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Tay Keith Talks His Growth From Super Producer To Executive, Sexyy Red & New Projects [Interview]

London is buzzing with excitement during festival season as we sit down with the maestro of modern hip-hop production, Tay Keith, for an exclusive interview. Hailing from the musical hotbed of Memphis, this prolific producer has orchestrated chart-topping hits for some of the biggest names in the industry. From Drake to 21 Savage, and Travis Scott, Tay Keith's finger on the pulse of urban soundscapes has propelled him to unimaginable heights.

While many would be content with such rapid success, Tay Keith's journey is an inspiring testament to ambition and dedication. Amidst his meteoric rise, he remained committed to his education, earning his degree from Middle Tennessee State University and even earning the title of honorary professor at the institution—a rare feat for an artist of his caliber.

But Tay Keith's achievements don't end there. Fuelled by a passion for nurturing new talent, he founded his own music label, DRUMATIZED®, and handpicked a roster of up-and-coming producers. Eza, Grayson, Banbwoi, are just some of the gifted minds under his wing, their productions resonating with artists like Lil Baby, Lil Durk, Quavo, and Takeoff. Beyond being a producer, Tay Keith also functions as an executive, and he highlighted the importance of developing artists and producers under DRUMATIZED®. He emphasized his commitment to nurturing talent, sharing stories of their creative journey and the joy of witnessing their growth and success.

Among his recent achievements, Tay Keith shared his excitement about collaborating with rising rapper Sexyy Red. The first major breakthrough came with the release of the single "Pound Town," a high-energy track that showcases Tay Keith's dynamic abilities behind the boards.The infectious beats and seductive lyrics garnered widespread attention, quickly climbing the charts and capturing the hearts of fans across the globe. "Pound Town" became an anthem for the summer, dominating radio airwaves and playlists, and securing Tay Keith's first-ever chart success as an artist.

Following the massive success of "Pound Town," Tay Keith and Sexyy Red teamed up once again for the electrifying track "Skee Yee." With its catchy hooks and undeniable charisma, the song solidified Tay Keith's status as a force to be reckoned with in the rap game. "Skee Yee" showcased a unique chemistry between the producer-turned-artist and the young rapper, with their collaboration taking the music world by storm once more.

As his career reached unprecedented heights, Tay Keith spoke candidly about the importance of taking his health more seriously. He shared insights into his journey of prioritizing self-care, acknowledging the demanding nature of the music industry and the need for balance to sustain his creativity and productivity.

NW: Thanks for giving us the time. We're with Tay Keith right now. This is crazy

TK: [Laughs] Thank you! It's Flattering for sure

NW: Look Alive was an era in itself. So for me, interview aside, I just want to give you my appreciation.

TK: Appreciate it, man. I appreciate it.

NW: How have you been?

TK: I've been good, man. I've been working, you know, just really building, from beyond what I've already built, just to keep the motion and the legacy going. Standing in good health and good work.

NW: Very important. What does good health look like for you? How do you maintain that as you practice?

TK: Oh, my mom passed at 42 years old. So I had a lot of life changing moments where I just had to, I guess, choose to be even better, actually watching what I eat and fasting and actually doing some sort of exercise. I just cut out a lot of unhealthy habits I had, like smoking and stuff, just cut a lot of things out. Going to therapy, you know, a lot of things that people in my position should definitely consider. I took a lot of time out, to focus on my personal gain, you know?

NW: Would you say that that's just as important as, I guess the work itself?

TK: Way more important because in a sense, if you're not happy within yourself or where you want to be within yourself, this place with the creation that you make, the creative process, I want to be the best I can be, mentally and physically on top of it. That's what kind of helps me create even more and better music.

NW: Speaking of which, you kicked off the year, crazy with Pound Town, the Pound Town record was viral. Just speak on how that record came about. And also, at this point in your career, after so much experience and so many wins, if you will. Does it still hit the same when something like when you have a success like that?

TK: Yeah, it (Pound Town) was actually a better feeling for me, I felt like It was crazy because I had been watching her for years, like a couple of years. And, just to see it actually having an impact is actually helping her situation and into whatever she had going on just made it even more of a big moment for not just her, but also me, because a lot of people looked at me like, I've had my time, I've had my moment and I developed. I work with a lot of artists, but as far as developing artists, I haven't gotten that full recognition until now. I have developed several artists but just to see it unfold in the way it did, even me just getting my first Hot 100 as an artist, it was a way bigger moment for me.

