The 20 Best DJ Dahi Beats (So Far)
If you don’t know his name (born Dacoury Natche), then you definitely know his beats: Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Money Trees’, Dom Kennedy’s ‘My Type of Party’, Freddie Gibbs’ ‘Bout It, Bout It’. He’s co-produced alongside the D.R.U.G.S. (Dirty Rotten Underground Sound) team who have done work with Iggy Azalea and Ty Dolla $ign, but he didn’t initially start out as a producer. He majored in American studies and film at college, but couldn’t resist the pull of production, and moved back to his home of L.A. to pursue his dream. After interning and struggling financially for years, he’s finally starting to get recognition as the go-to guy for surefire heatrocks. He didn’t start listening to rap until college, he’s shouted out Purity Ring, Sigur Ros, and The Neighbourhood on Twitter, and one of his favorite albums of all time is RJD2’s ‘Deadringer’. DJ Dahi is not your average wizard on the boards.
Now the producer’s phone is blowing up after another high-profile album placement on the most anticipated LP of the year – Drake’s ‘Nothing Was The Same’. 40 is the craftsman behind Drizzy’s singular sound, but even he couldn’t deny ‘Worst Behaviour’, which is being hailed online as one of the standout tracks on the album. And Dahi’s got a couple more big surprises up his sleeve. Time will tell where his next blockbuster beat ends up, but for now let’s catch up on the best work of his career so far.
Smoke DZA – ‘K.O.N.Y.’ (2012)
DZA has always had a knack for beat selection, and his ‘K.O.N.Y.’ mixtape reflects his exceptional taste, with contributions from Harry Fraud, Lee Bannon, and Ski Beatz. Sequencing, however, is an under appreciated art, and DZA knew exactly which beat to spark the tape with. Dahi pairs a stuttering, bottom-heavy drum pattern with a mesmerizing chant for a beat that sounds like a tomb-raiding anthem, perfect for plodding through tunnels with glimpses of phantasmal light slicing in. It sets the right mood for a consistently sinister project.
Mac Miller Feat. Waka Flocka Flame – ‘Dog Pound’ (2012)
This, like a lot of Mac’s recent output, is weird. No other way to put it. Waka sounds raspy and restrained while Mac flexes a couple different flows, but it’s the beat that pulls it all together with waning synth horns and loose, disjointed percussion that recalls ?uestlove’s funk sound or Dilla’s drunken, offbeat style. Ride out to this as the sun sets and the leaves begin to turn.
TiRon – ‘Take A Bow’ (2010)
TiRon and Ayomari have been working with Natche since 2009, and on TiRon’s critically-acclaimed ‘MSTRD’, the producer finished the tape with two soulful beats. The final track, ‘Take A Bow’, lifts the classic Temptations drum break that punches while strings soar behind it and TiRon takes a victory lap. Dahi’s beats from a couple years back are steeped in more of a cut and paste technique that’s reminiscent of early Kanye, but as he progressed his sound became much more individualized (although you can hear traces of his current style in the drums on ‘For Your Smile’).
KRNDN – ‘Cuban Link Gucci Rope’ (2013)
Strong Arm Steady has put out some criminally underrated material in the last couple of years and individual members have followed suit in 2013, from Mitchy Slick’s ‘Feet Match The Paint’ to Krondon’s ‘Everything’s Nothing’. On his first solo project, Kron recruited guests like TeeFlii and Kobe atop immaculate production from DJ Khalil, Cardo, and others, but DJ Dahi slid him a banger that layers sparse 808s with aquatic effects and builds up to a piano-sprinkled chorus. Dahi’s mixing is often a strong point, and here it’s highlighted by alternating finger snaps and snares.
D&D – ‘Swallow’ (2013)
The greatest producers have always shown a gift for traversing genres, so Dahi dabbled with R&B group D&D for their less-than-euphemistic ‘Swallow’. Busy hi-hats and Timbo-esque vocal scratches fill out the verses, providing nimble energy before it slows to a seductive crawl during the chorus. The track is bookmarked by keys and shooting star synths that are somewhat more romantic than the title might suggest.
Schoolboy Q – ‘Sexting’ (2012)
It’s hard to tell whether the pinched flute in ‘Sexting’ is a sample or not, but it still transports you to an opium-filled sex den in Thailand before tectonic grooves give Q a chunky plateau to talk nasty on. Dahi plugged Puffy with this blustery standout amongst dazzling production from THC, Dave Free, and Nez & Rio on the excellent ‘Habits and Contradictions’.
Spenzo – ‘Get Money’ (2013)
Many seemed to gloss over Chicago artist Spenzo’s ‘In Spenzo We Trust’ mixtape from earlier this year, but those who’ve heard it know that it’s not to be missed. At a concise 12 tracks, the mixtape is potent without being long-winded, and Spenzo managed to score two heaters from Dahi (‘Heaven Can Wait’ and ‘Get Money’). Either one could have made this list, but ‘Get Money’ wins out for urgent hand drums and spacey vocal chops that put Dahi in a class of his own.
Casey Veggies Feat. Dom Kennedy – ‘She In My Car’ (2013)
Casey Veggies and Dom Kennedy link up for some authentic sun-splashed raps over a springy Dahi beat that embodies West Coast weather. Casey wanted something smooth for his album, and the upbeat production smiles like it’s hittin’ switches after visiting the dispensary.
Fashawn – ‘In Love With A Lie’ (2012)
Part of why Dahi’s beats stand out is because he often foregoes samples for original sounds, spawning idiosyncratic beats like “In Love With A Lie”. Melancholy keys match Fashawn’s bemoaning verses about fame, privacy and expectations while the beat floats with stomping kicks and buzzing zaps.
