While artists may be the ones in the limelight, the producers are the real MVPs. Izybeats, the Grammy-winning producer, songwriter, and recording artist who’s here to take the music industry to new levels. Izybeats is best known for his international sound, spanning the genres of Afrobeat, reggae, dancehall, R&B, and hip-hop, but it’s his tag line — “Yo Izy, are you kidding me?!” — that music-lovers will recognize most.
Izybeats describes himself as an “honest, positive, creative, individual that’s trying to put on for the culture, trying to bring it to the next level. Especially where I’m from, the island of Jamaica that’s so small but very powerful when it comes to music.”
Coming from true humble beginnings, Izy went from beating on the desks at his school to teaching himself how to work Fruity Loops via Youtube.
Fast forward to 2022, he’s had the pleasure of producing Koffee’s standout viral bit “Toast,” which deemed him a Grammy for Best Reggae Album. His all-star catalog of smash records also include Jorja Smith’s “Be Honest” featuring Burna Boy, Bad Gyal’s “44,” and Masego’s “Silver Tongue Devil” (which deemed him his second Grammy nomination).
AllHipHop: How’s it over there in Miami?
Izybeats: Miami is awesome. As you can see, I’m thin. I’m wearing thin clothes. I’m comfortable. Miami is becoming a hub right now, it’s getting crazy. It’s amazing, I just wish the pop world would move here from LA. [laughs]
AllHipHop: Is the pop world where you resonate most?
Izybeats: Not necessarily, but they definitely get me in sessions in the pop world in LA. Whenever I’m there.
AllHipHop: What does Jamaica mean to you?
Izybeats: Jamaica is everything to me. It’s home. It’s the place where I go to reset my mind when I’m ready to get out of the craziness, to reset and come back. Remind myself of where the culture is really originally from.
AllHipHop: Biggest influences coming up?
Izybeats: Timbaland is one of my greatest influences as far as a producer. The lyrics were there, but I’d always listened to the beats and production. Timbaland was one of the people that is creatively insane.
AllHipHop: Was there a turning point in your music career where you felt “I can do this now”?
Izybeats: Oh definitely. It was a point when I was in high school and got my first computer. I learned about Fruity Loops, which is one of the easiest software programs to start out with. Once I figured out “oh wow, this is what they do? This is how you put together a beat?,” I thought “man, I could really do this.” I was 16 or 17 at the time, that’s when I hopped in. I said “alright, maybe I need to try this and see where I can go from here.”
AllHipHop: How did you learn Fruity Loops?
Izybeats: It was all self-taught. I learned by trial and error. At the time, YouTube started coming out so it was a little bit of information there, but it was mostly Googling and YouTubing and learning on my own.
AllHipHop: What’s the inspiration behind your name?
Izybeats: It’s my brother David Lyn, he’s an artist himself. We’ve been doing music for years, since he was 12 and I was producing all his stuff. He said “you need a name. You need a producer name.” At the time, nobody knew about tags. Tags weren’t popular, none of that stuff was out yet. He said “You need to call yourself Yaadman Izy.” I’m like “what?” [laughs] Just out of nowhere: Yaadman Izy, then I shortened it to Izy. Once I found my tag, “Yo Izy are you kidding me?,” I just ran with that. It became the more popular part.
AllHipHop: “Toast” by Koffee won you a Grammy, can you bring us back to that moment?
Izybeats: That moment is incredible. It’s all God, to tell you the truth. My manager and friend Ron, I met him and he brought some artists that he was managing at the time to the studio to work with me. In the process of working with them, I created the “Toast” beat from scratch. From nothing, I created it from nowhere. The artists that he brought, they did a song to the beat. A week passed and Ron messaged me and said, “There’s a girl in Jamaica who did a song to the beat.” I said, “Let me hear it.” He played it and it was undeniably good. We couldn’t downplay it, we knew it was something special when we heard it. I found out he sent the beat by mistake to Walshy Fire, that’s how the process started. He sent it to Koffee, she ended up doing an incredible song on the beat.
AllHipHop: He sent it to Walshy Fire by accident?!
Izybeats: It was an accident. [laughs] He had him on the email by accident. You know, knowing Walshy, he has an ear for music. He heard something special and knew what to do.
AllHipHop: How did it feel to see the song go up and win a Grammy?
Izybeats: That right there made everything that I thought wasn’t real, a reality. It really showed me that all the artists I see blow up over the years, Soulja Boy went viral and blew up out of nowhere, it’s real. That can happen for anybody. They say once you get that first blessing, it doesn’t stop. It keeps going. It kept going, it kept on giving. More placements came in, ended up with a Grammy.
It wasn’t a big deal to me at first until I realized that a Grammy is one of the hardest things to accomplish. It didn’t hit home yet, I didn’t realize how special that was. At first, I wasn’t striving to get a Grammy. It wasn’t on my list of things to accomplish. It wasn’t really a thing for me. But when I got it, I started realizing that this is huge! There’s people in the industry who are big, who’ve been in the industry for years and haven’t gotten one. Then little ole me comes out of nowhere, and in one year I got one. It’s crazy.
