interview DAWAUN PARKER (April 2009) | Interview By: Conan Milne

   Dawaun Parker has a lot to discuss these days, and not enough time to do so. However, Dubcnn was able to successfully infiltrate the man's hectic schedule, resulting in this candid and exclusive feature. Speaking on the eve of flying out to Las Vegas to continue work on Detox, Dawaun displayed a newfound confidence in tackling questions on both his elusive mentor, and Aftermath's future releases. More than that, he also confirmed his standing as one of Hip-Hop's most exciting musicians. Whether enthralling with information on his passion projects, or striving for perfection on a certain, upcoming opus, the Apprentice is undoubtedly coming into his own...

As ever, you can read this exclusive interview below and we urge you to leave feedback on our forums or email them to conan@dubcnn.com.

Interview was done in March 2009

Interview compiled by: Conan Milne

“Dr. Dre is teaching me how to mix my records!” A casual Hip-Hop listener could confirm the excitement as justified. For two decades, Dre has been championed as the genres greatest producer. Any person benefiting from his mixing guidance has the potential to make their records particularly riveting. They might be able to distill the bombast and urgency that makes every Andre Young instrumental an event. The man who has earned his tutelage is, fittingly, The Dr.’s Apprentice. More than a nickname, it is a title bestowed upon rising producer, skilled instrumentalist, and staunch Hip-Hop advocate, Dawaun Parker.

If the name isn’t immediately familiar, it does not prove difficult to get acquainted with. Since joining Dre’s Aftermath camp as a staff musician in 2006, the Boston-bred talent has quietly racked up quite the resume. His sobering keys were the focal point of Jay-Z’s “Lost One,” a poignant reflection that remains comeback LP Kingdom Come’s diamond in the rough. The brooding chords he provided on “Get You Some,” meanwhile, prompted a zealous Busta Rhymes to bellow, “Turn the speakers up and bang it out the truck now!” Other similarly dominant collaborators include Nas, Eminem, and 50 Cent.

Dawaun does not seem to share these artists often boisterous personas. Endearingly diligent and soft-spoken, his lengthy, considered responses conjure images of his reserved mentor. With Dr. Dre notoriously media-shy, it has fallen to Parker to deflect troubling rumors, or confirm the more positive ones. When I first spoke to him back in 2007, it appeared that accepting the role of an icons mouthpiece was a daunting prospect. Now he is a little more at ease and ready to address several prominent tidbits circling the good Doctor and his fabled Detox project.

The most recent Dre verse the public has heard was on Eminem’s ubiquitous “Crack A Bottle.” The lighthearted ode to cutting loose and letting your body waddle has divided listeners. While plenty have embraced it ravenously, others are giving it a wider berth – including promising Aftermath MC, Bishop Lamont. During a recent Shade 45 interview, Bishop was blunt in expressing his dislike of the Dre and 50 Cent assisted jam, after one radio DJ dismissed it as "horrible."

When pressed for his own verdict, Dawaun is understandably hesitant – after all, he co-produced the Billboard chart topper. “I like hearing Dre rap again” is his final, trailed conclusion, although he does admit that Dre himself isn’t a huge fan of the recording. Dawaun is also keen to stress the cuts current status – not only is it not Eminem’s single, it is unlikely that it will appear on albums by Slim Shady, Doc, or the G-Unit general. “Nobody wants to claim it!” comes a chuckled utterance. Apparently, 50 was considering using it as a bonus track for his Before I Self-Destruct. It was then decided that the upbeat banger simply didn’t fit the mood of 50’s ominous sounding fourth LP.

“Crack A Bottle,” as many are aware, isn’t the only recent Aftermath song to appear online prematurely. Last month, the elegant, keys-driven “Topless” emerged to resounding praise. Its anonymous unveiling was bittersweet for Dawaun. On the one hand, he explains, it confirmed to a wealth of hardheaded skeptics that Detox is being worked on. On the other, its early distribution means the song is now destined for the albums scrapheap. Making that all the more disappointing is the passion with which Dawaun discusses this song. He was one of a chosen few to know of Nas’ breathtaking contribution pre-Zshare links, and raps the Queens lyricists verse back to me, line-for-line.

Considering all the frenzied intrigue that attaches itself to Dawaun’s work, security is a top priority. Even when our conversation begins, he is quick to inform me that it almost never began (“Your number was showing up as withheld, man – I can’t pick up those calls.”) With Dre’s studio open exclusively to trusted members of the camp – “It’s normally just me, Mark (Batson), and Dre in there” – how has crucial material such as “Topless” surfaced? While he has his theories, Dawaun is as stumped as those rushing to download. If he had to entertain a reason, it would be someone cracking the encryption on seemingly protected e-mails. With so many tracks sent as message attatchments, it certainly doesn't seem far from the realms of possibility.