NW: I love that you brought up developing her because Pound Town is definitely a song that I can see going crazy live, going crazy at a festival. You were in London for Wireless and for a writing camp as well. As a producer, what do you appreciate about festivals, given the fact that at festivals, the main focus is usually on the artists?

TK: I appreciate the reaction that I get because people produce and create music for different reasons. I feel like the majority of the music that I have released, our music, touches people from a social standpoint. For example, songs like Non-Stop and Look Alive, or Rich Flex or Jimmy Crooks, Those are big because they go crazy. And then I have the Pound Towns to go crazy and in the strip clubs. Also with the Drake records like the festivals and stuff and then, I did Beyonce with 'Before I Let Go', we go crazy at the cookout with the fam, you know. So I feel like a lot of records that I produce have the social enlightenment with the turn up vibe. So seeing it in a festival is even more crazy because there's thousands of people. At a club, you might see hundreds of people, maybe a thousand, but what is actually tens of thousands of people reciting it, they'll get it pumped up the energy, because it's something that started in my room. It's wild

NW: I definitely admire the fact that you still get that feeling from it despite the success you've had. You know like there's still it seems like it still feels as good as the first time around. Would I be correct?

TK: Right? Most definitely it's always a new feeling.

NW: So, I wanted to also talk about the writing camp, have you been to many writing camps I imagine. Have you been to many?

TK: I'm actually in a session with a Headie One right now with Pooh, Pooh You a Fool, another big producer in the States. We're cooking some stuff up right now. This is my second trip to London so you know, the count is usually a week or so, it is kind of like a new experience for me. And then I'm also linking with the states producers, the big producers in the states. I also do a lot of camps in the United States with Warner Chappell. Big camps. Miami camps. Atlanta camps. We did Nashville camps, we do a lot of camps, man [Laughs]. I'm kind of used to the feeling of coming here for work. I'm not just here to just link with the artists and go out and party. I reward myself at the end of the day out there working hard too, kayaking with my fellow colleagues, you know, successful colleagues. And I look at it like it is for fun, but is mostly for the experience to create new sounds, to create new energy and, you know, one day potentially change the world again.

NW: What makes a good writing camp, in your opinion.

TK: In my opinion, good vibes and good energy You always gotta maintain the ideal of working. A lot of people might come, you know, it'd be times where you're not working your best. So you know what you got to do, man? You got to take some minutes and drink some coffee, get a rare book, and get yourself energized. You might need to go get a massage, go eat a good meal or just make sure you're at your best. You want to always present yourself at the best.

NW: How important is presentation? Having an idea is one thing, but being able to present it properly, especially to these successful people, is another thing. So how do you go about presenting your ideas when you're in a room with artists?

TK: It depends on who you're working with, different artists have different ways. Different processes, like last night I was working with this artist I was presenting to them. Some artists freestyle, Some write the words out. And then his other artist who you might get in with that like to freestyle, you could help them with wordplay or, might be able to throw a couple of words out, you know what I'm saying? And then we work with the writer, together to get the vision clear. So, it's different ways to go about it. I think the most important thing when it comes to actually giving my vision, is knowing what the artist likes to do, and me actually elevating it. I know I've said in other interviews how I just go in a room and let the artist go with the flow. But as I'm elevating more and more, getting a more of my executive producer type of vibe, I work with artists and I'm more vocal about how I feel, Like, it would be a good idea to do this to make a hit, etc.

NW: Which approach do you prefer to take best? Is it presenting your vision to an artist? Is it maybe working with an artist who already has written down and wants to go straight away? Would you rather work with an artist who needs a bit of time to get his verses together?

TK: Yeah, I like them all, I feel like when it comes to the freestyle artist, those are kind of like some of the artists who I run into a lot, you know, some kind of more used to it. But I'm definitely open to working with all different types of processes with artists, you know, there is no specific way. You never know what you might walk into in his in his also cases where you might work this way with these artists this time and then next time you work with the artist is a different process. We all go wrong, we all learn and we are figuring it out, there is no set formula for nothing, man. It's just all about being creative and understanding the process of being creative, and being certain to be vulnerable to the process.

