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Interview with Mustard: Comeback, Upcoming Album, and More

More Ready Than Ever
Mustard had the game on lock for a long time, but after spending the last four years dealing with a public divorce, personal tragedy, and discontent from a fickle music industry, the brilliant beatsmith had to find his way back.

Sometimes even Grammy-winning hitmakers have to remind people of who they are and what they do. Mustard’s recent “allow me to reintroduce myself” moment did just that. The Los Angeles native crafted the beat for Kendrick Lamar’s recent monstrous hit, the Drake-slaying “Not Like Us.” The 34-year-old beatmaker’s career has been dotted with highlights, helping him establish himself as the face of the Cali sound wave in the 2010s. Producing tracks like Tyga’s “Rack City,” 2 Chainz’s “I’m Different,” YG’s “Who Do You Love?” and Big Sean’s “I Don’t F**k With You,” Mustard sprinkled his sauce across the entire industry with his catchphrase “Mustard on the beat, h*” echoing everywhere hip-hop played.

In 2015, he launched 10 Summers, his record label, and signed future R&B superstar Ella Mai the following year. Mustard hit a career high in 2019, winning a Grammy for Best R&B Song for his production of Mai’s hit single “Boo’d Up” and receiving another Grammy nomination in the Best Rap/Sung Performance category for his 2019 single “Ballin” featuring Roddy Ricch.

However, Mustard’s presence in the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart has been missing since Roddy Ricch’s “Late at Night” peaked at No. 21 in 2021. This period marked some dark times for him, including a public divorce from his ex-wife, Chanel Thierry, in 2022, and the deaths of his grandparents during the Covid-19 pandemic. Amid these challenges, Mustard was quietly planning his comeback with his fifth studio album, Faith of a Mustard Seed, set for release on July 26. The album blends spiritual overtones with summer bangers and R&B vibes, featuring performances by Travis Scott, Young Thug, Roddy Ricch, Ty Dolla $ign, Ella Mai, and others.

In a stroke of divine timing, Kendrick Lamar used a Mustard beat for the inescapable Drake diss-turned-West Coast anthem, “Not Like Us,” this past May. The track gave Mustard his overdue first Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hit, marking the beginning of his second wind.

In early June, Mustard, born Dijon McFarlane, hopped on Zoom to talk about his hiatus, public divorce, return to the spotlight, and new album.

Mustard has been working on his next round of material for the past few years. He acknowledges that he’s been quietly honing his craft during this period.

Asked how it feels to be the man of the hour again, Mustard says it feels the same, though “Not Like Us” is the biggest song he’s had. He feels like part of history, working with someone he’s admired for years, making it the perfect timing.

Addressing whether he felt counted out in the last few years, Mustard believes his fans never counted him out. However, he feels some companies and people around him might have anticipated his downfall.

When asked about expecting his fourth child, a daughter, Mustard beams with happiness, affirming he’s as joyful as he’s ever been.

On his weight-loss journey, Mustard mentions he’s been fluctuating but remains committed to working out daily and playing tennis. He got into tennis thanks to Ella Mai and his manager’s wife, who played the sport. He’s even considering entering some amateur competitions, emphasizing that music is just a part of his life.

Regarding the current state of West Coast hip-hop, Mustard feels optimistic. He believes the success of “Not Like Us” has shown people it’s okay to rep the West Coast again, triggering a renewed interest in the West Coast sound.

Finally securing that elusive No. 1 spot on the charts with “Not Like Us” feels surreal to Mustard. He describes the impact of the record as inexplicable.

He mentions that he never seeks validation from the music industry. Instead, he feels accomplished and believes the success of “Not Like Us” should make others respect his work.

Recollecting how the record came together, Mustard reveals he made the beat on his manager’s birthday and sent Kendrick three beats that day. Kendrick hearted it, and Mustard didn’t hear it until the song was released.

When asked about his reaction, Mustard describes the overwhelming excitement he felt. The news reached him via a flurry of texts, and upon hearing the song on YouTube, he went crazy, even performing it at his Vegas show that night.

Being part of this epic beef feels like a testament to his faith, according to Mustard. He believes believing in oneself will eventually lead to success.

Named Faith of a Mustard Seed, Mustard’s upcoming album resonates deeply with him, reflecting his life’s journey. Especially inspired by Nipsey Hussle, Mustard feels the title fits perfectly with the album’s soulful undertones.

The track “Pray for Me” on the album marks Mustard’s debut as a rapper. Mustard felt it was the right time to share his story candidly. He wanted to convey his experiences of the past five years honestly and vulnerably.

Speaking about his difficult divorce, Mustard says he’s come to understand that it’s okay to outgrow people and move on.

The passing of his grandparents during Covid significantly affected Mustard. He mentions it gave him time to reflect on his life’s purpose and realize his potential, elements that are deeply embedded in his new album.

Mustard’s goal with this project is to create timeless music that evokes real feelings, whether happiness, sadness, or chills. He hopes his music will be cherished even 20 years from now.

Since the release of “Not Like Us,” Mustard has noticed an influx of requests for his signature beats, though he acknowledges the cyclical nature of success in the industry. A conversation with Timbaland years ago taught him that waves of popularity are inevitable.

With his recent achievements, Mustard is more ready than ever to reclaim his place in the music world.

Source: XXL Magazine