Zaytoven’s Life Lessons – The Best of the Bay and the A

Growing up in San Francisco was a good experience for me and helped prepare me for what I’m doing today; little to my knowledge at the time.

The Bay was the place that taught me the business of hustlin’ and grindin’. Out there, it wasn’t about looking fly or anything too superficial, it was about surviving and getting yours by any means necessary.

I remember having a bucket for a car out there, but it was getting me from A to B, which is all I cared about. As long as I was driving to pick up money from making a beat or to go work in somebody’s studio, it was all good. My car even broke down on me right on the Bay Bridge and I didn’t really have a whole lot of money—I couldn’t even afford to pay the tow truck driver that came to tow me. He literally got behind my car and bumped me across the bridge to the other side and dipped.

I had to figure it out from there.

It was all about making moves and handling business. Now, when I came to the “A;” man, was it on some lights, camera, action-type of stuff. Atlanta is where I went to the school of fly and flashy. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always considered myself a pretty fly dude, I was even voted “best dressed” in high school, but not on the level they were doing it down here. When me and Gucci saw some of our first big checks, we both went straight to the jewelry store and got these big iced-out chains. I don’t really do that now, but, at the time, it was just a part of being young.

It made me realize about having a “look.” That image you projected was almost as important as having the talent to back it up because people wanted to associate with others who they felt were successful—whether that was the case or not.

The whole industry here was about jewelry, cars and clothes and showing it all off at the same time. I look at it now like I needed both sides to make it. I needed to have that hunger and drive I learned from the Bay in order to survive the time period when I was new to the southern market and was trying to get on. I also appreciate how Atlanta made me have fun along the way and just enjoy the ride. In other words, the Bay taught me how to grind, while the A taught me how to shine.

What have you learned from your hometown and how have those experiences made you the person you are today?

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  • ra

    i feel ya bra,i’m originally from savannah,gabut i moved to atl where image is everything. ive been here so long now that my swag has gone past material objects. at the end of the day confidence,self-esteem,conversation,and good sex is still what the bitches want. the paper is definately an added plus but money with no swag is a sin in my book….lol…the atl recognizes when you are on your shit and feeling good which is why i’ll always love this city. peace up a-town down!!

  • BossGame

    Diggin’ ya work ethic brah! Up early handling ya business. Yeah! That’s that miltary background in full effect! Props!

  • scjoha

    Zay, you’re one of the greatest producers of the last 5 years, it’s unreal how many dope jams you put out since Trap House. Obviously the Bay made you the most prolific producer in the game, made you grind the hardest.
    Not only did both of you put out so much material, but you improved at a rapid pace at the same time: Honestly I didn’t like So Icey. It wasn’t really kicking, Gucci’s raps weren’t really good. “Black Tee” was cool, beats and lyrics wise, but everything was a little too light, not that fat, thick rounded sound and those relentlessly flowing rhymes we learned to love later. But in a little over a year you dropped some dope ish with everything in place: Drive Fast, Stick Em Up, Alley Cat – head bobbing jams. Chicken Talk, Stupid – simply great music. Blood In Blood Out – one of the hardest (nh) beats and raps ever. Like, ever. It’s My Party – Zay, the genius on the keys, hiphop’s Beethoven for real.
    What made both of you improve so quick? Was the beef with Jeezy motivating you? Did it affect you, Zay, at all? How come you two had such a good chemistry? That’s so rare these days, you were like the Dre and Snoop of the 2000′s. Iced Out Bart, Re-Up, Bricks, Rich Nigga Shit, Plug Is an Alien, Gorgeous, I Think I Want Her – these are the classic jams of the 2000′s, and only a few of my favorites. I could go on for days. Please tell us some stories, anecdotes behind these jams. Would love to hear that. Even though most of them ended up on mixtapes these are some effin genre-defining songs, influencing generations. How do you deal with the fact that most of your songs are not released officially as if they probably would have been 15 years ago? (You would prolly be Pac’s main producer back then, given that you like to work with prolific studio maniacs like Gucci, and given that you’re from the Bay.)
    How did the Bay not only teach you how to grind, but give you a sound? What are the Bay elements of your sound? Who were you listening to coming up, which producers influenced you? Mike Mosley, Studio Ton, Rick Rock (some vicious keyboard cats too)? Give us some background info, some details about your musical experiences, your work, the music game. That would be great.

    • Dough

      Do U have Hearts in your Eyes when You See him too? Damn Homie let the man breathe a minute shit. Dre N Snoop of the 2000′s GTFOH!

  • El Tico Loco

    What makes one shine is from within bruh, in the A you gotta sift thru the fakes because everyone is so caught on image and keeping up with the Joneses and without conversation everyone seems to be on the same shit. I see cats go in debt for the sake of flossing all the time, and as much as I love it here, there’s very few people of substance around, meaning people that think for themselves as opposed to just following trends. For example; how many ways can a local artist make a song about making money? I know everybody making music is not rich, with or with no deal that’s faker than pretending to be stick up kid because that can be arranged quick. And who cares what you spent on whatever? Don’t tell me what you spent, tell me what you brought in and the real story of how you got it, but more than likely is probably less than what was spent. I’m not generalizing but recalling some people I have ran into while here.

  • dex

    Zay….when you gon put my guy MOOK on the forefront?….That boy got some bangers…..Its all love tho….