You’d think by now my inner fanboy would have been buried under professionalism and repetition, but nope. No matter how many articles I write, interviews I conduct or concerts I attend, I’ll never lose that excitement, that love that dances on the line between passion and creepy obsession.
So yes, of course I freaked out a bit when I got the chance to interview Bink!, the producer behind my favorite beat (“Devil In A New Dress”), a handful of songs on a little album called The Blueprint, and most recently “It’s All On Me,” a standout from Dr. Dre’s Compton album.
In fact, it turns out I’m such a Bink! fan that the usual pre-interview jitters didn’t subside once we started talking. They actually worsened as Bink! dropped gems like a drunk jeweler and I stumbled around, clumsily trying to make sure I picked up as many of those gems as possible. I should have probably lead with Compton-related questions because that’s the entire reason we had been connected in the first place, the album that everyone’s talking about right now, but I just couldn't. Almost immediately I told him how much I appreciated “Devil In A New Dress” (leaving out the fact that I once debated getting a tattoo related to the song) and asked to hear the story behind it, and as he started talking my brain started leaking out my ears.
“Kanye sent me out to Hawaii to work with him and I was actually just holding my laptop and it [the beat] came on in my iTunes. He heard it through my laptop speakers and he was immediately intrigued; I wasn't even gonna play it for him. He overheard it and asked, ‘What's that?’ ‘It's another joint I got’ and he was like, ‘Bounce that down let me hit that.’ So he hopped right in the booth and the first thing he said was “I love it though" and the first line he came up with was, ‘She love Jesus but she learned a lot from Satan.’ They didn't call it ‘Devil In A New Dress’ at the time they called it something else. It was called ‘Magic Hour.’ So when ‘Devil In A New Dress’ came out, I didn't know anything about that.”
Honestly, I could have talked for hours about “Devil In A New Dress”—it’s crazy to think one of my all-time favorite songs was essentially an accident—but considering Bink was a part of Compton, I figured we should dive into Dr. Dre’s latest opus. I was pretty curious how “It’s All On Me” came to be.
"I was with Dre in Vegas about two years ago and we did the joint that ended up being Rick Ross' “Mafia Music 3.” Ross was hired to write Dre's verse and he [Ross] came back later and asked for the record, which is the first time I've seen anybody do that, but he did it. My relationship with Dre got tighter and we started doing a lot of work. He flew me out to L.A. a lot and once they started on the movie and they told me what they were trying to do, I was all in. I was in the studio late night with my man Nascent, he's a producer too, and I was like give me some samples. So he gave me three and that was one of 'em and I chopped it up and the rest was history.
"The moment Dre walked into the room when I was chopping it up, he heard it without the drums and everything and still knew. He said "Make sure you finish that." He was adamant about it. He came back and checked on it and slowly but surely built that record for about six months."
Between “Devil In A New Dress,” TheBlueprint, and expertly flipping samples—he told me that BJ The Chicago Kid recorded some of his vocals specifically for the sample, dope right?—Bink! deserves to be credited as one of the best producers in hip-hop. He’s won GRAMMYs awards, has had his work placed on two of the best modern hip-hop albums since 2000 and has been producing at the highest level since 1996. I pictured him as unflappable and unphased. Yet, when I talked to him about what it was like to work with Dre, he had the same tone of voice as when I brought up “Devil In A New Dress.” He normally has a deep, powerful vocal, but he sounded like a kid in a candy store. He was excited. He sounded almost in awe. You could feel the immense respect he has for Dr. Dre and his craft.
“One person can never know it all. You can always learn a lot just by listening. Don't just listen to the music, listen to the music. Being around Dre and just seeing the level of quality that he keeps with everything at every level, that's a good habit to learn. Fuckin' with Dre naturally gives you a certain sense of intimidation. Has to. Everything the man touches goes.
"You know you can't come in there with anything less. In your regular atmosphere you’re not going to ball over the wall every time, but with Dre when you are in that quality atmosphere, the stuff that flies everywhere else ain't gonna fly here. It puts you on your game. They say you as strong as the weakest person in your circle so to have someone like Dre in your circle is saying a lot.
"The thing about Dre and working with him, we all realize who the boss is. If the man said it ain't right it ain't right. He's done that to me a lot of times. Not just me, anyone you talk to they'll tell you that. He's a perfectionist. But look at his accomplishments. Is he wrong?”
Though Compton and the major motion picture it was inspired by have taught me a lot about N.W.A and Dre, I can't help but feel like I missed something. Don’t get me wrong, I know Andre Young is a legend, a GOAT of GOATS, but for me, and plenty of others who were too young to remember N.W.A. in the moment, he’s a businessman who may or may not be trapped in Slim Shady’s basement. I’ve always appreciated his greatness, but it’s always hard to truly feel an artist’s impact when you were still in diapers during the release of their classic albums.
Getting to talk with Bink!, an artist I admire greatly, and hearing how excited, how rap nerdy, he got when discussing Dre really helped me gain perspective on just how impactful Dre's work is on everyone that is brought into his studio. Bink! insisted that working with Dre was, “...the epitome, the ultimate” achievement of his career. Here I was, humbled to be on the phone with him while he was humbled to have worked with Dre. Hearing how excited he still is about making music showed me that a love for hip-hop, from a fan to a blogger to a GRAMMY-winning producer, is the great equalizer, the force that brings us all together.
Rap nerds unite.