Hit Writer/Producer Alex Da Kid Talks About His Success With Eminem, Rihanna, Imagine Dragons, X Ambassadors And His KIDinaKORNER Label

Alex Da Kid
Alex Da Kid

During the past six years, Alex Da Kid has emerged as a leading hitmaker in pop, hip-hop and rock music. He has co-written & produced hit songs for Eminem & Rihanna, Dr. Dre, Imagine Dragons, X Ambassadors, B.o.B & Hayley Williams, Diddy & Dirty Money, and Lil Wayne & Wiz Khalifa. In addition, his company KIDinaKORNER has become a successful record label, music publisher and creative agency.

Alex Da Kid (whose birth name is Alexander Grant) has co-written & produced nine hit singles which have reached the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This includes the #1 hit “Love the Way You Lie” (Rihanna featuring Eminem), the Top 5 hits “Airplanes” (B.o.B. featuring Hayley Williams of Paramore) and “I Need a Doctor (Dr. Dre featuring Eminem & Skylar Grey), plus the hits “Coming Home” (Diddy & Dirty Money) and “Sucker for Pain” (Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, Imagine Dragons, Logic, Ty Dolla $ign & X Ambassadors) from the Suicide Squad soundtrack.

In addition, Alex Da Kid has had a strong impact in the rock genre. As CEO/Founder of his label KIDinaKORNER, he discovered and signed two of the biggest rock bands of the past few years: Imagine Dragons and X Ambassadors. He also co-wrote & produced their hits “Radioactive” and “Demons” (for Imagine Dragons) and “Renegades” and “Unsteady” (X Ambassadors).

Alex Da Kid has recently released his debut single as an artist, “Not Easy,” featuring X Ambassadors, Elle King & Wiz Khalifa. As a writer/producer, he’s also had cuts with Nicki Minaj, Christina Aguilera, Akon, Swiss Beatz, T.I., Lupe Fiasco, Rock City, Reeve Carney, Bono & The Edge from U2, Cheryl Cole, Slaughterhouse, MGK, Cee Lo Green, 50 Cent, Tinie Tempah, Jamie N Commons, Ludacris, Jason Aldean, Elle King and Michelle Williams.

Last month (January 2017), it was announced that Ales Da Kid has signed a multi-faceted agreement with Universal Music Group. Under the agreement, UMG and KIDinaKORNER will work closely together to develop opportunities that amplify Alex Da Kid’s work as an artist, producer and entrepreneur. In addition, he will have the opportunity to leverage UMG’s record labels to maximize the success of his creative projects.

Based in Los Angeles, KIDinaKORNER combines a record label, music publisher, creative agency and production company all under one roof. It also partners with major brands to build marketing campaigns centered around music.

We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Alex Da Kid. He tells how he got started, and how he co-wrote & produced a wide range of hits. He also discusses his company KIDinaKORNER, and his work with Imagine Dragons and X Ambassadors.

DK: I read that you’re from London. How did you get started with music, and start writing and producing?

Alex Da Kid: I grew up in a family that loved music, myself included, but nobody made it. Then one day, a friend gave me a computer program called Fruity Loops, and I became absolutely obsessed. I fell in love with making drum patterns, playing instruments, and putting the whole thing together. And I would just do it for hours and hours on end. That ability, that creative freedom, it changed my life forever.

Here’s the video of Alex Da Kid’s debut single “Not Easy,” featuring
X Ambassadors, Elle King & Wiz Khalifa.

DK: What was your first big break in the music business? Was it writing & producing the hit “Airplanes” for B.o.B & Hayley Williams?

Alex Da Kid: Yeah, “Airplanes” was my first hit record on the charts. While at university in England, I starting coming to New York when I had time in between school. On one of those trips, I met Andrew Luftman who was a young A&R at Atlantic Records, and he gave me a song that these college kids wrote. I didn’t love the song, but the hook was interesting. So I kept that hook, wrote a new track, and Atlantic got Hayley Williams from Paramore to record the hook. Meanwhile B.o.B. had just done “Nothin’ On You” with Bruno Mars, so he was starting to blow up and needed a second single. Craig Kallman (Chairman & CEO of Atlantic) loved the song, he presented it to B.o.B, and that’s how it got done. Eminem (was featured) on the remix, and that’s kinda part of how I started working with him.

