KillerHipHop Exclusive: Key Wane Interview
Keys open doors and Dwane Weir is no stranger to the rule. His proficiency on the piano keys has taken his career to heavenly heights. Key Wane is the man responsible for producing Meek Mill’s current smash hit, “Amen” featuring Drake and Jeremih. Before “Amen,” he was producing for Big Sean, who he’s known since the age of 13. Key Wane produced “Memories” from Sean’s Finally Famous debut album. Most recently, he placed on Tyga’s Careless World with “Potty Mouth.” Wane’s unique sound on the boards prompted Big Sean to sign him to his Finally Famous imprint. As a result, the Detroit songwriter/producer is currently helping Big Sean on his sophomore album.
During our conversation, he talked about the creation of “Amen,” the controversy surrounding the track, Big Sean originally jumping on the “Amen” beat, whether he’s a G.O.O.D. producer or not, working with Big Sean on his album, and lots more. Keys open doors, and clicks open pages, so hit the jump for our exclusive interview with Key Wane.
QuezKHH: Congrats on the success of “Amen.” How was the beat born?
Key Wane: I made it over Christmas break. This was December 22nd. This was when we were out on break from school. So I could only bring home like a select amount of equipment because my car couldn’t fit everything back. I didn’t want to stay in Nashville for the whole Christmas break so I went home for a couple of weeks. I brought my keyboard and my computer home. In the basement of my mom’s crib is where it all started, just making beats you know. Then I came across this idea from this real old track. I said, this would be a great idea if I flip it and use it correctly. People think that that song is an actual sample, like I took a song and chopped it up. I didn’t. I played all that shit out. I added in a couple of bars of my own original material and just mixed it all together to make one great track. When I’m reading comments, people think it’s just a riff or a loop. I really just played the whole verse out. I didn’t play 4 bars then looped it. I actually played all that out and then went to the break and then went back all through it, all that. It’s really straight forward. The drums, I re-did the drums like twice. Then Jahlil, he only added like an 808.
I remember when I made the beat, I hit [Big] Sean up like, man I got this banger cuz. N*ggas got to hop on this. So I went to Tone’s crib. I let him hear it. He started getting some ideas, so we all went to the studio. We recorded a reference to it and it was solid. It was straight. It was cool. But months later when I went out to L.A. to work with Sean on his album, I was like, what did you think about the song? He was like, ehh I don’t know. So I was like shit I’m going to send this shit to Meek [Mill]. I remember meeting Meek in New York, that past July or August. [He said], “man I got an album coming out. I need to get some tracks from you. I really like your work.” So I sent him a couple of tracks. He went through them and he picked “Amen.” I was like, oh? I mean, I liked “Amen” as a beat, but how can I explain it. I liked it, but I just felt like I had sent that beat in a folder with a whole bunch of beats that I thought were kind of better than that one. I was thinking he was going to pick [others], but he picked that one. I was like, oh! A couple of months later I hit him up and he told me, yo this is going to be my single. He played it over the phone for me and I was like damn! It all ended up coming out straight. Everything.
This beat took like 2 days to make because I started working on it in Nashville and then I came home and finished it. But I kept adding things to it, so it took me a while to actually finish it. It came out great. It got a great response, great feeling. Musically, it was what was needed. A lot of stuff, hip-hop wise, sounds the same. Everybody has similar sounding tracks that’s why I felt “Amen” was a great song to put out. It was something different. It was something fresh, something the people would like. The process was a great process. It was a growing process. It was a great process overall.
KHH: Jahlil Beats co-produced the track. What did he do exactly?
Key Wane: He just added an 808 behind it.
KHH: What did you think of “Amen” when you first heard it?
Key Wane: When I first heard “Amen,” I was like this is about to change America, and it did. The controversy that came with it, people were saying that it was a bad song and stuff. I really didn’t see nothing wrong with it. Nobody was saying nothing bad about God or Jesus. At the very beginning of the song Meek said, “I just want to thank God.”
It was a real good song to see the response from blogs, radio people, and overall comments, the delivery of the track, the production, the soulfulness, it was great. I was like, this is a really good song. I really like it a lot.
KHH: You’re signed to Big Sean’s Finally Famous imprint. What does the deal consist of?
Key Wane: He just signed me as a producer and songwriter. I just produce and write. I was just working with him on his album giving him tracks. You know, what I do everyday, just the security of having a family around to help me become greater and better in my production. It was a really great decision I made.
KHH: So you’re technically a G.O.O.D. Music producer? Are you planning to work with Kanye West or any other G.O.O.D. Music artists?
Key Wane: I wouldn’t say I’m technically a G.O.O.D. Music producer. Where did you hear that?
KHH: Well because you’re under Sean and Sean is under G.O.O.D. So just going up.
Key Wane: People say that to me all the time and I laugh about it. It’s funny when people say you’re signed to Sean, Sean is signed to Kanye, which makes you a G.O.O.D. producer.
KHH: You wouldn’t classify yourself as that?
Key Wane: I guess. I mean, I don’t know. I’m not actually into G.O.O.D. Music though. I’m into Sean’s Finally Famous. I don’t know. G.O.O.D. Music, they family, they’re my homies. I f*ck with Hit-Boy. They’re cool. People reach out and we be working. I really respect what’s going on over there. I’m not actually signed to them. I think people got that confused when I signed my deal with Sean. People thought I signed my deal with Kanye and I didn’t. I’m just signed to Sean.
But they’re family so just working with people in G.O.O.D. Music, networking with Hit-Boy, sending tracks to the A&R’s, it’s cool. I respect that group a lot because they’re all working together to be the best. I like stuff like that. Working and networking with them is great to me, honestly.
