It’s 11:30 a.m. Pacific time, five days after the release of Kanye West’s Donda and on the morning of Mike Dean’s ECHOPLEX (LIVE 2021) visual album hitting Apple Music (the standard audio version is out on all DSPs), and the self-described Synth God is heading out to get a breakfast sandwich. The act of eating breakfast right before noon isn’t too unorthodox; I mean, we’re all guilty of it after sleepless nights. But the reasoning behind Dean’s decision to order his cucumber and mixed-green-infused bite-to-eat a little later than he intended is as surprising as it gets for a 56-year-old mega-producer behind the album that currently sits atop the Billboard charts.

“I was up late looking at memes,” Dean admits during our half-hour-long Zoom call. 

Dean—whose brilliance can be felt throughout Donda, Yeezy’s seven previous studio albums, Travis Scott’s discography and, if you were lucky enough to catch it, on stage with Selena y Los Dinos in the ‘80s—has a resume that undeniably places him at the Synth God tier that he aims for. “It’s a life goal to be more of a synth god than to be somebody’s producer,” Dean explains. “It’s great being a producer and making people’s records good but in the end, the end goal is to be a Jean-Michel Jarre, the type of artist to do global concerts. My goal is to play in Central Park with a half-a-million people, like a free concert, give the money to somebody, some good fund.”

But Mike’s legendary status reaches far beyond synths and perfecting Kanye records. He didn’t say the words himself, but Mike Dean has begun to earn a new title—he’s a meme lord. 

Halfway through our conversation, which saw him switch in and out of headphones, travel to his go-to breakfast sandwich joint, complain about the shitty Los Angeles drivers surrounding him, and talk about the act of becoming a household name, Dean spoke words that I never imagined I’d be hearing from a man behind the albums that have shaped our palates for years: “Hey, what’s your phone number? I’ll send you a meme.”

The meme, which he chuckled about as it emerged in my inbox, was of Godzilla and King Kong duking it out—Godzilla was labeled Donda, while Kong was labeled Certified Lover Boy, the title of the other biggest album in the world right now. In a second frame, the “Bonk” Dog emerges, scaring them both away, with the word Echoplex written just above the dog’s baseball bat in reference to Dean’s live visual album. Mike Dean couldn’t be any happier that he’s being used as a meme. And I couldn’t be any happier that Mike Dean is sending me memes.

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