It took the Atlanta-based producer Dun Deal just 15 minutes to craft one of 2014's defining rap songs, Young Thug's woozy and warped weed tribute "Stoner."
But while Young Thug is reaping the benefits of his breakthrough anthem — there are rumors he's being courted by Kanye West — 27-year-old Dun Deal tells MTV News that he's plotting his own expansion plans that should ensure his name is stamped on some of the year's biggest releases — and not only in the hip-hop world.
Dun Deal's musical path began a decade ago when he was part of a local Atlanta group called the OBoys (the Outrageous Boys). Signed to Ruff Ryders Entertainment (the same label that made DMX famous), the troupe's brand of rambunctious rap never quite took off. Looking back, Dun Deal says, "They gave us some money and we ended up spending all of it of course. For me though, I kept some of the money and bought studio equipment."
During the OBoys era, Dun Deal was rapping as well as producing. But having invested his cash in the makings of a home studio, Dun Deal became smitten by the way technology empowered him with "the freedom to make what I heard in my head."
"Those early productions were pretty crappy," he admitted, but a combination of persistence and an ability to play a number of instruments paid off when he scored an instrumental on a Tyler Perry project. "At that point I knew I was developing a sound that wasn't sh---y," he recalls.
Speaking on his production process, Dun Deal says he'll often toy around with an instrument — maybe the drums, or some keys, or even just a weird sound he stumbles across — until it sparks an idea that can be amped-up into a full song. "Stoner" was created by mining this same formula.
Holed up in a studio on Spring Street in downtown Atlanta, a then-16-year-old Young Thug approached Dun Deal and asked if he could help him record his raps.
"I wasn't thinking he'd want that beat so when I played it and he showed an interest I finished it up in like 15 minutes," he says. Young Thug took another 15 minutes to record his verse and steadily the song began to catch on.
Casting an eye over the success of "Stoner," Dun Deal reasons, "I'm definitely always surprised when a song takes off like that. You know, you expect it to be a hit when you think it's a good song and you make it yourself, but you never know it's gonna be a really big hit."
While Young Thug embraces the "Stoner" spotlight, Dun Deal has already begun planning his next production moves. He says he's heard people talk about him having a signature sound, but says that sentiment underestimates his sonic palette: "You can definitely say that I'm a transitional producer — I never like to stay with one part of a beat and I use a lot of changes — but I don't think I can be classified like in one way, especially as I have other stuff coming out that's different."
To date, Dun Deal has scored hip-hop production credits with Migos (most notably "Hannah Montana"), Kevin Gates and Ty Dolla $ign; his knack for infusing beats that rattle and snap with an airy musicality has proved a savvy fit for rappers' flows. But the upcoming track he's most excited about will see him branching out from the rap realm, as he's crafted a track for Trey Songz which he says will place the R&B triller "back in the zone of talking about straight-up sex."
After that song's released, Dun Deal says he wants to pursue whims that could take him to more pop-leaning rhymes — Katy Perry, Coldplay and Pink making up his list of dream collaborations.
"I give a different sound to Atlanta," Dun Deal says, summing up his career to date. "I come at the music from a different aspect and I want everyone to hear my songs and know that there's a new Atlanta sound. 'Stoner' is just the start of it."