Even Grammy-winning artists must occasionally remind their audiences of who they are and what they do. Mustard’s latest “allow me to reintroduce myself” moment achieved exactly that.

The Los Angeles native created the track for Kendrick Lamar’s recent massive hit, the Drake-slaying “Not Like Us.” The 34-year-old beatmaker’s career has been littered with highlights, allowing him to position himself as the face of the California sound wave in the 2010s. Producing singles 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 was giving the entire industry the sauce, and his tagline “Mustard on the beat, h” was heard everywhere hip-hop was played.

He founded his record label, 10 Summers, in 2015 and later signed upcoming R&B artist Ella Mai. After winning a Grammy for Best R&B Song in 2019 for producing Mai’s hit single “Boo’d Up,” Mustard received another nomination in the Best Rap/Sung Performance category for his 2019 single “Ballin” featuring Roddy Ricch.

READ MORE: After Just 24 Hours, Kendrick Lamar’s “Not Like Us” Video Is Approaching 20 Million Views On YouTube, Far Behind Record Holders Taylor Swift And K-Pop

However, Mustard’s work has been significantly absent from the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart since Roddy Ricch’s “Late at Night” hit at No. 21 in 2021. Mustard’s absence has been marked by difficult circumstances, including a highly public divorce from his ex-wife, Chanel Thierry, the mother of his three children, in 2022, as well as the deaths of his grandparents at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. As these situations strained Mustard’s faith, he was discreetly plotting his comeback by working on his upcoming fifth studio album, Faith of a Mustard Seed. Travis Scott, Young Thug, Roddy Ricch, Ty Dolla $ign, Ella Mai, and others contribute to the project, which will be released on July 26. It combines spiritual elements with summer bangers and R&B vibes.

This past May, in a stroke of heavenly timing, Kendrick Lamar used a Mustard beat for the omnipresent Drake diss-turned-West Coast song, “Not Like Us.” The song earned Mustard his long-awaited first Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 smash. His second wind was activated.
Mustard, born Dijon McFarlane, spoke openly with XXL on Zoom in early June about his hiatus, a public divorce, his comeback to the spotlight through a big collaboration, and his new album.

Mustard: Yeah, I’ve been quietly working on the next cycle of content that I’ve been curating for the past few years.

How does it feel to be the man of the hour again?

It feels the same, I suppose. [“Not Like Us”] is the most successful song I’ve ever had. But the impact and how it feels, like [I’m] part of history, and the fact that it’s with someone I’ve wanted to work with for years, I believe it’s the right time for me.

Do you feel like you’ve been written off at any point in the last few years?

I don’t think supporters have written me off. I’ve never heard somebody say, “Oh, you fell off.” But I believe that the firms I’ve worked for and the people I’ve known have either counted me out or predicted my failure. However, this is expected as part of the whole process.

You’re expecting a daughter, your fourth child. How does it feel?

It feels good, guy. I am as joyful as I have ever been.

You’ve also been on a weight loss journey. Has this helped you get into a better space as well?

I’ve been fluctuating here and there, you know, with everything going on, but I’m absolutely working out every day. I play a lot of tennis.

How did you get into tennis?

I believe Ella Mai was playing tennis. Ella, my manager, is his wife. I went to play with them one day and didn’t stop.

Is it simply because you enjoy the sport and want to stay fit, or will you be competing in amateur contests or something similar?

I might enter some amateur competitions. I’m trying to take it as far as I can. Music is only one component of my existence.

Musically, you and Kendrick have the West Coast sound going right now. What is your take on the present situation of West Coast hip-hop?

I mean, sh*t, I believe we’re in good shape. I believe that what we did and how popular that song was showed everyone that it was okay to be from the West Coast again. I would think that many people will now strive to emulate the West Coast [sound], which is a positive thing. I believe this single-handedly made everyone want to be here.

“Not Like Us” is one of the most popular records in the world right now. How does it feel to finally have that No. 1 under your belt?

I feel as if I’m just living in it right now. I’ve had big records in the past, but none have had as much influence. So, it’s an indescribable sensation.

Do you feel validated by this?

I never seek validation from anyone in the music industry. But, do I feel accomplished? Yeah. I am quite pleased with what this accomplished. And I believe it should make others respect who I am.

How did this album come together?

I created that beat for my manager’s birthday [April 6]. I sent [Kendrick] about three [beats] that day. He simply hearted it. I didn’t hear it till [the song] was out.

