REVOLT TV presents 'The Produce Section,' a column where we put the spotlight on the men and women behind the beats we love so much and their contributions to the culture as a whole. From profiling and interviewing the hottest producers of today to acknowledging the greatest producers of all-time and delving deep into their discographies, The Produce Section is the hub where beats, rhymes and life connect.
Producers have long been the backbone of rap music, providing emcees and rappers alike with the sonic backdrops over which they bare their souls and share their stories. Rap artists may get much of the fanfare and are front and center. However, without the producer toiling away behind the scenes, crafting the instrumentals; the lyrics would be reduced to spoken word and hip hop would be nonexistent as we know it.
In this edition of "The Produce Section," we cover Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie and Ron "Amen Ra" Lawrence, two of the critical hit-making producers at Bad Boy Records' during the mid-90s and early aughts. Hailing from New York City, the duo initially joined forces while attending Howard University, where they founded the rap duo Two Kings in a Cipher and inked a deal with RCA/Bahia in 1990. Despite receiving critical acclaim for their debut album, From Pyramids to Projects, the pair was ultimately dropped from the label, prompting them to focus their efforts on producing records for other artists.
Finding a home for themselves at Bad Boy, D-Dot and Amen-Ra became two pillars of The Hitmen, Diddy's crew of in-house producers who helped mold and direct the sound of East Coast rap to the mainstream level during the label's peak years. Scoring placements on landmark projects including The Notorious B.I.G.'s Life After Death, Diddy's No Way Out, and Ma$e's Harlem World, the boardsmen worked in tandem, as well as individually, with each proving their ability to craft bangers. Soon enough, this would lead to their names appearing on various records by the most prominent artists in the biz. However, it is their tenure at Bad Boy that Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie and Ron "Amen Ra" Lawrence are most remembered for.
In the latest installment of our series, we celebrate and highlight 11 of Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie and Ron "Amen Ra" Lawrence's most iconic beats that define their excellence behind the boards.
On the eve of The Notorious B.I.G.'s anticipated sophomore album release, this banger assaulted speakers nationwide, marking the return of the biggest rap stars in the game. Produced by D-Dot and Amen-Ra, the pair of Hitmen took a sample of Herb Alpert's 1979 release "Rise" and reworked it into a chart-topping sensation, giving The Notorious B.I.G. the most successful record of his career.
2. "The World Is Filled..."
D-Dot makes it hot with this groovy instrumental from The Notorious B.I.G.'s Life After Death album, which combined the black Frank White with Too $hort and Bad Boy crooner Carl Thomas. Looting a riff from "Space Talk" by Asha Puthli, and drums from "Is Anyone There" by Hookfoot, D-Dot provided maestro duties on one of the more enticing collaborative efforts of the Bad Boy era.
3. "Been Around the World"
The two producers bring the house down with this epic composition, which revamps a sample of David Bowie's 1983 hit "Let's Dance" for this meeting of the minds between Bad Boy's core units. Climbing to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, "Been Around the World" boasted one of The Notorious B.I.G.'s last vocal performances and found the tandem adding to their list of seismic records.
4. "It's All about the Benjamin's (Remix)"
D-Dot picks a part the intro from Love Unlimited's 1976 cut "I Did It for Love." The track has become one of the most excellent rap beats of all time. It features appearances from various members of the Bad Boy family, as well as a grand intermission powered by The Notorious B.I.G. over a sample of "It's Great to Be Here" by The Jackson 5. This potent salvo doubles as a definitive moment in rap history and stands as the crown jewel of D-Dot and Amen-Ra's list of credits.
5. "I Love You Baby"
Yma Sumac's "Xtabay (Lure of the Unknown Love)" serves as the crux of this expansive composition from Amen-Ra, which doubled as one of the revered album cuts to come from Bad Boy's reign. Powered by a breakout performance on the part of Black Rob, this track is remembered as one of the key components in making Diddy's No Way Out album a certified classic.
6. "Feel So Good"
In the wake of The Notorious B.I.G.'s death, Bad Boy Records was in need of an uplifting anthem to restore the carefree vibes that the label was known for. D-Dot came to aid in that need by cooking up this lively instrumental built around a prominent sample of Kool & the Gang's 1973 hit "Hollywood Swinging." Peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, "Feel So Good" was a rallying cry for the house Biggie and Diddy built.
7. "Will They Die 4 U"
Amen-Ra lifts various elements from "Everything Good to You (Ain't Always Good for You)" by B.T. Express from Ma$e's multiplatinum Bad Boy debut album. While Harlem World included bigger hit records, "Will They Die 4 U?" showcased Betha's rugged side and has maintained one of the album's more popular deep cuts.
8. "Where I'm From"
An ominous riff from Yvonne Fair's 1975 cut "Let Your Hair Down" gets paired with vocal samples from various rap classics for the backdrop to JAY-Z's hard-boiled ode to his Brooklyn stomping grounds. The track produced by the duo was offset by Hov's influence, making it one of his most potent street anthems to date.
9. "Money, Power & Respect"
For The LOX's introduction to the greater rap world, Bad Boy enlisted the dynamic duo for this searing soundscape built around elements from "New Beginning" by Dexter Wansel. Bolstered by guest spots from DMX and Lil Kim, "Money, Power & Respect" topped the Hot Rap Singles chart upon its release and is the Yonkers trio's biggest hit to date.
10. "All Night Long"
Amen-Ra treads outside of his comfort zone and delves into the world of R&B with his production on this upbeat ditty from Faith Evans' sophomore album. Topping out at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, "All Night Long" powered Keep the Faith to platinum status and is a testament to Amen-Ra's versatility as a boardsman.
In 2001, Bad Boy signee G. Dep put his bid in to become the label's next rap star with his smash single "Special Delivery." However, it was his unheralded dose of reality rap that would adequately showcase the depth of his artistry. Released as the second single from Dep's Child of the Ghetto album, this track may not have moved the needle on the radio in comparison to its predecessor, but is an unsung gem that is further evidence of Amen-Ra's production prowess.
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