When Xavier Dotson met Radrick Davis 15-plus years ago, they didn't expect to become professional musicians, let alone one of the most prolific and influential songwriting duos in music history.
"We weren't thinking that we was going to be in the game this long or will people going to look up to us. Or people are going to mimic our style and sound and we would mean so much to the game," Dotson, better known as hip-hop producer Zaytoven, told Red Bull Music recently regarding his partnership with Davis (i.e., the rapper Gucci Mane). "We was just doing music and enjoying what we do."
But Zaytoven and Gucci Mane have meant everything to the game and when the game is pop music that means the songs that Zay has produced have become classics and inspired a new generation of artists across the pop landscape. Last week, Red Bull Music caught up with Zaytoven at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City to talk about five of his biggest beats.
1. Migos – Versace
"I remember waking up in the morning, getting my kids out to school maybe about seven in the morning, then I was just at home. I was making some beats. I maybe made about five beats that morning but Versace was the first beat I made and it just felt special, like this just feels good. I didn't meet Migos till two years later. So this beat had been sitting around for a long time. But when I met Migos and got them over to the house I started pulling beats that I felt like, 'This will be special for y'all. It got the energy that y'all got.' That's how Versace came about."
2. Future – Ooooh
"I'm in the studio – that might have been in the evening – and I just had a couple of guys over at our house, making beats and just using the energy of the people who were in the house. And I was working on beats more with Future. And as soon as I made it, I sent it over to him. 'I'm on the way to the studio,' I told him, 'but I'm sending you the beats before I get there.' So by the time I got to the studio he was already recording to it."
3. OJ da Juiceman – Make The Trap Say Aye, feat Gucci Mane
"Make The Trap Say Aye was something very special because that day we were at my mom's house, we were in the basement and me and Gucci might have started at like seven in the morning. We had done a song called Bricks and that was the first song that we did that day. And the energy was so good that we just kept recording songs. As we were recording songs, he was like, 'Let's call some people over.' I remember calling Waka [Flocka Flame] over there. Day calling Yo Gotti over there. Day calling OJ da Juiceman over there that day. Make The Trap Say Aye might have been like the seventh song we did that day. But just the fact that we did so many special songs that day and the energy was so good, I will always remember. Because I made Make The Trap Say Aye right there on the spot, as we were doing songs. I made it in five to 10 minutes. They rapped on it right then. I never knew the song was going to be as big as it was."
4. Gucci Mane – Bricks
"Bricks was that same exact day. It was the first song we did that day and it really just got the party started. Bricks and Make The Trap Say Aye' go hand in hand because we made them the same day with that same energy. It takes me back to that day right now. I'm visualising it. I remember it just like it was yesterday."
5. Zaytoven – East Atlanta Day, feat Gucci Mane and 21 Savage
"Gucci had called me: 'Zay I'm at the house. Why don't you come over and work on some music with me?' I'm always up for that. With Gucci, it's always instant. Every time we do music, it's never beats that are already made or something premeditated. It's just on the spot. 'Zay, make a beat. I'm going to rap to it.' So as I'm making beats for Gucci, I'm always trying to go back to the day we were just talking about. When I made Bricks, when I made Make The Trap Say Aye, I always want that old feeling back. So when I work with Gucci at the house all the time that's what I'm shooting for. So when I was making East Atlanta Day, I had Bricks in mind. I had Make The Trap Say Aye in mind. I was trying to recapture that and I think we did a good job in doing it."
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