Producer Xavier “Zaytoven” Dotson has been instrumental in shaping the sound of Atlanta trap music as an early ally of Gucci Mane and Migos. But perhaps his most revered work is Future’s 2015 mixtape Beast Mode. At the time, Future’s friend DJ Esco was locked up abroad with the hard drive containing all of the rapper’s unreleased music. So Future entered the studio with Zaytoven, and in three days recorded what became Beast Mode, one of a trio of acclaimed mixtapes the MC released in the space of a few months. And in 2018, it’s rumored that Future and Zaytoven will reunite for the long-promised sequel, Beast Mode 2.
Future and Zaytoven first crossed paths on Free Bricks, the 2011 collaborative mixtape by Gucci Mane and Future. And the chemistry between Future’s throaty melodies and Zay’s lush piano and flute loops was cemented on 2012’s Astronaut Status, one of the mixtapes that built Future’s buzz before he began releasing major-label albums. Since then, Zaytoven has been a frequent presence on Future records, contributing a warmly melodic and relaxed sound that contrasts with the more aggressive textures of producers like Metro Boomin on chart-topping albums like 2015’s DS2 and 2017’s FUTURE.
Future and Zaytoven’s biggest hits together include the tawdry Beast Mode highlight “Real Sisters,” the celebratory Drake collaboration “Used To This,” and “Too Much Sauce,” the Lil Uzi Vert-featuring single from DJ Esco’s 2016 mixtape Project E.T. The familiar sound of Future over a Zaytoven beat even opened “3500,” the epic lead single from Travis Scott’s debut album, Rodeo. But the duo’s dozens of collaborations include mixtape favorites of any Future aficionado, including “Just Like Bruddas,” “Space Cadets,” and the ominous, paranoid masterpiece “Feds Did A Sweep.”