Meet Nyan, The Teenager Making Chart-Topping Beats for Drake

Nyan King has already snagged a top 5 Billboard Hot 100 record, and he's only 19. He tells Complex how he met Drake, learned from Noah '40' Shebib, and more.

ovo producer nyan possible lead image shot

Image via Publicist

ovo producer nyan possible lead image shot

Most 17-year-olds are worried about applying to college or what career path to pursue, but not Nyan. At 17, the young producer had already landed his first Billboard Hot 100 placement after he made the beat for DJ Khaled’s single “Staying Alive” featuring Drake and Lil Baby.

“I was biking in the park when I found out,” Nyan tells Complex about the moment he learned a beat he made two years ago became a hit record. “I turned my phone on and saw it was expected to hit No. 5 and was just like, ‘Holy shit.’ It’s all so surreal to me.”

Nyan, now 19, has already garnered placements on three very commercially successful albums this year—DJ Khaled’s God Did, Drake’s Honestly, Nevermind, and now Drake & 21 Savage’s Her Loss. He’s also appeared on the production credits for “Staying Alive,” “Liability,” and “Hours in Silence” this year alone“It was a big, ‘Hey, you can do this’ moment for me,” he says when thinking about how productive 2022 has been for him.

Nyan is a Brooklyn native whose family is Canadian. His father is also the president of OVO Sound, Mr. Morgan. Growing up, he spent a lot of time between Canada and the United States, eventually fostering a relationship with Noah [40] Shebib, Drake, and the OVO camp. In conversation with Complex, he explains that he grew up influenced by his mother’s love for R&B, which shaped the music he gravitated toward later on. 

“I love house music [too], just the simple chord progressions. That’s what gives me goosebumps when I hear songs, so I try to keep my shit simple yet effective,” he says. “I understand why people do too much on beats nowadays, but for me, it’s always been about simplicity.” 

Despite his father’s ties to OVO, though, Nyan was able to find his footing in music on his own and develop his approach to beat-making, which eventually led him to intern with 40 and learn the ropes from the mastermind behind some of Drake’s best albums.

“When I first started, I told him, ‘Yo, I know you have days where you’re going to lock in. I’ll literally just be a fly on the wall,’” he says when discussing how their working relationship began. “Even the way he’s able to react to certain things or hear certain things, he’s taught me so much about taking risks. [Drake and 40] were so ahead of their time. If you go back to their shit in ‘09, they were ahead of their time.”

After soaking up free game from Drake, 40, and the OVO camp, Nyan has been able to expand his own artistry beyond beat-making and is preparing to release his first solo album, Shells, which is fully written and produced by him. Now, Nyan hopes to connect with his generation and eventually become as impactful as his mentors. “I want to be a blueprint, which is why I respect Drake so much,” he adds. “He always keeps things outside of the box. I feel like music is in a complacent space, and I want to be an outlet for people my age.”

We caught up with Nyan to learn about the making of “Hours in Silence,” working in the studio with Drake and 40, and more.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity purposes.

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How did you first get into music?
I’ve been into music since I was young. I picked up a guitar at 3 years old, there was really no plan B ever. I never had an “I want to be an astronaut” phase when I was younger. It was always, like, “This is what I’m going to do. This is how I’m going to do it.” I didn’t get into beat-making until around two years ago because I always wanted to be a songwriter. It got to a point where searching for music and things to write to, no one could really understand my direction until I put my head down and did it myself.

Did you ever try your hand at songwriting?
Yeah, I just finished a project that I fully wrote and produced, so it’s now getting to that full-circle moment where everything is coming together.

You released one of your first beat tapes, Smile Pack, a few years ago. Where do you think you’ve improved the most since then?
It’s all just about formulating my sound and taking risks. Looking back, I always felt like I could do more to an idea. It’s all about impressing yourself with your music and finding new ways to top your old shit, that’s my goal. Since then, I’ve only been able to take more risks and feel more comfortable with my own voice. I just continue to experiment and form my sound.

