Hi I'm Mike Dean. Producer on "The New Yeezus" LP as well as "Watch the Throne," "Cruel Summer," and many many more. Excited to take your questions for the next hour or so. AMA.


update - i have to go do Pitchfork, thanks everyone for the questions and for the support on Yeezus. and stay tuned for the tour and other shit.

Comments: 375 • Responses: 44  • Date: 

LXscope46 karma

Obligatory stuff: Thanks a lot for keeping in touch with the fans throughout the recording and release stages of Yeezus. Also, shout outs to !!!KTT!!!

A few questions:

  • Obviously this is very case-by-case, but what is the first day/first few days of an album release like for an artist? Are they constantly monitoring sales, hanging out with close friends/family, just trying to keep their mind off things, actively doing business things?

  • What was it like to be a part of the marketing of Yeezus - a release that may change the way music gets released in the future?

  • What is Chief Keef like in the studio? I've heard he's very quiet and quick (with his writing, he knows what he's doing) - can you elaborate?

  • Have you done any work with or have any plans with BEEN TRILL? Do you know what direction they might be going in with their music - do they plan on touring or releasing anything more official?

  • Edit, one more: How does it feel when Rick Rubin reduces your work?

Thanks a lot for doing this and again, thanks for staying in touch with the people! You killed it on this album and at Governors Ball.


iAmMikeDean31 karma

For the first question, they're actively working, usually. Like I'm working on a couple of projects right now, can't talk about them yet.

I wasn't a really a part of the marketing, I was more a part of the making of it. I think it's great that the marketing is very minimal, like the album.

I wasn't there when Chief Keef came in. What I've heard is what you've heard.

For BEEN TRILL, I hear they're working on an album. No idea what direction it's going to be in. They do plan on touring, they just did Coachella.

Thanks for coming to Governors Ball and for the good questions.

premiumsalad40 karma


iAmMikeDean66 karma

yes. he's cool with it.

Andref9739 karma

Any chance you could convince kanye to do an AMA?

iAmMikeDean70 karma

no. he did one interview for the Times. And everybody took it out of context (Jake Tapper my new best friend).

shun-1638 karma

Hey Mike big fan of the stuff you did early on with southern rap, I help moderate /r/trapmuzik and you've made a lot of music I grew up listening to. I was wondering how that era of your worked helped you going forward and what you think about the current state of southern and trap rap. Thanks for doing this.

iAmMikeDean25 karma

The early music we made definitely influenced all the Trap music that's out now. Especially Pimp C's drums. And the horror movie music. Thanks for listening through the years. And stay tuned.

RelaxRelapse34 karma

How come Pharrell never ages?

iAmMikeDean72 karma

the same reason I don't. good living. hard work.

czhrocket29 karma

Does kanye ever go on ktt?

iAmMikeDean65 karma

No...but I show him stuff occasionally.

hirokinakamura26 karma

why don't more people listen to z-ro?

what is scarface like in the studio?

why is rick rubin always chilling on a super comfy couch? is that something stipulated in his contracts?

thanks mike, keep it trill man

iAmMikeDean29 karma

That's a good question. He's great. Hm.

Scarface... he's really creative and plays a lot of music. Has a lot of input on the music. And is a fast writer.

For Rick and his couch... probably.

deathgripz26 karma


iAmMikeDean150 karma

Whatever we make...

defrio2924 karma

Hey Mike,

thanks for all the work that you do, especially with Ye. since Yeezus was just release today (btw, I LOVE THE ALBUM, probably my favorite album this year so far in fact im listening to it right now), a few Kanye-related questions from me

  1. There were rumours that "I am a God" was supposed to be some sort of an epic 8-10 minute song, is that true? if it is whatever happened to it? Man, I would love to hear a longer version of that

  2. I'm pretty sure that you were one of the onstage performer during Kanye's performance at Coachella and during the Gov Ball show, will there be a Yeezus tour? Wll you be one of the backing performers during the tour?

  3. How was the vibe during recording session of Yeezus compared to during recording of MBDTF?

  4. Last but not least, will we ever hear a final version of Mama's Boyfriend?

iAmMikeDean39 karma

1.) It was never that long. Was always the same arrangement. Just the music around it changed.

