After the public splintering of Roc-A-Fella, Jay-Z rewarded the Young Gunz for siding with him by making the rap duo a top priority for him as president/CEO of Def Jam. Now the two, who've known each other since middle school in Philadelphia, have found a new best friend in producer Swizz Beatz, who helped craft their upcoming Brother From Another LP.
"I'll tell everybody this, and it ain't just because the n---a's right here, neither," boasted Young Chris, flanked by Swizz. "This n---a cooked up [a beat] in like five minutes. He went from the keyboards to the [production console], and we were right there zoning out. In the next 45 minutes to an hour, we're done."
"He gets busy," Neef chimed in.
"A lot of people want me to work with them," Swizz said, "but I see how they work, and I'll be like, 'Naw, it'll be a waste of time.' But working with [Young Gunz] was a blessing. They can get whatever they want from me from now on."
Swizz helmed two songs — "Set It Off," the first single, and "Beef" — while West Coast beat-miner Daz Dillinger did "The B Side." Chad West, Boola and Red Spyder produced the remaining Brother From Another cuts.
Young Gunz's second album also features Jay-Z, Memphis Bleek, Foxy Brown and 112's Slim, along with the Gunnaz's own artists Pooda Brown and Will Giest from their label, Get In Where You Fit In.
A video for "Set It Off" was recently shot in Los Angeles, with Neef dreaming up the concept.
"It's real cinematic, like a movie," Chris said. "We shot so much it was a two-day shoot. It's us in the process of making an album and video at the same time."
Jay worked closely with them, carrying his new presidential status into the studio.
"Jay's the boss, and we're his priority," Chris said. "He's 110 percent with us because this is his first time coming out being president, so it got to be a good look for all of us. We all got to step up. He's behind the desk, but he still comes to the studio with us. If the beat ain't right, switch the beat, [get a] new producer ... we keep it moving."
While most artists fear the sophomore jinx, worrying that their follow-up album will brick, Neef downplayed any apprehension.
"We don't feel no pressure," he said. "We treat this like our first album. We're keeping the same momentum. We ain't eaten and we're hungry. We hungry, we hungry!"
Chris laughed when asked about the Gunnaz's actual first album, Tough Love. "We gave y'all about 17 joints and y'all didn't appreciate it. This time y'all get 12 or 13. This time I want y'all to listen up."
Brother From Another is slated to drop May 24.