King Mez Talks About the Perils Of Ghostwriting for Dr. Dre

"I did thousands of takes for that record."

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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In the aftermath of Meek Mill's recent claims against Drake, there's been a lot of talk about the proper role of ghostwriters in hip-hop. Thankfully, Raleigh-bred rapper and producer King Mez was happy to speak at length with Pitchfork about writing verses for Dr. Dre on the L.A. mogul's latest album, Compton.

Mez, who is co-credited with most of Dre's verses on Compton, described the peculiar stress of writing songs for Dr. Dre. "Every time I’d record, he’d say, ‘Say it more like this,’ or ‘Say it more like that'," Mez told the website. "I’m telling you, I did thousands of takes for [Compton]. We went over nearly every word. The line on 'Deep Water' that goes 'These niggas won’t let up until they all wet up' is like a just-offbeat, stutter-type rap. We must have went over that 100 times at his beach house.”

Acknowledging the rigor of this approach to songwriting, Mez likens Dr. Dre to Phil Jackson. "He coached my voice into sounding like what he wanted his voice to sound like on every song," Mez recalls. "It was like method acting, in a way: You put yourself in the perspective of someone else for an elongated period of time. So much so that when it was time to start working on my own music again, it was weird for a little while." (In an interview with Indy Week that was also published today, Mez notes that Dre was his first-ever co-writing client, and that Mez's publishing company, Warner Bros., recently had him writing for Puffy.)

In addition to King Mez, Pitchfork editor Jayson Greene also spoke with DJ Premier, DJ Dahi, and producer Dem Jointz about their contributions to Compton, and about Dr. Dre's overall vision. Read Pitchfork's full story here.

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