Harlem-based producer Crystal Caines has always been the master of her own fate. Raised in a musical household by Guyanese parents, she began making her own music around 16 years old. She started out just wanting to sing, then began to rap, but wasn’t getting the sound she wanted from producers she knew, so she started to make her own beats. A friend gave her a keyboard and she taught herself how to record, mix and produce. “From then on it was a blessing for me to be able to take what I felt here and put it on wax.”
Caines released her first single, “Whiteline,” in 2014 and went on to collaborate with A$AP Ferg, MIA and Baauer. Inspired by everyone from Trackmasters to the Neptunes, she crafted a sound thick with 808s and sample-based melodies driven by closed hi-hats. “Everything gotta hit.”
In 2016 she produced two songs for fellow Harlemite Smoke DZA, “Hands of Time” and “Rugby.” The latter was a collaboration with her friend Infamous Irv that featured a smooth sample of “4 Play” by 1990’s R&B girl group, Y?N-Vee.
“The sample already has a lot of bottom so it was easy to follow…then I added the kick,” she says of how she manipulated the ode to sexual pregaming to make a tribute to DZA’s Ralph Lauren clothing addiction. “I think I did a great job of embodying what he likes to do with Crystal Caines.”