When it comes to music, there aren’t many producers that can say they’ve transcended decades and created moments in hip-hop and R&B that are considered classic. I have the privilege of spotlighting one for the Black Westchester audience, Grammy Award winning producer, Mr. Tony Dofat.
The Mount Vernon, NY native is a top producer who still has the “it” factor when it comes to music and industry longevity. His music is the culmination of over 20 years of hard work and dedication and that’s only one facet of his life. You can add another notch to his belt, I’ll get to what that is in a bit. The name Dofat is as synonymous with hip-hop as seasoning is to food. Diddy knew back then, and still works with him till this day. He’s had his hands in the music of the most intricate artists of our culture from Tina Turner, Heavy D, Notorious B.I.G, Method Man, El Debarge, Mary J Blige, Black Rob, Queen Latifah, Will Smith, Carl Thomas, Monifah, Brian McKnight and many others, as well as producing music for movies such as White Chicks and Bad Boys II.
When your discography is as long as an Alaskan winter you don’t need to talk. When he does, it’s by giving back in the form of the greatest gift, teaching. The multi-platinum producer, songwriter and mix engineer holds production workshops at various colleges as a part-time professor, as well as mentors in private workshops at Diddy’s studio, Daddy’s House.
I asked Mr. Dofat questions every beginner or producer who’s been at it for a while would want to know. Some of his answers may or may not surprise you. One thing it will do is give you an inside look into the mind of Dofat and his blueprint to staying power, which has kept him very relevant to hip-hop culture.
How have you been able to maintain such longevity in this game?
The key to longevity with any profession is to always make sure to be an asset as opposed to a liability. As a producer, create a signature sound, be innovative and never be scared to try something different or think outside of the box. Another important factor is to always maintain a great relationship with everyone because you will possible need them for something, this industry is so small.
What do you think of the state of the industry now?
Today’s music is used as a tool to sell other products or brands. I feel a lot of new artists lack passion and are in it for the material things which lessens the integrity of hip hop. Piracy is a huge obstacle today, labels are not really making money from sales like 10-15 years ago due to illegal downloads.
If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be?
I would love for labels to get more involved in the creativity and not just think about making a dime, this would regulate the quality of music that this new generation is exposed to.
What do you believe is the greatest body of work you produced?
I feel my Waterbed Hev album was memorable. Considering the fact that we were very, very close friends, we moved to LA and shared a house during this 8 month process and went to the studio every day as if we worked a 9 to 5. There were no limits to creativity or our process of creating. So much fun and our fun reflected in the album.
How does one who’s passionate about production get started?
Nowadays you don’t need elaborate equipment or even major recording studios anymore, simply buy an inexpensive sequencing program or “DAW” and get to work, Learn and perfect your craft. If you’re truly passionate, you will succeed.
Who would you like to now produce for that you haven’t had a chance to work with?
I think me and Aaron Hall would make some magic. I’d like to do some work with Drake, R. Kelly, and maybe Chris Brown.
What advice can you give youth that look up to you of how to stay focused on your craft?
You have to believe in yourself in order for others to believe in you! Make sure you’re passionate about whatever it is you’re attempting to do, art should be heart-felt and faking it will only get you but so far. We call em one-hit wonders.
Lucky for us, Tony is also penning a book which I’m sure will be full of insightful information.
One thing that surprised me is not only is Tony an incredible producer, but he’s also an amazing cook who’s equally as passionate about food! Yes fellow foodies, this is the other notch we spoke about earlier “Chef Dofat”! Seems like good music and great food go hand in hand! Not only does he share these incredible dishes with us, but he shows you how to do it the healthy way! Look out for the official website launch via his Facebook page LovesGrub which is full of delicious dishes and recipes.
Photo credits go to his son Malachi Dofat! You can find more on Malachi’s photography on Refinedpix.com