Hip-hop producer Duke Dinero is an upcoming Toronto artist who is already well received and respected in the scene. After scoring two major placements on Chinx and Game’s albums, the 33-year-old beatsmith has been one of the new producers to watch out for.
MEB staff writer Norman Galang chopped it up with Dinero via e-mail to speak about his collaboration with Chinx before his death, being on Game’s album with Dubb & Skeme, the difference between a producer vs. beat maker and if cultural appropriation exists in hip-hop.
What made you fall in love with hip-hop?
Grew up on this stuff. There’s nothing like it, the sounds, the lyrics, the culture. Just everything about hip-hop.
In your opinion, what’s the difference between a producer and a beat maker?
That’s easy. Producers are painters, beat-makers are sketchers. Producers are in the business of making records, putting whole albums together, they have a visual and emotional concept of how and what a record should sound like. Beat-makers follow trends, make beats and that’s all.
I hang out with a lot of hip-hop heads and a big debate we have is who’s more important in today’s music, the rapper or the producer? In your opinion, is the producer more crucial than the MC?
The producer. Without question we are by far the most important in today’s music. Without producers some artists may not have any direction in terms of how to build a hit record. Sometimes you need to be guided on how to extract that greatness and there’s no one better to get that out of you than a producer.
Who influenced you to start producing and which producers are you feeling right now?
Alchemist. As far as who I’m feeling right now, no one really stands out, but I would have to say Cardiak, !llmind, Cardo & Kanye West.
What makes your production style different than all the other producers out there?
Because I don’t rely on 808s. I’m actually able to create anything I want from R&B, Pop Rock, Dance, Electro to Hip-Hop. Absolutely no limitations to what I create.
From your Instagram, I see that you seem to be annoyed of artists who are trying to get free beats from you. What’s the reason behind that sentiment?
I’ve always been a believer of you spend money to earn money, and never sell yourself short. I came from the same humble beginnings as most of these artists, the difference with me is that I never asked for handouts. I always did what was best for me, I took what little I had and invested in better equipment and sounds.
I was introduced to your music when I heard No Way Out by Chinx Drugz, which to me was his best song. The production, chorus, verses and the overall build up was pretty on point across the board. The whole record felt like a getaway / car chase scene in an action movie. I felt the same for Game’s Food For My Stomach. How did those records come about?
Thanks I appreciate anyone who can vibe to my style of music. How they came about was a combination of hard work and luck. No Way Out started out as a record I produced and sent over to The Superiors, I’ve been working with them quite a lot recently. They basically beefed up the record with more sounds, harder drums and a slightly better mix.
We were trying to get a major placement and from what I recall T.I. had heard the record but passed, then it went to Travi$ Scott but things didn’t go our way and it ended up with Chinx Drugz. In a way I’m glad Chinx took the record because it turned out better than I thought it would.
Food For My Stomach was sheer luck. I had been working with D.U.B.B. from LA for a few years now, he was working on some new stuff and at the time I was working on my instrumental project and the title track was Started From 1981. I had posted the beat on Soundcloud and D.U.B.B liked the record so I sent it to him. Months later I get a text saying I made it on The Game’s album [Blood Moon: Year of the Wolf], then the tracklist came out and there I was. Track #13 Food For My Stomach.
Album Version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhZw6dCNcpk
What was your reaction when you heard the tragic news that Chinx was killed?
As always shocked and disappointed that yet another rising star had fallen too soon. I’m very critical of a lot of new artists but I can say Chinx is one of the few I was able to listen to for more than one verse.
On your Instagram, you posted something about not being happy with Iggy Azalea winning at the Billboard awards over Drake and Kendrick. What are you thoughts of Iggy and the overall reception she is getting?
I just think the overall direction of hip-hop is not where it needs to be. I mean you have Drake & Kendrick who both have consistently represented the culture yet they get shut out at these awards. For Iggy Azalea to even win over the likes of Eminem is preposterous in itself. I dunno but it seems every year the culture gets watered down.
A lot of rappers such as Wale, J. Cole, OG Maco and others have been vocal about the topic of race in today’s hip-hop scene. In your opinion, does cultural appropriation exist in hip-hop?
Of course it does. Hip-Hop is the most infectious music in the world. Everyone wants to be a part of this culture. What upsets me is that most people nowadays use hip-hop as a stepping stone and don’t really care to understand the culture. It’s all a money grab to them and that’s why a lot of the quality in hip-hop has receded.
What are some future projects, mixtapes or albums you’re going to be on?
At the moment I’m working on another instrumental project, hopefully songs from that release get picked up by some major labels or artists.
Any last minute things you want to say to the fans?
I appreciate the respect and support from all over the world I’ve been getting, that’s definitely more than money could buy.
Mind Equals Blown would like to thank Duke Dinero for taking time out to do this interview!