As the saying goes, hard work pays off but in the case of 21-year-old rising producer KeY Wane, keys open doors.
Producing since the age of 13, Wane, real name, Dwane M. Weir II, is currently hearing his name ring bells following his work on Meek Mill’s current Dreamchasers 2 smash “Amen” (also co-produced by Jahlil Beats)—a track that also features Drake and Jeremih. A talent on the piano keys, the Detriot native has been infusing these skills into his melodric-driven backdrops for a few years now and can be heard on his joints with the likes of Big Sean (“Memories,” “Almost Wrote You A Love Song”), Tyga (“Potty Mouth”), Chevy Woods (“Down”) and more. In fact, it was just last month that the Tennessee State University senior signed a co-publishing deal with good friend and frequent collaborator Big Sean.
Balancing both his music career and school life, Wane recently took some time to speak with XXLMag.com about a range of topics including producing “Amen” for Meek, juggling school and music, relationship with Big Sean and more.—Ralph Bristout (@XXLRalph)
Now you got a scorcher with this Meek Mill single, tell me how did that record come about?
It was during Christmas break. I went back to Detroit and brought my keyboard with me. So, I was listening to these old records and just caught this vibe. I’m not too heavy on sampling, just because of legal things so, I was like ‘Man, what if I did this? Switched it up like this, added this, take this ’ I was like just reconstructing and adding my own ideas, and at first it sounded a little kind of bland to me but then I just kept listening to it. I just added, kept enhancing the sound; it sounded really on deck as shit to me. I let Sean hear the same night [and] he was like, “Man, this shit cold, nigga.” I was like I got to get it placed so I sent it to Meek and he fell in love with it.
Did you intentionally make “Amen” for Meek?
Well, when I make beats, I kind of have a thought in mind of whom I want to send it to. When I made [“Amen”], I went to the studio and [Big] Sean heard it. I asked him to put a hook on it [and] from there I was like “Alright, cool. Let’s see what I can do with it.” The hook was cold, but Sean went out to L.A. a couple of months later and was like, “Yeah, the song is cool, but the hook is a little [iffy]. So, I was like, ‘Alright, well, I’m about to send it to Meek.’ He said, “Yeah, that nigga will definitely rip that.” So, I sent to Meek, and he hit me up saying, “Man that shit cold. I’m about to make this shit my single.”
That must have been some kind of feeling.
I was like, ‘Oh shit.’ So, I called Sean —‘cause Sean my nigga, man. He been helping me out since before I took myself serious with music. I was like, ‘Dawg, this nigga Meek want to use my shit as single. He like, “Yeah, man. You out of there. He played it for me last night.” I’m like, ‘Oh shit. How it sound?’ ‘Cause I aint hear it and he heard it before me. “That shit cold, nigga.” Soon after a lot of people were hitting me up on Twitter like, “You out of there with this “Amen” track!” Hit-Boy even hit me and was like, “You out of there with that “Amen”.” From there I was like, ‘Damn. this shit must be [crazy].’
How long ago was this?
This was like last week.
Wow. Then Jahlil Beats hopped on to tweak it a bit right?
Yeah. I remember my original drums on the track, they were a little iffy ‘cause I did the melody correct but the drums weren’t on deck like they should. So, Meek was like, “Yo send me a track out; I’m going to have Jahlil or Cardiak go in over it.” So then, it end up being Jahlil and like the progression on the drums they were like the same but you know Jahlil got that knock. So, he threw that knock on it [and] it was a great progress at the end of the day.
You’re getting a lot of praise for producing that record. As a burgeoning producer this is the perfect position to be in.
It’s a crazy feeling. I prayed for this. I waited for this. I remember as a kid, I remember asking God, ‘Thank you for this gift. Please continue to let me do great things.’ Ever since I planted that seed, it kept growing and growing. The love I’m getting it really humbles me.
Listening to your joints like Big Sean’s “Memories” and “Wrote You A Love Song,” Tyga’s “Hypnotized” as well as “Amen,” you seem to have a real melodic, piano-driven sound. How did the piano become a instrument of choice for you?
