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 Dame Grease, one of the premier boardsmen out of the east coast that helped introduce the music world to some of the greatest rap acts of all-time. Born in the Bronx and raised in Harlem, Grease put his name on the radar through his production work. He began with demos for The Lox, which helped the trio secure their record deal with Bad Boy Records. From there, Grease would earn sporadic placements on high-profile albums, including Ma$e's Harlem World and The Lox's Money, Power & Respect. However, it would be his work on DMX's Ruff Ryders debut album It's Dark and Hell Is Hot that would put him on the short-list of coveted producers out of the five boroughs.
Serving as the primary producer on the album, Grease's contributions helped power it to multiplatinum status and played a huge role in turning DMX into a bona fide superstar. In addition to continuing his working relationship with DMX while assisting other rising acts, Grease launched his own imprint, Vacant Lot. It was through Priority Records that Vacant Lot would be the platform to showcase the Harlem producers upward trajectory through the ranks. While Vacant Lot failed to mirror the success that he found while working with Bad Boy and Ruff Ryders, Grease's reputation as one of the most trusted beatsmiths in the game would grow even stronger. Soon he would have everyone from Mary J. Blige to LL Cool J seeking out his talents. Today, with more than two decades in the game under his belt, Grease remains a fixture in the rap world and continues to add to his legacy, one track at a time.
In our latest installment of our series, we celebrate and highlight 11 of Dame Grease's most iconic beats that define his excellence behind the boards.
1. "Niggaz Wanna Act"
Dame Grease's first major production credit came via this placement on fellow Lenox Avenue luminary Ma$e's debut album Harlem World. Stripping elements from "Hostage Part 1 & 2" by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Grease creates a feverish soundscape that helped put his career in motion.
2. "If You Think I'm Jiggy"
Traces of Johnny Guitar Watson's "Nothing Left to Be Desired" can be found on this contribution to The Lox's Money, Power & Respect album. Released as the debut single, this radio-friendly groove put the Yonkers trio in heavy rotation, peaking at number 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
3. "We'll Always Love Big Poppa"
In the midst of mourning the death of label-mate and mentor The Notorious B.I.G., The Lox recorded this heartfelt tribute to the King of New York. Found deep in the track was Grease, who lent his talents on the production tip. Featuring string arrangement by Stevie J, this solemn composition solidified Grease as an extended member of the Bad Boy family.
4. "Get At Me Dog"
Of all of his placements, the one record that truly stamped the Harlem producer as a force to be reckoned with behind the boards was this seismic mix tape turned-smash single, which announced DMX as rap's next bona fide superstar.
Grease reworked a sample of "Everything Good to You (Ain't Always Good for You)" by B.T. Express and added his own flavor to the original. This resulted in a track that helped define a moment in time and took east coast rap back to the streets.
5. "Stop Being Greedy"
Grease and P.K. mine the Mahogany album for this ghastly riff. The track was lifted from "My Hero Is a Gun" by Michael Masser to create a spellbinding track. The second single released from DMX's album It's Dark and Hell Is Hot, this edgy selection was a minor hit, peaking at number 45 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles and Tracks chart. However, it helped set the tone as the calm before the storm of his monstrous debut.
6. "Niggaz Done Started Something"
Drums from "Love Potion-Cheeba-Cheeba" by Mighty Tom Cats get pilfered by Grease on this Ruff Ryders reunion, which includes verses from DMX and compatriots Ma$e and The Lox. Reworking key elements of Marvin Gaye's 1971 hit "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)," Grease constructs a stirring soundscape that ends It's Dark and Hell Is Hot off with a bang.
7. "Body In The Trunk"
Staccato percussion and haunting keys comprise the foundation of this classic, which finds Noreaga and Nas volleying couplets back and forth while delivering a riveting conceptual cut. Produced by the Harlem native, this salvo from N.O.R.E.'s album entered the pantheon of great storytelling tracks and is among the more lauded instrumentals in his catalog.
8. "Good Morning America"
Grease took the next step in his evolution as a boardsman by curating and producing the Live On Lenox Ave. project, which showcased established and up-and-coming acts out of Harlem. One track from the project that created a significant buzz was "Good Morning America." The song pairs Cam'ron with Vacant Lot Records group H.O.T. Ones, and finds the costars flowing over a sample of "God Make Me Funky" by The Headhunters.
9. "Crown Me"
The boardsman connected with Cam'ron, Juelz Santana and T.I. on this leaked collaboration from the Diplomat's Purple Haze album. Built around wrinkles of "Anvil of Crom" by Basil Poledouris, this glorious backdrop conjures a triumphant air to the proceedings, allowing the three spitters to stake their respective claims to the throne.
10. "Roc-A-Fella Billionaires"
In 2007, Grease connected with Freeway for this heater from the bearded rhyme animal's sophomore project Free At Last. Built around a sample of "Big Spender" by Helen Gallagher and Thelma Oliver, and bolstered by a guest verse from JAY-Z, this oft-overlooked gem stacks up well alongside the boardsman's best material.
11. "Feds Takin Pictures"
DJ Drama enlists Grease to craft the soundscape for Gangsta Grillz: The Album, which captures the Harlemite turning a trap-friendly production featuring a handful of the biggest rappers out of the south. Powered by frenetic drums, synths and other elements, this track helped cap off a decade of dominance from Grease. The producer took this track and clearly displayed his ability to transcend regions and eras.
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