You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Hitmaker of the Month: How a Taz Taylor Tutorial Yielded Lil Tecca’s Viral ‘Ransom’

Presented by BMI

Taz Taylor doesn’t consider himself an overnight success, but he’s definitely having a moment. “I’ve been doing this for almost 10 years,” says the 27 year-old producer from Florida. “I come from humble beginnings and I know what it took to actually get here,” he adds, referring to his hip-hop mogul-worthy mansion in the Hollywood Hills.

They say luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Taylor’s involvement on the Lil Tecca hit “Ransom” has both those qualities but also feels a little like fate. Here’s how it came about: Taylor gave a shout-out to Tecca on Twitter (“Yo, I really like your whole sound — I think it’s dope”) and they bonded over a mutual love of Speaker Knockerz. Later that day, the rapper was making plans to fly out to the producer’s home, which doubles as a studio and the base of his aptly named production collective, Internet Money. The recording process was fast-paced — Taylor estimates about 10 minutes — and that included a tutorial on songwriting for the inexperienced artist. (Their session produced half a dozen other songs, including “Somebody,” with Lil Tecca and a Boogie Wit da Hoodie, the first release from Taylor’s joint venture deal with 10K Projects.)

“I literally told one of my producers, Nick [Mira], who did the melody, ‘Yo, I want you to just go straight dance hall, but we still need to keep everything, like, trap for him,’ ” says Taylor. Tecca typically freestyles, but at the time, he was writing lyrics on his phone. “He didn’t know song structure, so I was just like, ‘Yo, this here, that’s a hook. That’s dope. And then what you’re doing right here, that’s a verse. That’s dope.’ I just structured the song out for him, and now it’s one of the biggest songs of the year.”

“It’s just a feel-good song,” adds Taylor of its appeal. “Kids love it — they can’t  stop singing it — because it has a lot of energy. It’s really catchy. At the end of the day, that’s all people want: Melodies — little ear worms to get stuck in their head.” Not that Taylor takes all the credit for its success; in fact, he is quick to deflect it. “Tecca has a weird, interesting look that people just can’t get enough of,” he says. “Combined with Cole Bennett doing the video and me producing the song, everything came together at the right time and lined up perfectly, so it blew up.”

Surprisingly, hip-hop isn’t the foundation of Taylor’s musical knowledge. “I grew up on rock music,” he says, noting that the first song he learned was “Sure Know Something” by KISS. “I started playing guitar at the age of three. My stepdad was in a rock band and whenever they were on smoke breaks, I was on the drums, playing bass or guitar. That was like my passion, my love, my life.”

Taylor eventually moved on to Led Zeppelin, Motley Crue and The Doors. “I got really deep into Jim Morrison,” he says, proudly noting that “my baby mama is a distant cousin” of the late rock icon. “I remember my stepdad [asking] me [at] six years old: ‘What do you want to do? You want to play football?’ I was, like, ‘Nah, I want to make music.’ He said, ‘If you want to make music, you have to respect every genre.’ So from that point in time, I dug deep into every genre.”

Taylor has a soft spot for one in particular. “One of my favorite pastimes is sitting outside and listening to ’90s dance music,” he says. “I’ll be, like, ‘I want to interpolate “Waiting for the Night” by J.Lo.’ ”

After a prolonged break from music that Taylor refers to as his “hood rat” period, he learned how to profit from his hobby at the age of 17, when his mother was diagnosed with cancer and the family needed extra income. Initially an aspiring graphic designer, Taylor played around with FL Studio — the digital audio program formerly known as FruityLoops — which features an interface based on a music sequencer. “I was like, ‘I could do this sh–’ — and then the love for making music came back again,” he says. Taylor sold his first beat online for $250. “I remember my mom breaking down and crying,” he says. “She was, like, ‘You never made a dollar before. This is crazy.’ So from that second, I was, like, ‘I’m just gonna pursue this.’ And I did.”

At first, his only goal was making money. What he lacked in a formal education — Taylor dropped out of school in the seventh grade — he more than made up for in ambition and creativity, quickly establishing himself as one of the original Internet producers. One of the wealthiest, too: At his peak, Taylor raked in half a million dollars in one year. “I would just upload beats to YouTube,” he says. As it turns out, he has a knack for marketing ingenuity and found a surefire way to make his music stand out online. Taylor crafted what he dubbed “type beats” that are so named for the type of beats that have become sonic signatures for A-List rappers. “We’d title them ‘Future-type beat,’ ‘Drake-type beat,’ ” he says.

