DAWAUN PARKER (January 2009) | Interview By:
Dubbed ďThe Dr.ís ApprenticeĒ, Dawaun Parker has been Dr. Dreís right-hand
man on joints for everyone from Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes and 50 Cent to Eminem,
Young Buck and Game. Youíve surely heard his talents on songs like Higher,
30 Something, Donít Get Carried Away and so many others. Dawaun Parker sat
down with Dubcnn once again for an exclusive interview.
This time around, Chad & Jon talk with Dawaun about some of the current topics
surrounding the Aftermath family, such as Stat Quoís declaration that heíll
release 300 songs he did while at the label, DJ Quikís proclamation that Dr. Dre
has been getting piano lessons from the great Burt Bacharach, as well as how the
loss of a son has affected the good Doctor as it relates to working on his projects.
Of course, we do the Detox talk, but we also get a bit more insight on his project,
The GodBody, and we get a few updates on that. We talk about his musical background,
the instruments of choice, and ultimately, his reason for making music. We go deep
into the mind of this gifted producer, who will undoubtedly soon shed ďThe Dr.ís ApprenticeĒ
moniker for a more masterful soubriquet.
As ever, you can read this exclusive interview below and we urge you to leave
feedback on our forums or email them to
Interview was done in January 2009
Questions Asked By: Chad Kiser & Jonathan Hay
Dawaun Parker Interview
A Dubcnn Exclusive
By Chad Kiser and Jonathan Hay
Dubcnn: Whatís going on with your group The GodBody?
We are still working on it. We were in the middle of creating when I
started to work on Emís project and I just been focused on that. Between
Em and Detox right behind it, my time has been at a premium. We have a
couple of EPís that we will to put out back to back. We have been working
on our joints pretty much at Dreís studio, when I'm not working on those
projects with Aftermath. Just perfecting our sound and getting it in man.
I'm doing most of the production but Iím going to go work with Khalil and
also with Focus and Mr. Porter., I got a joint with Dre, and Bishop Lamont
too but Iím just trying to get the final touches as how I want everything.
Getting ready to do the whole web thing...ya know, put it out there and hit
the blogs and all that. Start building it from the ground up. For now,
this Em project is taking top priority. GB is coming though trust. 2009 is
the year of Aftermath, High Renaissance and the official introduction of
Dawaun Parker. The elephants are in the room!
Dubcnn: I saw a video with DJ Quik that said Dre was getting piano lessons
with Burt. With him getting lessons from Burt does that kind of diminish your
Hmm...I think that he might have gotten lessons in the past. Iím really not
sure of the validity of that right now. I'm with dude pretty much every day
so unless he said something and I missed it, I think that was back in the day
or something. You canít quote me on that though cuz Iím honestly not sure.
But while perfecting his playing is a personal goal of his I'm sure, he still
relies on guys like Mark Batson and myself for what we can contribute on any
particular track. Everything I've done with him he hasnít played keys on any
of them. Eventually he might do EVERYTHING on them though. I think that as
you progress in this business like Quincy Jones and other greats , you feed
off of each other , and are inspired by other talent via collaborating with
them to execute ideas, or just to inspire you. I think that most folks who've
gotten bigger end up employing other people; be it a musician, a writer, or
another producer. Even the greatest, most accomplished musicians will want to
hear what others have to say.
Dubcnn: What are the feelings of Shady/Aftermath towards Stat Quo?
I can't speak for everyone but personally I love Stat. The most recent music
I've made with him is a track for the GB project called 'We're Everywhere".
He is on the hook and gave me a fire verse, and I still work with him, but I
know he is in the A doing his thing. I donít know anything about his
relationship business-wise or personal with everyone else. Iíve never heard
anyone say anything negative about him though, and I think he is a real stand
up guy and a great artist. Not totally sure of his current label situation.
I donít know if it was a timing thing or what; Iím not just not trying to
comment I really have no idea, but he and I are still working together, and
he's super dope.
Dubcnn: Heís saying he wants to release like 300 songs he did with Dre.
Yeah I heard that (laughs). I donít know if he really has that many songs
or what, but he has a lot of songs. I'm on a lot of those. He and I havenít
talked about that, but a few people told me they saw that online.
Dubcnn: Whatís up with Scott Storch and Mel-Man?
You know Storch does his own thing. Mel-Man is the same way, but he comes
through every now and again. I also got a joint coming with Mel and Hittman.
We're just waiting for the right time to unleash the beast.