Still, what of the pantheon of Aftermath-affiliated projects that we haven't heard anything from? Aside from the media-dubbed Three Headed Monster of 50, Em, and Dre, the label was juggling several other artist ventures as little as six months ago. Busta Rhymes highly publicized departure from Interscope left many fans pondering if he left the label with the fruits of 'Math recording sessions intact. The truth is that it is unlikely. Although Dre and Parker produced tracks for a second Aftermath album by Busta, his jumping ship to Universal Motown casts doubt over their placement on next studio LP, Back On My B.S. The sole consolation is that we haven't long to wait until all is revealed - Bus' next set is tentatively scheduled for release in May. Even better news is the confirmation that "at least two" Dre productions will appear on Raekwon's hotly anticipated Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II. The sequel to the classic East Coast Hip-Hop release was once slated to see release through Aftermath Entertainment. That may no longer be the case, but it's reassuring that Dre production is all but guaranteed.

While being kept busy with his essential contributions to most of the music referenced above, Dawaun isn't solely reliant on his day job. Alongside MC Tre' Guevera, he forms rennaisance-minded Hip-Hop duo The GodBody. It is through this passion project that Parker can hone his own sound. This is a sound that is hugely influenced by the immortal J Dilla, and the exquisite body of work he left behind after his tragic passing. Through studying Dilla's incredible sonic consistency - and, undoubtedly, sessions with the good Doc - Parker now garners a reputation as a perfectionist himself. Originally slated to drop three seven-track GodBody E.P.'s (The Triple 7 Series) back in 2008, the group has instead remained focused on honing their respective crafts. His aversion to "throwing tracks out there" is notable, as is his disdain for those rappers that favour quantity over quality.

Soon, he'll be rewarding listeners with a surplus of both. Work is well underway on five - five - GodBody E.P.'s, and he and Tre' are toying with the idea of theming each release. One concept is a seven track release highlighting a week in the life of both members, although not on some, "corny, what I had for breakfast" tip. It's clear that The GodBody have used the extra time since the intended release of The Triple 7 Series to strong effect, and Parker speaks happily about fresh collaborations with Busta Rhymes, Stat Quo, and the afore-mentioned Bishop Lamont. There's also an album to look forward to from the GB's - a project that the Doc is taking a keen interest in. "Dre brings up The GodBody more than I do," exclaims Dawaun with a laugh. "He'll be like, Have you got a single yet? We're not even sure if we're going to go that way!" Until that single is primed, there are numerous other projects to focus on. Dawaun's solo mixtape, the moniker referencing Dr.'s Apprentice, may just salvage some of the Detox leaks. Parker intends to remix his favourites, blending them with new material and a collection of his more high-profile spots. It sounds like the perfect introductory project for the unenlightened, and is also attracting plenty of undergroud staples wishing to participate. Lately, Dawaun has been networking with Evidence, Strong Arm Steady, and Bad Lucc to name but a few.

For now, though, much of Parker's attention is fixed on honing the music of Aftermath's established trio. He offers nothing but praise for 50 Cent, referring to him as a "genius" when it comes to putting together his music. Furthermore, he believes his upcoming Before I Self Destruct will appease those left unfulfilled by Curtis, insisting that, this time around, the reins have been handed to Dre. This, he suggests, offers unparalelled quality control. Eminem receives similarly kind words - he is, "Spitting like an unsigned artist again" and assures all impatient Eminem disciples that the Blonde Bomber will not disappoint on Relapse. Then there's Detox, the Hip-Hop myth that, Lord willing, will see release in 2009. Information on the record is as hard to come by as ever. However, one morsel that goes down exceedingly well is the confirmation that many Dubcnn readers have been awaiting - Snoop Dogg is a confirmed guest. "He's on there, and he's sounding good," is Dawaun's tantalizing synopsis.

One conversation with Parker and it's easy to see why Dre has so much faith in him. Indeed, it becomes crystal clear as to why the icon is teaching him how to mix his work. Passion exudes from his every utterance, and it is the kind of passion that one cannot fake. He speaks as candidly about discovering an old Jay Dee sample as he does about working in the studio with megastars. He seems equally excited about gaining the respect of his peers and topping charts worldwide with bottle-cracking anthems. More than a nickname, The Dr.'s Apprentice is the title of the only man that Andre Young has selected to carry the torch he set alight all those years ago as a young'un coming Straight Outta Compton. He could not have picked a better candidate.


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