Zaytoven is back with his day one: Gucci Mane. The Atlanta megaproducer took to Instagram to post a photo and video of himself in the studio with Guwop just days after the man born Radric Davis was released from prison.
“This is the guy that I done came in the game with,” Zaytoven says in an exclusive interview with HipHopDX, “the guy I feel like I have the best chemistry with, so I was very, very excited.”
Gucci Mane was slated to be released in September, so it came as a surprise as many when he got out at the end of last month. Zaytoven was one of the first people the rapper called to let him know he was being freed. The beatsmith says that he was never worried about his friend’s return and knew that he would use the time away to his advantage.
“I found that for a guy like Gucci, to have him for his whole career, him taking a break or him being gone for a little while always adds to him being this superstar he is and make people miss him, it just adds to his character,” he says. “I wasn’t worried at all about him coming back, how it was gonna be when it came back. I knew how it was gonna be. I knew how it was gonna happen.”
Zaytoven says that Gucci Mane has not skipped a beat since his time away from a real studio. He says that because of his role as a godfather to the current sound of music, he doesn’t have to catch up to the times, but simply has to keep doing what he does best.
“Gucci is a guy that I think that has a sound that has created a way, even if you listen to the music today, it’s all, like 90 percent of it stems from the rap music that Gucci really created maybe 10 years ago,” he says, “so he just got out and got back to business, got back to doing what he do. Just like me, the sound I’ve created and the sound I have I’ve been doing since we’ve started, so there’s nothing that we really had to go and change. Of course we kinda sparked it up a little bit, added a few new things, we started working. But for the most part, he got back to doing what he been doing before he left. He knew how to do that so good, as you can see, he dropped so much music while he was gone, people hardly know he was gone.”
Gucci cranked out mixtape after mixtape from behind bars, including the 36-track Meal Ticket. The day after he gained his freedom, he released “First Day Out Tha Feds,” which was streamed more than 1 million times in its first two days. Zaytoven was not surprised at all at Guwop’s quick return.
“That’s a job,” he says of making music. “That’s probably what he’d been waiting on this whole time was to get back to the studio, so he went right back to work.”
While the Trap King was locked away for three years, Zaytoven continued cranking out hits with Migos, Future, OG Maco and many more. But nothing, not even a studio session with 50 Cent, compares to being in the lab with Gucci Mane.
“Any time we link up, our chemistry I think is unmatched when it comes to doing music,” he says. “I’ve been doing music for the last few years with a lot of different artists, some artists I’ve never worked with before, some I have. I had good chemistry with other artists I’d been working with, but I knew when I started back working with Gucci, it was gonna be something long I’d waiting for.”
Zaytoven says that he and Gucci will stick to their signature sound, that of “Icy” and “Bricks.” But he has been able to expand himself as he works with other artists who have had him utilize the piano and melodies.
Zaytoven Details Work Beyond Gucci Mane
In regards to that legendary session with 50 Cent, Zaytoven says that he was humbled to have the G-Unit general enjoy his work.
“I always was a fan of 50,” he says. “I thought 50 was one of the best guys to do it, so just me playing some beats for him and him liking the beats was mind-blowing for me. I’m pretty sure the song that we’ve done, it’ll come out in due time.”
While the world waits for that epic collaboration to drop, Zaytoven’s priorities are Gucci and a new project with Future Hendrix. Instead of just calling the follow-up to their collaborative mixtape Beast Mode 2, they have been tagging their work Beast Mode 16.
“We been working closer now than we have ever been working,” Zaytoven says. “…We’ve got something very special for that. That’s mind-blowing music also.”
Zaytoven is not restricting himself to the studio. He also hosts camps for upcoming producers, which he says are attended by people from as far away as Africa and the attendees are as diverse as dentists and doctors.
“That was just me just finding a way of giving back knowledge and game to the up-and-coming producers,” he says. “A lot of these guys who wanna make beats and be a producer in the game, they can come and actually sit with me, they can sit with me for a couple hours and learn how I make beats and the tools I use to make it in the industry and what keeps me relevant for so long. That’s just my way of kinda giving back to all the guys who are trying to make it in the music industry from a producer standpoint.”
He also has written a book, From A to Zay: The Indie Guide to Music Production, and is ready to shoot the third installment of his Birds of a Feather movie. Gucci Mane may be wowing his fans with his work ethic, by Zaytoven know a thing or two about the grind as well.
“These are the things that keep me relevant, relevant in different aspects of the game and it keeps me learning, it keeps me on my toes,” he says. “It keeps me sharp on just trying different things. Rather than just being a guy that can just make the beat, it’s like no, I can talk to people. I can teach classes. I can go do a deejay set. I can do a movie. I want producers that look up to me, they can see that ok, I don’t just have to, like beats is good to get in, making beats, but I can do all these other things too, to help me stay more rounded and make me bigger and build my brand.”