Andron Cross, a Grammy-nominated reggae music producer who is making strides in the genre from the streets of Miami, emphasises that establishing a respectable name in music production does not happen by chance. The producer of Koffee’s debut single, Toast, Cross is more easily recognised as IzyBeats, or by the popular recorded tag that almost always echoes in the introduction of a project he spearheads, “Yo Izy, are you kidding me?”
“I have been in the business of production since I was 15 years old and here I am 15 years later, so it wasn’t overnight. The recent success came when I decided to put all distractions aside and solely focus on music,” IzyBeats told The Gleaner.
Jamaica-born with a physician for a mother, IzyBeats was expected to follow in similar shoes and wear scrubs.
He shared, “Obviously, my mother wanted me to be in the medical field, and I even thought about being a veterinarian at one point, but both my parents were very supportive of my decision to explore music production and even purchased my first computer to make beats.”
So instead of doctor, he boasts the title of Grammy-nominated producer with Koffee’s recent nomination for Best Reggae Album, for Rapture , to which he contributed.
“I didn’t pay it much attention until everyone started calling me about it, only then, it started to sink in. It’s surreal, you know!” the producer exclaimed.
He added, “I’m just happy to contribute to Koffee’s journey, she is the truth. I’m excited to be working with several other Jamaican artistes like Tarrus Riley, Lila Ike, Protoje, Naomi Cowan, Sevana, Bling Dawg, and there are a few more in the works.”
IzyBeats is one of the producers who collaborated with Tarrus Riley for the B.L.E.M. EP released in June this year. He is also working with Kes The Band from Trinidad and several other acts from the Caribbean and Africa. In sharing his latest projects, he also expressed a desire to work with Bajan-princess Rihanna, and that he anticipates it will happen in the next five years.
“She is my obvious pick in regard to an artiste I’ve been wanting to work with, but I also love the challenge of breaking new talent. I tend to lean on artistes that have the ‘it’ factor, no matter their status. I also like any pace (in music) as long as it sounds good. Over the years of working with a variety of different artistes, I have been able to take bits and pieces of sounds that added to my personal growth as a producer.”
Over the past four years or so, even if you didn’t hear “Yo Izy, are you kidding me?” which is actually the voice of his three-year-old nephew, the producer’s signature beats have found their way on to projects, including those of Vybz Kartel. And although his production has reached to big record label stars, some of his most impressive work have been through navigating underground dancehall.
Slightly dazed, he professed, “I have a brand. Luckily, I was recording when my nephew ran into the booth. It was a gift from God, but I never actually thought I would be where I am today. In 2015, I started seeing the road ahead as I got more serious and believing in my craft.”
Vybz Kartel’s Hey Addi in 2016 and Watch Over Us in 2017 were two of the producer’s first real projects.
“TJ Records, who does most of Vybz Kartel’s productions, had contacted me to do some work with him and those are the ideas that were created, other than that I was producing for friends and family. The process of making those riddims was deeply motivated by simply thinking of production that would sit well with the artiste,” he said.
The former Portmore resident will tell you that growing up in the St Catherine community of Hellshire Beach had a major impact on his interest in music and, more so, that the motivation of a few persons there also helped to push his career.
He said, “I cannot name everyone, but I know they are all proud of me right now and are toasting to my success. Once you start feeling the energy of the music, there are no more games. For me, a hit song dictates the focus.”
Listeners of his work will agree that the hit was Koffee’s Toast, which the likes of international recording artiste Sam Smith, who was one of the first stars to support the single, as well as Daddy Yankee and Idris Elba hailed for its creativity. IzyBeats is also responsible for Koffee’s latest YouTube trending track, W, featuring Atlanta rapper Gunna, which was released little over a week ago. It is currently in the top five with approximately 2.5 million views.
He does not share a strategy to stay current on the local reggae-dancehall scene while based overseas – though by working with the fast-rising artiste is somewhat a factor –but only ended on the note that, “I’m blessed to have a serious management team leading me through this industry. Ron and Davon from Creative Titans are madmen when it comes to strategising, and they are constantly working on building my brand. All I do now is make great music, and that will lead the way. Look out for more songs coming from different genres in 2020.”