Dubcnn: You went to Berklee, so obviously you have a serious musical
background. Do you think that you bring that to the table, the use of real
instrumentation, instead staying in the Hip-Hop ďlil' boxĒ like many other
Well let me say first that I was a Hip-Hop head before I ever started to
play an instrument. I've listened to Hip-Hop all my life and I didnít pick
up an instrument until I was in the eighth or ninth grade. So, I would say
that anything I do has a Hip-Hop swag and feel to it and I couldnít mask that
if I wanted to. When I got to Berklee, that really was the first time I received
any consistent musical training or lessons. Prior to that, I learned piano and
organ by ear in church. For those not fortunate enough to know about the black
church, itís heavily music based and a lot of talented people are around. I got
a scholarship to Berklee and thatís when it really became music 360. Everyone
there loves music, and everyone is always about music. You can be up at 4 in
the morning and someone is up practicing and you can go build and exchange with
them. In terms of what D. Parker brings to the table, I think I bring my Hip-Hop
knowledge and aesthetic more than anything, not that Dre needs any history
lessons; he is a walking jukebox, as well. But I think that it serves me well.
There are much better musicians than me alive but what separates me from them is
my Hip-Hop foundation and my ability to understand and translate that and I also
rap and stuff so those things are always in my mind when I approach how I make a
track. I'm also from the east coast so I have the whole riding the train-boom
bap-tmbs & shorts-type thing too. Musically, we donít really discuss anything
theory-wise so that doesnít really help me, but I perfected my instrument some
while I was at school and I became more familiar with other genres and styles
of music. Those things help me but we pretty much keep it Hip-Hop around here.
In reference to the "li'l box" you speak of, I don't see the lack of instrumentation
equating to staying in the box. I just think it's different. i think what's key for
me is that I'm not some musician trying to make Hip--Hop. I'm a Hip-Hop head that
just happens to know how to play. It's easy to be corny if you come from the other
Dubcnn: What kind of keyboard do you use?
I use a midi controller. I mess with a lot of software and then a lot
vintage synths like Rhodes, Moogís, Wurlitzerís; I even have some modular
synths, where there is not a physical keyboard hooked up to it; itís basically
a huge patch bay with a bunch of modules on it and you can tweak it anyway you
want. But I try to mix up my approach with software as well as just old school
musician style of playing actual instruments. We use it all. We even mic up
the Steinway and get down like that.
Dubcnn: Steinway is the greatest piano of all time!
I like Yamahaís too, when I was in school we had a lot of Yamahaís. I always
liked their response and touch but Steinway is king.
Dubcnn: So at the end of the day whatís the reason you make music?
I just love it so much and I canít imagine myself doing anything else
right now. I truly hope that God allows me to continue using my gift to
reach people and encourage them and elevate society. There are so many things
that hurt us and bring us down. For lots of people though, music is therapy
and they have their certain artists that they listen to help get through
their day or just their commute, a little bit better. I hope that I can
function as that for some people and help them in their everyday struggle.
As corny as that sounds, I want to provide that. I think that it comes out
in who I am and my music, when people want to feel good that they play
something that Iíve been involved with. Thats a major goal of mine.
Dubcnn: You say music is therapy, I donít know how much you want to speak
on it but with the passing of Dreís son has that impacted him musically, as
far as his productions?
Well, dude was a workhorse already, so you canít see an increase in that.
For anyone, you are not supposed to outlive your kids. That's a tragic thing
that to have experienced and he had to deal with it and continue holding
it down. All anyone can do is pray for the family and hope that they are
coping well and that everyone is doing well. Work-wise, nothing has
really changed. You canít kill his spirit and that only continues with work.
Personally he has always been a picture of making time valuable. People save
their money but not their time, and Dre's taught me to save some time for my
loved ones. We are not promised tomorrow and thatís a philosophy that he has
taught me to live by.
Dubcnn: And to definitely glorify God.
Oh, thats number one. I was just speaking in reference to time, but I couldnít
do anything if not for God. He has created all of my opportunities and opened
so many doors. From when I had no keyboard and people let me borrow one when
my mom couldn't afford it, to receiving a full scholarship to go to college,
to meeting Dre and becoming part of the Aftermath team and working with all of
these incredible people. God is the source for all of that. He's even in the
name of my group!
Dubcnn: Do you ever feel conflicted over some of the gangster lyrical content.
Nope and here is the thing with that and Iíve thought hard about it. I tried
to think of everything that could prove that my opportunity was not from God..
actually let me backtrack for a sec...with Christians, music always turns into
another thing. Many say you are playing for God and it shouldnít be for money.
