Turbo & Gunna Run It Back: How Miami Yacht Parties and Recording at Sea Led to ‘One of Wun’

Time flies when you’re having fun. After shedding the exhausting weight that came with executive-producing Gunna’s first post-prison release, 2023’s A Gift & a Curse (Gunna reached an Alford Plea deal in the YSL RICO case and was released in December 2022), hitmaking producer Turbo and the Georgia-bred rap star got back to the essence of their friendship: having a good time.

Turbo serves as the architect on One of Wun — which arrived last Friday (May 10) — as the LP’s executive producer. Gunna pulls on life experiences throughout the album, while bragging about overseas yacht parties, orgy fantasies, being the best-dressed at the Met Gala or dropping 50 racks for a trainer in his melodic raps.

The duo were inseparable over the last year, whether it was actually being together or talking on the phone when they couldn’t meet up. From the picturesque backyard of his L.A. mansion, Turbo relays to Billboard that coast to coast studio sessions from L.A. to Miami fueled One of Wun.

He estimates that they recorded 100 songs in total and recalls his favorite sessions actually taking place in the middle of the ocean — a first for Turbo — on a friend’s yacht off the coast of Florida, who had a studio built inside the boat, to set a vibe perfectly matching Gunna’s opulent taste level.

“It was more fulfilling that any album,” Turbo says of the project. “We’re on the other side of some little rut. Now we can have fun. We can sit in the studio all night how we used to, and it’s not as serious. The music is portraying the same thing.”

Turbo lent his signature “Run It Back, Turbo” tag, woozy production and booming bass to three One of Wun tracks (“Neck On a Yacht,” “Time Reveals, Be Careful What You Wish for” and “Whatsapp (Wassam)”) while his Playmakers production company protégés helmed a majority of the project.

Gunna is expected to earn another top five album on the Billboard 200 with One of Wun, and he’s solicited high praise from many for the set — including industry veteran Elliott Wilson, who hailed Wunna as a “top five MC in the game right now.”

As for Turbo, the 29-year-old can finally turn his focus back to his own upcoming solo project as he’s teasing a new single releasing very soon. He’ll also be executive producing SleazyWorldGo’s debut album, which is expected to arrive later this year via Island Records.

Check out the rest of our interview with Turbo, who peels back the layers on Gunna’s One of Wun, recording on a yacht, the wild story behind “Whatsapp (Wassam)” and more.

What were yours and Gunna’s mindsets like while working on One of Wun? How many records did you guys end up doing?

We probably recorded 100 records. I have three on this album. The rest are to my producers signed to me, under The Playmakers. They have the lion’s share of the album, with 10-12 tracks. I executive-produced it with The Playmakers. The process is ultimate confidence. It’s having fun, really, this time. The last album we were in a place with him getting out of jail. Super-fun, super-summertime, super-girly records. Stuff to just have fun that you could just listen to. 

What were some conversations you had with Gunna regarding what you wanted to accomplish with this album, compared to the last one?

I think it was more so getting back to the music. Instead of the story, we were experiencing a lot of s–t, having a lot of fun doing it. Just getting back to what we were already doing before any of this mess happened.

Where were you guys recording? Were you together for a lot of it?

Man, I’ve seen Gunna every day. I’ve talked to Gunna every day pertaining to this album. A lot of it was recorded in L.A. Some of it was recorded in Miami on a boat. One of our buddies has a pretty large boat. We spent like a month in Miami just recording on the boat. 

Wait, he’s got a studio on the boat?

That’s P s–t. That alone was a vibe. Recording in the middle of the ocean on a f—–g boat. I had never done that. A song I produced called “Neck on a Yacht.” That was recorded on this boat. That was one of the top sessions I can say for this album. Something that was fun. We had fun doing it. A lot of it was between here, LA [and] Miami. [My favorite] was most definitely [recording] on the yacht.

How do you feel about Gunna’s growth sonically?

Especially with all the Afrobeat s–t going on that we been doing — I think it’s no limits. I think him and I are both going into the second phase of our careers. We’re going on some superstar artist-producer s–t. You’ll hear it with the music. A lot of it is something you’ve never heard before. It’s the same sonics but elevated. I think that’s where he’s going. He’s trying s–t. Pushing the limit. 

“Whatsapp,” can you expand on how that record came together?