How did you form a relationship with Drake in the first place?
I spent a lot of time in Toronto since I was young, and my family is Canadian, so I would just be around. I was interning with [Noah] 40 [Shebib] at one point. So at a certain point, just having those experiences made me think maybe I had a shot at getting some beats off. I just tried to build that connection and overall trust. I wanted to give him a fresh perspective. I never gave Drake beats that I felt like he would want to hear because I feel like there are a bunch of producers who could do that, especially in Toronto. Toronto is full of talent and very much has its own sound, so my thing was finding my competitive edge. For me, when I was finally able to make that connection, I just had to really figure out what it was about me that would make him mess with it. I was just consistent, and as him being who he is, he’s just so talented at spotting even the smallest ideas and forming them into something huge. It really just formed from that, being around him and taking those risks.

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What was it like interning with 40?
He’s just a real mastermind. I’m so thankful to him for giving me that opportunity. I could try to tell you what he’s taught me, but even on a life level, he almost guides me without trying because he lives this shit forreal. When I first started, I told him, “Yo, I know you have days where you’re going to lock in. I’ll literally just be a fly on the wall.” Even the way he’s able to react to certain things or hear certain things, he’s taught me so much about taking risks. [Drake and 40] were so ahead of their time. If you go back to their shit in ‘09, they were ahead of their time.

How did “Liability” come together off Honestly Nevermind?
Funny enough, “Staying Alive” and “Liability” were two of the first 30 beats I ever made. I was, like, 17 and at that point, I was just hungry so I just started putting together packs and sending them. I had a simplistic feel to my shit that I wanted to push. I pretty much told myself that was the sound I was going for and have some splashes of me in it. I made those beats in 2020, and originally for “Staying Alive,” I was under the impression that it was going to be on Certified Lover Boy and I was torn when it didn’t make it. So for it to come back around and be what it is was dope to see. 

What were some of the craziest studio sessions you’ve been in the room for?
I think it would have to be the last session for Honestly, Nevermind. It was really trippy for me to be in a space where [Drake] was sitting in front of a piece of work that was so refreshing and different. For me, I’m a deep house and techno fanatic, so it was all a blur to me but to be in that space and see what he does best is always a blessing. That was just one of those late nights that were priceless.

How did “Hours in Silence” come together?
“Hours in Silence” was with my boy Mcevoy. He sent me a basis idea, and from there we went back and forth adding little things trying to find that sweet spot of simple yet effective. That one was just three days of going back and forth sending stems and putting them together. I remember when it was finally finished, we must’ve run it back at least 10 times because of how beautiful it was, and I’m just so thankful for everyone that worked on that one and having it come together: Daniel East, Noel [Cadastre], and 40. 

When did you find out that it was going to be included on Her Loss?
They asked for the beat and I sent it to them immediately, and they must’ve had the song a couple of hours after that. This happened around the end of the summer. And then I got the whole rundown of what was going to happen with it a couple of months later when they were sitting in front of a body of work. I was mind blown.

What lessons have you been able to learn from being around Drake, 40, and the OVO camp so much?
My real basis of taking risks with my own sound comes from Drake. For me, from wanting to build that creative connection with him, I wanted to be more than just a producer. I wanted to be a young, fresh set of ears who he could go to and get perspectives and opinions from. I’d even send him music just to show him different vibes. That was my intention, and that’s my brother now so I couldn’t be more thankful for him.

Are there more beats you’ve sent him that might have become songs that haven’t been released yet as well?
I guess we’ll see.

How did you first get into house music?
My love for house really started when I was in middle school. It started with disco, I was listening to all the old Aretha Franklin disco, and from then on it progressed.

What are your aspirations as an artist and producer going forward?
I just really want to be a source for people to go to my art and relate to it. I want people to feel like they’re not alone. My music and my album coming out is all shit that I’ve experienced and felt deeply. Shit that I feel like people nowadays would be afraid to touch on. And past the artistry and everything, I want to be a blueprint, which is why I respect Drake so much. He always keeps things outside of the box. I feel like music is in a complacent space, and I want to be an outlet for people my age. Through my art, I want people to listen and feel like they can do things too at this lately. 

Tell me about the new music you have coming up.
I’m working on a project, Shells, my first album. It’s fully produced and written by me, and I’m super excited about it. The music is there, so I’m just waiting to give it to the world. This is only the start, and I’m excited for everyone to follow me on this journey.

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