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Over the past two decades, the one name that has remained a constant on Kanye’s ever-evolving sound and rotating list of collaborators has been Mike Dean.

Originally from Angleton, Texas, Mike Dean came up in the early ’90s producing for Southern rap acts like UGK, Big Mello, 5th Ward Boyz, and Geto Boys. He met Kanye during the making of Scarface’s seventh album, The Fix.

“I met him through the records I mixed for Scarface, on his album The Fix, which Kanye produced, and I had a little production on a couple of tracks as well,” Dean recalled in an interview. “We actually never met personally during that process, but when he was working on his first mixtape he reached out to me.”

“He was pretty much the same, he knew what he wanted. Every time I offered to produce, he was like, ‘No, I’m a producer, I do all the music, you’re just gonna mix it’. But over the years he slowly became very collaborative.”

The producer-engineer-songwriter has been working on Kanye albums since 2004’s The College Dropout, where he was initially brought on to contribute to the mixing process. Since then, he has contributed to every one of Kanye’s album as a producer and engineer, as well as appearing as a guitarist and keyboardist during his live shows.

Mike Dean: I’ve got a few albums with five mics, it’s kind of cool. That album was whenever Scarface was president of Def Jam South. He spent a lot of time in New York running the label. That’s when he started working with Jay-Z more. That’s where he met Kanye West — that’s where Kanye actually learned about me. He heard “Guess Who’s Back” and was like “who mixed that?” Then he sent his people out to find me. That’s when I started mixing for him.

Mike Dean, In Conversation: The Origin Of “Hold My Liquor” & Scarface Jam Sessions | HotNewHipHop
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