Eventually, one of his beats attracted the attention of Desiigner and Big Sean, who rapped on it for the song “Life.” Success snowballed from there, leading to a meeting with a manager and a publishing deal with Atlantic. “It was my little crack into the music industry,” Taylor says, “and I just kicked the door open.”

These days, he works with the biggest names in the game like Drake and Post Malone. And as Lil Tecca’s “Ransom” video passes 160 million views on YouTube, and “Somebody” racking up more than 6 million in a week, Taylor next wants to reignite the careers of artists he listened to as a kid. “At this point, I’d like to use my influence to like work with people like Good Charlotte,” he says. “Who’s expecting me to work with Good Charlotte? The fact that I could do all this stuff is just dope to me — and there’s no limit. I want to work with Dolly Parton. F–k it.”

Ultimately, though, it’s clear that his mother’s approval, and not the chance to work with country music legends or streaming figures, means the most to Taylor. “My mom doesn’t know nothing about charts,” he says. “All she knows is that I’m doing what I want to do and I’m pretty successful at it. She’s just thankful that I found something I’m good at because it was looking really f–king bleak for a second.”

More Music

  • Ciara arrives at the red carpet

    Ciara to Host 2019 American Music Awards; Kesha Joins as Performer

    Ciara has been named as host of the 2019 American Music Awards, returning to the show after appearing as a performer alongside Missy Elliott on last year’s telecast. The singer is not a newcomer to hosting duties, having previously presided over the Billboard Music Awards three years ago. Prior to performing her single “Level Up” [...]

  • Wu-Tang Clan Children Form Group, 2nd

    Wu-Tang Clan Children Form Group, 2nd Generation Wu (Listen)

    Considering the Wu-Tang Clan’s sprawling membership — nine core members with a couple dozen auxiliary members — it’s not surprising that, a year after the group belatedly celebrated its 25 th anniversary, several of its offspring have formed a group called 2 nd Generation Wu. The group’s members consist of U-God’s son iNTeLL, Method Man’s son [...]

  • Randy Newman My First Time

    Randy Newman Looks Back on His Early Career and His Work for ABC's 'Peyton Place'

    “What?! My god.” This is Randy Newman’s reaction upon learning of the first time he ever appeared in the pages of Variety, back in May of 1965. That was three years before he released his first album as a singer-songwriter, at which point he began steadily accruing fans of his warped musical character sketches until [...]

  • Kacey Musgraves poses in the press

    CMA Awards: What Kacey, Maren, Garth, Blake and Dan + Shay Had to Say Backstage

    Backstage at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, CMA Awards winners, performers and presenters came back to meet the press after their appearances, including Kacey Musgraves, Maren Morris, Garth Brooks, Blake Shelton, Dan + Shay, Ashley McBryde and Luke Combs. Garth Brooks was named entertainer of the year for the seventh time, and during his acceptance speech, he [...]

  • Roey Hershkovitz

    Roey Hershkovitz, Former 'Conan' Music Booker, Joins Capitol Studios as VP

    A little over a year after exiting his role as music booker for ‘Conan,’ Roey Hershkovitz has landed a new gig as vice president of Capitol Studios and Digital Studios, Universal Music Group (UMG) announced today. In the newly created position, Hershkovitz is tasked with overseeing the iconic recording studio’s recording, tracking, mixing and mastering [...]

  • Variety's New Leaders 2019: Music

    Rising Execs From Spotify, Downtown, Capitol Among Music's New Leaders

    Every year Variety seeks to identify the next generation of leaders in the entertainment business, looking for representatives in the creative community, film, TV, music and digital. This year’s music industry group has a heavy East Coast focus: We selected executives from forward thinking companies such as Spotify and Downtown Music Holdings and tastemakers from [...]

  • Blake Shelton and Garth Brooks53rd Annual

    TV Ratings: CMA Awards Stable, Gain 1 Million Viewers on 2018

    After falling to an all-time low in 2018, the 2019 CMA Awards stabilized for ABC and gained a chunk of viewers. Last night’s awards show garnered a 2.0 rating among adults 18-49, down only a fraction from last year’s 2.1, and was watched by 11.3 million total viewers, up roughly 12% from last year. However, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content