Turning A Social Media Star Into A Chart-Topping Rapper

We all remember the iconic Dr. Phil moment turned internet sensation of “Cash me outside, how bout dah” (just this one video of the moment has over 12 million views on YouTube). Memes were created, a catchphrase was born, and 14-year-old Danielle Bregoli was launched into stardom. Looking to capitalize on new-found fame, Bregoli decided to launch her music career, going by her stage name Bhad Bhabie, and become a rapper. 

It was an extraordinary challenge taken on by Warner Music in 2017. Bregoli had never stepped foot into a recording studio before the making of her first single “Hi Bich” and therefore needed to be surrounded by a team of the most seasoned and talented professionals to turn such an ambitious project into an international success. Enter Thierry Chaunay.

Chaunay is an industry-leading sound designer and vocal producer in his home country of Switzerland and around the world. He has worked with the likes of Phil Collins, Coldplay, XXXTentacion, YoungBoy Never Broke Again, and so many more, receiving RIAA awards, certifications and maintaining a Billboard charts presence. When Warner Music approached him to take on Bhad Bhabie’s debut album, he was immediately drawn to it, hopeful that he could help her become the next big thing.

“The concept of this new and young female rapper was rather interesting to me and the choices of words and music was drawing an image that I liked and fitted well with how people see her. She is not afraid and is rather provocative. I liked the challenge of making her sound pro despite her lack of experience at the time. The chosen instrumentals are high end and have an impact on the listener because they hit hard and also fit well with her image,” says Chaunay. 

Chaunay worked on the whole album as vocal producer, recording and mixing engineer. He helped shape the sonic identity with the songwriter Brittany Barber and the many producers involved. He had his work cut out for him, as he had to implement some advanced vocal production techniques in order to have Bhad Bhabie sound like a professional rapper. They did many short sessions, which made it easier for her to stay focused but also harder for Chaunay to piece it all together. It was difficult to come back on a different day and find the same energy in the voice that she had the day before. He took it easy with her, trying to keep her relaxed, but he could tell she was getting frustrated, especially in the beginning. This required a lot of attention to her and a lot of patience. Each session in the studio required a different outlook to get the best possible vocal results.

A lot of work was put into the album, and Chaunay worked tirelessly to ensure everything sounded perfect and in relation with her image. Her tone and delivery needed to be controlled and required a great deal of attention and fixing. He therefore put together her vocals by keeping an intonation that would reflect the person she is without being too conceited.

“It was important to understand her sonic identity and make the right decisions to help bring this project to life. I like to talk about sonic identity. It’s like, what kind of clothes is your favorite artist wearing on stage or in a photo shoot, is it fashionable? That affects what kind of tone the album is made of. Does it compete with what’s popping right now in the same music genre? These are questions that need to be asked,” he says.

Bhad Bhabie released her debut album “15” in September of 2018. The album received RIAA gold certification. It includes singles “Hi Bich” and “Gucci Flip Flops”. Hi Bich” received 174 million views (on YouTube), 74 million plays on Spotify, and 18 million plays on SoundCloud. Her second single, “Gucci Flip Flops” was equally as successful, receiving 134 million views, 126 million plays on Spotify and 32 million on SoundCloud”. “Hi Bich” received RIAA gold award with over 500,000 copies sold just in the USA and “Gucci Flip Flops” received RIAA platinum award with over 1 million copies sold. None of this could have been possible without Chaunay’s dedicated approach to the album, and he is so proud of what he and Bhad Bhabie achieved.

“Bhad Bhabie is the youngest female rapper to ever make it to Billboard Hot 100 and this tells you that her music is not only appreciated but she is seen as an iconic artist by music professionals and fans. Again, it’s important to understand the artist’s image and identity and how they like to work in order to set the best sound and be productive together,” he concludes.

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