Buddha G – ‘Redemption’ (2012)
Early on, Natche worked with California rappers Buddha G and Senbei, utilizing more traditional sounds before he began experimenting. On ‘Redemption’, a sped-up soul sample and some vintage underground drums are the ingredients that give us some insight into what Dahi’s sound was before he began getting major.
Warm Brew – ‘Lightbulb Effect’ (2013)
There aren’t nearly enough people talking about Warm Brew, but those who know are well aware of how dope they are. Lighthearted and as conducive to a good time as their namesake, the squad got ahold of two Dahi beats (the other being ‘We Don’t Know’) for their latest breezy project, ‘The Ride’. This Blue Notes flip is as laid back as a spliff in the summertime.
K. Fly – ‘Rawks’ (2013)
The cohesiveness of Dahi’s sound can be attributed in part to Timbaland’s body of work. The feeling of their beats is equal parts street-friendly and club-ready. The Virginia heatmaker’s influence is the heaviest on this record from K. Flay, whose ‘What If It Is’ EP was released by RCA this past August and features the inimitable Danny Brown on a different song. Complete with shifty drums and an exotic vocal snippet on loop, ‘Rawks’ is equal parts melodic hypnosis and stone cold neck snapping s–t.
Senbei – ‘When It Rains’ (2005)
Way back in 2005, DJ Dahi produced a 3 track EP called ‘A.D.D. (Alumni Didn’t Die)’ with Senbei, the West Coast rapper mentioned earlier. All three of the beats are crack, but this one hooks you with a somber sample and a moaning vocal chop. Everybody loves a song suited for a rainy day.
Freddie Gibbs – ‘Stay Down’ (2012)
‘Baby Face Killa’ was another project blessed with dual DJ Dahi beats, and once again they’re both of the highest quality. ‘BFK’ is Gangsta Gibbs’ best work to date, and Dahi was able to shed some light on Gibbs’ darker side via ‘Bout It Bout It’ before taking us for a blunted soul ride on ‘Stay Down’. Freaking Lou Courtney’s lonely howl, this might be the freshest track Gibbs has ever spit on.
Pac Div Feat. Kurupt & DJ Battlecat – ‘Fuck Y’all’ (2012)
Pac Div must have gotten the same two-for-one deal that other artists on this list got, seeing how Dahi did the intro to ‘GMB’ along with this snarling middle finger of a record. The beat, which was originally an instrumental called “Tetris” on Dahi’s 2011 beat tape ‘Toys’, finesses multiple snares and incorporates a plethora of varied synthesizer effects. Natche’s style also has remnants of Chuck Inglish’s clean, hard-hitting technique, but here there are more sounds intricately communicating.
Travis Scott – ‘Hell Of A Night’ (2013)
Not to be confused with the Schoolboy Q record that the NBA leaked and Dahi also produced (shocker – it’s banging too), this was on Scott’s debut mixtape ‘Owl Pharaoh’. You would think that the young producer extraordinaire who helped craft beats on ‘Yeezus’ wouldn’t need any help on the boards, but Dahi is just that nice (and he’s in good company – Toro Y Moi, Mike Dean, Emile, and Young Chop are some of the producers credited on the mixtape). With help from Rey Reel and fellow Cali beatsmith Rahki, Dahi crafted the first part of the beat around a Fleet Foxes sample (one of his favorite bands) before the beat switches completely and takes on a darker ‘Twisted Fantasy’ feel. Take away Scott’s ‘808’s and Heartbreaks’ impression and you’ve got immaculate conception.
Dom Kennedy – ‘P H’ (2012)
You might know Dahi’s more popular production (‘My Type of Party’) from Dom Kennedy’s seasonal soundtrack ‘Yellow Album’. The single found it’s way onto radio airwaves when it dropped last year and eventually got the remix treatment . ‘P + H’ is the album’s closer, a mellow farewell from the West Coast summer sojourner that could lull you to sleep if it weren’t for Dahi’s ridiculous production. Drums with max legroom and keyboards that glint off water like the sun at dusk. ‘P + H’ emotes just that – peace and happiness.
Skeme – ‘Living’ (2012)
Less is more. Dahi keeps it simple with an infectious piano loop and shaking hi-hats (tambourines?) as Skeme tells enemies to rest in piss. It’s a beautifully effective format that spotlights the raps and demonstrates that sometimes all you need to make great music is an ear for melody.
Grande Marshall – ‘Ellie Fox’ (2012)
Grande Marshall’s debut ‘800’ was one of the best projects of 2012, point blank period. Working with a gang of talented producers, Grande had the sense of mind to enlist Dahi for two tracks. One is the moving intro ‘Dearly Beloved’, which showcases the rapper’s vigorous, almost cathartic delivery. The other is ‘Ellie Fox’, a wintery lullaby that sways like it’s on sizzurp with layers building up and melting away. It would fit right into the score for a reflective scene from ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’, touching on love, death, and flesh. The beat is simply stunning.
Kendrick Lamar Feat. Jay Rock – ‘Money Trees’ (2012)
You’re producing on the biggest rap music event album of 2012. You’ve placed a beat alongside Just Blaze, Pharrell, and Hit-Boy. And yours is the hottest one on the whole damn thing? It birthed as popular of a catchphrase in “ya bish” as the album’s fourth single (‘Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe’) and it spurred Jay Rock to drop his best verse in years. But best of all, the beat rattles your jaw so hard that you’ve gotta pause it before you even rewind it. Bowel-loosening drums and a Beach House sample delivered in screens make every other song on the album sound weak in comparison. ‘Money Trees’ solidified DJ Dahi as a go-to heatmaker.