When Notorious B.I.G left the planet in ’97, we were left with musical memoirs that reminded us of why he was crowned “legendary”. It wasn’t just B.I.G’s voice and lyrics that captured us, but the hypnotic beats that surrounded those vocals. Deric “D-Dot” Angelettie provided a considerable amount of those tailor-made beats to one of the greatest rappers of the 90’s. However D-Dot did what most producers didn’t [and still don’t] do: remained quiet on the songs. D-Dot allowed his beats to speak for themselves without the need of reminding the world of who was on the track. D-Dot implores that the mixing of multiple elements in musicology will create the ideal formula.
When the green-eyed world took stabs, D-Dot regenerated as the parody, The Madd Rapper, and fought right back. Since D-Dot’s been gone, the game has been made a lot easier for MC’ and producers alike. Not anymore. D-Dot’s back! He has thoughts on his former student, Kanye West, plus a lot of commentary on the past and sad state of a present.
AllHipHop.com: What is your proudest production to date.
D-Dot: ‘It's All About the Benjamins’ and the Madd Rapper album are probably my most heartfelt projects - the ones that I had the most control over, and were the ones that came from me with no outside influences. That [Madd Rapper album] was the album that introduced 50 Cent to the world and Eminem.
AllHipHop.com: What are some productions that you think people were unaware that you’ve done?
D-Dot: A lot of people might be surprised to know that I did the Jay-Z record, ‘Where I'm From (Marcy)’ because he didn't really say my name on the record. A lot of people also didn't know that I did ‘24 Hours to Live’ for Ma$e. There are a lot of records that I've done over the years with every major artist there is. A guy interviewed me last year for this documentary called The Beat Kings. He came in and he mentioned something to me that really touched me. He said, ‘D-Dot, over the years everyone is always talking about the Top 20 MC’s in Hip-Hop." They came in with a list, and were like, ‘Out of all the people we spoke to, these are the Top 20 MC’s of all time.’ Of course they had some old school heads, but overall the basic top MC’s are B.I.G, Jay-Z, Eminem, Rakim, LL Cool J, Slick Rick, 50 Cent, Nas, Big Pun, Big Daddy Kane, and different people like that. Out of the 20, he came in the room and said I produced for 13 of them. So it made me feel good like, ‘Wow. Every major MC came to the D-Dot School eventually.’ So it made me feel proud to know throughout history, the road to success for a lot of these cats had to come through D-Dot.
AllHipHop.com: What producers did you idolize, growing up?
D-Dot: I grew up listening to Teddy Riley, Barry White, Roy Ayers, Gamble and Huff, EPMD, Pete Rock in the 80's and early 90's, The Bomb Squad with Public Enemy. Back then the producers didn't make their presence known like they do now. Of course now, guys are just yelling their names all over tracks. Just Blaze, whenever he puts out a track yells "Just Blaze!" at the beginning.
AllHipHop.com: How did you first get started?
D-Dot: As a rapper, I started out with a group called Two Kings and a Cipher back in '89-'90 with my partner Ron [Amen Ra] Lawrence and we made an album From Pyramids to Projects in 1991. That's pretty much how I got started. Then Puff came to me one day and was like, ‘We're gonna do this Bad Boy thing’, and I was like, ‘Let's go’.
AllHipHop.com: So when and how did the Madd Rapper come about?
D-Dot: The Madd Rapper came about because of the East Coast / West Coast beef back in '94-'95. We were making a lot of money - young Black, Latino, White men in their twenties - and making money over at Bad Boy. A lot of people were jealous, and I remember as a kid, when you wanted to get back at somebody for teasing you, you teased them back. So that's what I did. I came up with the Madd Rapper concept to tease people to see how stupid they looked teasing us. Especially when we weren't causing anybody any problems. So I just went into the studio and did an interlude and that's what happened.
AllHipHop.com: Will we be seeing the Madd Rapper ever again?
D-Dot: Definitely. The Madd Rapper will be out in 2005. With all of the hate going on in the music business, it’s perfect timing for me.
AllHipHop.com: How do you feel about the up and coming producers?
D-Dot: I like a lot of them. I think a lot of them are trash, whose beats are trash. I'm a Kanye fan, I'm a Just Blaze fan, and I’m an Alchemist fan. Then there are other producers that can't hold the water I pee in. They're just trash and getting away with murder. But you know, I respect everybody. One thing I do have is an opinion, but I've got respect for anybody that dares to come into this game and do what we do, because it's hard.
AllHipHop.com: How do you distinguish yourself from other producers?
