Cool & Dre: Nice and Smooth

Good producers come a dime a dozen, and great ones are even rarer. In time, the Miami-based duo known as Cool & Dre could be classified as the latter. While their name may remain alien outside of rap, their beats should ring multiple bells—Ja Rule’s “New York” and the Game’s “Hate it Or Love It” […]

Good producers come a dime a dozen, and great ones are even rarer. In time, the Miami-based duo known as Cool & Dre could be classified as the latter. While their name may remain alien outside of rap, their beats should ring multiple bells—Ja Rule’s “New York” and the Game’s “Hate it Or Love It” to name a few. The 28-year-olds are maintaining their hustle on upcoming albums for Mary J. Blige, Diddy, and Snoop Dogg, and were even tapped to score NBA Live 2005 and 2006. The launch of their imprint, Epidemic Records, should propel them further into the spotlight. Speaking on behalf of the twosome, Dre recounts their long history, some fabricated Neptune bitterness, and updates us on how Cool & Dre come back with more hits. Where’s Cool?

Dre: Cool has been in the hospital for three or four weeks. He had major surgery done, and when he got out the next day, his father died. Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.

Dre: So we’ve kinda been giving him some time to, you know. He’s had a rough past two months. Okay. So being that both of you are working as a production team, who exactly is responsible for what?

Dre: Well, everything we do is together. Cool is technically [trained]. Like, he’s the n***a with the laptop, and he makes sure that we got all the music with us and all of that. As far as creatively, we do the same thing. I do more songwriting than Cool does. When we do R&B records, I do the majority of the writing. But as far as the music is concerned, we do all of it together. Yeah, people might not know that you’ve also written hooks. Is that a major part of your producing as well?

Dre: Yeah, we do a lot of hooks and we make it easy for the artist to just go in and do what they gotta do. Are there ever any disagreements with you two over what artist should get which beat or things of that nature?

Dre: Me and Cool have known each other since ’92. We used to sing in an R&B group back in the day. So all those arguments, we got that out of our blood years ago. We’ve known each other for so long. His wife is like a sister to me. I’ve known his wife longer than I’ve known Cool. When we argue creatively, it’s just bulls**t. We kinda argue for nothing. We’ve been through so much, it’s like the only thing that could probably break us up is if n***as are stealing—the stupid s**t that we don’t do because we’re just too close. When would you say that you guys really started getting recognized for your beats, like, what track set it off?

Dre: There wasn’t a track really. I think just working with Fat Joe, when Joe did the J.O.S.E. album and we would be in the studio working with him and Tony Sunshine. People would be in the studio—you know, everyone checks Joe to talk about what’s going on, everyone goes to Fat Joe with their problems—so a lot of rappers would come in and hear s**t and be like, “Who’s that, who’s that?” So we got familiar with a lot of rappers without even a record being out. [But] it’s not like we came out of nowhere. We been f**king with Jadakiss for years. But now it’s like—everyone in the industry was always like, “Yo, those Cool & Dre guys are just a hit away. Once they get a hit, they’re gonna be on and popping.” Me and Cool, we have a history because of our relationship with Fat Joe. I mean, he introduced us to every rapper, and a few radio personalities and DJs. And they know. They kind of just were waiting for us to get that one hit. What’s the craziest thing that a rapper or singer has said to you guys after you brought them a track?

Dre: [Long Pause] When we did the “New York” record for Ja Rule, when I played the beat, him and Irv Gotti looked at the speakers, and Ja looked at me and was like—he couldn’t believe it, he was like, “Yo, it sounds like something’s wrong with the speakers.” He was like, “Yo, this s**t is crazy! I can’t explain it. What is this?” He never heard anything like that before. I read that Diddy actually sent the producers working on his upcoming album to go back and make new beats. What was that about?

