Much like his former collaborator, the late great Notorious B.I.G., Deric “D-Dot” Angelettie got a story to tell.
As part of Sean “Diddy” Combs’ in-house production team, The Hitmen, D-Dot had a hand in crafting classic records (Puff Daddy’s “It’s All About the Benjamins (Remix),” Biggie’s “Hypnotize,” Ma$e’s “Feels So Good,” The LOX’s “Money, Power, Respect”) for Bad Boy Records. And, unlike some of today’s producers, D-Dot had the luxury of sitting in on sessions as the artists recorded, making the experiences that much more memorable.
In conjunction with ’90s Week, XXL caught up with D-Dot to discuss those unforgettable Bad Boy studio sessions with Biggie and Ma$e as well as telling Diddy he couldn’t add production to “Benjamins” and Kanye West’ lack of loyalty. —Carl Chery
XXLMag.com: What was the session like for “Benjamins?” Was the Hitmen in the studio together?
D-Dot: Ron Lawrence was really the producer. He was the guy who made the beats, I just had the ideas. I was too lazy. But, when Puffy wanted to form The Hitmen, he came to me and said he wanted to go to Trinidad and I was the only Hitmen that wasn’t signed. When we went to Trinidad I just sat in this little ass room with just me, a keyboard, my drums, my discs, an MPC 62, a turntable and a mixer. I found a loop going through records, it was the Barry White Love Unlimited loop. I [played it] for Puff and he just went crazy. Because I wasn’t signed, I didn’t let him do nothing to the beat. In a lot of cases he wanted to add more production, maybe put Stevie [J] or somebody else on it to give it more life, and I was like, “Nah. You can’t get no better than rap on this.” It’s 1996. I’m like, “Yo dawg, this is a rapper’s dream; niggas don’t wanna rap on this, they don’t even need to even try to rhyme no more.” And as soon as Jadakiss and The LOX heard it, they went crazy. And when B.I.G. heard it, he went crazy.
From what I’ve heard, Puff was always trying to add his little sprinkle on tracks. It sounds like you are one of the few people that said no to him.
Nah, he didn’t need to add nothing. He still put his name on the record because he was givin’ niggas an opportunity that none of us could front on. I was never one of the dudes to throw him under the bus because he is a great producer, he was a great producer so there was no arguing what he could do to a record if you gave him raw pieces. As far as post production goes, in a lot of cases we didn’t even argue because when you heard the end result, you wasn’t upset.
Last year Puff’s rhyme on Waka Flocka’s “Oh Let’s Do It (Remix)” had lot of people saying that was his best verse since “Benjamins.” In your opinion what’s the better Puff verse?
I think you got to say “Benjamins” because it’s what sparked “Oh Let’s Do It.” After the No Way Out album up to the Wacka Flocka verse, he ain’t really been talked about on no record as far as being a rapper that I can remember where I was like, “Yo, Puff’s verse on that was retarded.” He had a couple of nice verses here, but the “Benjamins” is like anybody can repeat his verse. I got to say the “Benjamins” because of his swag. It kinda birthed Ma$e, too. People were always trying to say it gave way for Ma$e to that whole laid back, loungy flow. Then Ma$e’s flow spawned a whole bunch of other rappers to capitalize off that laid back flow.
What about “Hypnotize?” What do you remember about that session ?
When we came back from Trinidad Big managed to get the DATs [Digital Auto Tape] before I got there, so when I walked in the room it just so happened he was in there with maybe I think it was [Lil] Cease or one other dude. I walked in the room and Big said, “Yo, my nigga” and told the engineer to press play on the DAT. He pressed play, it was the “Hypnotize” instrumental and Big said, “Yo, this is my first single and he told me to come next to him. I lean next to him and he just sang the chorus to me: “Biggie, Biggie, Biggie, cant you see. Sometimes your words just hypnotize me.” And I just left there and was like, “Wow.” I walked out the room and I just started jumping up and down. I went across the hall, told Pam [from Total] get ready ’cause as soon as he lays it, she gotta go and lay it right on top of him.
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