Legendary hip-hop producer Mike Dean has opened up about Kanye West’s unpredictability in the studio, describing how just weeks before he was due to release 2018’s ‘Ye’, the rapper scrapped everything he and Dean had worked on.
The anecdote was shared in a new episode of Nile Rodgers’ Apple Music 1 show Deep Hidden Meaning Radio. The pair spoke about how Dean is often recruited to recording sessions so he can “Mike Dean it up”, with Beyoncé being a key example of an artist who seeks the producer out for his idiosyncratic style.
Dean explained that he’s not concerned with how much of that style an artist will opt of keep on a record’s final mix, saying: “They can take all that, or 50 per cent of it, or 80 per cent of it… I’ve got real thick skin, so it doesn’t bother me – it’s like, you know, whatever they like of what I did, they can use.”
Agreeing with Rodgers’ notion that you can’t be “passionate about your part” as a producer, Dean continued: “Exactly – or you’d get your feelings hurt, like, every day. Especially working with like Kanye or Travis [Scott], you know, where it changes and everything’s really malleable until it’s over. Anything can happen… Especially Kanye, you know?”
Dean pointed to West’s eighth studio album, ‘Ye’, which famously went through dozens of iterations – at different points under the titles ‘Turbo Grafx 16’ and ‘Love Everyone’ – before it was released in June of 2018. The rapper worked on ‘Ye’ for over a year before its completion, and even held listening sessions of a completed record for outlets like TMZ.
That record was ultimately scrapped, however, and as Dean explained to Rodgers, the version of ‘Ye’ that West released was made from scratch over just two weeks.
On the Wyoming-based sessions – throughout which Dean and West worked closely together – the producer said: “We had like 10 songs, I guess, and we were trying to do a seven-song album. I came in one day and he’d erased the whole board and just said, ‘We’re starting over.’ That’s what happened, and we did it in like two weeks – we made seven songs and it came out pretty good.”
Have a look at the full interview below:
In a three-star review of ‘Ye’, NME’s Douglas Greenwood wrote: “At 23 minutes in length and with a brisk seven-song tracklist, it feels purpose-built to avoid room for euphemisms, too. After months of speculation, with gatherings of rap’s most prevalent figures in the snowy hills of Wyoming, perhaps we’d wrongly expected this to be a gigantic tapestry of collaborations. Instead, it sounds strangely intimate: a pop culture pariah coming to terms with the actions that led to his exile. This is the most candid he’s been on record in a long time.”
West and Dean first began working together in 2004, when the latter mixed the track ‘Two Words’ on West’s debut album, ‘The College Dropout’. He continued in that role for 2005’s ‘Late Registration’, mixing five of its 19 songs, and was bumped up to producer on 2007’s ‘Graduation’.
Though he wasn’t credited on 2008’s ‘808s And Heartbreaks’ album, Dean was involved in its development, and has been credited on every one of West’s subsequent seven albums. He also worked on West’s collaborative LPs with Jay-Z (2011’s ‘Watch The Throne’) and Kid Cudi (2018’s ‘Kids See Ghosts’).
Meanwhile, last week saw West appear on network television to defend selling his Yeezy Gap line in black “construction bags”, which some people mistakenly thought were bin bags. It came after West shared a post abstrusely declaring “the children” and “the homeless” to be his “biggest inspiration for all design”.
Following accusations of insensitivity, West appeared on Fox News’ Fox & Friends program, where he apparently said it was “God’s plan” for him to clarify his comments on television, and that he felt “misrepresented and misunderstood”.