Mike Dean’s role in the studio with Kanye West may be becoming more pronounced, but the mixer-producer has worked with West on each of his albums, as well as the Watch The Throne project with Jay-Z. In an interview with Huffpost Live, Dean explained how working with West has evolved from 2004’s The College Dropout to Yeezus, which is slated to be released tomorrow (June 18).
”[West] is more the producer that oversees everybody now,” Dean says during the interview. “He gets teams of producers to work under him. When I first started working with him, I mixed two, three songs on his first record at my house in Texas. I’d say, ‘Ah, I could help you on this track.’ He’d say, ‘I make beats. That’s what I do.’ That was 10 years ago, I guess. Now he lets everybody put input in and he sorts through it. We’ll have eight producers putting parts on one song and then we’ll just pick through it, pick what’s good.”
With so many producers working on one song, Dean says the process becomes layered. “Usually one person will start something and eight other people will add parts,” Dean says to interviewer Ricky Camilleri. “Sometimes it’ll end up [that] the person that started doesn’t have anything on the final song, but they’re still producing.”
Dean, who performed with West during his Governors Ball 2013 set in New York June 9, has an extensive Rap mixing and production resume. He started working with Scarface, The Geto Boys and other Rap-A-Lot Records artists in the early 1990s and helped develop the “gumbo funk” production style that included the use of live instruments.
Trained to be a bassoonist, Dean says that his work on Yeezus also signals his own development as a producer. “It’s just an evolution, I guess, of learning how to make records,” Dean says. “We’re kind of pulling back to more minimal now. We’re trying to. It’s hard not to make an epic record if you can.”