With his contribution (“1+1”) to Beyoncé’s chart-topping album 4, and his own record label, Red Zone Records, and facing an imminent launch (with Island Def Jam), life is pretty good for superproducer Christopher “Tricky” Stewart. The man responsible for helping craft hits like Rihanna’s “Umbrella,” Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” and Justin Bieber’s “Baby” called in to BET.com to talk about working with Queen Bey and his buzzworthy new artist Frank Ocean, but he was mum on rumors he was in the running to take L.A. Reid's old job at Def Jam.
BET.com: People seem to be really embracing 4. How was it working with Beyoncé this time?
Tricky Stewart: Working with Beyoncé is always great because a lot of times when you work with artists you don’t know, they have other things going on or they have their attention on this, that or the other thing. But when you’re working with B, she’s always all about the music, hyper-focused, never rushed—everyone is just committed to finding that excellence. With an artist of that caliber, its great knowing that you have someone who’s really gonna rock with you.
BET.com: Besides “1+1,” what’s your favorite song on the album?
TS: Probably “Love on Top.” And “Party.” I love those two joints. Are you insinuating that I would have selected my own song? [laughs].
BET.com: What’s going on with The-Dream’s album? Is it finished?
TS: The-Dream’s album is sounding really good. He’s producing this one himself with a couple of other producers, but we were hanging out last Saturday and he played me some tracks from it. We have one song on there that we did together called “Rock Your Body,” which is real crazy. But everything I’ve heard is sounding really nice.
BET.com: How has it been working with Frank Ocean since the Odd Future explosion?
TS: Frank is just so creative, man. It’s very refreshing to be able to work with an artist like that. You know, when you’re breaking an artist it can be key for them to achieve their own sort of notoriety. At this point with Frank, he’s earned a tremendous amount of respect. He doesn’t have to play anyone else’s game anymore. What he did on Nostalgia, Ultra, which he put out as a mixtape, was phenomenal. So I think [the exposure] has really enabled him to strengthen his identity.
BET.com: Tell me about your new artist Ulrika. When will we hear from her in the States?
TS: Well we have three artists at Red Zone that we’re hoping to put out from 2011-2012. The first is obviously Frank Ocean, and then Ulrika, and then we have a new artist called Bryan J, who’s touring the Southeast right now. We’re gonna put out a mixtape from him soon. Mixtapes are the way to go now.
BET.com: What did you think of The Weeknd’s last project?
TS: I liked it. I like the fusion of sounds that are a little more artsy and eclectic. I’m interested that he’s making music that seems not to be driven by radio at all. I’m enjoying it a lot.
BET.com: Anyone else who you’ve been enjoying listening to?
TS: Beyoncé and Adele. And Wiz Khalifa. I’m late to that party, but his stuff is really cool. And I’ve been digging Chris Brown a lot, too. I think he made an awesome album. It’s a really, really awesome album.
BET.com: And what’s on deck? What other artists will we see you working with in the near future?
TS: I’m working with Mary J. Blige, Kelly Rowland, Melanie Fiona. I’m also working on a film called The Lorax that I did the score for with a composer named John Powell, so there’s a lot of stuff. We’ve just been having a ton of fun making some really great music, which is a blessing.
BET.com: Since L.A. Reid left Def Jam, there’s been a big vacancy at the company. Your name has come up as a possible replacement. Have you been in talks with anyone about that?
TS: No. No comment on that.
BET.com: Will you be tuning in to watch him on X-Factor?
TS: No doubt. L.A. Reid is a great friend of mine and I’m really close to some of the people on that panel, so I’ll definitely be supporting my friends.
(Photos from left: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images, Island Def Jam )