Interviews

Published on September 12th, 2020 | by Percy Crawford

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“WAP” Producers Ayo N’ Keyz Celebrate Chart-Topping Hit!

The dynamic-duo behind Cardi B and Meg Thee Stallion’s controversial chart-topping track!

Ayo N’ Keyz have worked with some of the most influential figures in the music. From Rick Ross, Chris Brown, Wiz Khalifa, K. Michelle, PNB Rock, Jeremih and the list goes on and on. They scored big with, Cardi B’s “Bickenhead” track which earned the duo a Grammy for “Best Rap Album” on her “Invasion of Privacy,” album. The combination wasn’t done yet, recently, Cardi B collaborated with Houston’s, Meg Thee Stallion for an attention-grabbing yet controversial track titled, “WAP,” (I’ll leave it to the reader to look of what the acronym stands for). The track stands at #1 on the Billboard 100 Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and has been for 4-weeks now. Celebrations can be short-lived and although Ayo N’ Keyz plan to fully reap the benefits that has come with the success of, “WAP,” Ayo expresses the importance of moving towards creating more magic!

I caught up with, Ayo, one half of the producing powerhouse to get his thoughts on “WAP,” from the praises to the scrutiny! We also discuss what makes him and Keyz such a terrific tandem!

How does it feel to have produced the #1 song in the country and be a part of something so big?

Ayo: I think more than anything it just reassures that we are doing what we are supposed to be doing, man. Being able to be in this position… it’s honestly been bittersweet because of the times. Knowing and understanding that there are innocent people that have been suffering from a pandemic. And to still have big wins during that, it kind of changes the way you celebrate. If anything, I just find myself having more gratitude for the small things, but I’m definitely thankful for this record.

Has it been a challenge to remain creative during such a weird time in history given everything that is going on?

Ayo: It’s been a rollercoaster. At first it was like, “Shoot, we’re stuck in the house. This is what an introvert’s been waiting on. At first, I was super motivated. I was doing like 15-20 songs a day. And then I went through a period of cabin fever and I didn’t want to have anything to do with music. So, the best way I can describe it as, it’s been a rollercoaster, man. But the inspiration and motivation has always been there, but yeah man, it’s been a journey.

What is it about Cardi B that allows you guys to make great music with her? Those collaborations are always successful, why is that in your opinion?

Ayo: It’s crazy because even during a time like this… I had somebody ask me, “Is it odd doing a club record during a pandemic when people can’t go to the club?” I loved it because it gives us that escape. If you play this in your home or your car, for that 3-minutes, it gives you a break from your reality. I think that’s what it’s always been about. Making music that feels good. Making something that is more than just another song. It’s a feeling, man. It’s a moment. It’s a memory. It’s just dope to help create an experience. We’re seeing these dance challenges; we’re seeing these memes. We’re able to see people be able to escape this pandemic and be able to have fun during these unfortunate times.

Cardi and Meg Thee Stallion didn’t toe the line, they jumped clean over the line with, “WAP.” Obviously, you knew there would be some backlash from a track like that. how have you handled the scrutiny?

Ayo: It’s crazy because a lot of people ask me, how has this moment been. I see both sides. I’ve gotten comments of congrats and I’ve gotten comments like, “This is the person responsible for creating this. This is affecting our youth and women.” I’m just like, “Bro what?” Overall… it’s dope to see two women who are usually in last place, they’re last to get equal pay, they are last to get opportunities. So, to see two women be on top, do whatever they want and still have such influence, how can you be mad at that? It’s just like, we’re going to give them all of the backlash in the world, but let’s be honest, it’s so many rap songs that are crazy. Imagine 30-years ago when, “I like big butts,” came out. What was that like? I just feel like, the people who wanna feel some type of way, is going to find whatever it is to make whoever they want to make wrong. At the end of the day, people who don’t like you won’t like you and people that support you are going to support you. I try not to feed into it, but it’s been crazy.

On the flipside of that, no disrespect to Nicki Minaj or her position in this game, but to be able to work with the two women widely recognized as the two hottest female artists in the world, that had to be a career highlight as well.