Tay Keith's passion for music and dedication to his craft shone through, painting a vivid picture of an artist who continuously evolves, adapts, and paves the way for the future of hip-hop. From his groundbreaking work in the web3 space to his role as a mentor for budding talents, Tay Keith's journey exemplifies the determination and creativity that sets him apart in the industry.

NW: Yeah, that's really that's very much so important. And that kind of brings me into your latest venture, which I believe you are venturing into the metaverse. Can you speak a bit about that process and how come you've decided to take that step now?

TK: I thought it was cool. When me and my homeboys, we heard about Oculus glasses and we didn't think too much of it. We just decided to just tap into it and we were just amazed, we were in another world, you know what I'm saying? So we had just instantly dived into it. We started connecting with a lot of companies, including Facebook. Metaverse is and we're deep into the Web3 space. That eventually led me into the NFT space. I started basically learning, making mistakes and growing with that. By then I had been involved in cryptocurrencies, for example Ethereum and Bitcoin. And then we eventually did our collaboration with Anybodies, we're actually working on other collabs too. I'm not going to jump the gun and announce them, but we're working on big collaborations in the metaverse space. I want everybody to look forward to it because it's definitely going to be a game changer.

NW: D.O.A. is definitely a key point in your transition from producer to executive. And I wanted you to speak on that process because it could be easy to get pigeonholed or stick to something that you're good at because it might be safe. Is that a direction you always wanted to go?

TK: Always DRUMATIZED®, it stands for many things. It stands for D.OA. The D.O.A stands for DRUMATIZED® Over Anything. So basically, me and Cambria, my manager, decided to make a company like five years ago. We signed our first producer, Dinero Love. And, from that point on, we just developed him under the brand and helped him get placements. Now he's a multi-platinum producer, even though his deal has been completed. He's got his own label now, his own producer label. So, from no point on, we decided to sign many producers etc. And also we had a deal where we ended up competing with Warner Records. We just kind of just learn as we go. We were young, 21 and 22 when we started the company. We're 26 now. So, we learned a lot from the situation, just going through the motions of learning the game as a company compared to learning as just me as a producer. So right now, we're in a good space. We're actually working on our album, DRUMATIZED® the album. Right now we the name is Beat the Odds, But, it could change. And we got a lot of big upcoming artists as features on it. And also we had a studio at D.O.A Studios, we had it based in Nashville and we just basically built the foundation, the right way. We've learned through many situations we've been through, you can't cut corners. You got to understand the importance of foundation. We've been taking the right steps and he's been working in our favor now.

NW: Would you say that you pay attention to the business side of music?

TK: Yeah, situations that I've been in. When I was younger had me understanding the business more and learning how to move. So, as we got in the game, we made the right decisions. We didn't jump on the quickest situations, even the deals that we thought were right, they didn't work. How we projected it, we still walked away with something, that was a lesson learned. So the lessons learned on the journey helped us. And when I say we, I'm speaking of me and Cambrian with DRUMATIZED®. From the mistakes and things that we've done that we could have done better. It made us have a business mindset as a group of people. So we learned how to control the narrative of how we are presented. In business meetings with these labels, people looked at us like, oh, it's Tay Keith and his manager. But now it's like, oh, we have DRUMATIZED® who have multiple multi platinum producers under their belt and multiple, successful songwriters and producers who make many hits in the music industry. Let's put some respect on their name. The most important part that I feel like we learned was, staying loyal with each other and staying loyal to the foundation. So, when you have a lot of people in the music industry, a lot of people tend to be opportunists when it comes to certain things. We have to build through the high moments and the low moments.

NW: Speaking of which, a high moment for you was definitely 'Sicko Mode'. The success of that song, amongst many others, has been amazing because we've seen the influence since. What can you tell us about that time? And coming up with that and I'm being a part of that person.