2.) Yes and yes.

3.) Really about the same. We have a process.

4.) I'm not sure. There's a lot of versions. It's up to Kanye.

Glad you enjoy the album, thanks for the support. Go buy 2 copies :)

devmoore21 karma

Whats the funniest thing that happened during your recording and studio sessions?

iAmMikeDean83 karma

Probably Tyler the Creator putting food on people while they were asleep. Tomatoes, just food. Then he'd take photos. Then they'd wake up when he'd take photos and the flash would go off.

RelaxRelapse21 karma

Why did Kanye change the album artwork on Yeezus?

iAmMikeDean86 karma

I have no idea. I don't deal with that shit.

epiktank17 karma

what are your thoughts on ktt?

iAmMikeDean78 karma

I think it's dope, I use it for market research and for a laugh. Also, they need to move my section out of the 'other artists' section just into 'artists.' Just for the record.

murdahmamurdah16 karma

if you could hit any historical figure with a steel chair, who would it be?

iAmMikeDean36 karma

Adolph Hitler.

braindawgz16 karma

hi mike

amazing to see you doing an ama, you're definitely one of my favorite producer, loved your work on scarface's the diary, and, obviously, most recently on kanye's albums

  • first of all what is the song where you spent the most time and overall did the most thorough production job on yeezus?

  • according to you, what are the biggest differences between studio producing and live tour producing? do you enjoy one more than the other?

  • not going into details because i know how top secret that stuff is, but could you just indicate if kanye is working/planning to work on something else in the near future?

  • finally, do you have some quick funny anecdotes on what it's like to work with kanye in the studio?


iAmMikeDean22 karma

1) "Hold My Liquor" and "I am a God"

2) We usually put more base stuff for a live tour. They both balance out things and influence each other.

3) No

4) We mostly focus and get down to business. It's fun to listen to competitor's records sometimes.

QmR_15 karma

How does kanye maintain and renew his creativity for every album?

iAmMikeDean74 karma

he goes to galleries, museums, and studies.

jrbhop715 karma

What work have you done that you're most proud of?

iAmMikeDean27 karma

My work with Scarface and my work with Kanye.

Heterosethual14 karma

What are your favorite headphones and earbuds to use to listen to music?

KTT fam we out here.

iAmMikeDean28 karma

RZA's headphones. He knows sound the best. I don't use earbuds. I use headphones for recording and on the plane.

SonnyScott10 karma

What are you planning on doing with Mexican Wrestling Association?

iAmMikeDean7 karma

Putting out a record, eventually. And continue DJing clubs, hope to start DJing in the states (have done stuff overseas).

Anon29719 karma

First, thanks for doing this AMA! It's always awesome when an artist is up for answering the questions of his fans, and it's greatly appreciated by all of us here.

So when you get around to working on a beat, what's your process? What instruments do you start with, where do you get your inspiration from? And when looking at samples, how exactly do you come across them and when do you know it'll work in a beat? Do you build your beat around a sample, or is it the other way around? How much influence do the artists you work with have on the direction you take with them?

Also, in regards to your recent work on the excellent Yeezus, there's been a heavy rumor circulating that there is a deluxe version of the album that will be available soon with 4 extra bonus tracks. What'd you know about this rumor, would you mind confirming or denying anything you know about it?

iAmMikeDean19 karma

I always have a different process every time. Sometimes I start with drums, sometimes with some chords. I don't really use samples unless someone else puts them in. I'm more a person who takes away from samples, and tries to get rid of them. With the artists, it's definitely collaborative.

Regarding the four extra tracks... I don't know. No comment.

thefakemikedean8 karma

I've been a big fan of Kanye's and subsequently yours for a while. I recently saw you perform at governor's ball and watching you and mano was almost as entertaining as Kanye was.

A few questions:

  1. When you use a Sample in a song, do you have acces to the Masters or do you have to "clean" the track? (For example, you want to use the Vocals. Do you have to remove the Instrumental part?)

