When it comes to Hip Hop’s top-tier producer talents, Zaytoven spearheads the conversation. Zaytoven is a chart-topping producer who garnered a Billboard Top 100’s #1 hit with Usher’s song “Papers.” Nonetheless, Zaytoven is most notable for his tag team efforts with Gucci Mane during his rise to stardom, in addition to other popular Atlanta artists’ like OJ Da Juiceman, Yung LA, and Migos before their more recent success.
Although Zaytoven’s been on an uphill journey throughout the many phases and era’s of Hip Hop, and still considered one of the most sought-after producers to date — he has finally released his debut album, Trap Holizay, promptly after concluding his first country-wide tour in which he headlined himself. The new Trap Holizay album is a 12-track project featuring Gucci Mane, Future, Migos, Metro Boomin, Yo Gotti, Young Dolph, Pusha T, T.I., Rick Ross, Ty Dolla $ign, and more.
Prior to the album’s release we were able to sit down with Zaytoven and discuss his role in the upcoming Superfly movie in theaters on June 13th, the particular qualities he looks for when deciding to work with artists, as well as the biggest pet peeves he has that will influence him to not work with certain artists. Stream the Trap Holizay album here. Check out Zaytoven’s interview below.
You have a role in the upcoming Superfly movie. What triggered you to make acting the next step in your career?
Zaytoven: “I always try to do something to help brand my face so what better than to be in a movie and be seen on the big screen. It’s one thing for people to hear your name and know you from your music but to see your face is a whole different thing. So far I’ve done The Rap Game with Jermaine Dupri. I’ve done my own movie, Birds of a Feather, that was on Netflix. I’m doing all of that to brand who Zaytoven is.”
Did you actually put in work and do some acting training or is it more of a natural thing for you?
“I can’t really say I really practiced. In my Birds of a Feather movie, I played myself so it wasn’t like I really had to act like I was somebody else. In the Superfly movie, I’m a painter but it’s still almost like my natural character so it wasn’t something I had to hardcore practice.”
I heard you state in a previous interview that your ultimate goal is to stay relevant and not be a “has been”. What’s going to be the key to making that happen for you? How do you plan on surviving all the transitions to stay relevant?
“Well, you always have to embrace the youth. I always try to latch myself on to what’s coming new, who are the new guys, or what’s popping now. I always strive to be creative with my sound. As a producer, I always try to get new sounds and produce in different ways. For the most part, though I think it will be embracing the youth. My 12-year old son is what keeps me relevant. He lets me know who’s popping. He’s the one that keeps me in pocket. He’ll tell me, ‘Daddy you need to work with this person,’ or ‘Daddy I like him’ — and in order to keep impressing him I have to work with these new guys. He keeps me going.”
Any particular habits that you credit your success to?
“I guess it’ll have to be hard work and being competitive. I just naturally have a habit of being competitive at whatever I do — and I’m naturally a hard worker. For example, I’ll get up and wash all my cars and cut the grass and clean the house. Those type of tasks are the norm for me and is what I mean when I say I’m naturally a hard worker.”
Is there any specific quality you look for in an artist that makes you know for sure you want to work with them?
“It’s something called the ‘it’ factor. It’s something you can’t really put your finger on. It’s not that the person raps so good or dress’ so good. It’s just something about them that makes you say, ‘That guy right there is a star!’ That’s what draws me to an artist every time I start working with new artists and I’ve never been wrong. Every person that I said was a star before they blew up, they ended up being a superstar.”
Any particular pet peeve that makes you not want to work with an artist no matter how much your peers or others may like them or no matter how much they may be trying to convince you to work with them?
“When artists are lazy and think that their talent is what’s going to get them to the top and they think they’re that good and that they don’t have to work, work, work. I’m a worker and I like to work, work, work. If I’m going to make ten beats in a day then you need to be able to make ten songs in a day.”
How did you meet Gucci and what’s your relationship like with him now compared to before he was released from jail?
“Me & Gucci are like Snoop & Dre. We are each other’s ying and yang. That’s my guy. He’s always going to be my favorite rapper. He’s always going to be my main guy when it comes to music. Even back in the day, we weren’t popping we were just homeboys doing music together. He believed in me so much that he bragged on me so much. And I believed in him. I knew he was going to be a star. I knew he was one of those guys who was going to do whatever it takes to be a superstar. Our relationship is still the same up until this day even though he’s been in and out of jail. Even with all of the things that have went on he’s still my main guy and the first guy I will go to really for anything. That’s my boy!”
What essential advice would you share with an up & coming producer who wants to be just like you?
“I definitely would say be creative and be your own person. A lot of what’s wrong with the industry now is everybody is mimicking everyone else from their lifestyle to how they sound, and more. I would encourage an up & coming producer to be original, be creative, and be yourself and let everything else happen. I believe God put me in the position that I’m in not because I’m so much better than anybody else or not even that I just worked so much harder than somebody else — it’s the fact that I just stayed true to who I am and I stayed true to the type of music I wanted to make and the type of sounds that I wanted to use and it payed off.”