Production Credit: Deric “D-Dot” Angelettie [’90s Edition]
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$e's flow spawned a whole bunch of other rappers to capitalize off that laid back flow.
What about "Hypnotize?" What do you remember about that session ?
When we came back from Trinidad Big managed to get the DATs [Digital Auto Tape] before I got there, so when I walked in the room it just so happened he was in there with maybe I think it was [Lil] Cease or one other dude. I walked in the room and Big said, "Yo, my nigga" and told the engineer to press play on the DAT. He pressed play, it was the "Hypnotize" instrumental and Big said, "Yo, this is my first single and he told me to come next to him. I lean next to him and he just sang the chorus to me: "Biggie, Biggie, Biggie, cant you see. Sometimes your words just hypnotize me." And I just left there and was like, "Wow." I walked out the room and I just started jumping up and down. I went across the hall, told Pam [from Total] get ready 'cause as soon as he lays it, she gotta go and lay it right on top of him.
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What about the "Feels So Good" session?
Well, I don’t really remember the session too much because there was like 7 or 8 of those. Ma$e loved the beat, but the way Puff wanted him to attack the record, we was having problems. That's the one record I can honestly say that was Puffy’s idea. We did Homecoming in ’96 in D.C. and the DJ Kool record ["Let Me Clear My Throat"] was out. Puff heard it and was like, "Yo, I want to redo that DJ Kool record." And I was like, "Not me." He said, "Nah, I need you to do this. You’re the only one that’s going to give it the swag and do the extra shit I need." When they did "Juicy," those are the type of records you could hear on WBLS. You could always hear the Debarge version. You wasn't hearing that "Hypnotize" sample unless you was a jazz fan. I would not do it. Finally, he said please, please, please. I just looped it up, Ma$e came in, wrote the first three verses. Puff came back like, "D-Dot I need it to be happy, friendly." I just happened to be working in the other room with Kelly Price. I asked Kelly, "Can you help me with this." She came in an hour or two later, she sang it to me. [It was] more catchy than anything I did. That's the perfect example of Puff being a producer. He didn’t actually sit down and make the beat, but when I sent him that song, he heard Kelly's vocals. Now Ma$e has a clearer picture on how to write. So Ma$e came back with three more verses and those are the ones you heard.
What is your relationship with Puff now? Y'all still talk?
Yeah, we still best of friends. Musically, we didn’t click like that. That's one of the reasons why I left. I just didn’t wanna do some of the moves he was making musically. I wanted to stay with a certain way I wanted to do things, but we are still friends. We just haven’t worked together in a long time.
What about with Kanye 'cause I know you were a big part of his start?
When we see each other we shake each other hands and say what’s up, but he didn’t do right by his O.G. I didn’t do nothing to him. I didn’t rob him. The one song he didn’t get credit for was a Nas song we produced and the only reason that happened is because we did the record in 1998 and I don’t think that shit came out 'til the 2000s. By then neither one of us dealt with Columbia [Records] so they didn’t call us with the credits. I always knew he was gonna be genius. That’s why I hooked up with him, but as far as his respect factor, as far his loyalty factor, he sucks. Even in his [VH1]Behind the Music he goes from workin' with No I.D. in Chicago to Jay-Z. What happened to the years when you was doing Foxy, Nas, Madd Rapper, Biggie, Puff and Shyne? When your moms was comin' up here and we was lookin' for apartments. All that’s missing. He went straight from No I.D. to Jay-Z. No I.D. didn't put you on. I put him on. Even Pete Rock. He did a fuckin' [Peter] Rosenberg interview. "How'd you meet Kanye? I met Kanye through D. Dot. Busta, how’d you meet Kanye? I met him through D.Dot." Raekwon all these people met Kanye through me. Jay-z met Kanye through me. Hip-hop and all them met Kanye because of D. Dot. That’s the only disrespectful part. He’s definitely dope, definitely a good student. [He] made hip-hop and music history. I respect him.
So what about The Madd Rapper is that something you still want to do?
I was gonna put out an album this July, but I just don’t have enough resources to get it really poppin' the way I would like to. I got plenty of records done. People still ask for it and with all the hate and all the bullshit goin' on. XXL and couple of people put out the “Dear Hip-hop” record that I put out. I put out a couple of records. Right now I'm just hooked on that. I got a artist named Wais P. We’ve been moving and shakin' with him. We just got a record added to Shade 45 called “Pendejos” featuring Big. I took a little sample from Biggie's music. I'm still working on Madd Rapper, still doing interludes. Matter [of] fact, I just did a joint with Fred Da God Son and Freeway. I just need somebody else to help push the product and at least get the music out properly.
D-Dot's Production Credits on XXL's 250 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs 1990-1999: No.2, Puff Daddy's "It's All About the Benjamins (Remix) feat. The LOX, The Notorious B.I.G. and Lil' Kim, No. 59, The Notorious B.I.G's "Hypnotize," No.101, Ma$e's "Feels So Good," No. 117, The LOX's "Money, Power, Respect," No. 189, Ma$e's "24 Hrs. to Live" feat. The LOX, DMX & Black Rob
Other Notable Production Credits: Puff Daddy's "Been Around the World" feat. Ma$e & The Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z's "Where I'm From, Tracey Lee's "The Theme (It's Party Time)," The Notorious B.I.G's "The World Is Filled"