  2. Whats with the mexican wrestling association thing? whats with the name? Do you have anything we can listen to?

  3. How was working with Daft Punk and Rick Rubin on this album? It seems a lot has changed since rick has worked on it (for better or worse)

  4. Why aren't you verified on twitter?

  5. have you checked out /r/trees?

iAmMikeDean13 karma

1.) We just use whatever is on the record release. Sometimes we filter things, but never like, remove vocals or anything.

2.) Yea, the name is just something random that I was joking about. About wearing a mexican wrestling mask. I was in a meeting about doing an album, and they thought i was saying "mexican wrestling association" and thought it was a great idea, so I just went with it. I'm coming out with a remix this week, and you can to listen to more here.

3.) Daft Punk made a great contribution, and Rick Rubin helped pull it all together in the end.

4.) That's a good question.

5.) i think it's great. I will have to look at it while I'm smoking my G-pen.

dr99ed8 karma

Hi mike!

Speaking of Yeezus - the release has been a bit crazy - it seems peoples physical copies are mixed differently to the mixes being released on iTunes US and kanyewest.com...

I remember this happened on MBDTF and that you were upset that the mastering had been poorly done on the CD release - has this happened again on Yeezus? Which version would you suggest I buy if I want the 'proper' mix as you and Kanye intended?

iAmMikeDean15 karma

They're both very similar (the iTunes and the Physical). I haven't heard the physical. Let me know what you think.

dr99ed1 karma

Yeah, apparently the differences are very minor. Will be buying the physical when it comes out in the UK in a few days anyway.

Are last minute changes a common thing with Kanye? It's unusual to have different versions for different releases - I haven't heard of any artist doing it before! (kanye breaking the mold again!)

iAmMikeDean6 karma

yea, we work on it until the last possible minute, and then beyond.

TheFinchmeister7 karma

1) Any truth to these Yeezus deluxe 4-track bonus rumors?

2) Any chance of an HQ release of Chain Heavy (current version 128kbps!) or Mama's Boyfriend?

3) What's your favorite song to play live? What's one or two songs you wish the live band could play this year?

4) Was Omega sample at end of New Slaves initially part of a different song?

iAmMikeDean9 karma

1) already answered

2) probably not

3) Probably "Say You Will" because it has a long guitar solo. And "Hold My Liquor" is going to be great to play live.

4) It was a sample, Kanye just chose to put it at the end of the song.

RelaxRelapse6 karma

Will we ever get the version of Mama's Boyfriend that Q-Tip played during the Red Bull Music Academy?

iAmMikeDean8 karma

Probably not, since he played it.

whatahorriblethread6 karma

Your production discography introduced me to 3X Krazy, C-Bo and Z-Ro. Thanks.

I have a few questions.

What's your view on the prevalence of lean in southern hip hop (particularly Houston) culture and the deaths that have occurred because of it?

What's Z-Ro like in real life? Is he as intense as his art make him seem?

When Kanye sat down to record, did he have any influences, genres or artists in mind?

How did you get into producing for the Bay-Area scene?

What have you been listening to lately?

iAmMikeDean15 karma

For lean... it's fucked up.

Z-Ro is just like on his records; he's intense. He's really smart, a great rapper.

For Kanye - not really. Just ourselves as references.

The Bay Area scene: I was working in California with Tone Capone on Scarface, and Tone was executive producing "Three X Crazy" and I did some work on that. And it spread from there.

I've been listening to Gesaffelstein, an electronic group from Paris. I'm doing a remix on their new single this month - they have a Depeche Mode remix coming out this week. Also I do too.

CaptainKennyPowers4 karma

Isnt Gesaffelstein just one person? Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/gesaffelstein

iAmMikeDean7 karma

Yea, it's Mike Levy. Don't know where the name came from or why he calls it a group, but he makes great music.

homiestatus5 karma


iAmMikeDean10 karma

i started in a small town, and then I moved to Houston, where I pretty much made it from. A good social media presence can help. things are a lot different than when I started out, like collect calling A&R people (which i actually did) - now A&Rs just go on YouTube and look for new music. So you should be on that.

hndsm5 karma

Hey Mike, do you think Twitter will ever verify you?

iAmMikeDean18 karma

hopefully now. Victoria's gonna help me.

