Legendary Producer Zaytoven Talks Creating ‘Winning’ With His Son Zayskii
You can’t have a conversation about the best producers in the game without mentioning Zaytoven.
Deemed the Father of Trap Music, Zaytoven is best known for his work coming up alongside Gucci Mane, back when Gucci was dominating the rap scene in Atlanta. Soon, he’d produce some of Hip-Hop’s biggest hits such as Migos’ “Versace,” Travis Scott’s “3500,” Future’s “Real Sisters,” Young Dolph’s “Preach”… the list goes on.
Being the plaques and accolades, Zaytoven is an anomaly in the rap game. With his father being a preacher, Zaytoven spent a lot of time in the church growing up, naturally gravitating towards the piano and organ. Beyond his exceptional musical talents, it’s his faith and relationship with God that keeps him humble.
Most recently, Zaytoven unveiled his highly-anticipated new single titled “Winning,” alongside his very own son Zayskii. On January 2nd, Zayskii will be turning 18, and Zaytoven plans to release Zayskii’s project the same day.
TheFoxMagazine spoke with Zaytoven virtually to discuss his new single with his son, what inspires him the most, renaming his barbershop, and more!
You just dropped a song with your son called “Winning,” congratulations. I just interviewed Hit-Boy and his dad Big Hit. It has to feel different in a good way to be able to make art with your blood.
Yeah definitely. First of all it is, a lot of times, you can have kids that don’t even be into the same thing that you into. They could be into something totally different. I remember having my son in the studio with me ever since he was in the walker, when he was in a car seat. I have a studio full of people, but I have him rolling around the studio, just in there while I’m creating music. When you watching him, you gotta work and watch him at the same time.
I remember even when he was younger, he used to rap in the talent shows in school. I never knew when he got to the age he’s at now that he’d be really doing music. But now, he’ll sit and do like any other artist. He’ll come in with him in the studio we got in the house, and he got his own studio too. He’ll still record songs all day long. You know how you can go listen, and be like “okay yeah he trap.” I’m impressed. That’s what made me say okay, now let’s get serious about it.
I love the message behind “Winning,” it’s so empowering.
“Wining” is just what it’s saying. It’s moving in the right direction, moving forward. It’s definitely something positive, we trying to win every day. That’s one of my favorite songs that he’s done. I said this the first one we’re going with. Let’s shoot a video and put it out. That’s what we on.
How was it shooting the music video?
It’s funny to sit back and watch him because I’ve been shooting videos forever. To watch him move and do certain things, of course it’s a joy to watch. Because you’re watching your child like okay, let me see he gets down. He naturally has that swag and hit factor. You can tell that from how he is at school. He’s the most popular. He’s got the gift of having swagger so to watch him on camera was even that much more entertaining.
I saw him in the fur, does he take the swag and the fashion from you?
He got more swag than me! He got it from his mom. She got a whole lot of style, a whole lot of flavor. She know how to dress real good. He gets a little bit from me, of course, he watches his mom a lot. He got his own flavor at the same time.
How old is he?
He turns 18 on January 2nd. That’s when I’m putting his whole album out on the 2nd, I’m throwing him a big birthday party. Yup, 18 years old.
Did you produce the whole album?
I did the whole thing, produced the whole thing. It still makes me feel good that we generations apart, but he’ll still come down here and go through all my beats. Start rapping on all my beats, so that makes me feel good. A lot of times he can use his own stuff or use other people’s stuff, but he’s still like “nah dad, I want to use your music.” That makes me excited in a whole nother way.
The Fox Magazine is all about inspiration. Who or what inspires you the most?
A lot of things, I’m just inspired. My family inspires me. New music, new things, new technology. Just the world moving forward, that’s inspiration enough. I get inspired every time I go to church. I go to church on Sundays and I get inspired all over again for the new week, just after being in church on Sunday. A lot of things inspire me. I’m inspired by everything around me. Going to the gym in the morning inspires me.
Who you bumping at the gym lately?
I don’t even listen to music at the gym. I can’t really listen to music while I’m working out, then I work out with a trainer. The trainer telling me certain things I need to do and and pushing me, so I don’t listen to music while I’m working out.
What advice can you give up-and-coming producers at this current moment?
The best advice I have is to find a way to be unique. It’s a lot going on now. It’s a lot of technology that’s making music, it’s almost like cookie cutting. Even with AI, they’re making it where it’s so easy to make music that there’s no personality in it. I always try to encourage up and coming producers and artists to try to be unique, try to find a different way.
Try to find a different style to bring to the game, that’s what helps you stand out. That’s what gets you in the game and keeps you in the game.
Tell us about your entrepreneurial ventures, what businesses are you most excited about?
You know, I came from cutting hair. I’ve met a lot of people in the music business by cutting hair. So me buying and owning the barbershop that I first started in, it was called First Class Barbershop in Stonecrest Mall. Now we changed the name to Zay’s. So if you’re here in Atlanta in the Stonecrest area, [come check us out].
Can we talk about your project with 1K Phew? How’d that come about?
One thing I like about doing a project with somebody like 1K Phew is he’s a Gospel artist. The message is different. The content is different. I met 1K Phew back at my church, had to be 6, 7 years ago. He was there, he came up to perform and rap. He was a little young guy that was performing, I just took to him as soon as I saw him. Matter of fact, my mom said “You gotta go work with him. You got to do something with him.” So I introduced myself to him and we’ve been working really ever since. A long time ago. But he’s a well-known artist now, so I felt it’s time to do a project.
Bring us back to the energy in the studio for “Make The Trap Say Aye.”
“Make The Trap Say Aye” might have been the 9th song that day. The same day me and Gucci did “Bricks,” the same day we did “Ridiculous” with Yo Gotti. We did so many songs that one day. “Make The Trap Say Aye” was one of those songs like okay, we done 5,6 songs. They said “Zay, call somebody else to come over, to give us another verse or give us some more energy.”
So I called Juice over. Juice came over, we made “Make The Trap Say Aye.” Not knowing that this is going to be the hit. We’re recording all these songs in a day, then you go back and listen to them. Start putting them out on mixtapes, certain songs start catching traction.
Last year, you sold your music catalog. What goes into a deal of that nature?
It’s just the song of your choice that you feel like okay, these songs have been around for a long time. They making a certain amount of money, I want to sell a percentage of the song. That’s all there is. Since the deals were so hot of everybody doing it, the price is up. People are paying top dollar for it. That’s all it was.
Anything else you’re excited for?
I’m excited about the new music that’s coming in 2024. I’m excited about things I don’t even know what’s coming in 2024. One thing that keeps me driven — the reason why I still make beats, 10 beats in a day or get up and do this stuff every day is because I don’t know what phone call I’ma get. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I like being prepared and being and being ready.
Because you used to hop on a flight instantly when they hit you.
I will, and I’ll be ready too. I’m on go. I’m ready to go.
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