MTSU will be making noise again at the upcoming 61st annual Grammy Awards, this time with six university-connected people contributing to rap, Americana, country and gospel projects, including the first current student ever to be a part of the distinguished list.
61st Annual Grammys logo for Feb. 10, 2019, ceremony Integrated studies major BryTavious "Tay Keith" Chambers of Memphis, who graduated Saturday, Dec. 15, produced rap superstar Travis Scott's No. 1 track, "SICKO MODE" with Drake, Big Hawk and Swae Lee, which was nominated for the best rap performance and best rap song Grammys and is part of Scott's also-nominated No. 1 "Astroworld" album.
Only songwriters and artists get public credit for song-nominee Grammys, but industry folks — and music lovers who study the details of their favorite tracks — know who makes the music pop. Scott's "SICKO MODE" lyrics, in fact, could speak directly to Chambers' production talent when he says "Who put this together? I'm the glue."
Chambers' fellow honorees this year include:
• 2010 audio production grad Michael Anderson, known professionally as Anderson East, who was nominated in the "Best American Roots Performance" category for his song "All on My Mind."
• Repeat nominee, winner and 2000 alumnus Jason A. Hall, whose engineering and mixing on the Brothers Osborne's "Port Saint Joe" album helped it earn a best country album nomination.
• Multiple award nominee and 2000 School of Music alumnus Wayne Haun, who's part of the best roots gospel album category for producing "Clear Skies" by Ernie Haase & Signature Sound.
• Multi-nominated songwriter/producer and 2001 recording industry graduate Luke Laird, named in the best country song list for co-writing Kacey Musgraves' "Space Cowboy" and whose co-written "Butterflies" also earned Musgraves a best country solo performance nomination.
• Repeat Grammy-winning songwriter/producer and 2003 music business alumnus Torrance "Street Symphony" Esmond, who's recognized this year for producing "Hussle & Motivate" on Nipsey Hussle's best rap album-nominated "Victory Lap" CD.
"I learned so much academically and personally while being here at MTSU," Chambers said shortly before he received his bachelor's degree from the University College.
"I enjoyed my four years here, and I appreciate all of the support I received from the community while in school."
The Memphis native, who began creating music with the "Rock Band" video game when he was 13 or 14 years old, worked with popular Memphis rappers Yo Gotti, Blac Youngsta and Moneybagg Yo to begin making his name in the Memphis music scene. He deejayed for First Flight Entertainment during his MTSU years and made more connections in the industry while sending beats back home to his childhood friend, rapper BlocBoy JB, to create new tracks.
In his senior year alone, besides Scott's double-platinum "SICKO MODE," Chambers produced nearly a dozen hot tracks for both renowned artists and newcomers, including BlocBoy JB's triple-platinum "Look Alive"; Drake's "Nonstop," which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard charts; Lil Wayne's "Hasta La Vista"; and Eminem's "Not Alike."
"I've put in thousands of hours, worked with hundreds of artists, linked up with so many producers, gone through so many laptops," Chambers told DJBooth.net this fall. "It's really about the work you put in and what you're willing to sacrifice ...
"When I made music at home, I didn't have anything but a laptop and headphones. In the studio nowadays, you don't need a board or anything; you just need a laptop and speakers. There's really no difference; you can just feel the beat better in the studio. You have nicer equipment in a real studio."
Chambers, 22, has already launched his own production label, Drumatized, and they've signed an up-and-coming Memphis producer, Denaro Love, to expand the empire. You can hear Chambers' work in the official "SICKO MODE" video below.
More than 40 Grammy Award nominations have involved MTSU alumni, former or current students, and faculty from around the university in the last decade. Seven have won Grammys so far, including four repeat recipients, in categories from classical to gospel to bluegrass.
These nominations for the upcoming Grammys, announced Dec. 5, are for projects completed between Oct. 1, 2017, and Sept. 30, 2018.
You can watch the 61st annual Grammy Awards Sunday night, Feb. 10, live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles beginning at 7 p.m. Central time on CBS. More details are available at http://Grammy.com, and a complete list of this year's nominees is available here.