Francis Nguyen Tran a.k.a. FrancisGotHeat, never thought he could make it big. At the age of 13, he made his first beat and discovered he had some sort of talent. Quickly, he started to take producing seriously. Achieving success became the goal. “I’ve seen videos of people making it big and was like ‘oh this is a real career?’ wow.”
His talents caught the ears of rapper/producer Rich Kidd as well as Ricki Bekzadeh, and they led Francis to Toronto’s revered Remix Project, a non-profit organization and platform for young creatives in the city. There he continued to make beats and learned how to collaborate with others.
The next step: entering Toronto’s well-known producer competition, Battle of the Beat Makers. He didn’t make it the first year, but the second time around, at age 15, he made the cut. At the 2012 Battle of the Beat Makers Francis made it to the quarter-finals where he went up against fellow Remix Project participant WondaGurl, also 15 at the time. He lost, but the battle was the beginning of a winning career that led to production credits for the likes of Drake, Big Sean, Bryson Tiller, Roy Wood$ and Anders. To date, according to his Twitter, he has over 500,000,000 Spotify streams on songs he’s worked on.
“I am not the type of person to let things deteriorate me,” he says of his battle with WondaGurl. “I don’t get mad, I just keep going.”
Though Francis started in the game young, he remained extremely motivated. Producing was something that just clicked, and he dedicated himself by perfecting his craft and using certain elements in his beats to distinguish himself from others.
“I try to use a lot of classic sounds. Different types of keyboards or electric pianos and pianos. I try to throw in string instruments, violins, guitars or electric bass,” he shares.
Each of his beats comes to be from unique inspiration. But rather than name his beats, he keeps track of them through date stamps, which triggers his memory a little better. “I realized whenever I went back to listen to the beat, I remembered what exactly I did that day and what inspired that beat.”
I’m not the type of person to let things deteriorate me. I don’t get mad, I just keep going.
Francis may be known for his talent, but his attitude precedes him. He doesn’t let the accolades get to his head, he remains humble, focused. When asked how he is redefining the game, he chooses his words wisely: “I wouldn’t say I am redefining the game just yet but trying to bring back musicality to the music and the game in general.”
Along his journey came many challenges. But whether it’s been questioning his big break or convincing his immigrant parents about his unconventional career path, he made it happen.
In 2018, while working and following his dreams, he got a chance to go back to where it all started, Battle of the Beat Makers – this time as a guest judge and a guest speaker facilitating a beat deconstruction workshop. “If feels good to be back,” he says, following his workshop. “Being back as a judge is the most rewarding experience.”
After accomplishing many firsts, Francis continues to work and progress in the studio, but three major highlights from his career stand out amongst the rest. “So far for me, it’s definitely me getting my first plaque, getting my first placement and my first flight.”
Photos © Isa Miguel Ransome & Urbanology Magazine
This is one in a series of stories highlighting and celebrating beat makers and producers leading up to Battle of the Beat Makers 2019, taking place in Toronto August 29 to 31.
For tickets and more information, visit BattleOfTheBeatMakers.com.