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How Zaytoven Unlocked the Keys to His Signature Production Style

Okla Jones, III
Posted by Okla Jones, III on Jul 6


For nearly 15 years, Zaytoven’s production has reigned supreme in southern culture. He has been the man behind the boards for artists such as Gucci Mane, Future, The Migos and everyone in between.

Xavier Dotson coined his stage name from German pianist Ludwig van Beethoven. One would believe that the comparisons between an African-American youth from the West Coast and a legendary composer of European decent would be on two opposite ends of the spectrum. However, these two musicians share many similarities: both were born in Germany and mastered the piano at a very young age. Zaytoven’s prowess as a pianist contributes to his melodic production style, while his Georgia & California influences add that aggressive tone. 

In 2005, Zay made a name for himself by producing the southern classic, “So Icy” by Gucci Mane, which featured Young Jeezy. At that time, all three of these artists where virtually unknown on a large scale, but by the end of this song’s run, they all had been lifted to national prominence. In the next two years, he produced tracks on several of Gucci’s projects, along with assisting Pastor Troy on his Tool Muziq album.

Since then, Zaytoven hasn’t looked back. Rappers like Soulja Boy, Twista, Yo Gotti, Chief Keef, Lil’ Durk and 2Chainz have all added to the catalog of songs accredited to the production of the young pianist. Even though he received most of his accolades after he made Atlanta his home, he still hasn’t forgotten about his California roots. Last year, he produced “Feelings”, one of the stand-out cuts from O.T. Genasis’ Coke N’ Butter mixtape. In 2010, he also ventured into the world of R & B by laying the musical groundwork for “Papers” off of Usher’s Grammy award-winning album, Raymond v. Raymond. The melody that he uses for many of his beats, along with the frequency of a heavy bass line allows his tracks to translate across different genres of music.  

The year 2017 has proved to be very fruitful for Zaytoven so far. At its halfway point, he’s already had songs on albums for Future and The Migos, as well as Chief Keef’s single, “I Don’t Feel Shit." Also a published author, in his 2015 book From A to Zay, he discusses his years of successes and failures, and how you can duplicate the things he did right and avoid the things he did wrong. It’s a self-help book that every budding producer should add to their collection. From 2004 and beyond, Xavier Dotson has hustled his way to the top by making great scores for some of the south’s most talented artists, and he shows no signs of ever slowing down.

To see Zaytoven (and friends) at this year's A3C Hip Hop Festival and Conference, purchase your festival pass today!

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Okla Jones, III

Written by Okla Jones, III

Okla is a visual artist, journalist and content creator from New Orleans, La., who strives for achievement in every field of human endeavor.

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