SonnyScott5 karma

What are your top 3 albums of all time? Hip Hop or not...

iAmMikeDean43 karma


  • Chronic 2001

  • Yeezus

sballo5 karma

Is iTunes Owl Pharaoh still coming this month?

iAmMikeDean10 karma

No idea...Hopefully.

chroniccough4 karma

Mike what was it like working with cudi?.

iAmMikeDean37 karma

It was great, it was a smokefest.

manmanma4 karma

Mike- your keyboard work on Kanye's stuff always blows me away. Take One For The Team is one of my favorite songs just because of your solo at the end.

Are you trained in jazz or classical music on the piano? Do the artists you work with ever comment on the progressions or melodies of your songs? Are you ever involved in the arranging and writing of the songs or do you just lay down the tracks and mix/master them?

iAmMikeDean14 karma

Yes, I'm trained in classical and jazz piano. The artists always go apeshit over the melodies. i'm involved in most of the songs from the beginning. Or shortly after they're created.

zackhankins744 karma

Hey Mike, thanks for doing the AMA! Big fan of "The New Yeezus" LP!

I'm about to hit the studio with my band in a couple of weeks to record our EP, what are some things we can do to make our producer's life easier?

iAmMikeDean13 karma

Bring your producer to rehearsals with you for a while. Let him work on arrangements. And plan recordings, so you don't waste time in the studio.

interrupting_candy3 karma

Do you feel you are underrated as a producer even though you have won a Grammy?

iAmMikeDean17 karma

No... I don't get in people's videos, I'm more behind the scenes. But have been getting a lot more props touring with Kanye.

ronaldo1193 karma

What program do you currently use to produce?

iAmMikeDean10 karma

ableton live. And protools to mix.

LimbFromBloodyLimb3 karma

N.W.A. or Ice Cubes solo stuff? Which do you prefer?

iAmMikeDean4 karma

both...I mean, i heard N.W.A. first, actually Eazy-E, on his first album "Eazy duz it".

RelaxRelapse3 karma

If you listen to new or unknown artists where do you go to hear them?

iAmMikeDean11 karma

the internet. people are always sending me music, people tweet links at me, i browse youtube.

murdahmamurdah3 karma

  • Any plans to work with Z-Ro again soon?

  • what's the most ridiculous story from Rap-A-Lot you can think of?

iAmMikeDean13 karma

Hopefully. I just saw Trae last night at a show.

Whenever Scarface's album knocked the Titanic soundtrack off #1 on the pop charts.

Jonjonrecon3 karma

When did you realize in your life you knew you had to make music. And where did you start at?

iAmMikeDean20 karma

When I was like 8 or 9 years old, watching variety shows on TV. It seemed like an easy way to make a living. I started playing classical piano and saxophone, and as I started creating electronic stuff I started to pick it up. I was 18 when I produced my first record with Selena.

streamstroller2 karma

Does Jay-Z have a photographic memory? I've read that he never writes anything down - everything is in his head. Is that true for everyone's work, or just his own? (In other words, can he recite everyone else's rhymes flawlessly as well, or just his own?)

iAmMikeDean4 karma

that's a question for Jay-Z. I've never heard him rapping other people's songs.

WalterWhitesSidekick2 karma

What's your favourite song on Watch The Throne?

iAmMikeDean12 karma

probably "Why I love You" - I like all the songs that have guitar solos.

mar6602 karma

Hi Mike, congrats for the Yeezus success today.

Just wondering how a band would approach a top producer (like yourself) to work with them on an album if they are still relatively unknown. Is it money or luck or?


iAmMikeDean3 karma

usually stuff on Twitter that i find - lucky timing basically. thanks for the congrats! #1 in 31 countries.

IngloriousFlash2 karma

What was it like when you first produced music?

iAmMikeDean4 karma

we used to beat on rocks with sticks. it was different, we had tape machines and boards and stuff. you'd get the first version of a mix on reels. It took longer and was a pain in the ass. It would be $200 to record 3 songs, just for the tape. As Apple computers started getting better and better, that was when things started to change.

[deleted]2 karma


iAmMikeDean4 karma

sure, send me a message on twitter and i'll send along.