Published Mar 31, 2020Being a Toronto producer has a ring to it in boardrooms today, but ten years ago, it was all about pushing a few dollars into a dream.
"My first big placement was 'Pesos' by Machine Gun Kelly, Meek Mill and Pusha T," Markham-raised producer Andrew "Burd" Liburd says proudly, sitting in his intimate home studio.
"I love that story, because it was summertime and I was making beats every day, staying inside and getting frustrated. I had $900 to my name and felt like I needed to take a trip, because people like Kardi [Kardinal Offishall] would tell me, 'Yo, you're not gonna get to where you want to be staying your ass in Canada.'"
Liburd, who still records under the partnership name Burd & Keyz, which he established with childhood friend Durty Keyz, booked a discounted flight to Atlanta through a friend and started to network. Two weeks later, his beats landed in the hands of Machine Gun Kelly's team.
"At this time, MGK was opening for MMG [Rick Ross's label]. All I heard was that [they] got Meek's verse next at his trailer, and then they wanted Pusha T on it. Somehow they lined it up and got it done. It was supposed to have Diddy and Big Sean on it, too, but I was happy with those three. Like what? That's my first track?" he grins.
The celebration was a far different reality than three years earlier, when Burd faced a devastating blow in 2010 — the loss of his producing partner Durty Keyz, who died from streptococcus at age 23.
"There are pictures of us from grade one together. I was using FruityLoops and he was using Fruity Loops, but we never talked about it. One day, it was a Friday night, and we just finished playing basketball or something, and I asked what he was gonna do. He said, 'I don't know, I'm probably gonna go home and make some beats,' and I was like, 'What?!'"
The high schoolers would start producing together and sharing music over MSN Messenger. Burd tells the story of how he first acquired FruityLoops, a program he still swears by today. It involved stealing his mom's car, unbeknownst to her, and acquiring a cracked copy of the program, which, of course, he gleefully says "was worth it."
"When I got FL and saw the stock sounds, I thought 'this kinda sucks,' so I did what our forebears of producing were doing — chopping kicks and snares out of other beats and make my own little drum packs until I started finding better packs out there," he says.
Describing his music as "bouncy, soulful, polished," Burd mimics that environment in his studio. Playful in nature, but carefully crafted.
"I try to put stuff around me that makes me happy. My wife got me the Nanoleaf [LED light fixture]; we went to a modern art deco event and they had a booth and she got it for me for Christmas."
Also hanging are sports "figurines" still in their boxes, and framed Basquiat and Alec Monopoly prints. And then Burd points to his extensive bobblehead collection.
Burd lines his work table with the Raptors' Championship team, while the rest of the 30-piece collection, all past and present Raptors players, live in a Nike shoebox close by.
"The shrine gives good energy and makes me smile. The acquisition of each bobblehead was an adventure in itself, so each one has a unique story. Some of them I had to buy off Kijiji, some of them I had gone to the game [to get], some of them people gave to me — every one of them has a story. I have a pretty good collection, I can't lie. I've been collecting them since [the Raptors] were super shit, like when I was in university. Back when Kobe was scoring like 81 points on us, those days," he laughs.
Today, Burd & Keyz and the Raptors walk the same road, in the sense that their victories have, and always will be, for the love of Toronto.
"There's a Jamaican saying that's like, 'Learn fi dance a yaad before yuh dance abraad.' It's like, you gotta be rocking in your city first before you're rocking elsewhere," he explains.
"Something I've always tried to do within my career is not only just chase American dudes, but work with Canadian guys as well and work within their budgets. I just want to make dope music, and if we make money off it, we make money off of it and if we don't, it's still great music."