Joseph Prielozny talks creating 116 ‘Amped’ EP, discovering Ariana Grande’s producer & Questlove encounter
Last week, we introduced you to Joseph Prielozny. Here’s an A&R, VP, and producer for Word Records, IVAV, and works with Cobra Music. He’s helped Steven Malcolm and Ty Brasel get to where they’re at, and he’s influenced countless others. He’s also responsible for some of Reach Records’ biggest hits.
His biggest is arguably “All I Need is You,” recorded by Lecrae for the Anomaly album.
“I’m most proud of [it], Grammy consideration. Not my favorite, that would be ‘Fear’,” off the same album. At the Grammy’s Questlove told him he loved the “Fear” track.
Another one of Joseph’s favorites is KB’s “Always and Forever.”
One of the coolest things Prielozny got to be involved with was the making of rap/rock EP Amped by the 116 Clique in 2007. This was the first thing he did for Reach, and at the time, pretty groundbreaking. It only features Lecrae, Trip Lee, Tedashii, and Sho Baraka because that’s all who was there at the time.
“I was friends with Ben Washer and he sent me a recording of ‘Souled Out’ and I remember exactly where I was when I heard the record. I said, ‘Wow this sounds like real Christian music’. He sent me the acapella,” said the A&R. “I had no knowledge of the Linkin Park/Jay Z mix up thing. I grew up playing in a punk band and we wrote terrible songs but would always do rap covers because our friends would come to our shows and they hated our songs.”
At the time, Prielozny was working for another producer but he had some time to mess around with the stems. He then sent it back.
“I got a phone call the next day from a guy named Lecrae, and he said, ‘Man I’ve been so uninspired lately, this is amazing bro. We gotta do a record’. I said, ‘Hey man, I love your stuff but I have zero time to work on this right now. I’m working 16 hours for a producer in Nashville’.”
He continued, “I went from Nashville and visited Lecrae in Memphis. I can’t do an album but I can probably do six songs. It took us forever and it did well from them. We always spoke about doing Amped 2, I don’t know if it would happen but I would love for it to. When KB did Weight & Glory, we did the Amped version of ‘Zone Out’. Sometimes Ben and I will text each other say, ‘Amped 2‘ question mark.”
One of the last things Prielozny did for Reach Records was he help Lecrae create Anomaly. Both of them kind of wanted a refresh on sound, and it definitely shows.
“For the Anomaly record, I was really tired of using the same producers and writers. I love finding new artists and writers and giving them shots. That’s what the A&R does. The craft of an A&R, you have to call it before it’s there,” he explained. “I have a friend in ASCAP Atlanta, I said, ‘Hey, I’m about to start working on this Lecrae record, I want all new people. Can you send out an email blast to the urban community? I want people who haven’t had song placements or people who haven’t had any luck.”
If he remembers correctly, Reach Records engineer Biz and Lecrae joined him in the search. They were in a room for three hours hearing a bunch of rap music that “sounded the same.”
“Then this kid walks in with a Ninja Turtle backpack and he plays me a country song. I was like, ‘Dude, that’s what I want to hear.’ That was Dap, I found him from that meeting and he did the ‘Outsiders’ intro. And he’s done a lot of other stuff for reach since then,” he shared.
“Then an hour and a half later this quiet kid walks in with a backpack. Lecrae would tap his knee when he wanted to move to the next person, and I would say, ‘Thanks, you can go’. But this kid [Scootie] came in and he wouldn’t look you in the eye and he started playing these pop records and I said, ‘Oh my gosh dude. You can be the next Justin Bieber’. We didn’t use him for anything Anomaly but I always emailed him because I thought this kid was amazing.”
He continued, “He’d send me new ideas. Then he sent me this new record called ‘Party in the Hills’. It was my last record at Reach. Everyone knew I was leaving. Andy asked me to stay and finish Uncomfortable with him, so I did.”
The IVAV founder said Andy loved the “Party in the Hills” track, but Uncomfortable was so hip hop sounding that it would have stuck out. So he held on to that one and said if Andy isn’t gonna use it, he’ll give it to Steven Malcolm.
“I started talking to Scootie’s friends. They sent a record called ‘Sidelines’ that almost made Anomaly but instead, it went on Church Clothes 3. That was Mike Foster.”
Those young artists/producers would go on to form the quickly rising pop group Social House. They have worked with Lil Yachty, Ariana Grande, and other big names.
“When I brought them to Nashville, he said, ‘You got me my first placement, I’ll never forget you for that’. I’ve been watching him move and network through L.A., same with Mikey,” Prielozny revealed. “You can hear they were gonna pop. I knew Scootie was gonna be massive one day. They are signed to Scooter Braun and writing records for Ariana Grande. They have other stuff that I can’t say, still friends, still using them and supporting them. They’ve done a ton of records with Ty but none made the album. So we’ll see…”