XXL: Tell me a little bit about the movie. How’d the whole thing come about?
Zaytoven: It actually came about from me doing a mixtape project with Gucci Mane and Rocko, so in the midst of recording it, the guy who had written and directed Birds Of A Feather [Curtis "Al Nuke" Franklin] I had him come over and do filming for us while we were putting together the mixtape—we were gonna do a studio documentary to go along with the mixtape. After a while, we did the music and we didn’t really put it out, so I thought, everybody can put out studio DVDs, I need to do a movie. And I’d use these two guys in the movie. So from there it just turned into doing a movie idea. And the guy who’d written and directed it, he’d done a movie before called 17,000 Block, and once I’d seen the movie I thought, “I ought to do a movie, and get everybody I know to be in the movie.”
Have you always been interested in the movie business?
I was always interested in scoring movies, and if anybody know how Zaytoven get down, I like to start from the bottom and make it to the top. So I’ll go get an artist who’s unknown and try to blow him up before I go to a major artist and try to get with them. So that’s what I feel with the movie—since I wanted to score a movie, why don’t I make my own movie and score that? And maybe that will call attention to it and get me a score placement somewhere else. That was another reason why I wanted to make a movie, just so I could score it.
DId [Al Nuke] approach you and ask you to star in it?
I told him, I said we need to do a movie—I saw his movie, and he’s such a great actor, that I said to him that we had to do a movie. But he was tellin’ me, “Zay, everybody loves you in Atlanta, the movie gotta be about you.” At first I wasn’t trying to make it about me, I just knew how good he could act and I thought we needed to make a movie. I’d produce it and do whatever I needed to do, and I’d be in it, but I wasn’t planning on starring in it. But he said, “The movie gotta be about you,” so that’s how that came about.
So he convinced you to star in it?
Yeah, I said if that’s what you think we need to do, then let’s do it.
Had you ever done any acting before that?
Believe it or not, when I was younger my mom always had me and my little brother doing modeling for—I don’t know if you remember Mervyn’s clothes—I used to be on the sitcom Boy Meets World…but I was just an extra, I didn’t have no speaking part. The biggest thing I’d done was a “What If?” Michael Jordan commercial, he did a commercial called “What if?” you know, “what if there were no sports?” and I was in a commercial back then shooting a basketball. But that was like the biggest thing I’d ever done; I wasn’t like a star or nothing, just a lot of extra work.
How old were you when you were doing that?
Man, I had to be 11, 12, 13, around that age.
Did you get to meet Michael?
Yeah, I met Michael, I met Charles Barkley, the day we did that. It was [crazy].