As I promised, here are the outtakes from my Vibe cover story with Dr. Dre. In these snippets he talks about meeting DJ Khalil as a kid for the first time, sampling Nottz, programming the beat on “L.A. Niggaz” and what happened to his collection of 80,000 records.
Nodfactor.com: A few years ago there was an article in The Times Of London where it said that labels were over-compressing music in the mastering because people are listening to music in little earbuds now.
Dr. Dre: That means they’re doing it absolutely the wrong way. You should improve the source of the sound, the thing that people are playing it on. Not the end result. That’s ridiculous.
You mentioned drum kits earlier. How do you feel when you go on line and see “Dr. Dre drum kits”?
I think it’s the biggest compliment. Of course I have my problems when people use my music and they water it down and make it sound corny. But for the most part when I see that it’s a big compliment. If somebody is taking the time out to take a Dre kick it makes me feel like what I’m doing is really valuable.
I watched a funny interview with Rockwilder where he talked about sampling your Lolos for Xzibit’s “Front 2 Back.”
Dre: Yeah, yeah. I remember that. What was funny about that is that I loved it so much it made me go “Why didn’t I think of that shit?” It was really dope. I was like “Damn, that was supposed to be me. That was my shit.” But Rockwilder beat me to that one.
Someone posted one of your Roadium Swap meet mixtapes on Youtube. It had Eazy E rhyming over a Dana Dane beat. Do you remember it?
Back then I think I did about 60 different mixtapes. I had a radio show on KDAY. I was on the Traffic Jam everyday at 5 o clock and a lot of those mixes went on tape for sale. That was a fun period. That eventually developed into me getting curious about engineering.
When did that curiosity become practice?
When I found a facility to practice. There was a radio show called Radio Scope with this guy named Lee Bailey out here. He had an 8-track studio in his garage and he would let me come over and toy with it. I started out learning to engineer and I think that’s why my mixes come out so well because that was my thing. Getting really involved in the technical part of it and then I just started touching the drum machine and so on.
How do you feel about software vs. drum machines?
I have a love/hate relationship with software. I love the quickness of it but the sound is a little transparent. It’s a little difficult to get the sound out of software that I would out of a module or a regular keyboard. That’s the only thing, getting it to sound as warm as it used to.
Snoop’s “Boss’s Life” had the same sample as Busta’s “Everybody Rise” produced by Nottz. You knew Busta had already done it at that point, right?
Yeah! We listened to the Busta record to replay the music! It’s just a track that I loved for a long time and I played it for Snoop and went yeah! We just twisted it up right there.
I guess you’ve elevated yourself to this level to why would Dre use the same sample as someone else?
I understand. It’s something that I liked. That’s one of the tracks I’ve really enjoyed. What’s wrong with that? Do I really need to prove myself anymore? Come on.
You replayed Isaac Hayes “Bumpy’s Lament” for “XXplosive.” Talk about your replay process. What do you say to musicians to get them to sound right?
It doesn’t work all the time. I would say 80 to 90% of the time it doesn’t work. It’s just first finding the right musicians that understand it and they have to be excited about what they’re doing. Some musicians want to sit there and play something they wrote to get money instead of getting the song done. So it’s about the musicians understanding and being able to do what they’re asked to do. There’s no big science behind that too.
“Some L.A Niggas” is one of my favorite Dre Beats because…
The stops and starts…
Yeah! What made you program it that way?
The reason that it was programmed that way was the air in it. I wanted all of the MCs to have that stop. That was the trick, to have the rhyme stop with the beat. I thought if we could get the MCs to stop that way it could be interesting. I know it was no hit record, but it was something we were trying that’s why it comes so late in the record. It was just us having fun. It was funny watching everybody trying to write a rhyme to that stop and it still make sense. They got it off though.
Do you still have a record collection or is it all in a warehouse somewhere?
The record collection is gone now. I had a warehouse full of albums and I contemplated getting rid of it for at least two years before I did it. I wasn’t really using it anymore. It was just sitting there as another bill for storage. 80,000 albums.
Sold or gave away?
Both. What I did was just went through and jotted down everything I was in love with so I could order it [later]
What are three of those records you wrote down?
I didn’t keep em for sampling purposes. Curtis Mayfield’s “Superfly” a Barry White’s Greatest Hits… a gray album and everything else on it was black. [thinks] It might be fucking Nirvana. That’s one of my favorite albums ever made. I still listen to that shit to work out.
On “Next Episode” you took that David McCallum sample and just did something else with it.
Now it’s funny that you say that. The Isaac Hayes song was a slow song and I knew nobody was gonna sample that. I try to go for those obscure samples or something people aren’t gonna think about recreating.
In producer circles there is a lot of talk about the team that you’ve assembled. What is it about those producers like Khalil and Mr. Porter that you like to work with them?
I love their personalities and I love their talent. Khalil is one of the coolest guys you ever want to meet and one of the most talented guys you’d ever want to meet. It’s really crazy because I’ve known Khalil’s sister for at least 20 years now and I was at a pool party that she threw and there was this kid that came up and said he wanted to learn about production. I don’t know how long ago this was but he was 11 or 12 years old. I sat and talked to him for about an hour or two and it was Khalil. Next thing you know he’s out doing his thing and he’s got a song on my album. Which is the craziest shit! And he’s on Eminem’s record sounding real good. He did his thing.
I’m branching out using some other producers on my record and it’s just people that I like. It’s not necessarily a team but it’s just me branching out to other producers that are new and up coming. It does nothing for me to work with somebody who is already established. It means more to me to build something from the ground up.
9th Wonder told me that he wants to ask you how you manage to do so much but not be seen. How do you do that?
I’m really protective of my family, myself and my image. It’s one of the reasons for my longevity in the business. I’m not a person that really gives a fuck about being on camera or people taking pictures of me. I like being to myself. I have my designated events, I do like to party and have fun but in controlled environments, like the room you’re sitting in right now.
RZA has an equally fabled album he’s working on called The Cure and he told me that Detox has to come out before The Cure. “You gotta detox before you get the cure…”
Ha! That’s funny. RZA is my man. He’s dope as fuck too. But there’s really no detoxing. Fuck detoxing. But like I said, hearing it and seeing it is two different things.
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