Mixtape Daily: Behind the Beats
Fans might not know Pittsburgh producer Eric Dan (E. Dan for short), but they sure as heck know his work. After crafting six out of 14 tracks on Wiz Khalifa’s debut album, Rolling Papers, it shouldn’t be long before hip-hop heads start catching on.
In 2003, Dan opened his own studio, ID Labs, outside of Pittsburgh. When a young Wiz Khalifa strolled in looking to record, the producer took the Taylor Gang general under his wing and has been working him every step of the way. “It’s been a great thing for [ID Labs] to be involved with an artist almost from his inception to where he is now,”
E. Dan said.
Where Wiz is now is at the top of the charts. It was the rapper’s #1 single “Black and Yellow” that spearheaded the Khalifa craze, helping Rolling Papers sell just under 300,000 copies since its March
29 release, but it was songs like the E. Dan-produced “The Race” and “When I’m Gone” that provided the LP with its substance.
“With this album, we wanted to go in together from scratch,” said Dan, who splits production duties with his partner, Big Jerm. According to Dan, the bulk of the tracks on Rolling Papers came together organically, thanks to the comfortable relationship Dan and Wiz had been building for years. “Working with somebody from that young and working with him for so long, you fall into a natural rhythm, and over time you end up building this sound together,” Dan said.
The recording session for Wiz’s “The Race” sticks out in E. Dan’s mind as an example of their overall organic chemistry. “Wiz fell asleep,”
the producer recalled. “We put [the beat] together; a couple of hours later, Wiz woke up and said, ‘Whoa — that’s it!’ Next thing we knew, he jumped in the booth and did the song.”
From there followed “Star of the Show,” “Get Your Sh–,” “Fly Solo,”
“Cameras” and the intro, “When I’m Gone.” Dan has already worked with Pittsburgh breakouts Mac Miller and Chevy Woods, but said he is excited about branching out and adding to his resume. With upcoming production for international rap star K’Naan, it shouldn’t be long before the Pittsburgh producer is a worldwide name.
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