To say that Zaytoven has an ear for music that hits would be an understatement.
As a man who went from playing the organ at church to producing some of the most successful trap beats in the genre’s recent history, he has truly earned his title as the Godfather of Trap music. When he’s not creating music, his goal is to seek out the next big thing in music and give them the tools to succeed. This is why his collaboration with the AXE The LABEL competition is a no-brainer.
In the first-of-its-kind contest, the GRAMMY-award winning producer shared two instrumental tracks, “GOLD” and “PHOENIX,” and gave rappers the opportunity to flow over either track for a chance to win. Producers entered to win by using the associated beat and stem packs to create brand-new tracks. Two rappers and seven producers will be selected by Zaytoven and a panel of music industry insiders to be featured on the playlist. Winners will receive a production credit on their final collaboration with Zaytoven.
Even though he says really can’t put a finger on just one thing that makes an artist have that “it factor,” Zay told CASSIUS that he’s definitely able to tell when a person is gifted.
“I see how artists can light up the room before I even hear their music, so I know they can be a star,” he said. “That’s how they catch my attention. Sometimes it might be how cool they look and act, or it might be how good of an artist they are and how they approach their music. It’s a lot of different elements.”
The Atlanta-raised executive producer said he attributes his ear to his eclectic music tastes, simultaneously loving the soft gospel music he was brought up on as well as the R&B and hip-hop he grew up with. This is a skill that he advises young artists to take note of.
“It’s a blessing to have all of those different influences that make me stand out,” he said. “As a producer, if you want to be known or special, it’s not about having the best beats, it’s about having a unique sound that the game is missing or longing for.”
Another important piece of advice that he gives young artists trying to make it in the game? Get your side hustle straight—and make sure it’s something you want to do for the rest of your life.
“You definitely have to have something else you wouldn’t mind making a living doing,” he advises. “I had the number one song in the country and I was still cutting hair. That’s how serious I am about stability. This stuff, you can lose it the next day. You might not end up being as hot as you were; what are you going to do now? I’m always thinking about being stable, especially if you want a family.”
While Zay admits he never expected to become “The Godfather of the Trap,” he does believe that everything happens for a reason. He was able to work on his favorite songs: “Ice Cream” (which he believes changed the climate of music) and “Versace” (which he felt was his reintroduction to the music world).
“It was never what I was looking for, but it’s what made my story and made me so unique,” he said. “God put me in that place for a reason…to be The Godfather of Trap music. The person I am is not the music I’m producing. These are just the positions God put me in.”