“Whatsapp” was basically a true story. We went to an invite — one of our buddies had an event out here in LA. It was one of those billionaire-type of LA events. They seen Gunna there, and wanted him to perform two songs out of nowhere. Like, “Hey, can you perform two songs?” He goes, “Yeah, I don’t know…” They go, “We’ll give you $200,000.” I looked at him, he looked at me and I said, “You need to perform the f—king songs.” They were like from a different country, so they had to basically get the WhatsApp numbers to be able to handle the business and get the wiring information.

That’s how he’s been going. He’ll experience something and go to the studio and rap about it. The song is called “Whatsapp (Wassam).” ‘Wassam’ is an Atlanta slang basically saying, “What’s going on?” Just popping your s–t. 

That’s hilarious. Were they satisfied with his performance?

Were they satisfied? They were ecstatic. That was cool. A good Tuesday. 

Another one you produced was “Careful What You Wish For.”

It’s kind of pertaining to superstar s–t. That was something that was recorded earlier on in the process. As you hear in the song, you hear certain things about being a superstar and the things that come with being a superstar. A lot of people want the money, fame and the glitz and the glam, but there’s a lot [of other stuff] that comes with it. I think that’s just something he was trying to portray. He was speaking from his heart.

Honestly, I was in there with a few of my friends, and we’re all musicians. So he walked into us kinda having a jam session, and we were kinda jamming and playing music. Everybody had their keyboards out and we were playing music. He got on a handheld mic you can have in the studio and still be in the studio room, and he started rapping and mumbling and we recorded it. That’s how that came about. That’s why there’s no drums on there. We were literally just jamming and did everything right there, [as] if we were a band, for real.

How did the features like Normani come about? I know they just did a record together for her project. 

They were working [together] around that time. We go to the studio every day. It’s just work. That’s kinda how that week happened with all the features. We were working with them, doing stuff, and they just picked the best song. He’s never been that type [to go] like, “Let’s get a feature.” A lot of features he’s had in the past has always been our friends. Him and Normani are friends. Him and Leon [Bridges] are friends. We all just hang out. The music kinda just happens.

Do you care about sales numbers first-week or Billboard charts after the album comes out?

I think I should care, but I really don’t. It’s more so a cultural thing for me. I don’t know the tricks of the trade. If I ride somewhere and I hear somebody playing it in the car, I care about that. As far as the numbers, I try not to pay attention to that. 

Were you able to communicate with Gunna when he was behind bars?

Yeah, of course. 

What was that first studio session like when he first got out?

Our studio is kinda like the living room. It wasn’t like a studio session. Gunna’s my brother, so we talk a lot about s–t. Before we even got on this call, we were on the phone for 45 minutes. He’s in Africa shooting the “Jump” video for Tyla. It was a random call. The first sessions was literally that. Bro, we just having regular conversations [and] doing regular music. It was like any other session. 

What do you think about his growth from the early days to now?

I’m happy. I know they only give you five years in this s–t as an artist and producer. To be going on year seven, and [still] elevating to a new artist — and me elevating as a producer — I’m happy. 

You produced “From a Man” for [Young] Thug. How is working with [Young] Thug when he’s behind bars? [What’s the process] to produce records?

Same thing. That’s like my brother. His team are like my brothers. They said he needed it. That was something that was pre-recorded before he went to jail. And a song he loved — that’s why he had the video for it and were actually gonna release it. It’s a no-brainer.

Did you feel the growth of the creative community was stunted with Gunna’s and Thug’s arrests?

Yes, I feel it still is. They were such a big piece. I’m really in the studios, so you see how many artists come by and listen to music and hear how they talk. It’s like now they don’t have the study guide. 

I feel like Thug started a lot of that, bringing Lil Baby and Gunna around and championing those younger artists in Atlanta. 

That’s Atlanta culture though. The studio is everything. It’s the club. It’s the library. It’s the meeting room. If you’re around whoever you’re around, you’re going to reap certain benefits being around them. Just from hearing or learning sonically. That’s how I met a lot of artists, being in the studio. We’re able to just mesh. It wasn’t just Thug, it was Future, T.I. – that’s Atlanta culture. Now that it kinda went away, it just hasn’t been the same.

It’s crazy that A Gift & a Curse was snubbed by the Grammys this year. 

We gotta change the Grammys up. We’re not the first people to get snubbed. With all the success, nobody’s paying attention to that s–t. If you’re hearing “Fukumean” everywhere, that’s all that I cared about. 

Let’s get into your solo album coming up. Was “Bachelor” the first single?

