In addition to his hometown peers, Grammy-nominated producer Tay Keith has helped to raise the bar within Memphis’ long-standing music scene. A lot of people from the city can vouch; he has single-handedly provided the soundscapes for some of your favorite hits within the last couple of years, from assisting with BlocBoy JB’s “shoot” phenomenon to contributing to Drake’s “Nonstop” reign over Hip-Hop. In 2019 (and beyond), Tay Keith continues to provide a fresh, unique platform for everyone to vibe to.
A Middle Tennessee State University graduate, Tay’s successes are making people understand just how important Memphis is to the culture. The most eccentric thing about the young “SICKO MODE” producer is his “less is more” approach to creating music; his beats both dwell in simplicity and diversity, a new wave all his own. As a product of the self-proclaimed ‘Grind City’, Tay follows a list of Hip-Hop pioneers: we have to pay respects to legendary greats like Three 6 Mafia and 8Ball & MJG, who have themselves paved the way for the likes of Yo Gotti, Young Dolph and Moneybagg Yo. Now (alongside BlocBoy JB), Tay Keith sits comfortably amongst the aforementioned frontrunners, making his city and the world proud and more aware of what Memphis has to offer. He’s been “f***[in’] these n***as up,” indeed.
RESPECT. recently caught up with Tay Keith, who talked about his achievements, the record that became his big break, remaking “Before I Let Go,” his company Drumatized and more.
RESPECT.: Define RESPECT.
Tay Keith: Reputation. The way people perceive you in a good way.
How did you get the now-iconic producer tag?
[Clarksville, TN rapper and past collaborator] Lil’ Juice had made it in 2016 and [it] stuck.
What was your big break record? Describe.
“Look Alive” represents Memphis. I felt like putting [the] Memphis sound [on] a national platform. The video concept was Memphis, as well.
How did you and Travis Scott connect for the Platinum hit single “SICKO MODE“? What were the vibes like in the studio?
Travis freestyled [his parts when] the song [was] halfway done. He has his own engineer and sound.
Describe the sounds you look to create when making a beat.
In general, it won’t be a specific sound. I keep it simple. Simplicity is the way to go.
As a fellow MT alum, how was it like working on homework while traveling and doing what you love to do? Did you have time to do anything while on the road?
By having support. I have someone who will help me, because of deadlines. It never was an issue.
Any advice to MTSU students who look up to you and want to follow in your footsteps?
Stay in school while chasing what you want to do. You can be a doctor, rapper, an astronaut, the president, nothing can be impossible. Always have a back up plan.
You have re-created the perennial urban cookout classic, Frankie Beverly and Maze’s “Before I Let Go,” with Beyoncé, which became her Homecoming standout. Knowing that you had to keep it under wraps during it’s creation, what was the process?
It was creative and [has] a lot of elements. If you pay attention, it has three samples: Maze and Frankie Beverly’s “Before I Let Go,” Cameo’s “Candy” and DJ Jubilee’s “New Orleans Bounce” altogether.
Which five songs can you say are your top favorites that you have produced?
Key Glock’s “Russian Cream,” Drake’s “Nonstop,” Lil’ Baby, Gunna and Drake’s “Never Recover,” Beyoncé’s “Before I Let Go” and Future’s “Temptations.”
You worked alongside DJ Khaled on the 21 Savage and Cardi B-assisted cut “Wish Wish,” which recently earned a Gold certification. How did that relationship form?
Khaled is my mentor. He helped me [understand more] about the industry and [gives me] advice. Through a friend is how I met Khaled. We had bonded ever since about a year ago and continued to keep in touch.
Tell us more about your production company.
The company is called Drumatized. It is a [label for producers, all of whom] are [their] own boss. It shows the ropes, when to start their own thing. We are working to be bosses, entrepreneurs and executives. One is from Memphis, [and two are from] Nashville and North Carolina. I [found them through both] YouTube and [through] word of mouth.
You were one of the many select talents who received a golden ticket to Dreamville’s Revenge Of The Dreamers III sessions. What can you say was your most memorable experience from that?
I didn’t know what to expect. I haven’t experienced anything like it. By being in the culture of five different rooms with big home studios and dozens of artists, songwriters, and producers. It was worth the experience by listening and making beats and doing what I do best.
What do you think with the shift of music in Memphis is coming along?
The shift is growing. The upcoming wave is full of creative artists who are coming out of Memphis.
What can we expect for the remainder of the year for you? Will you be on any upcoming albums?
I will have my own songs that will be released soon. Also there is a tape that I am collaborating with [alongside Memphis collective] Fast Cash Boyz that will be out soon.
Besides releasing new music, I will be in the television and personality scene doing a Netflix show. I will [also] be in modeling, investments, stock and real estate.