Ayo: I have friends and I tell them that, I wish I could just step out of my body for a moment and see it from the other side. Like, “Oh shoot, Ayo N’ Keyz made that!” You know what I’m saying. I’ve been able to look at other producers who have been producing dope stuff… for instance, it’s like J White. One of my great friends. He did, “Hot Girl Summer,” and he did, “Savage.” I’m able to witness that from the other side like, “That’s my boy! He is killing it.” It’s been tough to look at myself like, “I did that?” It’s been hard to translate and understand, but at the same time I’m understanding and accepting like, “Yo, this is your job, this is your purpose. Let’s just get it done. This is what you’re supposed to do,” and it’s like, you got one, let’s go get another one now.

I’m glad you said that because I wanted to ask you, is there a timetable on the celebration even for a #1 song before you move on to trying to create the next one?

Ayo: I think as long as the song lasts… the first time that we heard the song was when Cardi B and Meg premiered it on YouTube. We watched the countdown, we watched when it went live, and then we watched the music video and heard the song and it was like, “Oh shoot! This song ended and now it’s reality. Now, it’s the comments and getting back to these labels, and PR and publishing companies and making sure that we capitalize off of these moments to create the next moment.” If we were to just sit here and soak in this moment, by the time the song is off the charts, then it’s like, “Yeah, it’s probably a good idea that we get back to work or we’re going to miss everything.” Now, it’s like, “What’s next?” We gotta stay focused and not get set on this one.

How does a song like this come together? Do they provide you the lyrics and you make a beat around it, do you just get the hook only and create a beat off of that, or do you provide the beat and they put the lyrics to the beat you’ve created?

Ayo: We created this beat, along with a few others. Our whole vibe was, we knew Cardi and Meg, city girls that have such influence on music right now, we know the vibe that they were on. So, for us, it’s like, what would Cardi do? We went back to classic samples to see what we could flip. All together we sent over probably 10-15 beats, and this was the one that stuck out. We didn’t even know it was a thing until we got a call from, Craig Kallman, who is the chairman over at Atlantic Records. He was like, “Yo, we’re thinking about making it the next single, could you make a few changes to it?” And like I said, the first time I heard it was the premier on YouTube.

We discussed what makes your production mesh so well with Cardi B’s sound. What makes Ayo N’ Keyz such a dynamic duo?

Ayo: I think it’s just being like-minded people. I was on Live yesterday and I was telling them, because they asked when I’m signing producers and artist, what am I looking for. And I told them, talent is cool, but it’s more about who a person is. With me and Keyz, we’re like-minded people. We both come from similar backgrounds. Our parents are pastors. We have that understanding. Because of that, I believe we have both worked off of faith rather than how our situation looks now. When me and Keyz first started, Keyz was taking a bus to come down to Orlando and I was picking him up in the ’92 Hyundai. But we had faith on what we really wanted to do next. So, that was a big part of it. And outside of music, we just build as brothers. Lately, we have been talking about… our credits good, but how to get it better. Investments to make. I just bought my first home last year and now he’s shopping. Overall, we’re just building as men. I think that’s why it carries so well into the craft because we’re brothers at the end of the day.

Anytime you’re creative collectively with someone else, there are disagreements. How do you guys resolve the creative differences?

Ayo: I wouldn’t say we butt heads. Of course, we may have two different opinions on things, but we do also understand the other person will never do something with ill-will. Moving and always understanding the other persons perspective as well. Keyz will be like, “You know what, I think this sounds better.” And I’m like, “You know what, let’s try it, and worse case scenario, we’ll submit both options and let them pick.” We literally take that same mind frame and motto and supply it everywhere in life. Never handle situations where you’re at, handle it where they are coming from as well. Be open and considerate of the people that you’re dealing with.

The names you have worked with is endless, obviously, Cardi and Meg, Wiz Khalifa, Rick Ross, Bryson Tiller, Chris Brown… how important is it for you to be diverse in supplying beats and not only being able to produce for one genre or one style?

Ayo: My dad always said, “Never put all your eggs in one basket.” Of course, music as a whole, that’s our priority, that’s our love, so it’s like, yo… let’s challenge ourselves. We know what we can do. It’s just about putting that pressure on to be different and be greater, and by that, we push ourselves to the limit by trying to attack as many genres and as many artists as we can. Because as you can see, there is so much music out there, so many artists that are out there and there are no ones on the way. So, it’s like, let’s go for it all rather than just focus on one thing.

I appreciate your time, congratulations again and I patiently wait the next chart-topping hit from you guys. Is there anything else you want to add before I let you go?

Ayo: I hope everybody is staying safe, and practicing social distancing, but also giving yourself that balance and that freedom to try and find your peace during these times.



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