Yeah, that was the first single. I’ma drop another single. I’m trying to figure out what song I want to use. That’s gonna be the introduction to my album.

What’s the difference in the creative process compared to being a producer rather when it’s your own album?

As a producer, you have an opportunity to flex your creativity. When I’m working with certain artists, I’m coming into whatever world they’re trying to portray to the outside world. As a producer, I feel like I can make my own story. I’m not really gonna make it about me. I’m gonna make it about having fun. With my album, it’s been a long time coming. I been recording for years and trying to get the right situation and make sure everything is aligned and I’m happy with it because I just don’t wanna do anything, especially at a time when anybody’s doing everything.

The “Bachelor” single is Gunna – that’s a no-brainer. My next single might be Gunna, it might be not. I work a lot with Roddy Ricch, I work a lot with Rob49. Those are my guys. I been so focused on Gunna’s album, and I’m also doing another project with SleazyWorldGo. I been tied down with these two different things so I haven’t focused on my s–t since January. I think that’s what I want to portray. How can I get Stevie Wonder and Future on a song? As a producer, I could do that. That’s something that the world has never experienced. That’s where I’m trying to flex my creativity, and bring my friends in and put something out that’s never been put out.

Have you seen other producers dropping their own albums, like Metro Boomin, where they’ve had moments doing it?

Yeah, I feel like other producers have been trying. Metro put up big points for the producer world. I was talking to Timbaland, and that’s how he felt. To hear an OG say that, I thought that was pretty dope — like, this is real. It’s an easier conversation when we’re talking about doing these collaborations. A lot of people just wanna stay stuck in their world and might not wanna listen to producers. It’s always work for me. I can also say my success is a reason why you should listen, and Metro’s success is a reason you should listen.

So you’re doing Sleazy’s project too?

I’m executive producing Sleazy’s debut album. It’s a co-branded album. We’re about 80 percent done with it. We’re doing a lot of the media stuff right now. We’re gonna drop a few singles in the coming months. I’m super excited about it. His story is like next-level. That’s why I decided to f–k with him. People don’t know his story, and all the stuff he went through, to be so young. He’s keeping up with me in the studio and doing 100 songs. That’s something I always love. We probably got 20 or 30 songs recorded. It’s about tightening up everything. He’s adamant about how he likes things and how he wants to portray his music to the world. 

What have you noticed about the sound of hip-hop and how it’s changed from the mid-2010s to now?

A lot of the younger guys are doing things that are super fun and I’m here for it. Even some of the younger producers that are doing the craziest drum patterns. I don’t even know how they’re doing it, but I’m here for it. Whatever pushes this thing of music I love, I’m here for it.

I’m doing country records right now. Huge records. I don’t feel there’s any limits. I think TikTok and the internet brought that. In five years, I don’t know, we gonna be on some Matrix s–t. AI is crazy right now. Who knows? I was just in the studio with Teddy Swims last month – we did some crazy s–t. 

Who else are you working with this year?

I go some Moneybagg [Yo] and Morgan Wallen stuff coming out soon. A lot of country artists. Charlieonafriday, we just did something a couple of weeks ago. Gunna, myself, Sleazy. Me and Roddy [Ricch] have a lot of stuff going on.

Did you work on the leaked “GTA” with Juice WRLD and Gunna?

I got a crazy two or three songs with Juice WRLD and Gunna. He was another great person to do music with, because as a producer I just like a person that’s gonna rap on all of my beats. We did maybe seven songs in a two-day span. [Ed. note: Management confirmed that he did work on “GTA.”]

Is there anyone left you want to work with in the future?

I’d love to get in the studio with Stevie Wonder, Killer Mike, Andre 3000. Just to talk to these guys and sit and see what we come up with. When I get that type of question, I don’t think of anybody else other than the greats.

You said you went out to Hawaii for the ASTROWORLD sessions for Travis Scott. Have you done anything like that since as far as a creative camp?

Last year, in December, I actually spent the month in Hawaii. That was life-changing. I flew all my Playmakers producers out there. We made music and golfed. Hitting golf balls into the ocean and s–t. I had the ocean in my backyard. I was hitting balls into the ocean and vibing out.

Hawaii, I’ma retire there. That was life-changing and I did it because of Travis. I remember how great those sessions were. We did stuff here and there but a lot of times I see him it’s out. We haven’t done anything worth talking about. 

Is there any update on the lawsuit over your producer tag from earlier this year?

I don’t want to talk about that s–t, man. It comes with the growth I guess.

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