'Yow Izy, are you kidding me?'

'Yow Izy, are you kidding me?'

IzyBeats talks Toast, H.E.R and more

Observer senior reporter

Friday, August 14, 2020

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The stamp, “Yow Izy, are you kidding me?” echoes at the beginning of Koffee's hit song Toast.

For many, the four-second long shout out done by a child meant nothing, but for producer Andron “IzyBeats” Cross including that signature on what has become one of the most popular songs out of Jamaica in recent times culminated what was a long period of hard work.

Growing up in the seaside community of Hellshire in St Catherine, a young IzyBeats always knew he wanted to be involved in the music industry. He described himself as the guy who was always beating the desks during the musical clashes among peers at the Greater Portmore High School. But things changed for the better when on a visit to the United States a friend introduced him to digital software to create beats. From then on all the music once created on school furniture or any other surface that could take a pounding was now able to be reproduced and marketed.

That was back in 2001.

Fast-Forward and today IzyBeats and his beats are in demand by some of the top acts.

Among his impressive list of accomplishments is that he can now call himself a Grammy-winning producer and mixer, having worked on Koffee's winning EP Rapture; produced tracks on EPs for Lila Ike and Sevana; and is eagerly awaiting the release of the latest project by American singer and songwriter H.E.R, on which he should have a few songs.

“It feels good to be in this spot at this time, especially because there was a time when, despite all the hard work that I was putting in, it still seemed like it was not going to happen. The thing is I always had to keep my mind clear, and just continue to put in the work. Now I can see that consistency won and all those years toiling have paid off. Toast is such a big hit, we won the Grammy and the success is continuing. It just amazing. I have to give thanks,” He told the Jamaica Observer during a telephone interview from his US base.

The success of Toast was almost serendipitous. The beat was never intended to be shared with Koffee and her team, but as he explained, their association was clearly ordained.

“I was actually working on the beat for another artiste. My manager accidentally sent it by e-mail to a number of persons. Walshy Fire was one of those persons who got the track by mistake and a week later sent us Toast, done by Koffee, a young artiste he was working with. Once we heard it the first time it was clear. There was just something magical about the song and we couldn't deny it. The label clearly didn't expect it to take off in the way it did and used it as a kind of warm up. But the song clearly had other plans and just kept going in an organic way, and is still rising,” he said.

From the outside, the roster of artistes with whom he works looks predominantly female, while not complaining, he shared that this was not deliberate. He however explained that the energy and work ethic of the artistes he chooses to work with have to be in syncwith his.

“It's like God is bringing these artistes to me... it's happening naturally. With the Grammy and all the recognition, a lot more people want to be part of that energy and chemistry. For me talent is everything. It's not like I don't want to work with a new artiste, but they must bring that commitment and drive to what we do. All the artiste that I work with have that special thing... I see it in H.E.R, Lila, Koffee, all of them, and so if you are not prepared to bring it then we can't work together. It's that simple,” said IzyBeats.

By the way, how did that now iconic stamp come about?

“One of my artistes, Billy Chris, brought his son to the studio one day. He was about three at the time. He got bored so to cheer him up I told him to go into the booth. I accidentally hit the record button and the first thing he said was, 'Yow Izy, are you kidding me?' . I had been searching for a signature stamp for a long time and the moment I heard him say it I knew it was perfect and exactly what I had been looking for,” he explained.

The stamp can currently be heard on Lila Ike's I Spy. The producer noted that not every song will have this intro. It depends on a number of factors, including his level of involvement in the particular project.

Always guided by the direction of a higher power. He is putting his next move in God's hands.

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