I got into it while in middle school. I had a music class which was the last class before school let out. [One day] the teacher was telling us about instruments and she pointed to the piano, she was explaining the history of it and called up students to play with it. After I got done playing the keys, I really just got into it. I told my mom [and] she bought me a keyboard, a ton of music software [and] other inexpensive stuff to get me started. I would just be at the crib. It would be a bunch of classical music pieces like some Mozart stuff and I would play it and throw a drum loop to it. I would just rock to it.
Now you’re a senior at Tennessee State University, how do you juggle school life with being a producer?
I make time for it. I remember I came in the class late one day and my piano teacher asked, “Why are you late?” I had just got off my flight from Los Angeles so I was like, ‘I was working on an album with Def Jam artist Big Sean and I was I there, I met Common.’ She said, “Are you serious?” I showed her a picture and she said, “So why are you in school?” ‘Cause my mom wants me to get my degree.’ I feel like in the music industry its my plan, its my dream and plan A, B and C but you never know what could happen tomorrow. I would rather have my degree for these “just in case” situations.
Earlier you referred to Big Sean being a good friend. What’s the relationship like between you two?
I’ve been sending tracks to Sean since I was about 15-years-old. He always told me back in high school that he was going to rap on my beats as I got better with my craft so, as the years passed I kept growing musically and he kept growing musically. He [finally] rapped to one of my tracks, which was the “4 My People” track that was on the XXL’s 10 Freshman for ’10 mixtape. After that I landed placements with Tyga (“Drink The Night Away”), produced “Memories” and “Love Song” (Co-Produced by No I.D.) for Sean and ended up with a placement on his Finally Famous debut album.
Right after that album, you worked on other joints as well.
[Yeah] I ended up on Tyga’s Careless World album and had placements with Chip Tha Ripper, No I.D., Chevy Woods, Rockie Fresh etc. Sean was impressed.
So impressed that he signed you to a co-publishing deal. How did that happen?
He had a show in Nashville, I think last November. So when I was done with school, Sean told me to come through to the show and right after it we went to a studio. On our way to the studio, he was like “I wanna sign you bro.” I was like “Fosho,” so, I continued to work and send him tracks and work on getting placements with other artists. In the meantime, he went to London to work on the G.O.O.D. album with the label [and while there] told me to send him some tracks while he was out there to play for Kanye. He played one that Kanye liked, so Sean and an A&R from G.O.O.D. [Music] hit me up and asked to send the track that ’Ye liked, as soon as I could. Right after I sent it, I got a phone call from Mike Brinkley (Sean’s management) and he asked me was I in any music situations with anybody. I said no so he then said, “We have the contract ready for you to sign your co-publishing deal with Sean. You should be getting it next week.” I was hype. I received the contract, my attorney looked it over, I signed and everything has been even more on deck since then.
Recently a joint dropped from Sean featuring Wale titled “Life Should Go On,” word is that you produced it.
That was a leak man. I was kind of mad. I was chillin’, watching TV and my phone vibrated and I saw somebody tweet, “Man, this is cold as shit. New music from Big Sean and Wale, ‘Life Should Go On’ produced by Key Wane.” I was like, ‘What the fuck?’ So, I had looked on Sean’s page, see if he put it out [and] he didn’t so I was like, ‘How is somebody going to tweet this before him?’ From there I figured, ‘It’s a leak.’ I was pissed, but everything getting worked out though. Everything is gonna be straight.
Who have you been working with in the studio lately?
I’m working with Jeremih right now. I can’t speak on too much, but just know that me and him got a banger on the way.
That’s dope. I know you and Sean have work on the way as well. What can you tell us about his upcoming sophomore album?
I can’t really [speak much on it] because there’s a lot of stuff they’ve been recording when I haven’t been around but, I can tell you that he has a good body of work. It’s a great growth from Finally Famous. Looking past the friendship that me and Sean have and just listening to it as a listener—he just played me a bunch of shit— it’s that good. I ain’t even trying to brag on it, but that shit is that good.