Tay Keith is the 21-year-old Memphis producer who wants to unite his city through music
Memphis rap is in the midst of a special moment. The city’s youngest and brightest talents, from Blac Youngsta to Paper Route Empire protege Key Glock, and now BlocBoy JB, are actively developing their own distinct takes on what Memphis rap can be, and showing that it can thrive beyond the borders of its region. At the heart of this new wave of talent is 21-year-old producer Tay Keith, who’s not only lent his spooky chords, knocking bass and 808s, and wicked hi-hats to Memphis rap’s heavy hitters and rising stars alike, but has done so in a time when divides in the city run deep, and are highly publicized. In being able to work across beefs and conflicts by prioritizing the music and his personal relationships, he recognizes he’s in a rare position — one he hopes to use to eventually unite his city, and provide resources and infrastructure to help Memphis rap reach its fullest potential.
At the moment, Keith’s got a lot going on: “Look Alive,” the mega-hit he produced for Drake and his childhood friend and collaborator BlocBoy, has spent four weeks in the Billboard top 10; he’s doing more traveling to work with artists beyond Memphis, and is rocking parties in central Tennessee — all the while wrapping up his senior year at Middle Tennessee State University. Over the phone from Atlanta, where he’d just finished a session with Wiz Khalifa, Keith took some time out to talk about coming up in Memphis’s storied rap scene, making hits with his childhood friends, the art of self-discipline, and his desire to unite his city through music.