Back in October, a single photo posted on Instagram revealed two Hip Hop empires - one representing New York rap royalty and the other a Southern production czar - finally joined forces. Queens native Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson traveled to Atlanta to connect with Trap music pioneer Xavier “Zaytoven” Dotson. Zaytoven’s IG caption of the moment simply read, “We’re officially locked in. #justwaitonit.”
The world may only have to wait a few more days to see what emerged from those 50/Zay ATL sessions. The G-Unit leader is set to release his latest project The Kanan Tape this week, and some of Zaytoven’s tracks could be featured on Curtis’ new mixtape. If not, the long-awaited 50 Cent studio album Street King Immortal could possibly house the cuts introduced that night in Atlanta.
Besides 50, Zaytoven has gifted numerous artists with his signature sound. Some of the other notable recipients of the Grammy winner’s production include Young Jeezy (“Church In These Streets”), Future ("Real Sisters"), and Fall Out Boy featuring Migos (“Irresistible Remix”).
AllHipHop.com spoke with Zaytoven about some of his recent work. The self-taught multi-instrumentalist also suggests fans should expect to hear another full joint collaborative project with Future. The revival of his trendsetting efforts with currently incarcerated Atlanta rap legend Gucci Mane is likely to happen as well.
[ALSO READ: EXCLUSIVE: Producer Zaytoven Talks “Beast Mode” Mixtape With Future + Working With Nicki Minaj, Usher & Migos]
What came from the sessions with 50 Cent? Are we going to hear some of your tracks on his upcoming mixtape?
I’m almost 90% sure you should. He came down and got beats from a lot of producers. I was one of the producers he got a lot of tracks from.
Had you worked together before?
No, this was our first time working together.
It was a couple of other producers from the city there too. Were you all at one session and then just played tracks for him?
Pretty much. He came and picked all of the hottest producers in Atlanta. We all had a beat session going on.
50 is still working on his Street King Immortal album. Was there any talk about some of your work ending up on that project as well?
I would really hope so. I’m really shooting to be on the album.
You had the title track on Jeezy’s Church In These Streets. How did that come together?
I’m a producer right now, especially if you’re in the south, that you can’t get around. It’s like, “Man, I gotta go get a track from this guy.” I’ve got myself back hot again, so every artist is reaching out.
When I work with a guy like Jeezy, my sound and his sound is almost like church. My music has a church vibe. Once he started doing a project called Church In These Streets, it just went hand-in-hand. You can’t have a Zaytoven track, have an album called Church In These Streets, and it not be the title track.
When you were working on the song, did you know it was going to be the title track?
No, we just did several songs. That’s the one that stood out like a sore thumb. I don’t even know if he had the name of his project at the time. After we did that, it just sounded like this is what needs to be the name of the album, everything needs to follow this right here.
You said that you feel like you got hot again. Do you feel like there was a lull in your career?
Yeah, I feel there was a time where I wasn’t as hot as I am now. Maybe a few years back. I remember doing [Migo’s] “Versace,” and it made me skyrocket again. It made it so that Zaytoven is in high demand again.
After “Versace,” Migos got real hot. Then guys like Young Dolph became hot with the tracks I did. I think when I was the hottest producer in Atlanta back in '07, '08 - it feels like that for me again. I don’t think I ever fell off, but when you start hearing Zaytoven’s name on everything, that’s when I feel like I’m all the way hot again.
Speaking of Migos, you did a remix with them and Fall Out Boy.
It was amazing. I had never really listened to Fall Out Boy’s music. I just knew they were a big group that sold a lot of records. But they called and said, “We’re doing a remix album, and we definitely want you on it. And we want to put Migos on whatever track that you do.” Then I understood what they were trying to do. They were coming to get the sound that I have.
The sound that I have, I’ve been doing for over 10 years now, and it’s become in high demand. People don’t want me to make music that fits the Fall Out Boys. They just say they want me to do exactly what I do. It’s a good feeling.
You talked about how you feel Migo’s “Versace” helped put you back on. I think another recent project that helped stamp that Zaytoven sound is Beast Mode with Future. He recently hinted he was going to do a Monster 2. Has there been any talk about doing a Beast Mode 2?
When we did Beast Mode, we had Beast Mode 2 and 3 ready. We did so many good songs that could have been on Beast Mode. So I think it’s all about timing for when it will come out again. It’s definitely going to be needed. The fans definitely want it.
That’s another project that catapulted me again. That’s a work of art. That’s almost like when I used to do Gucci Mane's whole CD. I think that’s the vision Future had - “I want to do a mixtape, but I want to use only Zaytoven production.” Before that you hadn’t heard me and Future do any music together for maybe 2 - 4 years. Those are just special moments that help me be on fire like I am now.
A lot of people put that project in the trilogy of mixtapes [along with Monster and 56 Nights] that elevated Future to superstar status. This year he exploded. Did you see that coming for him?
I didn’t really see it. After Monster I said, “Okay, he’s coming back. He’s sounded pretty good.” But when he came to me and said, “Zay, I want to do a whole project with you,” I felt like he wanted to take over the streets again.
When guys come to me, they come to me like, “I’m ready to take over the streets.” I'm one of the guys that stays working with all the up-and-coming street artists. My sound is in the streets all the time. Even when my song is not on the radio or not in the club, I’m on these mixtapes. My music is definitely hot in the streets.
So when Future came to me, I felt like he said, "You know what? I’m gonna go back hard. I'm gonna go back to ground zero and take over the streets.” That’s exactly what he did. If you listen to his album, he said the Beast Mode project was the project that got his feet ten toes down.
They were saying he fell off and he ain’t got it no more. So Monster sparked him up to get him back on. Beast Mode really sealed the deal. Everything was uphill after that.
You mentioned you really enjoy working with up-and-coming artists. You produced for the new guy Linen. How did that relationship start?
I’m like the go-to guy for a lot of street artists, because I’m somebody you can get in touch with. I’m somebody you can pull up on and we can work together. So he came to me like, “Zay, you’re my favorite producer. I have a budget and want to get some production from you.”
Anytime I start working with somebody and I hear that they got the gift, then it just takes it to another level. It makes me want to get more involved and work with them closely.
On “Digital Dash,” Drake says, “Gucci get out, it’s a problem.” It’s amazing how he is still able to release music. Have you been able to do anymore tracks for him that we could see in the near future?
Gucci, that’s gonna be Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg when he gets out. That’s the sound that’s going on right now. A lot of artists are mimicking the sound that me and him created about ten years ago. It’s like peanut butter and jelly when he gets out.
I know he is gonna work with a lot of different artists and producers. But I also know for a fact that the sound we’re gonna create when he gets out is gonna be just what everybody is looking for.
Are you working on anything else?
So much. I’m working with so many people. There’s stuff dropping every day that I’m not even aware of. One of my favorite tracks that just dropped is Juicy J’s “U Can’t.”
It’s so many people. I’m reaching out and working with everybody. It’s stuff that is constantly coming out, so I can’t even name who all the people are.