But if there were really reading The Word they'd see that musicians are Levites
and they get taken care of by the church, etc, etc... Anyway, I think that this
is my job and Iím not in control of other peoples content. If I were a barber,
and I only gonna fade up Christians? Nah you give a haircut to anyone who
wants one. You just don't change what YOU do. You give the same quality fade
to every client. I try to glorify God with my lifestyle and that allows me to
be alive. And me personally, I have control over my own lyrics and I keep that
correct. I feel pretty good about everything that Iíve been doing. Even if people
equate Dre and Aftermath with a kinda gangster mentality, I know that we all
WORK and that what goes on in the studio is work. Iíve never been asked to do
anything that I didnít feel was right, and everyone is very professional. I
donít know where else I could learn what I am learning here production-wise
except for this environment. I always felt that I had a gift for helping other
people make their stuff dope, even back in the day when people would tell me how
dope my stuff was I knew I could also help others make their stuff dope and there
is no one better to help me hone my craft than Dre. Some people get caught up in
the ego of it all saying things like , "I came up on my own with no help", but
I wanted and needed someone to help me along to the next level and there is no
one better than Dre. If people want to hate and say that your dope only because
of the opportunity you were given they can, but I worked for this and this is
what I wanted.
Dubcnn: Itís deep to hear you stand on faith like that
I appreciate it man keep praying for me.
Dubcnn: Other than the GodBody do you have any other solo projects that
you are working on?
There are a few unsigned people that Iíve been interested in. Iím not going
to solely produce this record but there is an artist named Britten Newbill,
Iíve known him since college and I think that he is an incredible talent and
I am definitely going to be a part of his album. Other than that, just working
on the Shady/Aftermath stuff and writing and producing I have a pretty full plate.
Once we knock some projects out who knows. There is a list of people that I want
to work with like Brandy, and maybe Beyonce and write some R&B. Not really the
smooth stuff but I can take what I do and apply it. I really love great vocalists
like Jazzmine Sullivan. She sounds like Lauryn Hill but with more chops or riffs.
There are a handful of artists I think are dope but right now Iím full.
Oh yeah...shouts to the new dudes like Drake, Donny Goines, Theo, Jon Hope,
Pac Div, Tanya Morgan, 6th Sense, The Knux, Problem and Terrace Martin.
I got songs with all those guys so watch out!!!
Dubcnn: I was going to ask you if you had plans like Mike Elizondo,
and also branching out into other genres?
Yeah, I tell people this all of the time that Hip-Hop is my foundation,
but itís not the end all be all. I love John Mayer, Jose Gonzales,
Little Dragon, Jay Davey, Bird & The Bee; all kinds of stuff. I may in
the future put together a jazz quartet and base it in Paris or something.
I also dig Radiohead, Squarepusher, Stereolab, Portishead, and I feel that
I have the ability to do anything and I love all of those other kinds of
music as well. With the way Hip-Hop has turned to going worldwide, and with
people that incorporate Hip-Hop and World elements like M.I.A. and all of
that kinda stuff you have to adjust as well as be a fan and enjoy it. Iíve
also scored two films so Iím pretty diversified so far. I plan on putting
together a gospel project one day...Kim Burrell holler at me!
Dubcnn: We know youíre involved with Em & Dreís projects, but what about
50ís new album? Are you working on that one as well?
Well, I'm on his new single, "I Get It In", and should be on at least a few
others as well. 50 Cent is in the 'space' where he moves around a lot so he
works with everyone on his projects. He is also doing the movie thing so much
that I hardly ever see him. He is busy with his show and whatnot, and he chooses
the pick of the litter with his beats and things like that take time I guess.
Dubcnn: So do you think that Aftermath/Shady/G-Unit have something to prove
with cats like Busta, Young Buck, Stat, and Obie no longer on the team?
Nah, I donít know how the critics feel but I know that 50, Em and Dre do it
because they love it. Itís not about the money, itís about the love of music.
I think that all of these guys do it because they love it and there is something
inside them that drives them and I think that they are all pretty comfortable in
their place. They all have the respect and admiration. Dre is in the studio
everyday and he doesnít have to be; he could retire, but he is still hungry.
He loves it too much. I hope I never lose that love either
Dubcnn: Dre could have retired 10 years ago.
Definitely, but even now when Iím out with Dre in public people come up to
us and they are like ďman, we waiting on that album!Ē and thatís how you know
that there is the demand and Dre just wants to satisfy his fans. It means
something to him to connect to the fans.
Dubcnn: Do you think that Dre feels the pressure to make Detox like this all
time classic album or is he more of a perfectionist himself?
Well, he definitely is a perfectionist. I know that Iíve always been accused of
being one myself and he far surpasses me. I know that he is not going to put out
anything that he doesnít feel is great and he is not going to repeat himself or
anything like that. I donít know if its pressure so much as a desire to put out
what he hears in his head and that it's always dope. I feel that other people have
to deal with that pressure; like you have to bring your A-Game with Dre, but you're
not going to have fun if you have all kinds of pressure in the studio. If youíre
not having fun making the music, people arenít going to have fun listening to it.
So itís more about motivation than pressure. The natural level of perfectionism
ensures that anything that we put out is top quality.