Nicki Minaj ‘Young Forever': Kelly Sheehan Speaks on Writing Rapper’s New Song — Exclusive
A few months ago, songwriter Kelly Sheehan had the shock of her life while nursing a broken foot. Before she could lament over the injury, she was called to participate in the creation of a song for Nicki Minaj. The track turned out to be "Young Forever," featured on the rapper's recently released sophomore LP, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded.
"I was on all kind of painkillers," Sheehan tells The Boombox when she got the call to hit the studio in Los Angeles. "I didn't even know what was going on and then I got there and it was like, 'OK, this is what we're doing.'"
The 29-year-old is currently signed to beatmaker Dr. Luke's production company -- he's the man behind hits like Kelly Clarkson's "My Life Would Suck Without You" and Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl." As a part of the team, Sheehan has been given new work opportunities at every turn, however, when Luke called this time, she had no idea what was coming.
Listen to Nicki Minaj's "Young Forever," Written by Songwriter Kelly Sheehan
"I knew Nicki was in the studio," Sheehan recalls. "But I didn't know if we'd be working directly with her or if I was just gonna be writing for her and giving her ideas."
To Sheehan's surprise, the Queens-based Barbie was ready to build the album cut right alongside her. Minaj had already chosen the beat without the lyrics and all that was left was Sheehan's special songwriting skills.
"I just started doing melodies on the hook and coming up with some general ideas," she states. "We played it for Nicki and she loved it. Then me and Nicki ended up going in the room and wrote the record together. All the ideas were pretty much done on-the-spot. Pretty fresh."
Sheehan says she witnessed the Young Money rhymer's dedication and thorough work ethic firsthand. "As animated as she is in her videos, the character that she's in, she's in it all the time," Sheehan shares. "She's in the vocal booth making the same facial expressions and hand gestures. She's just so committed to the character she plays all the time. It's amazing."
"She's kind of like a kid in the studio. She's so excited and so passionate," she continues, "We were bouncing ideas back and forth constantly for awhile. We had three other concepts before landing on 'Young Forever.' When we finally hit that one, we were like, 'This is it!' The song just sort of wrote itself after that."
Although the experience was a productive one, the song was only partially complete by the time Nicki left for New York. Sheehan didn't actually hear the final version of "Young Forever" until the Roman Reloaded album leaked a few weeks ago. She was floored by what she heard.
"You never know what it's gonna be like with a big artist -- whether they're gonna meet your expectations or be a total letdown but she was... everything you'd think she is," Sheehan admits. "When I heard it I was just like, 'Wow! That really is a special record.'"
As Nicki's sophomore effort gains traction, Kelly Sheehan is earning notable attention and her work schedule is reflective of that. She has tracks coming with Shakira, Kylie Minogue and Ke$ha. She's also putting in time with a number of electro and house DJs including Tommy Trash and Wolfgang Gardner.
"I'm just doing everything I can with Dr. Luke and his whole team," she reveals. "We all have full plates."
Watch Nicki Minaj's "Did It on 'Em" Video