It’s always a good idea to plan ahead before quitting your day job to pursue your passion, but in the case of the venerable producer Zaytoven, he took the idea to the extreme.
In a new interview on the Producergrind Podcast, Zay revealed that despite having the No. 1 R&B/Hip-Hop song in the country (and a top-40 hit overall) with Usher’s 2010 hit “Papers,” and despite enjoying a $100k-plus payday, he continued to work a regular day job at a barbershop.
“My check from Usher [for "Papers"] was like $101,000,” he said. “My parents ain’t even seen that much money together. You know, I ain’t even seen that much money at one time before, but I’m still at the barbershop. I’m still at the barbershop because I still feel like ‘Man, that’s a blessing, that’s crazy I got that, but I know it’s over after this. I know I’mma fall off after this.’ That was my mindset. My mindset was like, I’m still gon’ keep cutting hair ‘cause, what if this don’t work out? I can’t really base my life on this right here.”
Practical perhaps to a fault, Zaytoven finally walked away from his work at the barbershop in 2013, when Migos released their hit single “Versace,” but only because of the scores of fans coming to the shop to snap a photo with the producer.
Zay cites his parents’ work ethic as his primary reason for keeping music as a “side hustle” despite the massive checks he had coming in. While his story may be a bit extreme, it does illustrate the importance of achieving a level of stability before diving head-first into your passions.
Or, as producer Supah Mario told us at the top of 2018, “You gotta know that you’re the shit before you even hit the fan.” Before Mario made his leap from janitor to full-time producer, he was also waiting on a proof of concept, some type of insurance that he wasn’t simply throwing his life away.
Creativity rewards patience, for sure, but it’s also important to know when to pull the trigger.