Dre: Oh, yeah. Puff is so funny. Diddy is like an idol to me. I look up to Diddy. He’s working on his new album and yo, he was throwing everybody under the bus. [Laughs] I’m talking ‘bout big time producers. And every time we came with something, he would just be like, “Nah, that ain’t it.” It got to the point to where he would be playfully booing us. People thought there was beef because—I heard that on the Internet, they were like, Puffy booed Cool & Dre. But not in a bad way. He does it jokingly, like, “Booo. Until I get my beat, I’m booing y’all n***as.” But on a funny tip cause that’s my ni**a. So, yeah, he’s trying to make a phenom move with his new album. And I think Timbaland’s been making crack for him, working close with him. I think we finally got him a beat though. Yeah?

Dre: Finally, not a word. He hasn’t called me back to say no way. There was one or two times I thought we was good, and he would be like, “Nah go back and work, n***a. That ain’t it.” Going back to this R&B group Basic Unity, was singing your original dream?

Dre: Yeah, we [wanted to be] like Boyz II Men and Jodeci and all that s**t. We just ended up on the producing side sooner ‘cause ain’t nobody was making our beats. So me and Cool were just like, “F**k it, let’s try our hand at producing.” How competitive is the producing game?

Dre: You know, some people take it as competition. Cool and me, we’re very competitive people. Me, more so than Cool. But when it comes to making music, we just like to make music. I’m not trying to be better than the next man or this and that. I just enjoy the music. And us being from Miami, being from a city [that’s] now becoming known for putting out great records, we’ve always been knocked as far as the music scene is concerned, so being from where we’re from, to be able to make it out of Miami to creating music and make a good living is great. If this was the peak of our career, I would be satisfied. I’d be cool with it. I’d be like, aiight, we accomplished something. We’re on the cover of The Source. Which producer would you say you guys get compared to the most as far as beats?

Dre: Yeah, we get compared to the Neptunes a lot. At a certain point, every magazine that mentioned Cool & Dre would mention the Neptunes and say, “they’re the new Neptunes” or “out with the old, in with the new.” And it’s crazy ‘cause that can create fiction that you don’t even create. It puts a vibe out there to where if I’m the Neptunes, even though they’re so much more accomplished than me and Cool are, [it’s] like, “Yo, who the f**k these n***as think they are? What, they’re the new Neptunes?” So it can create friction and I think that I would see Pharrell in certain places and we wouldn’t even exchange hellos or anything like that. And one night in Miami, the “Hate it or Love it” record came on and he was there and we spoke. We shook hands, and we exchanged compliments and pleasantries and I was like, “Yo, don’t let the magazines and all this media s**t create something that’s not there ‘cause I’m a fan.” I look up to the Neptunes. I hit him with the s**t that he was doing in 1994 before anyone knew who the f**k they was. I’ve always followed producers. Like, in 1994 they did “Use Your Heart” for SWV. I was like, “Yo, I know about that. I’ve been following your career. First time I heard about you wasn’t Mystikal, it wasn’t Nore.” And that impressed him, and he was like, “Yo, I dig y’all s**t too.” And it was a good thing that we spoke because you kind of eliminate the bulls**t. Now, with your label, Epidemic Records, what are you trying to do with that?

Dre: Well, we have a deal with Jive and we have an artist named Dirtbag, so we’re trying to get him popping and bring out new people from Miami. We’re just trying to make classic material. We wanna do how Dre’s done it. When [Dre] dropped The Chronic, it changed Pop culture. Are you two going to be working with any up-and-coming artists who you’re really excited about?

Dre: Yeah, we did a record with this new kid called Chris Brown, he’s dope. He’s really talented. He’s a singer. Believe it or not, I’m excited about Lil E. Eazy E, he has an older son, 17 or 18. I hung out with him in L.A. and [his] vibe is so crazy. I heard his music, it’s dope. So me and Cool did a really hot record with them. I’m excited about Teairra Mari even though her album just dropped. We did a really hot record with her. I think we might have the next single after the second single. What’s your main objective as producers at this point in the game?

Dre: Just to continue to create good music. And hopefully the music that we create is not only real good but successful, too. I mean, we had our Number One hit record, and we’d like to get a couple more of those. We [also] want to really pop off Epidemic and get this popping and put our people out. I mean, we’re still fairly young dudes. We got time to grow, a lot of our peers are older than us so we have time to still grow and get better. We’re always just trying to get better.