How did you respond when you heard the song?

When I heard that, I was on the interstate, and my manager immediately smacked me with, “Mustard on the Beat.” Like, “Text me now.” I’m like, “What are you talking about?” I got a couple more texts from individuals saying, “Mustard on the Beat, Mustard on the Beat.”

These are folks I spend a lot of time with, so I’m like, “What the f**k is everybody…” and then I contact my boss. I am like, “What did I miss? “What is going on?” And he says, “Man, go to YouTube right now.” It’s out. I am like, “What?” He’s like, “Dot just released a song. “It is your beat.”

I am like, “For real?” I go, listen, and I’m like, Whoa! I started going insane. I had a fking Vegas concert that night, so I played it all the way to the fking plane, arrived in Vegas, and played it that night. It was wild, man. That is some insane sh*t.

Most of the time, the general public has no idea who made the diss track rhythms, yet you’re a part of this historic feud. How does it feel to be a part of this historical situation?

That, I believe, is where faith comes in. Believe in yourself and know that something will come for you one day.

Your upcoming CD is titled Faith of a Mustard Seed. Obviously, it has religious connotations. Why did you choose to use that as the title?

When I first started this album, when I was working on “Perfect Ten,” [Nipsey Hussle] suggested that I name one of my albums Faith of a Mustard Seed. When I first started composing this album, it felt almost vibey. You have R&B records. You have the album I made with Ty [Dolla $ign] and Charlie Wilson for my mother, “A Song for Mom.” And I started to notice that the records were becoming more soulful in tone. It just reminded me of my childhood and different regions of Los Angeles.

That’s when I realized, “You know what? This is supposed to be called Faith of a Mustard Seed.” I went back and thought about my life, and it struck a chord with me more than any other title I could think of at the moment, and it seemed to suit perfectly.

You’re rapping for the first time on the single “Pray for Me,” which is quite honest. What prompted you want to include anything like that on your album?

I used to say that I’d never rap on a song. I’m not sure, but I felt like no one had heard my side of any tale. But I felt that now was the time to tell everyone where I’d been for the past five years. I’ve always wanted to talk about something that was real to me, and that, even if you didn’t like the rap, you could tell he was talking some real sh*t, that it was honest and vulnerable.

On the track, you even briefly mention your recent divorce. How difficult was it to go through in such a public setting?

What I’ve learnt about this whole process is that you outgrow people, and that’s okay. It’s okay to move on.

You also mentioned your grandparents dying from Covid. How did this effect your music?

For me, there are both positive and negative aspects to Covid. We lost so many individuals, including both of my grandparents, to Covid. I had the opportunity to discover who I truly was, what my purpose on this Earth was, and what I wanted to do. And that made me feel like, OK, guy, I can do whatever I set my mind to, which is also a major theme in Mustard Seed.
About three months ago, I was thinking, “Man, how am I going to get back hot?” What should I do to make everyone aware that I’m back? And then you get the song with me and Kendrick, and it’s like, “Oh, it’s God, it’s faith.” I couldn’t believe how much this album related to my life over the last five years.

What is your goal for this project? It appears to be deeper than rap.

I really take great delight in attempting to create music that will last. I believe that every song on this album expresses a sentiment, whether it makes you joyful or sad. You get chills, whatever; it’s a feeling.

I feel as if the emotion in the music has vanished. Even with the diss tunes that Drake and Kendrick released, both of them almost just gave you a sensation that made you go, Wow. Kendrick made you feel as if you were driving down Crenshaw or cruising through Compton. Everyone is Crip walking. I believe that’s where I want music to go when people care. My ultimate goal is to create music that people will want to listen to 20 years from now.

Following this, you’ve most likely received more requests for Mustard-style tracks.

Yes, that bit is not shocking. I remember talking to Timbaland a long time ago, and he said, “You can’t be hot forever.” And at the time, I had maybe ten songs on the Hot 100. I’m like, “What are you talking about?” There’s no way. I can be hot as long as I produce hot rhythms.” He responds: “Well, people are not going to like those beats that long, you know, you’re going to have waves.”

And I didn’t understand it till a few years ago. Okay, I understand. It makes sense. It’s as if you’re not going to be the hottest, or you need to take a break. You have to, you know? I believe that is what it has showed me over the previous five years.