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Studio Sessions I Tay Keith talks making 'Before I Let Go' for Beyoncé and explains how Travis Scott engineered his own vocals

Keith Nelson Jr

 // Jul 2, 2019

Ousman Sahko

For "Studios Sessions," we delve into the stories behind the long hours in the studio and all that goes into making an album by talking with artists, producers, engineers, photographers, and more who are intimately connected to the recording process with some of the biggest artists in the world. These are the stories that rarely leave the booth.


For the past few years, if you wanted a hit, you needed Tay Keith. After making chart-topping records with Drake and Travis Scott, along with entering a realm of ubiquity by producing Beyoncé's 'Before I Let Go,' the 22-year-old Memphis native is beginning to see his place in the new generation of hip hop.

"I feel like I'm responsible for making Memphis sound mainstream. Of course, it was at a certain peak with Three 6 Mafia and 8Ball & MJG," Tay Keith told REVOLT TV. "But in terms of the new generation of the original Memphis sound, I feel like I'm responsible for making it mainstream."

For this installment of "Studio Sessions," Tay Keith discusses how he made Beyoncé's "Before I Let Go," his early days of putting beats on YouTube and his upcoming single.

How did you make Beyoncé’s 'Before I Let Go'?

Basically, I had made the sample beat and I decided to put another sample in the background of it. I had put another sample, which was Dr. Jubilee’s 'Get It Ready, New Orleans bounce. I felt like it was an uptempo beat and I wanted to have an extra bounce too, so I added that extra sample into it. In the midst of that, I had got my homeboy Miles to replay the keys for the [Cameo] 'Candy' sample, I added my touch to it and we went from there.



How long did it take you to make that beat?

It was a day process. It didn’t take 24 hours, but it took a whole day to get everything how I wanted it.

When you were making it, did you know it would be for Beyoncé? Did she or her team reach out to you?

Yeah, I knew. I wouldn’t get too in depth about that part. But, yes, I made the beat for Beyoncé. I made it... a few months before it came out.

How has that Beyoncé placement changed who has reached out to you and your career?

As far as that placement, it showed versatility of my sound. So more people [began] reaching out to me from different genres and styles besides hip hop. On top of that, on a fan side, I got more women supporters and fans.



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Metro TK🖕🏾

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You used to record and produce in your bedroom and now you’re in big budget studios. What is the ideal studio environment for you to make music?

I like to be private. I like to be to myself. I don’t really like anybody being around. I really don’t like opinions when it comes to my music. People would be in the studio telling me I should add this or I should do this. I don’t like that.

During your come up, you would make type beats on YouTube, which are beats advertised as sounding like the type of beat a certain artist or producer would put out. Were you making music, listening to it and then deciding it was a certain type of beat?

Yeah. That's what I usually did. That was around the time that I was trying to find my sound. So, it was more than just me making specific sounds like I do now. It was more of a broader sound. Every producer says you have to find your lane and your sound. I feel like I was at a point, where I was making a variety of different sounds and those were the type of beats I was putting on YouTube.



How much money did you make on YouTube each month making those type of beats?

Off YouTube, I was making maybe a couple hundred [dollars]. Off selling them, I was making a couple more hundred [dollars]. So, I was making a decent amount.

Now there's Tay Keith-type beats on YouTube. Have you heard them? Do they capture your sound?

Yeah, I've listened to a few of them. They capture the sound in a sense. Some of them do.

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3:40am

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You also have producers signed to you, too. Correct?

Yeah. I have three producers signed to me. I found them off YouTube... I wanted to help them out.

What is your beat making equipment of choice? How have this upgrade in equipment helped?

I have some Rokit speakers. I got a piano keyboard. I got a new Dell laptop and I got an interface. Now, I can hear a clearer sound with that interface and professional speakers, as opposed to just headphones and no interface.



What would Tay Keith now tell Tay Keith years ago, who was making beats on Mixcraft and Guitar Hero?

I would tell myself to actually learn how to play piano. I feel like I could’ve got more into my creative zone if I started knowing how to play piano.

What's the most impressive thing you've ever seen someone do in the studio?

I've seen Travis [Scott] rap and engineer his own vocals. He produced, too.

You produced on 'Sicko Mode' from his album Astroworld. What was Travis like in the studio?

He's a real people person. He reminds me of me and my niggas. He's just cool as hell. We'd be in the studio not even talking about music. We just be talking all type of shit. He's a cool, genuine person with me, my whole team, my manager, my stylist, my PR man Nick. It's just more of a genuine vibe.

You said you like working on music alone. So, how was it with you and Travis in the studio working together?

It's different when you're in the studio with an artist because a lot of people don't understand what goes on behind the scenes. People cook up in the studio. But, a lot of time, it can be an artist wants to rap right there. So, you play them beats instead of cooking up live.



You were in college while you were climbing up the charts with Blocboy JB and Drake's "Look Alive." How did you balance pursuing your music career and a degree?

When it was understood that I was in school and I was doing what I was doing, I was getting a lot of help in school. It would be friends that would help me do my work and help me study... Professors were helping me, too. They knew sometimes I couldn't make it to class, so they would work around my schedule when it came to tests.

Dreamville recently released the first two singles from their highly anticipated album Revenge of the Dreamers III. I saw pictures of you in the studio with J. Cole during those sessions. Do you know if you'll be on the album?

I'd rather not speak on that.

Three of your biggest hits are 'Look Alive,' Drake's 'Nonstop,' and Lil' Baby and Gunna's 'Never Recover.' Out of those songs, which one took the shortest time to make?

'Look Alive' took no more than an hour.

What's next for Tay Keith?

I'm dropping my first single real soon. It's going to be hard.

What’s your place in this new generation of hip hop?

I feel like I’m responsible for making Memphis sound mainstream. Of course, it was at a certain peak with Three 6 Mafia, and 8Ball & MJG. But, in terms of the new generation of the original Memphis sound, I feel like I’m responsible for making it mainstream.

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💿💿💿

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