Beast Mode, Future and Zaytoven's 2015 collaborative project, came in the middle of what would be a historic string of releases for the Atlanta rapper. Sandwiched between Monster and 56 Nights, the nine-song tape featured both Future and Zay at the height of their powers and perfectly in sync. On July 5, the two artists delivered the long-awaited Beast Mode follow up.
The new project has existed in some form or another since 2016, when Future first announced it. Because the two collaborate frequently, they always have a huge stockpile of unreleased music. As Zaytoven explained, for him and Future, it was all about finding the perfect nine songs and the right time to release them.
It seems like this project went through a lot of different versions from Beast Mode 16 to BEASTMODE 2. Can you take me through what’s happened over the last two years?
Well, pretty soon after we dropped Beast Mode in 2015, Future put up a picture that said Beast Mode 16, so we always had intents of it coming out back then. But we did the song “Used To This” — that was really a Beast Mode song. At the beginning of the song he said “beast mode” and we just took it off. That song started getting big, he went on tour with Drake, and we ended up not putting [the project] out.
When people would ask me what’s up with the project, I was always letting ‘em know that the music was done, we had more than enough music for it, it was just about when was the time to drop it. I think the reason why we’re dropping it now is because the songs we recently put out like “Walk On Minks” from the Superfly soundtrack, and especially “Mo Reala” from the Trapholizay album, have really sparked it. It made [Future] be like, "It’s time for us to drop now ‘cause they want to hear me and you."
And I’m assuming that you two have a running catalog of songs together at any given time.
Man, you wouldn’t even believe. If you knew how many songs we did just to get the nine songs we got on this one. So many songs. Even for the first project, there were so many songs that were left over. That’s how we like to work — we wanna make sure that we’re giving the fans the best out of the best.
If you had to estimate, how many songs would you say were being considered for the project?
I’d say about 100 songs. That’s just in the vault. It’s really about finding a combination of songs that work together ‘cause, really, all the songs are dope. But all of ‘em don’t work together as a collective project. It’s really just narrowing it down like, OK, this has to go on it, this songs fits with this.
It seems like both of you have a really clear idea of what a “Beast Mode” song is. How would you describe the vision for that sound?
I think it’s just a certain feeling, just a certain feel you get from the music we put together. It’s almost like a work of art. It’s not just a rap song, it’s art being painted to me. When I think about Beast Mode, that’s what I think about. I don’t think about just a hard project; they just created some art together.
“When Zaytoven and Future are working together, then Future’s not working on no other tracks and Zaytoven’s not making no beats for nobody but Future.”
That first project came in the middle of an iconic run for Future. How do you think the rap landscape has changed since then and how does this project fit into that?
I think this project is definitely needed for what’s going on right now. As far as how it fits, and how he had his run last time, I think this is the spark of another run like that for Future. I listen to a lot of music — you know, there’s a lot of new artists coming out — but there still hasn’t been a project yet that touches me like Beast Mode has. Like a full project. I know it sounds funny coming from me, ‘cause I produced it, but that’s one of my favorite bodies of work. That’s what Beast Mode was when it came out and still is. And that’s what this project is too. That’s why we chose to keep it short and sweet, ‘cause we want you to have to keep listening to it over and over again.
We’ve sort of seen albums start to trend that way now, especially with the G.O.O.D. Music releases.
It’s easier to digest that way. We recorded 100 songs just to give you nine. So that means we took our time to pick out what we feel like the audience would want. We could’ve put 20 songs on there and it’d seem like we guessing. Like we don’t know which songs are the good ones so we just put ‘em all on there and let the fans pick. That’s how I look at it when there’s just so many songs. Now, you’re just giving me too much music. I’m the type of guy where, if I see like 20 songs, I don’t even wanna listen to one of ‘em ‘cause it’s too much.
Since y’all have that running catalog, were some of the songs that ended up making this project recorded in 2016, and others recorded a few months ago?
That’s exactly what it is. Some were recorded in 2016, ‘17, and this year. It’s just about finding the combination that works. The mindstate that he was in in 2016...there were a couple songs that were just like, This got to be on there. It’s classic. You can’t just throw this song away ‘cause it was done two years ago. It’s time for it right now.
Has the way that you and Future work together changed at all over time?
It’s the exact same, man. We’re both workaholics. When Zaytoven and Future are working together, then Future’s not working on no other tracks and Zaytoven’s not making no beats for nobody but Future. So, when I go in the studio, my mind is just tunnel vision. All the beats, even if he don’t use ‘em, are for Future. I sit there and watch him record and it just blows my mind every time.
To me, a lot of the beats on Beast Mode really put an emphasis on you and the keyboard — your playing was on a different level. Was that something you focused on with this project as well?
Yeah, you never really heard me do that as much back then. Beast Mode opened that up because it was like, Oh, Zay on the keys for real. Future gave me the liberty of saying, "Ay man, whatever beats you give me to rap on, that’s what I’ma rap on." So it was like, if I wanna show out on the piano and give him the beat to rap on, that’s what we’re gonna use and it’s gonna make me look good. That’s the way I was thinking. Most of the time, before that, a rapper is gonna pick the beat they want and that’s what they’re gonna rap on. It might have two sounds on it but that’s what they like and that’s what they wanna use. When you say, Whatever you tell me to rap on is what I’m gonna rap on, that gave me a chance to be like, You know what, since everybody’s been biting my sound, let me just play the keys a whole bunch on this. It’s the same thing here now.