October 5, 2022

DJ Dahi details the production process for Kendrick Lamar’s new album

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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Summer 2022 issue of XXL Magazine, now on newsstands.

DJ Dahi came as a youngster experimenting with instruments. His early passion paid off when he started making beats as he got older. To date, he has worked with some of hip-hop’s biggest stars such as Dr. Dre, Drake, Big Sean and, more recently, Kendrick Lamar and Vince Staples. In the first half of this year, the 39-year-old Inglewood, California native produced albums like Kendrick’s topping the charts Mr. Morale and Big Steps and Vince’s Ramona Park broke my heart. Here, Dacoury Dahi Natche alias DJ Dahi, speaks with XXL on his latest contributions to culture.

You’ve worked with Kendrick for a decade now. Did you both approach this new album differently?

Not really. Because I think we’ve developed a certain relationship over the years with just being able to hear music in a narrative aspect and through different moods and sounds – music that literally has an emotional connection to it. We’ve all known each other for years and we’ve all collaborated on different things. But at the end of the day, we trust people’s ears and know they have a perspective of the life they bring to music.

How was K-Dot’s “Count Me Out” record created?

I worked on my album, so I did a lot of jam sessions with my friends, like Ely Rise and Danny McKinnon. We just cook up ideas and record little pieces of music. So that was the idea I had. I think I started it maybe four years ago. I had written some lyrics and a choir of these young students from Los Angeles were getting into it. And then I played it for Kendrick. And he immediately loved it. This song went through a lot of changes to fit in with what the album was going to be, sound like, and come in. There was a trip.

What was it like braiding generations together on “DJ Quik” with Quik and Vince Staples?

I think that’s amazing, man. It just shows the bridge of giving credibility and respect. And just a real appreciation for the cats who really built this hip-hop shit and really brought it to the point where it is where it is today. I think it’s important to be in the presence and around some of our former statesmen and really understand how to go about it. And even then, I didn’t get the chance to meet Quik. They had done it in another session when I wasn’t there. But when I got the lead, that’s when I was like, Oh shit, this is going to be tough.

What advice would you give to promising producers?

At the end of the day, just do what works for you. I just try to go with my instincts around different things that I like and things that catch my ear, no matter if it’s hot or popular. So, yes, follow your instincts. And really keep learning.

Read all about producer DJ Dahi and his work with Kendrick Lamar on K-Dot’s Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, on newsstands everywhere now. The issue includes additional interviews with the Freshmen with BabyTron, Cochise, Saucy Santana, Babyface Ray, KenTheMan, SoFaygo, Big Scarr, Big30, KayCyy, Doechii, Kali and Nardo Wick, Producer XXL Freshman 2022 Wheezy Outta Here, Lupe Fiasco, Kevin Gates, NLE Choppa, D Smoke, Yvngxchris, Engineer Teezio and singer Chlöe, plus a breakdown of each freshman class from a numerical perspective, a look back at what the class does Freshman Class XXL 2021, the story of why the 2016 XXL Freshman Class gets so much respect now and explores rappers’ most treasured collections. You can also purchase the XXL Freshman 2022 class issue here.

See all artists in 2022 XXL First year class

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