DK: “Love the Way You Lie” was a great hit. How did you co-write this song, and get together with Rihanna and Eminem?

Alex Da Kid: An A&R (exec) at Shady Records, Riggs (Rigo Morales), tipped me off that Eminem wanted to go in a completely different direction on “Recovery,” and that included working with outside producers. So I just started sending him loads of tracks, things that sounded like a total departure from what he’d done before. One of those tracks was “Love the Way You Lie.” Eminem and I ended up recording it within a couple of weeks. We knew we wanted Rihanna on it, but getting her felt like a longshot because she was on tour and the rest of “Recovery” was already being mastered. Fortunately, she liked the song and did the vocals from Dublin. Two weeks after the song came out, Rihanna was performing at the Staples Center (in Los Angeles), and everyone was there—the press, the industry gatekeepers. Eminem made a surprise appearance, and the place went crazy, and that’s really what pushed it to the next level, and it eventually became the biggest song of the year.

DK: You had another big hit with “I Need a Doctor” for Dr. Dre featuring Eminem & Skylar Grey. When you’re working with another great producer like Dr. Dre, how do you work together to create the tracks and produce?

Alex Da Kid: Dre was really cool about sticking to being the artist and letting me produce. After we recorded “I Need a Doctor,” Eminem, Dre and I were mixing and I couldn’t get the drums to sound right. Dre was chill. He told us we’d figure it out and gave us some pointers, but never forced the issue. The drums ended up getting there. 🙂

DK: You had another big success, signing Imagine Dragons to your label, and co-writing & producing their hits “Radioactive” and “Demons.” How you discover the group, and co-write their hit songs?

Here’s the video of Imagine Dragon’s big hit “Radioactive,” which was
co-written & produced by Alex Da Kid.

Alex Da Kid: I discovered the group when an assistant compiled all of their tracks for me. I think they’d done two or three EPs by then, and at first I thought it was a bunch of different bands but was really impressed to learn it was all them. I reached out, and we just got into the studio and started writing together. Eventually, just Dan (Reynolds) started coming in, and for about eight months we got into a rhythm of writing 2-3 songs a day. After that I signed them.

DK: I also like the band X Ambassadors and their hits “Renegades” and “Unsteady.” Can you tell me about signing this band, and your co-writing & production with them?

Alex Da Kid: Dan (Reynolds) from Imagine Dragons played me some X Ambassadors songs. I liked their vibe, and their song “Unconsolable” was interesting to me. They were working on a project, and we started writing songs together for it. I signed them after just a couple of weeks, and it took off from there.

DK: Congratulations on your new, multi-faceted agreement with Universal Music Group. Is it a further expansion of your KIDinaKORNER label, music publishing company and creative agency that you’ve had for the past few years?

Alex Da Kid: Yeah, I’m evolving KIDinaKORNER into a new form of music company, and this is one of the elements that makes it unique. The deal with UMG allows me to remain independent while benefitting from the reach and resources of a major record label.

DK: What are some of your latest projects? Can you tell me about the new artists you’ve signed, and your latest cuts as a writer/producer?

Alex Da Kid: This past summer, I put out a couple of big tracks (including the hit “Sucker for Pain”) for the Suicide Squad soundtrack. And in October I made my own artistic debut with a song called “Not Easy”, featuring X Ambassadors, Elle King, and Wiz Khalifa which just entered the top 10 at Billboard. I worked with IBM to help inspire the song, and that allowed me to the release it in a unique way. It’s doing really well and I’m following that up soon with a few more songs that I’m excited about. There’s a lot more to come—more artists, more writers, more music and more ways to rethink the process of being creative both as a creator and as a businessman.

Dale Kawashima is the Head of SongwriterUniverse and a music journalist. He’s also a music publishing exec who has represented the song catalogs of Michael Jackson, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Motown Records.
Dale Kawashima