To some, Zaytoven may be an unfamilar name, but the producer has been crafting hits for nearly a decade. A long working relationship with Gucci Mane began in 2005. But outside of his many contributions to Gucci, Zay has connected with Soulja Boy, OJ Da Juiceman, Plies, Nicki Minaj, Rocko, Future, and most recently Migos, solidfying himself as one of the staples of Atlanta's trap sound.
As if that wasn't enough, the hitmaker recently made his motion picture debut starring in Birds of a Feather, a movie loosely based on the producer’s life and career in the music industry. During a sit down with XXL, he opened up about the creation of his Drake assisted record "Versace," his working relationship with Gucci Mane, and his passion for acting.
On the creation of his movie Birds of a Feather:
"It actually came about from me doing a mixtape project with Gucci Mane and Rocko, so in the midst of recording it, the guy who had written and directed Birds Of A Feather [Curtis "Al Nuke" Franklin] I had him come over and do filming for us while we were putting together the mixtape—we were gonna do a studio documentary to go along with the mixtape. I thought, everybody can put out studio DVDs, I need to do a movie."
On linking up with Migos:
"The artist Yung L.A. came over to my house and we were recording one day, and he said, “Hey I was on my way over and I heard someone on the radio, some young dudes rapping on your beat, going so hard.” I saw that they had a video on YouTube for “Bando.” I must have seen Quevo, cause he’s the one who did the hook and he rapped first—but as soon as I seen the video and heard the music, I was like man I gotta find these guys right here. ‘Cause they sounded special to me."
On getting Drake on the remix:
"I had nothing to do with getting Drake on the remix. It almost blew my mind—because I remember at the [Hot 97] Birthday Bash, which is where they met Drake, they performed and were taking pictures and exchanging numbers and all that. So Coach K had called me and said, “Drake wants some beats from you, and he wants to rap on ‘Versace.’" And then he showed me the email, like “I ain’t playin’ man, this man said ‘Could you please send me some Zaytoven beats,’” so just seeing that made me smile. And then, when I hear the record and he shout me out, it just really blew my mind, like I can’t do nothing but respect and big up Drake for something like that, ’cause that means he paid attention to what I’ve done in the past, who I am, and what I’ve done in music.
On sending beats for Drakes new project:
"He wanted me and Migos to do something for his project. It’s too early to tell [if I'm gonna be on the record], but it’s looking good now."
On Gucci’s new album:
"I’m set to do about 60 percent of his new album; We’re taking a different approach, taking our time and really digging deep. It’s still our same sound, the same sound me and Gucci have created, but we might go back and dig through the crates and find a sample or something that sounds to me like older music, and add it to what we do to give it a twist."
His upcoming projects:
"Right now I’m back in the studio with Sean Garrett—you know we had done “Papers” for Usher—we back working on Usher’s album again. Then on top of the Drake, I just came from the Bay Area, so I’m working on E-40′s new album, so I’m trying to get my West Coast thing on. Right now the doors have just been open, and a lot of people want to work with me, so I’m working with everybody who wants to work."