AUBURN — Jordan Tabone believes he could make it as a music producer within two years. But it could happen sooner than that. It could be one year, one week. It could be tomorrow.
After all, what brought Tabone to the verge of breaking out was a few guitar notes. That melody became the hook on "Desert," the latest single by Italian-American hip-hop star Sick Luke.
So Tabone, who produces under the name Hund0, could mint his next hit at any time. And that's what he loves about music.
"Every day you wake up, you don't know what you're going to make," he said Thursday. "And that could change your life, what you make in that day."
For every golden melody like "Desert," however, Tabone makes hundreds that might not go anywhere. But he's been committed to the hustle of music production since he was a student at Auburn High School. Using the program Mixcraft, Tabone would play with random sounds, run them through effects and create loops of pop and R&B chords.
"He liked the rap music," said Tabone's mother, Christina. "I'd be driving and we'd always argue about the radio station."
Tabone, who graduated from Auburn High in 2014 and Cayuga Community College in 2016, eventually realized that it'd be helpful to learn piano. He did so despite not having played any instruments beforehand. Now he uses a Rhodes piano and the program FL Studio to make music whenever he's not working at Sysco in Syracuse, he said.
Ideas come to Tabone at all times of the day, he said, but he makes his best material when he wakes up and when he's most focused on being productive. He also sticks to his strength — melodies — so he doesn't waste time adding drum tracks that artists will probably discard. Instead, he tinkers with his melodies relentlessly to get them right, he said.
"It's endless what you can do," he said. "There's so many hidden frequencies and sounds that, if you're not on the right monitors, you could take it to your phone and it'll sound completely different."
What distinguishes his melodies from those of other producers, Tabone said, is his use of studio effects. That's his "sauce," his intangible, the thing that makes his sound his.
And that sauce drips from the delicate reverse guitar notes on "Desert." He first used Instagram to reach out to Sick Luke, a producer and rapper with more than 550,000 followers on the platform and Drake levels of fame in Italy, Tabone said. After not hearing back, he connected with artist Young Plug by offering him some of the vintage clothing Tabone sells on the side. They met in New York City, where Young Plug provided Sick Luke's email address. Tabone then sent the star a pack of 10 to 15 melodies. The last of them would become "Desert."
Tabone's co-producing credit on the song, which has more than 180,000 views on YouTube, opens several doors for him, he said. In addition to the royalties he's receiving, Tabone is seeing his Instagram audience rise and his network of potential collaborators expand. He played Sick Luke another 30 melodies in Las Vegas last week, when Tabone met him in person for the first time.
"What Jordan's really good at is building relationships," said his father, Lou. "He's never been afraid to talk to adults or work with other people. Even when he was 5 or 6, he was totally fearless."
Tabone also recently produced a song on an album by Staten Island rapper Squidnice, and has one coming out with 6ix9ine affiliate TrifeDrew, he said. He made those connections through his friend Damma Beatz, a fellow producer in New York City, whom Tabone FaceTimes every day and sends melodies for feedback.
As his credits pile up, Tabone hopes to record his first platinum song and debut on the Billboard charts soon, he said. If he does quit his job to make music full-time, he'd likely move to Los Angeles because that's where the most opportunities are, he said. But what won't change, Tabone continued, is his work ethic.
"There are so many people out there willing to take your spot, willing to work twice as hard," he said.
WATCH: Sick Luke, "Desert"