, back to back."
On "Karma," we can hear this kind of hunger coming through in Jelly's punctuated delivery of both lyrics and ad libs. "I know you hate it when a n***a get on top (You a hater) / I know you feel it when them bridges burn and drop (Tables turned)," he raps.
Jelly's used to being the man, though. Listening to him talk about the title of his latest project, we gain a better understanding of his powerful presence in downtown Atlanta. "I was like, ‘Shit, I’m the Wolf around this motherfucker. I'm making this shit twerk,'" he said. "I’ll get you what you need, got damn, off Peachtree."
In his first-ever print interview, Jelly gives Daquan an inside look at how his relationship with Pi'erre has developed over the years, what it was like seeing him rise to prominence after "Magnolia" blew up, the inspiration and process behind The Wolf of Peachtree and much more.
Lightly edited for clarity and flow, our full conversation appears below.
Daquan: Congrats on your latest tape, The Wolf of Peachtree. It’s a smash – I’ve really been messin’ with it lately. It sounds so natural.
Jelly: I appreciate that a lot. I ain’t gon’ lie that album, I put so much into it and I’ve been wanting it to come out. I didn’t even know it was out, like I knew it was coming out in a couple of days, but I didn't know which day. I was trying to pinpoint a release date. But when I went to SOBs in New York to fuck with Pi’erre and shit, I hit him up like, ‘Is my shit out?’ I thought somebody hacked my shit. But he said, ‘Yeah, it’s out.’ He was like, ‘Let’s go, let's turn up.’
I appreciate all the love, I appreciate everybody fuckin’ with me. I ain't even know that many people was gonna fuck with it like that. It's my first real project, so it's a big deal, you know?
No doubt. I've been seeing all the love on your Instagram. Seems like a lot of people are feeling the music and everything that’s gone with it. About the project title, what’s Peachtree? I'm not too familiar with Atlanta.
It’s in Atlanta, it’s a road. You might hear Roddy Ricch or Drake say ‘Peachtree,’ they just talkin’ ‘bout Atlanta, Georgia. That's downtown, West Peachtree. I'm from the East Side of Atlanta, but I just really be downtown moving though. I was like, ‘Shit, I’m the Wolf around this motherfucker. I'm making this shit twerk.’ I’ll get you what you need, got damn, off Peachtree. Fasho fasho.
I feel you. So you grew up in Atlanta?
Yeah, I'm originally from Atlanta. Then I went to middle school and high school and shit out in South Carolina. But I always go back and forth and that's how I ran into Pi’erre. We went to the same high school together. When he moved to Atlanta after he graduated, I was still in school. He’s a year older than me.
I graduated and went to Atlanta, then we linked up and got closer. This was before “Magnolia,” before anything. We just got close. He’s always been just trying to work with me and point me into the right direction. We all had been trying to push each other, you know what I'm saying?
Tell me more about the high school you and Pi’erre went to.
We went to Richland Northeast High School together. It’s a school in Columbia, South Carolina. But Pi’erre is from New York and I came from Atlanta. We knew each other, but he was in another grade with older people. When I graduated and first started rapping, that’s when we got closer.
So you first started rapping and making music after high school?
Yeah, I was probably like 19 and I started with Zaytoven. My auntie helped me out, she came with a bag. It cost me like two bands, but it wasn't really real. Like Zay, as the producer, he was always a silent, humble guy, like a real religious guy, always fair. But his management, it felt like the more money I put up, the more I could see it wasn't actually about building and taking your time. Pi’erre really takes his time.
I had a wave going already and was still cool with Pi’erre, like on some homeboy shit. Even after I fell out with Zaytoven, Pi’erre was still there. That shit kind of fucked me up, though, and I stopped rappin’ for a little bit. But we’d still be hanging out, like we went to Miami together. It wasn’t about music at the time, it’s just always been about our relationship.
Then in 2017, before “Magnolia” got hot, he’d come over like, ‘I just sent these beats out to Carti. I hope he fucked with ‘em.’ It took about two months before [“Magnolia”] just started going viral. When that was going on, he was still reaching out like, ‘Jelly, it’s up. I got you.’ He ain’t leave me high and dry, he came back for me. He really amped me back up and gave me my confidence back with this rap shit. I started really goin’ back hard, hard, hard.
He really does everything off the strength. Anything he do, he’s doing it from the heart. He’s not doing it because somebody else wants to or for the check, none of that.
Damn. That’s crazy you saw his ascent with “Magnolia” and Carti.
I swear, there've been times when there was probably one or two people on Pi’erre’s [Instagram] Live. Now it’s like 2 or 3,000 people.
Did you guys know you were going to do a full-length project together?
Yeah, we always had it planned. That was his number one goal, to put out a project. He was like, ‘It's just the beginning.’ I probably got like four or five more projects. That's in the cut, you know what I mean? It’s really just to top it off. I always just want us to be great and want us to win. Everybody got their own relationship with Pi’erre.
I was listening to an interview with Young Nudy and he said that for Sli’merre, him and Pi’erre didn't collaborate in the studio, Pi'erre was just sending him beats. But it sounds like you and Pi’erre were really working on your project together.
Yeah, we was really in the studio. He flew me to LA, I'd never even been on a plane honestly. He loaded me up with a 50 or 60 pack and I went through all them bitches, like every single last one. Back to back, back to back, back to back, back to back. Different songs in there. I went back to Atlanta, did some more. I definitely had a hundred songs.
Pi’erre talked to me like, ‘Bruh, you can write hooks. You can really write, that’s a gift. A lot of people can’t do that.’
Facts. And it seems like you're really tapped in with the SossHouse umbrella. Have you collaborated with artists like Chavo who are signed to Pi’erre’s label?
I’m a part of SossHouse, yeah. [laughs] There’s six of us: me, Jbillz, Bermuda Yae, Chavo, Sharc and Frazier Trill. Everybody they own person, but we still a gang. Those are my brothers, we all got songs with each other.
Before Pi’erre got me around these boys, I didn’t know how it was going to be at first. But as time went on, being with each other daily, we’ve grown to be brothers. We talk in the group chat every day. We really got a real deal relationship. It’s all official. It’s all love.
That’s gotta be one of the hottest group chats in rap right now.
We not playin’ man. [laughs]
Last question about Pi’erre. Are there any differences between working with him as an artist versus working with him as a producer? I know he contributed a verse to “You Kant.”
Maan it’s crazy. I ain't gonna give y'all too much, but me and Pierre got another song. Y’all gotta find it. It’s an old old song.
But shit, Pi’erre always been an artist. I always took him serious as an artist. He made beats, but I took him serious as an artist before he made beats, to be honest. I was like, ‘Man I need you on my tape.’ He was like, ‘I gotta be on it. This shit too hard.’
That’s fire. Touching on the music really quick, the first song on The Wolf of Peachtree, “Karma,” you’re talking about jealousy and the people around you. You say, ‘I can feel it when a dude want my spot.’ Is that something you’ve had to deal with as you’ve gained traction?
Yeah, it's every day. That’s just being realistic ‘cause a nigga always wants your spot. But you know, karma comes around. It could be anything, so shit bro, you gotta really just be on your P's and Q's. It all comes around, like you get the energy you put in, you know what I'm saying? A lot of people, they not for you, they just tryin’ to trick you out your spot. You gotta be on it.