The celebrated producer and unlikely trap hero discusses how his basement recordings laid the foundation for modern Atlanta rap.
Xavier Dotson tends to describe himself first as a church pianist. He backed his choir-director mother when he was in grade school, and he has played piano at Georgia’s Life Abundantly Church for 12 years. Yet as Zaytoven, his wonky 808s and lively organs laid the foundation for modern trap music. Zaytoven landed on that sound when he was still living in his parents’ basement, recording with Gucci Mane, Nicki Minaj and Yo Gotti. The Grammy-winning producer is still at the center of what he helped create, and has nurtured and worked with next-generation trap architects Mike WiLL Made It and Metro Boomin. Past credits include all his old friends, but also Usher, Migos, Lecrae and Lil Pump; in the summer of 2018, he and Future reunited for BEASTMODE 2. In this Fireside Chat out of his own basement, Zaytoven traces through the unexpected trajectory that landed him trap godfather status.