Mike Dean has performed with Kanye West since 2010 and in an exclusive interview with HipHopDX, Dean says that he will be joining West for the forthcoming tour to support Yeezus, of which Dean was a producer.
After performing with West on a couple of one-off shows in the New York area in support of West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Dean has shared the stage with West at all of his subsequent concerts. “It kind of just happened,” Dean says in an exclusive interview with HipHopDX. “It was a good vibe, so we continued that, which is good because we can grow together live and kind of have an influence on how the next albums go. It keeps us working together in the same zone all the time, too.”
Dean, who cut his teeth in the mid-1990s working with Scarface and the Geto Boys, among others, says that he was “consumed” with his work on Yeezus. The Houston- and New York-based musician-producer-mixer says that his work on Yeezus tracks “Hold My Liquor” and “I Am A God” was the most special and that collaborating with a handful of producers on the album had its challenges. “You have to have thicker skin and not be so attached to something you’re bringing to songs because it could be taken out,” he says. “The song changes and you can’t get your feelings hurt over that kind of shit.”
Even though much of Yeezus is spare sonically, Dean says there would sometimes be as many as eight producers working on a song. “It’s just to see where each person can take it,” he says. “That’s basically the idea. Each person will have a way different take on what the song should be.”
In addition to tour preparation, Dean says he is getting ready to work on more material with West and focusing on keeping both of their respective brands special, something made easier by West’s aura. “He’s got an infectious personality,” Dean says. “People either love him or they love to hate him. Either way, I guess it’s good.”
As for Dean himself, he says he has been making a point to promote himself more than he did earlier in his career, when he worked as a producer, remixer, songwriter, producer and musician for UGK, Do Or Die and De La Soul, among others. He deejays festivals and has production work with country singer Brad Paisley and a remix of 1980s English electronic music group Depeche Mode’s single “Soothe My Soul” forthcoming. Dean may also be working with Nas on his new material.
After spending nearly 20 years behind the scenes, Dean is enjoying the increased profile he’s experienced through his work with West. “It’s not bad to be recognized,” he says.