Even if you don’t think you’re familiar with D-Dot, you most certainly are. As a producer, D-Dot was responsible for some of your favorite records from Biggie, Diddy, Ma$e, The L.O.X. and more.
In three short years, Dot worked his way up at Bad Boy Records from Director of Management and Merchandising to eventually becoming the captain of The Hitmen, Puffy’s in-house production squad tasked with handling the sonic element of Bad Boy’s then-reigning roster. Given his track record and the fact that he’s mentored artists like 50 Cent, Kanye West and more means that the guy knows what the hell he’s talking about, and when he speaks up on something, we’d be wise to listen.
During a live recording of The Combat Jack Show at A3C last weekend, The Hitmen sat down with the Combat Jack crew to drop gems about their history, their present, and some of the lessons they’ve learned along the way.
Among one of the most potent moments of wisdom came from—you guessed it—D-Dot, who detailed the ways in which the relationship between artist and producer has changed drastically, and in his opinion, for the worse.
We worked when the artist wasn't, and that's a perfect artist-producer relationship. Nowadays these artists, they don't know how to be produced. What they know is they take a beat that someone sent them from firstname.lastname@example.org or YouTube, they go in the studio and rap how they want, and then come and play it for you - if they have respect enough to play it for you. And when you give them an honest criticism it's almost like, "Where's this comin' from?"
Dot goes on to detail instances in which he and the other Hitmen members would hear a now legendary artist like Jadakiss spit over their beat, and ask them to go rewrite the entire verse, sometimes multiple times, until it sounded up to snuff.
While this dynamic may still be true of some artists and producers, the majority of today’s music does indeed come from relationships like the one Dot described above. Sadly, there is little chemistry or even a working relationship between many artists and producers, and in Dot’s opinion, that’s hurting the craft of both parties.
Regardless of how you feel about the quality of music now versus the late '90s, there's a distinct difference in the artist-producer dynamic, which has led to fewer long-term pairings of artists with producers that both compliment them artistically and drive them to improve.
Considering Dot and The Hitmen's successes, it may be wise for artists to listen up and try to forge a lasting relationship with a producer that doesn’t just supply them with hot beats, but also has an ear for greatness and the willingness to tell it like it is.
By Brent Bradley. Follow him on Twitter.