CMA Awards 2018
Zaytoven Talks Creating 'A' With Usher, Giving Saweetie His Blessing to Date Quavo
"This is the Usher I fell in love with when he first came out," Zaytoven explained to Billboard. "He was talking slick and had a certain swagger to himself. I think this "A" album is him getting back to that swaggy." It wasn't until a random night in late September when he received the unexpected phone call from a member of Usher's team, informing him that the R&B legend was interested in linking up for a potential joint album.
After connecting with Usher for "Papers" back in 2009, Zay was salivating at the thought of crafting an entire project alongside the 40-year-old. Days later, the pair hunkered down at the Westlake Recording Studios in West Hollywood for what would lead into a five-day marathon to ultimately craft eight tracks collectively forming "A."
"'Peace Sign' was the song that started everything," the trap pioneer detailed. "Usher was in the studio and I created something from scratch and 'Peace Sign' was the song we did that made us say, 'Oh, we got something.' That sparked the whole five day run."
Working at a frenetic pace is nothing new for Zaytoven, as he easily rattles off numerous Atlanta rap titans he's collaborated with for days at a time honing in on a single project. "That's how it is when I work with Gucci Mane, Migos or Future and do projects with them. This was about [a month] ago. We literally did the project and got it mixed and mastered within two weeks," he says.
The 38-year-old took it upon himself to inject a certain dose of youthfulness when creating a relevant trap sonic to complement Usher's signature croon. "It was up to me to bring the youthfulness and the right now sound to the project," Zay told Billboard. "I'm an R&B guy, but it seems like it's not getting the looks it used to. It's up to me and other producers like me to make the music for these new R&B guys."
On the Billboard 200 chart dated Oct. 27, "A" debuted at No. 31. Even prior to the Let the Trap Say Amen producer beginning his latest musical endeavor, he received a surprise call from burgeoning Bay area artist Saweetie, who he considers to be basically family, as someone he's witness grow since she was just a little girl. These days, the "ICY GRL" rapper is now all but confirmed to be dating Quavo in her first high-profile relationship.
"She actually called me and asked me about Quavo. She wanted to see how he was," Zay remembered before giving the Migos frontman his stamp of approval. "I'm like, 'Quavo has been my guy.' He has shown me nothing but respect in how he treats people. He's a good dude. She definitely wanted to hit me about him first."
We couldn't let Zaytoven get away before asking him to paint a picture and give fans an inside look at his Chicago studio sessions with Kanye West and Chance The Rapper back in August, which he hopes to have land on their Good Ass Job joint album. "I never really even went to Chicago for real. Chance had called me saying, 'I'm working on a project. Me and Ye working on something.' I start making beats and Kanye comes from upstairs with some samples he put together. He pulled up a guitar and I started making a beat around it," he began.
"After I'm midway making the beat, they grab a regular microphone and start freestyling for 10 minutes straight to the beat. The vibe was so crazy and everybody was hyped up," the Atlanta native excitedly stated. "The song sounded so monstrous. I definitely feel that it should land on Good Ass Job. Kanye was definitely going crazy on the mic."
Stream "A" below.