TK: At the time I was still in college. I was just about to graduate. We came out before my last semester started. I think I actually was taking summer classes during that time. I mean, some classes during the time that I've created Sicko Mode with Drake and Travis Scott. I just continued to work and thought nothing of it, you know? Every record that I had that year was unexpected, And it was ironic because those were some of my biggest records. It went from just producing locally, to city wide, then in southern areas, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas. I went from there to literally worldwide in like six months. So it was definitely a moment to adjust, and also keep my principal and understand and my principals of finishing school, getting my education. Learning to finish things that I started. That was my thing and made my family proud. I just always took that point of my life as my motto even when times get hard. Knowing, you were still in school as a full time student. You have multiple hits. It's like now like me still having hits five years later, maintaining through the hard times. I always got to remember, like I was really indeed under hella pressure then. So, it just kind of motivates me now in times where I feel like I'm a little down.

NW: I think it is amazing that looking back on those times motivates you as opposed to forcing you to become complacent.

TK: Right.

Despite achieving remarkable success, Tay Keith acknowledged the danger of complacency. He discussed how he constantly challenges himself to push boundaries, embrace new techniques, and reinvent his sound. Staying away from the comfort zone is a mantra he lives by, always seeking new inspiration and never settling for the status quo.

NW: Have your achievements ever made you complacent? And how did you get out of that, if it ever did?

TK: I think a complacency comes with the music industry. But I think even the biggest artists in the music industry have those moments where, maybe the music that they want to release isn't the music they have to live up to what I want to put out better music. It could be release dates or it can be label issues, it can be clearance issues. There are a lot of things that can make people complacent because the main factor in the music industry is understanding the uncertainty, being confident in the uncertainty of the music industry is understanding how to be on your P's and Q's. There were moments in a period of six months to a year where I haven't had a top ten or top 100 or a Hot 100 or something. There's been times like that. What I do is I let me get in with these artists and develop, help develop artists that are working with these big artists or let me go to these writing camps, let me do these shows, let me do these interviews. All the different factors that play into you understanding the true definition of what somebody being complacent is? For example, blowing my advance. Let me just sit on my ass. I feel like I'm successful, I don't want to do anything else. That's how I look at it, people who are so comfortable where they're at.

In the music industry nothing is certain, you never know how your trajectory might play out. It can be anything that happens. So I always keep that in mind and appreciate any moment that God blessed me with, it's been five years. I've had so many moments where I'm just looking at it like, I'm truly blessed and I gotta thank God for this. I work on my gratitude and understand the importance of what I'm blessed with and using it.

NW: With everything drumatized as well besides that, is there anything else you have coming up that you would like the people to know about?

TK: We got the Drumatize album I'm working on. me and Sexyy Red working on a project together. I've got a lot of different songs with different artists that people might not expect, some big songs on the way. I just had a record with Lucki come out, a big record called Baby Pluto. Lucky has been building his fan base extremely over the past year and I'm proud of him. We got a lot of stuff on the way also. I got so much stuff on the way, man. It's just hard to even just name off the top, but definitely be on the lookout for the dramatized tape, the Sexyy Red tape that I have. A like tape or two done with this artist called Lil Darius, so be on the lookout for him. So artists that I'm helping develop, and a lot of other things. A lot of big, big things are happening.

Regarding future projects, the super producer hinted at rumored upcoming placements on major hip-hop albums set to release soon. While tight-lipped about specific details, Tay Keith conveyed his enthusiasm for being part of highly anticipated projects that would continue to shape the hip-hop landscape.

NW: You've spoken a little bit about upcoming projects. But there is one thing I did want to touch on that you brought up about artist development. How do you approach artist development and as an executive, considering you're coming from a producer background?

TK: When it comes to developing, as a producer there are many ways to go about it, you know? My main thing is I never found that an issue to help develop artists because people can develop artists with no talent, people can literally have no talent and bring no talent to the table and help develop an artist. So actually producing music and creating music with an artist and helping develop them is always a plus for me. It can be somebody who's just had the resources to help develop an artist, but we have the resources, and the creative mindset that I have can just be a plus for us. So I never looked at it like it was a difficult thing for me. If anything, it was more of a plus for me, it was just also my notoriety of me, what I have done already, it being a part of so many successful stories, it just helps the narrative of the artist also.

NW: One last question. Three Festival essentials for Tay Keith.

TK: Festival essentials. You gotta have got to have my shades. Got to have something to drink, whether it's water or Gatorade. And then what else would I say? Got to have a driver.

NW: One off the golf course.

TK: Yes, gotta have one of them, people get wild so as long as I have one of those I’m cool.

NW: Amazing, thank you!

TK: Appreciate you.


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