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BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All Time: Dame Grease

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#29 – Dame Grease

By AMIR SAID (SA’ID)

Dame Grease. More than a keyboard beat king.

When most people let out the “90s” cry, what they’re really talking about is ca. 1990-1995. The second half of the 90s, however, is not so memorable for some. By 1996, mainstream production was already shifting away from beats dominated by samples to beats composed primarily of keyboard, synthesizer, and sound module sounds. These type of so-called sample-free beats were known as “keyboard beats”, a charged term that would lose most of its stigma as the late 90s approached. Among the leaders of this beat style and sound was of course The Neptunes and Swizz Beatz. But Dame Grease — who wasn’t necessarily adverse to using samples — deserves particular attention for his work and sound in this spectrum.

Grease’s output is certainly more than just one album, but it’s his work on one album, DMX’s classic It’s Dark and Hell is Hot (1998), that’s largely responsible for him being on the BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers list. Grease produced or co-produced 13 tracks off of It’s Dark... And in addition to essentially crafting the style and sound blue print for Ruff Ryders and teaching Swizz Beatz a thing or two, Grease generated a brand new East Coast sub-style and sound that fed countless beatmakers that came after him. At ease with synths and modules, Dame Grease is a pro at crafting tracks that both capture despair and a nether worldness, a sound particularly suitable for film scores. But contrary to popular belief, Grease wasn’t necessarily against samples. While his body of work clearly proves that he was more into a mostly sample-free sound, he did pepper many of his beats with subtle sample embellishments.

A number of years ago, I hung out with Grease in his studio for what was no less than a 2 hour interview. (Originally, the interview — which I’ve yet to publish — was slated for the 5th Edition of The BeatTips.). In addition to discussing his production on and involvement with the hip hop/rap classic It’s Dark and Hell Hot,” we talked about the mainstream swing from sample-based to non- sample-Based beats. His view was that he could do it either way, but preferred not to use samples if he didn’t have to. Another topic that came up was whether he ever got the recognition that he deserves. Hopefully, his place on the BeatTips Top 30 Beatmakers of All Time list is the start of that recognition.

Dame Grease Beats (Songs) Recommended for Study:

“Get At Me Dog” – DMX beat by Dame Grease

“Motion Picture” – Papoose beat by Dame Grease

“Crown Me” – T.I. feat. Juelz Santana & Cam’ron beat by Dame Grease

“Body on the Trunk” – Noreaga feat. Nas beat by Dame Grease

“Niggaz Done Started Something” – DMX feat. The Lox and Mase beat by Dame Grease

“Ghetto Prisoners” – Nas beat by Dame Grease

“Rooftop” – Das Racist feat. Despot beat by Dame Grease

“We’ll Always Love Big Poppa” – The Lox beat by Dame Grease

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About Author

Amir Said (aka Sa’id) is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BeatTips. A writer, publisher, and beatmaker/rapper from New York, Said is the author of a number of books, including ‘The BeatTips Manual,’ ‘The Art of Sampling,’ ‘Ghetto Brother,’ and ‘The Truth About New York.’ He is also a recording artist with a number of music projects, including his latest album 'The Best of Times.' Follow him on Twitter at: @amirsaid and @BeatTipsManual