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In Their Words: How Ayo & Keyz Produced The Song Of The Summer — Cardi B's "WAP”
We caught up with Keyz from Ayo & Keyz to discuss the making of Cardi B's “WAP,” sampling Frank Ski's "Whores in this House," double standards against women, and more.
Cardi B andMegan Thee Stallionbroke the internet when they released the very explicit “WAP." Not only did the recording debut at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, but it made history — garnering 93 million streams in the US in its first week of release. (We should also note it beat out Drake and Lil Durk's "Laugh Now" for the number #1 spot in week two.)
Insert Grammy-award winning producer Keyz, one-half of producer duo Ayo & Keyz. The two won a Grammy last year for their work on “Bickenhead” off of Invasion of Privacy. Coming up as a pastor’s kid, the Buffalo, New York native learned how to play drums and keys in the church — where he fell in love with music. The irony lies in the fact that Ayo, the person largely responsible behind the most explicit song in years, wasn’t allowed to listen to secular music as a kid.
The most infectious portion of the record comes from the beat and “hoes in the house” sample, which plays on loop throughout the entire record. The sample comes from a Baltimore house classic from Frank Ski titled “Whores In This House." (Of course, the visual itself deserves some of the credit for the song's success.)
For Keyz, who’s produced for the likes of Chris Brown, Jeremih, Ty Dolla $ign, Jeremih, and more, “WAP” was like winning a title. During a Zoom conversation, he told us, “All of our hard work has paid off. All of our hard work has led to that moment, it feels like winning your first championship.”
Okayplayer caught up with Keyz to discuss the making of “WAP,” using the Frank Ski sample, the controversy around the song, and more.
As told to Shirley Ju.
Photo Credit: Artist
On “WAP” being the biggest song of the summer.
It’s a surreal feeling, Ayo and I are extremely blessed. It’s done what we didn’t even think about it. Humbly, we weren’t thinking about the impact. We’re just happy to have the record. Now that it's out, it’s been great. Nothing but love from our friends, family, and supporters. We’re doing what we can to enjoy our moment.
On the Making of "WAP"
We were on Cardi’s last album [Invasion of Privacy] obviously. We knew she was working on something new and made sure we got into the mix. Sent the music to her people and that one stuck out. On our end, we did the music, sent it out, and she liked it.
Ayo and I [found the "Whores In This House" sample.] if you go through our catalog, we sample pretty often. We did Wiz Khalifa’s “Something New” record that went viral on TikTok three years ago. A few other ones with Chris Brown and Bryson Tiller, we sampled pretty heavy. When it came to this song, it was one of those samples on our list to do. We were out one night and heard it together [and] we’re like, “yo, we gotta flip this.”
We just met Frank Ski, he’s the creator of the “Whores In This House” sample. We’re talking to him, he says he feels like Black dance music is getting ready to come back and we helped push that. It's time for even people in the clubs and parties to start getting back to dancing again.
We were shooting for something different, something that had impact. I can't really explain it, we were creating and wanted to give Cardi something different than what she’s had in the past. Picking that sample, we knew we could really gauge that for her. Even the song we did on her album, “Bickenhead,” we sampled on that, too.
On his relationship with Ayo.
That’s my best friend. That’s my brother, we’ve been together for about 10 years now. We’re family. We talk every single day, all day long. Been doing it for the last 10 years. We both have our strengths and weaknesses. When it comes to music, we feed off of each other. Musically, we inspire each other. Certain beats, certain songs, we feed off of that.
We’re both good at everything. “OK, yeah I could do this, but let me send it to him because he’ll approach it differently.” It's like having Steph Curry and Kevin Durant on your team: both great NBA players but Steph knows when he passes the ball to Kevin, that Kevin got him. That’s how we are.
Favorite lines from the song.
[Laughs] There’s a few. I loved the, “I don’t cook, I don’t clean” line. It was definitely a little boss move. What else? The “dangling thing in the back of my throat,” I’m like “wow OK.” Wasn’t mad at it.
We're not going to rap [along with the song.] Guys really mess with how it feels so they’re going to bop their head, but I don't think they’re rapping it. I’m not rapping it, but it's a great song.
On criticism that the song has garnered.
I think it’s a level of sexism. My thing is if people are feeling that way, or when the women are saying it then you have to feel the same way when the men are saying it — super double standard. These rappers talk about whatever they want, say whatever they want, disrespect women all day long and nobody says anything. But the women say what they want to say and it's a problem, so I wasn’t really feeling that.
On seeing “WAP” come to life.
The video was so crazy, like wow. Seeing it all come together and seeing them do their thing, the beat’s slapping, it was a "wow" moment.
It meant a lot. It was her first song in nine months. Not saying that Cardi was cold, but people were ready for new music. Meg, it was super big for her coming off the whole Tory Lanez [shooting incident.] The year she was having prior to that, it was really good for her too.
It means that all of our hard work has paid off. We got a lot more to do, but all of our hard work has led to that moment. Blood, sweat, tears. Crazy nights in the studio. It’s also a respect thing because we’ve had a lot of placements. Definitely people respect us, but this one put a stamp on things. It feels like winning your first Championship. It's a lot of great players in the NBA, but it’s only certain players who have Championship rings.
Shirley Ju is a Los Angeles-based writer who grew up in the Bay Area. She lives, breathes, and sleeps hip-hop, and is literally on top of new music the moment it is released. If there’s a show in L.A., you can find her there. Follow the latest on her fomoblog.com and on Twitter @shirju.