One of the chief architects of Travis Scott’s sound is Mike Dean. The engineer and producer helped the young Houston rapper craft a signature sound for years that finally blossomed on Astroworld. Songs like “Stop Trying to Be God” feature contributions from Kid Cudi, James Blake, Earth, Wind & Fire’s Philip Bailey and Stevie Wonder. In an interview with The Fader, Dean shared how Scott worked on the song for a year and described his excitement getting to work with the legendary performer.
“It was crazy. It took like a year for it to all come together,” Dean said. “Travis had to first part done and it just developed. I got a call one day that Stevie was coming to the studio and I was like I’ll be right there [laughs]. I recorded his harmonica. Like, I never record people very much anymore. I just get somebody else to do that. With Stevie, I’m not gonna switch to someone else.”
Sickamore, Travis Scott’s longtime A&R, revealed to Rolling Stone in August that the Wonder collab was possible thanks to a birthday performance.
“Travis did Stevie’s kid’s 16th birthday party. The conversation just started from there,” Sickamore explained. “Stevie came to the studio one day and it was magical man. He came at 11 p.m., 12 p.m. with the harmonica and just played on a bunch of records. That was the one that really stuck. That might have been the peak moment of my A&R career watching that.”
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Dean also broke down the recent controversy surrounding Sheck Wes’s “Mo Bamba.” Last week, Zedd admitted he didn’t get the appeal of the number 31 song in the country writing, “I judge music by melody, chords, structure, lyrics. I’m a musician. 🙂 how a club reacts doesn’t fall into my method of judgement,” after A-Trak defended the song. In response, “Mo Bamba” producers, Take A Daytrip, eloquently broke down the musical theory of the song, which Dean commended in the interview.
The 1st two chords are Emaj & Fmaj acting as the 5th & 6th chord in A harm min, the 3rd chord Bmaj is not present in A harm min so it is borrowed from E harm min. This interval of F-B is a tritone, which is common in classical music to build tension.
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— Take A Daytrip (@take_a_daytrip) October 2, 2018
“That was good,” he continued. “I didn’t know too many people really understood that. That kind of clicked on me a couple years ago that that’s what we were doing. Like, ‘Oh wow, this is the five and the six plays chords that resemble Travis Scott production.’ It’s a E flat minor which is the first note we play. It’s interesting.”