From “ZEZE” to Tyga's Resurgence: An Interview with Producer D.A. Doman

"I'd like to think of it as my own lil’ slice of hip-hop history—especially hip-hop production history."
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From “ZEZE” to Tyga's Resurrection: An Interview with Producer D.A Doman

Producers are the powerhouses of the rap industry in 2018. More often than not, as you’re perusing the Billboard charts, you’ll happen upon a track that is absolutely saved and lifted to the heavens because a savvy producer was behind the boards. A good producer can revive a rap career just as easily as they can assist artists in continuing their superstar range. In the case of Chicago producer D.A. Doman, he can do both. From “Taste” and “Swish” with Tyga to Kodak Black's “ZEZE" with Travis Scott and Offset, Doman has his hands on several song-of-the-year contenders.

“The instrumental was getting played at clubs, house parties, concerts, in people's cars, and at their cribs,” Doman says of the “ZEZE” beat, which quickly became a viral meme. “And this was before the song or any snippet from the song was released. It was just the instrumental ripped off of Kodak’s Instagram. It was all over the entire world. I had people tagging me on their Instagram stories from everywhere on the planet. It was nuts.”

With Kodak, Travis Scott, and Offset in the mix and the song officially out, “ZEZE” is doing fantastic numbers. As D.A. tells me himself, the song is topping the Apple Music charts nationally and globally, while over on Spotify, it's currently the most-played record on the Top 200 daily chart in the United States. While he’s enjoying the success, Doman is not particularly surprised. He describes “ZEZE” as “a perfection situation,” one bound to set records in due time. “You have three incredible artists who are all super talented and who are all at the top of music, and then you have a beat that took off probably unlike any unreleased instrumental ever before,” Doman explains.

Nothing like a perfect storm of a song to make a producer feel like they’re on top of the world—especially since D.A. Doman, at this moment, quite literally is globally dominating. As it seems, success comes in threes. We’re on the lookout for hit number four.

DJBooth’s full interview with D.A. Doman, lightly edited for content and clarity, follows below.

DJBooth: “ZEZE” is absolutely taking off.

D.A. Doman: Yeah, it's really dope. I'm happy. Number one on Apple Music in the US, and number one on Apple Music globally since it got released. Number one on Spotify in the US since it got released, and it's currently number one globally on Spotify, and it keeps moving up. I'm really picky with finishing beats. That one took a little while. When it was finished, I knew it was hard.

Was “ZEZE” made with Kodak Black in mind?

Only one artist heard that beat: Kodak. It wasn't sent for anyone else. I have a joint coming with Quavo that was the same thing. Only sent to one person.

What about “ZEZE” makes it such a hit?

It's kind of a perfect situation, because you have three incredible artists who are all super talented and who are all at the top of music, and then you have a beat that took off probably unlike any unreleased instrumental ever before. Everyone I’ve talked to who's been in the music industry for 10, 20 years has said they've never seen a beat by itself get so huge. Of course, Kodak swagged it out crazy with the dances. I'd like to think of it as my own lil’ slice of hip-hop history—especially hip-hop production history.

The instrumental was getting played at clubs, house parties, concerts, in people's cars, and at their cribs. And this was before the song or any snippet from the song was released. It was just the instrumental ripped off of Kodak’s Instagram. It was all over the entire world. I had people tagging me on their Instagram stories from everywhere on the planet. It was nuts. Obviously, I'm lucky Orlando [Wharton] and Kodak have such great ears, some of the best in the game, and they were able to hear how big the beat and song could be.

At this point, is there a formula for hit beats in hip-hop?

No. There's never a formula for anything in music, I don't think. What sounds amazing to one generation sounds boring to the next a lot of the time.

Moving on to Tyga, you’ve been working with him for the past half-decade. How have you seen him grow in that time?

Tyga's a real smart guy, and I think like a lot of smart artists over time he's identified what he excels at and what his fans want from him, and he's been delivering that since we did “Taste.” Then again, though, he's made a lot of hits already from the jump. He came in the game with a bunch of big records off his first album.

In large part thanks to you, Tyga is back on the charts and has two hits on his hands. How does that feel?

I appreciate that. Thanks. It feels good. Making beats and records that people love is one of the best things about doing music.

Talk to me about the making of both tracks, starting with “Taste.”

“Taste” came together pretty quickly. I sent the beat to Tyga and he loved it. He texted me the record back, unmixed—I don't remember how many days or weeks later—and I was in the car back in Chicago at the time on the Southside with my wife. I played it and we were both immediately like, “This is a smash!” He sent me the record mixed awhile later and I said, “What about getting a feature?” I suggested Offset or one other rapper who I won't name [laughs], he thought Offset was a good idea, he sent it to Offset, Offset loved it, and the rest is history.

How about “Swish?”

“Swish” was made around the same time as “Taste.” I sent the beat to Tyga, he loved it, laid down vocals to it, and [we] decided to drop it after “Taste.”

What do you say to someone who thinks producers are simply beatmakers and nothing else?

This whole producer versus beatmaker topic gets talked about way too much between producers! I always see people bringing it up on panels, at producer events, and I wish producers would realize no one cares [laughs]. Listeners aren't thinking about any of that.

How do you see the role of the producer expanding in the next five years?

I don't see it expanding. I see it being pretty much the same as it is now. Big producers have a lot of power in the industry already and are already really popular in hip-hop.

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