AllHipHop: What happened after that?
Izybeats: After that, it kept giving. “Be Honest” came about, I went to London and started doing big sessions. I got in the room with Jorja Smith and that became a smash. It kept going from there. I kept creating and more releases kept coming out. It just keeps growing.
AllHipHop: What was it like being in the studio with Jorja Smith?
Izybeats: She’s amazing. Man, it’s humbling. Being in the studio with her or someone her level, you expect her to act like a star. But when you meet her, she’s so humble. She’s such a good person, very honest and real. That made the session even better. The energy was just great. I did the entire session with Cadenza, her producer. It was a flow of good energy and it turned out great. What made it better was when she said, “Oh, Burna Boy owes me a favor.” I’m like “oh!” Once I heard that, I’m like “yeah, this is gonna be special.”
AllHipHop: What was your reaction when you heard it back?
Izybeats: Oh my gosh, When I heard everything together as a whole, I can’t believe I got this. I’m on this. I’m a part of this project, it’s amazing. It turned out successful. Jorja Smith and Burna Boy, who would have known?
AllHipHop: What’s your process when making beats?
Izybeats: My process is very simple. I always pray first. Before I even do sessions, I pray. I pray to make sure the sessions turn out good, make sure the vibe is good and the energy’s good. When I get in there, I tell myself “do what you know to do.” I focus on the music. It always turns out great from there.
AllHipHop: 3 things you need in the studio at all times?
My keyboard, my MIDI keyboard, headphones, my laptop. Honestly, I create from anything. It’s nothing I really need, but sometimes fruits or liquor. I don’t eat too heavy because it makes you want to sleep. [laughs] Once we got some water, some liquor, some fruit, some snacks, we’re good to go.
AllHipHop: What kind of fruits do you like?
Izybeats: Everything, there’s no fruit off limits for me. I like fruits all the way. Watermelon to pineapple, all that. Let me get it.
AllHipHop: Talk about your love for reggae, dancehall, afrobeat, and how it plays into your overall sound.
Izybeats: Growing up in Jamaica, dancehall was everything. It’s heavy on the culture. Growing up, I used to always hear dancehall riddims in the taxis going to school or on the bus. It was a big movement for the culture. It made me become the guy at school who beat the desk. I was a drummer at school. When everybody wanted to do a sound clash, I was the guy playing the drums on the table. It influenced me to become that person and everything grew from that point. Dancehall is a big influence on me and everything that I stand for.
AllHipHop: How do you know when the song is a hit?
Izybeats: Once the energy is incredible in the room and the song comes out sounding good, I know it’s going to be special just because of the energy we put in there. Good vibes lead to good hits. So once I see the artist is happy, I know they’re gonna want it. I know they’re gonna use it. Once they’re in a good vibe and they love what they’re hearing and they’re dancing, you know it’s gonna go. For sure. I even got footage of Jorja dancing too, before the song came out. [laughs] I’ll put that out later.
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AllHipHop: Talk about working with Oxlade, love him!
Izybeats: That’s my dude, he’s awesome. He’s an amazing, amazing guy! As soon as I walked in, I felt like I already knew him. It’s that kind of energy. For years, we’d been talking about working together and it never happened because he’s all the way in Nigeria and I’m all the way over here. We’ve always been talking over Instagram and WhatsApp: “oh can’t wait to link man.” The minute we linked we made something crazy. Definitely.
AllHipHop: How did you get your producer tag: “Yo Izy, are you kidding me?”
Izybeats: It was a blessing, it just happened. Just like the “Toast” song, it happened. Dilly Chris, he’s a Jamaican artist of mine that I work with. His son, Dillan, was 3 at the time. He’s a dedicated artist. He brings his son to the studio, that’s how bad he wants to be in the studio and record. He always brings his son. His son is always sitting there quietly, waiting for the session to be done.
So in order to cheer him up a little bit, to make him feel better being in the session, I said “go ahead and say something on the mic.” He’s always quiet, he never speaks. I sent him in the booth to say something on the mic, luckily it was recording. I had no idea it was recording. The first thing he said was the tag, “Yo Izy, are you kidding me!?” Out of nowhere. Not even planned or premeditated, nothing. I ran out of the booth to see if it was recording like, “Oh, it was recorded!” And I’ve used that ever since.
AllHipHop: Any goals for yourself at this point in your career?
Izybeats: Right now, it’s to keep it going. To drop my project, my album that I’m working on. I got some stuff that I did with H.E.R., looking forward to that coming out soon. Tecca, just working with more artists I want to work with.
AllHipHop: What else are you excited for this new year?
Izybeats: Taking the music to the next level. Creating more vibes with people who I know are genuine about making music, keep it going from there. Maybe hopefully win another Grammy this year as well. I’m hoping I can get that with Masego. That right there to have 2, it’s crazy.