Atlanta is a beat-smithy. The city's music scene has supported a titanic array of rappers and producers who all make music at impressively prolific and consistent rates. We're talking hundreds of rappers who work with just as many (if not more) beatmakers, often on a track-by-track basis with few long-term obligations. Mapping the links between producers and MCs in Atlanta over the last decade and a half would likely drive any normal person insane—even doing something as simple as cataloguing every Gucci Mane song produced by Zaytoven would probably require a federal grant and 500 hours of uninterrupted Internet access to complete. If you made a 3D model of it, it would look like one of those anthills filled with molten metal. As a consumer, it's sometimes best to navigate the oceans of DatPiff and Livemixtapes with a more casual approach, and let the good stuff naturally float to the top.
Enter Dun Deal, a producer who, like many of his contemporaries, has been a driving force behind a number of huge hits on the southern mixtape circuit, Top 40 radio, and everything in between. He's worked with Young Thug, Ca$h Out, Future, Kevin Gates, and Migos, just to name a few. You might not immediately recognize his name, but you've definitely heard his work: Dun was a featured producer on Gucci Mane's World War 3 Vol. 2: Molly, he's one half of the team responsible for Ca$h Out's summer 2013 anthem "The Twerk Song," and most recently, he's the maestro behind Young Thug's monster hit "Stoner." Listen to Migos' "Hannah Montana" and you'll hear a clear version of his very-memorable production tag: "DUN DEEEAL ON THE TRACK" (followed by some weird pitched-up vocal effect). With a production discography that already runs hundreds of tracks deep, it's likely you won't stop hearing that tag anytime soon.
Noisey: How did you first get into making music?
Dun Deal: At first I was rapping with my friends, and then I ended up getting into production because [we] had some budget money that a label had given to us, so that they could get new production outside and it was me [who ended up doing it].
Do you have any formal music training or are you self-taught?
I'm self-taught, yeah.
What's a normal studio session like for you? I've seen your studio on Instagram. Do the artists come to you mostly?
Usually it's a mutual thing. Either they really want to get in with me, or when things are slow I'll call some artists up and put together the work.
What's your favorite thing you've produced so far?
That's out or hasn't come out yet?
Not out yet.
I'd have to say the song I did with Trey Songz recently called "On The Menu."
You've been working with DJ Spinz for a while. How did that come about?
I was in a different production team at the time called Planet 9, and at the time we had recently done a lot of stuff for Young Thug. We had just finished doing Everybody Eat Bread with the Rich Kidz, the [intro. [DJ Spinz & Hood Rich] ended up reaching out to me to see who was managing us, and at the time nobody was. So they got in contact and they asked who did what and all that kind of stuff. Then they found out I had done stuff in the past like "I See You" and a few other songs that got some people put on. The person that I was working with at the time really didn't do much, so they decided to take me on as a producer, and from then on I've just been working with [Hood Rich].
Speaking of Young Thug, "Stoner" has been a huge, huge hit. Did you think it was going to be that big when you first made it?
Yep, I knew it.
Did you make that beat specifically for Young Thug?
No. Actually, when I produce a beat I just, you know, I just produce sometimes. I don't really have people in mind. 'Cause I never really know where my beats are gonna go when I do 'em—that's why I have so many changes in them. So when I did the beat at first, it was just something I was doing. When Young Thug came to the studio, it wasn't really finished, so when [he] got there we ended up finishing the beat and I put a few more things on it and after that it was all done.
How long did it take to make the original draft of the beat?
Um, 15 minutes.
Wow. Well now there are like a million freestyles of it, and Young Thug has said that he doesn't really like that. How does it feel for you to hear so many different rappers over that one beat that you made?
I think it's cool, but of course it just shows you that you've done something that people respect, and I appreciate that aspect. I don't want it to be like "Versace" where it had a hundred people on it and they played the remix on the radio every twenty minutes. I'd rather it have a more respectable [remix] that could take [the idea] a little further.
I watched a video on Worldstar where you go through how you made "Stoner," and there's this part where you play the guitar part from it on the keyboard. Do you ever use live instruments or is it all MIDI?
Yeah, I do some live instruments sometimes. I play a little guitar and stuff. I use a grand piano sometimes on beats, and I play drums.
Cool. I was listening to that Yung Booke and T.I. track you did, "Fly Shit," that uses a Daft Punk sample. Are you a fan?
I'm a big Daft Punk fan.
What do you think sets you apart from other Atlanta producers?
I think that I'm a little bit older than most of the new producers that are out. I'm 27, about to be 28. I started from a different age—I started with an MPC and yeah I make beats, [but] I think I respect music being played out a little bit more than everybody else, you know? Everybody else really just got on like, Fruity Loops and got their equipment for free, and they figured out the sound real quick because they were working together. I was kind of by myself until a few years ago. I think another thing that sets me apart is that I was born in the 80s, and so the 90s [sound] was a big factor in my life, so I kind of add a lot of R&B elements to stuff that I do.
What software do you use now?
Right now I use Logic.
Another thing I noticed about your productions is that they have a very 'full' sound to them. Like on "The Twerk Song," Ca$h Out just kind of rides out the beat and sometimes just doesn't say anything for a few moments and the beat fills up that space. You mentioned how when you start making a beat you don't think about what it'll end up like, but do you go for a certain 'full' sound or something like that?
Yeah. I just see music as a puzzle. So I try to fill in the spaces and whatever's missing. I like to keep it fuller.
Who's your favorite artist to work with?
Really it's between Future and Young Thug.
Can you tell me about your new production group The Remedy?
I put together a group of three guys—Isaac Flame, Goose, and Sènor Slice—they're pretty young and they have a lot of respect for the music, so I decided to work with them. Issac Flame reached out to me online. He asked me to listen to some of his music, so I did, and I really liked it. Issaac knew Goose already and brought him in, and I met Sènor Slice through a mutual friend, so I just decided to take on responsibility.
What are you listening to right now?
I'm listening to the new Schoolboy Q, Capital Cities...a lot of Coldplay. Definitely the new Rick Ross album, and Kid Cudi's new album. That's about it right now.
Where do you look for inspiration besides music?
There's only a few things that motivate me outside of music and that's money.
What are you working on next?
Right now I'm putting together a mixtape, just some compilations that I put together. It's called Wait Beneath The Silver Sky.
Is there anyone you want to work with in the future that you haven't worked with yet?
Yeah there's plenty of people. Wayne, Drake—I've kind of worked with Drake but I haven't worked personally with him.
Are you interested in branching out beyond hip-hop production?
Most definitely. I'm kinda pop. I've been dabbling with pop for some years. I'm very diverse in style, I just don't really get a chance to show it off a lot, you know.
Lastly, where does your producer tag come from?
That was Skool Boy from the Rich Kidz, he did it a few years ago.
Gabriel Herrera just got his master's, even though he has to "tie up some loose ends." Whatever the fuck that means, go congratulate him on Twitter - @gabrielherrera
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