D-Dot: The difference between me and a lot of producers, is that I'm a real producer. I have a problem with guys that make beats at home and mail them to the artists and call themselves producers. There was a time before I really hooked up with Kanye that he thought that sitting at home in Chicago, making beats and sending them to me, made him a real producer. He used to send me tracks and used the phrase ‘Ghost Production’. Him and me had a time where we weren't really speaking because I took offense to that to that phrase. Back then; he really thought he was the producer of the song.
I remember when he first did his record for Jay-Z; he was so in awe of being in the studio with Jay-Z, that he forgot he was a producer. And Jay-Z came and spit some stuff on the record that Kanye wasn't satisfied with it, but he was too scared to speak up because he hadn't yet graduated to full music producer. At that point, he was just a trackmaker. He did the track, Jay-Z did whatever he wanted to do over the track and that was it. In my case, I didn't let that happen. When I did my first record for Jay-Z, Jay-Z didn't wanna do ad-libs over the track. The track was ‘Where I'm From (Marcy)’ and Jay looked at me like I was crazy. The hit-making record formula for me is vocals, melodies, and ad-libs. So he went back into the booth and did his ad-libs. He was Jay-Z at the time, who am I to question him, but at the end of the day I've got a job to do. I'm a music producer and this is what I do. That was the difference between being a beatmaker and a producer. At the time, I think with Kanye he learned to become more of a producer and learned to take more control of the situation. I'm a custom producer. That's why my music is able to last long. That's why you can go into a club in 2004 and hear ‘Benjamins’ right next to ‘My Goodies’ to this day.
AllHipHop.com: Is there any artist you wouldn't work with?
D-Dot: I'll work with anybody for the paper. Unfortunately, that's what the game has come to. I'm not really picky like that, but yeah there are some artists that don't do it for me creatively, that I think like it won't be some historic move. I don't want to say any names because I'm not disrespectful to people like that, but just like that there are probably certain artists who look at certain producers like, ‘Oh, we don't need a D-Dot beat. F**k D-Dot.’ They don't mean it to be disrespectful but if they can get a Dr. Dre beat or a Jazze Pha beat or Rocwilder or Kanye, then f**k D-Dot. I'm historic right now, so making a record with this artist isn't gonna make or break me. So yeah, there are probably a few out there that I wouldn't think of f**kin' with.
AllHipHop.com: What type of effect did Biggie's passing have on you and how did it change your future productions?
D-Dot: You're talking about a good friend, somebody who I really and truly respected and who truly respected me. Biggie said to the world, ‘If you wanna f**k with me, you've gotta get past D-Dot, Stevie J and Nashiem first.’ That's why when you look at Life After Death, Clark Kent only had one. As much as B.I.G loved Clark, Clark only had one beat on there. Premo had two because B.I.G loved Premo. And we had the rest. Kaygee had one, RZA had one, Havoc had one. D-Dot, had four or five, Nasheem has four or five, Stevie J had four or five. B.I.G told the world, ‘I've got my squad. They custom for me.’ That's why to this day, we only put out one more album, because B.I.G didn't have a lot of rhymes sittin'.
B.I.G heard the beat, he wrote to the beat. It wasn't like he would just write and write and write like Tupac, just having rhymes put to any beat. So when he died, it was like taking a sewing machine from a seamstress or a drill from a carpenter. It was one of my tools taken away, that I also used to express myself. It's really hard to find artists out there that have that drive and that creativity that B.I.G had. God Bless the dead. I really miss him.
AllHipHop.com: What is your relationship with Puffy?
D-Dot: It's still all love. He's still my little brother. I don't work for Bad Boy anymore. I haven't worked for them in six years, but I still Executive Produce projects when he needs me. I executive produced Black Rob in 2000, Life Story and MTV's Da Band. I also executive produced Black Rob's upcoming album in 2005 The Rob Report.
AllHipHop.com: How do you feel about Kanye West being such a sought after producer coming from your tutelage?
D-Dot: I'm really proud of him. I think he worked very hard and deserves every accolade he is getting. I'm proud to say that he went to the D-Dot school along with a lot of other people in the music business that went to my school. I pride myself on being a good teacher so people could propel themselves. I can honestly say that he was one of my valedictorian students so I'm very proud of him.
AllHipHop.com: There has been speculation that Kanye actually produced All About the Benjamins, is this true?
D-Dot: Absolutely not. I wasn't even down with Kanye back in '96. Who told you that? I'm hoping it wasn't him.
AllHipHop.com: What are your feelings on 50 Cent's impact on Rap since working with you?
D-Dot: Like Kanye, I'm very proud of him. Another graduate of the D-Dot school.
Stay tuned for a D-Dot instrumental series coming soon.