KHH: It’s good to clear that up then. A lot of people are confused about that.
Key Wane: Yeah I saw a couple of blog postings and tweets saying like, ah it’s good you’re signed to G.O.O.D. Music. That’s great that people think that, but I didn’t ink my deal with G.O.O.D. I inked it with Sean.
KHH: Are you working with Sean on his new album or mixtape?
Key Wane: Yeah I’m working on both. I just sent him some stuff for his album last night. He hit me up about it. Mixtape, I think that’s about done. I think. I don’t know. I can’t put a date on anything because I can’t. A lot of stuff is coming soon. But his album is about to do some f*cking great shit out here. I’ve been listening to it every trip I take out there to work with him. It’s a really good album, lyrics-wise even production. It’s great. I just can’t wait for everybody to hear it. I’m anxious because I want to hear it too because there’s stuff that I didn’t produce on there that I really like. There’s stuff on his mixtape that I didn’t produce that I really like. So I really feel like the world should hear all this stuff that he has. It’s really great.
KHH: Has Sean given you any advice about the industry?
Key Wane: We talk all the time about it. Every time we talk, we talk about the industry, competition, what to focus on, what not to focus on. He be putting me on game. I put him on knowledge I know. It’s like bouncing ideas and knowledge at the same time. He’ll tell me some stuff about how to look at competition that I never looked at before. Sean my n*gga. I’ve known him since I was 13. It’s not even like…I can’t even find the words explain it. We just have talks like regular n*ggas. That’s my homie. That’s like my brother real talk.
KHH: What’s been the biggest hurdle in your career thus far?
Key Wane: The biggest hurdle in my career was getting people to listen to my shit. That was the biggest hurdle. The struggle artist thing is so f*cking weak to me man. How can I explain this. Like when Sean was coming up, and I was giving him tracks, we were damn near in the same position. We were both trying to get our own. So I was just saying to myself like man I can’t be f*cking 21 or 20 and not have nothing going for myself musically.
But the biggest hurdle was not believing in myself. I knew stuff was going to happen, I just didn’t believe it was going to happen in the time frame that I wanted it to happen. I knew when I was 12 that I was going to be doing some big stuff in the music industry. I would just get impatient at times because in High School everybody had this, everybody had that and I wanted to get it on my own but I was only selling beats for this amount and shit. It was just bad. But I knew the connects and just nothing was pulling through. But people still knew me from doing music, playing the piano and doing tracks. But nothing was pulling through. I didn’t know anybody. So I was just like something has to pull through. Something has to so I just started praying a lot. Well I’ve been praying a lot but I just started getting closer to God and all that. So I was saying to myself like, if I’m 21 and I ain’t got a placement, I’m not about to work at McDonald’s. Something has to pull through. I started selling drugs and shit. That was the worst moment. I’m doing all this just to make it by. I need to do something. But my beats were cold just nobody was listening. I didn’t know nobody to listen to them. The first [person] I knew was Sean and that was really it. I was like I got to get some connects. I got to start traveling. I started scrapping up money and going places. [I] started networking, started getting my name out there and then I started getting placements. I make goals for myself, and I put dates on them. My goal for when I turn 21 was, I have to have an album placement before 21 and I ended up on Sean’s album like 2 weeks before my birthday. The biggest hurdle was not believing.
KHH: Well congrats on all the success thus far.
Key Wane: Thanks man.
KHH: What artists are you currently working with?
Key Wane: I’m working with Meek right now. I’m finishing some stuff up on his album. Sean. Trey Songz. Hit-Boy. Chip. Rockie Fresh, he just signed to Maybach. A lot of people really. Like a lot of people from how it used to be. I used to only get like say 2 people. Now a lot of people hit me up for tracks. I run into a lot of people who heard about me who want tracks. So just working. I love working. Then I got some stuff on my project that’s really solid. Just anybody, well not anybody you know.
KHH: I just saw on your twitter that you’re about to release your Keysus EP. Is that going to be you rapping over your own beats or other rappers rapping?
Key Wane: I’m trying to figure out what route I want to take. I got two different tracklistings. I got one with me rapping on it and I got one where it’s like a compilation with a lot of tracks that I did since January and new tracks that haven’t come out. I’m trying to sit with a couple good friends of mine and just see what people think. I really want to put out the [one with] just me rapping. But I’m more focused on my production more than anything. So I’d rather wait on the rapping, but I really want to put this rapping [EP] out now ’cause it’s kind of f*cking sweet. Plus people have been asking for it too, so I might just put out the rapping. It’s like a 6 track EP. I’ll put that out in a couple of weeks. I’ll send it to y’all. Y’all can put it out. You can have it first.
KHH: Yeah definitely! So when rappers hit you up for beats, do you ever turn anyone down?
Key Wane: Nah! I remember back when I was 15, I really wanted n*ggas to respond to the e-mails I was sending. I just hated that. I hated like when n*ggas got into a position, they feel the need to not respond to your e-mail. They were [once] in that position before, and they [once] wanted somebody to respond to their e-mails. So I respond because I remember when n*ggas were doing that shit to me. I would rather deal with n*ggas. That’s only right you know. Sometimes I can’t get around to them, but I’m always by my e-mail. It’s on my phone. Literally, whoever has my e-mail, that has it or somehow finds it, they send me stuff, I’ll listen to it, truthfully. If you send me anything, I’ll listen to it. You send me an interview, I’ll read it. I check all my e-mails. I might not get back in the right amount of time, but I’m checking. I’m not like that.