Producers make beats; Cassius Jay assists in making new genres. With help from his collaborators Stixx Taylor and Chris Moten, Jay is using his expertise of working with trap greats like Gucci Mane, Young Dolph, and Migos to reinvent one of the oldest forms of Black music. And he’s got help from some of the best.
“[André 3000] always gave me the insights on what to do. He said, ‘Man, you should do this. You should add a flute to this,'” Jay told REVOLT. “I need to call André and tell him, ‘Three Stacks, we finally put a flute on the song. It took me a whole six years, but we did it.’”
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the Grammy Award-winning producer discussed Zaytoven helping his career, creating a new genre called “trap jazz” and an unreleased A$AP Rocky and Gunna song coming soon. Read the exclusive chat below.
Zaytoven has been a mentor to you. What do you remember about your first session with him?
The first session I had with Zaytoven was in 2013. We were at Gucci Mane’s spot in East Atlanta, man. The crazy thing about it was Slim Dunkin had been killed that night. I didn’t even know what was going on. We were walking in the studio, and I saw everybody moving around. I don’t even know if Gucci was there. It was just so much going on that day. We still went inside and made a couple of beats. Gucci came back probably the next day, and Zay left me there with him (laughs). I was shaking like a motherf**ker. I was just shivering. It was the greatest experience because Zay was so authentic and trusted me. He used to let me do whatever I wanted, and I started making beats like Zay because we’re both musicians, and I used the same equipment. He used the MPC. So, I started mimicking his whole sound, and I would put both our tags on any beats that I would do as a sign of respect and loyalty.
Which of your biggest songs do you remember making from scratch with the artist?
The most important ones I remember are the ones I did with the fallen angels — like Bankroll Fresh. We made “Hot Boy” right there on the spot. Dolph and I did “Royalty” right on the spot. Trouble and I did “It’s A Brick.” The special moments with me would be with the fallen angels because they’re gone, and we’ll never see ’em again. Rest in peace to all of them.
What goes into cooking up from scratch?
First, I always get in their head to see what they’ve been on. So, I’d ask Trouble, “What the hell you been on?” He’d say, “Let me make a song called ‘It’s A Brick.’” I tune into ’em. It’s always me feeding off what they’re going through that day. I learned that from being around writers like The-Dream, Tricky Stewart, and Sean Garrett. We would go in there, talk, and figure out what they’ve been going through, and get in their head a little bit. And that’s how the hits came. Even with Cardi B’s “Drip,” I played her the beat directly and told her, “I’m in the studio with Offset, and he already came up with this hook. I think this will go with you.” And then it happens. It’s always me going through what they’re going through, talking to them about their day or their week.
As mentioned, one of the fallen angels you worked with was Young Dolph on “Royalty.” What was his creative process?
Dolph was definitely a real street n**ga. So, his process was him telling me, “Play me them beats that you can hear a n**ga riding in the hood playing, and their trunk is just banging.” I’d say, “Damn, Dolph. I got so much musical s**t, but you just want the most disrespectful beats.” His concept with beats and music was playing him the s**t you’d hear in the ghetto. He didn’t want that clean, put together s**t. He wanted the most hood, disrespectful beats I could give him (laughs). That was a little strange because I had started producing for Tory [Lanez] and all these other guys. My s**t was really melodic, especially with Young Thug.
But that shows your versatility, which allows you to work with people like Young Dolph and André 3000.
I met André 3000 at my studio, EOA, and played him Trap Jazz. André told me, “I need to take this with me and write to it.” André was excited about it.
Did he give you any tips?
Yeah, he did. He always gave me the insights on what to do. He said, “Man, you should do this. You should add a flute to this.”
He’s always talking about flutes.
I’m adding a flute today, too. I need to call André and tell him, “Three Stacks, we finally put a flute on the song. It took me a whole six years, but we did it” (laughs).
You were also in the studio with A$AP Rocky, Wheezy, and Gunna in 2019. Whatever happened to that song?
We’re about to drop it now. They just called me about it. That’s why I reposted that. A$AP came in with a sample and told me, “Cass, you can play anything; replay this.” And I had to replay it and mimic it. A$AP was on my a** about it, too. I knew Wheezy would make the drums hit super hard because Wheezy is one of my protégés. I’m sitting there redoing the beat, replaying the sample, flipping it, making it my way, and it came out a banger. Gunna and ‘em jumped on that s**t. It sounds like some Travis Scott-type s**t with a sample.
What are you working on with Chrisette Michele?
Chrisette Michele is going to jump on the Trap Jazz album, and we’re also going to work on her stuff. She is a part of us now. She’s Miss Trap Jazz now. That’s my sister.
What’s the most impressive thing you’ve seen done in the studio?
The most impressive thing I’ve seen is that this man, Chris Moten, came up with the most unbelievable music. I never heard someone get on a trap beat and turn it into jazz.
What do you have coming for the rest of 2023?
Trap Jazz is all I’m working on. We got K. Michelle dropping. We got Scotty ATL with CeeLo [Green]. We got Trap Jazz with Chrisette Michele, Stixx Taylor, and Chris Moten coming out. Let’s get it!