Mike Dean (record producer)

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Mike Dean
Birth nameMichael George Dean
Also known as
  • Freaky Dean
  • Vador
  • Synth God
Born (1965-03-01) March 1, 1965 (age 58)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
GenresHip hop
  • Record producer
  • audio engineer
  • songwriter
  • multi-instrumentalist
  • Guitar
  • keyboards
  • piano
  • bass guitar
Years active1983–present

Michael George Dean (born March 1, 1965) is an American record producer, audio engineer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. He is best known for his synthesizer-heavy instrumentation and audio mixing for high-profile music industry artists. He began his career in 1992, producing albums for rappers such as Scarface, Willie D, and Geto Boys, but has since worked on records for artists including the Weeknd, Beyoncé, Kanye West, Kid Cudi, Travis Scott, Jay-Z, Drake, Madonna, Selena Gomez, and Lana Del Rey, among others. As a non-vocal lead artist, Dean has released four solo studio albums: 4:20 (2020), 4:22 (2021), Smoke State 42222 (2022), and 4:23 (2023).


Dean started doing collaborations with numerous Texan artists, including Selena, for whom Dean served as musical director and producer. He began his career in hip hop while producing two albums for the Houston-based group, Def Squad, along with group member Norris Burse (Champ) and Kenny Bomer (KB) under the Mr. Henry/ Ichiban labels. Dean first became widely known for pioneering the Dirty South sound in the 1990s, particularly in work for artists from Rap-A-Lot Records.[1][2] Dean has most notably worked alongside Scarface of the Geto Boys, Do or Die, Tha Dogg Pound, Yukmouth of the Luniz, C-Bo, Nate Dogg, Tech N9ne, UGK, Z-Ro, Devin the Dude, Outlawz, and 2Pac.[3]

Dean went on to mix, produce, and master widely throughout American hip hop. He has become known for producing work with Kanye West. After initially contributing to the mixing of West's albums The College Dropout and Late Registration, Dean contributed as producer on West's albums Graduation, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Yeezus, The Life of Pablo, Ye, and Donda.[4] He also co-produced with West on his collaboration album with Jay-Z, Watch the Throne. Dean was an additional producer on "Mercy" and "Higher" on GOOD Music's 2012 compilation album Cruel Summer. Dean has made particularly heavy contributions on West's last albums and is credited on most tracks.

In recent years, Mike Dean has served as a regular guitarist and keyboardist for West and Travis Scott at their live performances, headlining numerous music festivals, the Watch the Throne Tour, the Yeezus Tour, and Scott's Birds Eye View Tour as well as the Astroworld – Wish You Were Here Tour. Dean has also been a frequent collaborator with Scott. Dean's production has appeared on every one of Scott's musical bodies of work since 2013. In 2016, Dean mastered Frank Ocean's visual album Endless, wrote and produced tracks on Desiigner's mixtape New English, and produced Desiigner's single "Tiimmy Turner".[5][6]

In May 2017, Dean announced he was launching a record label by the name of M.W.A.[7] When asked what made him decide that now would be the best time to unveil his new record label, Dean responded: "Just a lot of new young artists that's been asking to get down with me and have me work on their projects and help them get deals. I figured I'd start a label and sign some new acts. Seems like a good time to start it. I got a studio out here [in Los Angeles] and I'm able to meet a lot of new artists."[7] When asked the meaning of M.W.A, Dean answered: "That's just what I call myself when I DJ. Mexican Wrestling Association. It's something that I've done with the merch, so I just figured I'd keep the name going."[7] He also revealed Dice Soho the first artist he signed to M.W.A: "One of my homies Gustavo Guerra brought [Dice Soho] to me. I think he's gonna be the next wave out of Houston. I picked him up. Dice has a nice swag."[7]

He released an instrumental mixtape, 4:20, on April 20, 2020.[8] On May 20, 2021, Lana Del Rey's single "Wildflower Wildfire" was released, which was produced by Dean. In an interview with Anthony Fantano before the song's release, Dean said that he was "planning on working with [Del Rey] a lot".[9]

Since 2022, Dean has had several further collaborations with the Weeknd, who Dean has worked with on the Weeknd's 2015 album Beauty Behind the Madness, as well as his single "Where You Belong" for the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack. Dean contributed live arrangements to the Weeknd's co-headlining performances with Swedish House Mafia at the 2022 Coachella festival. Dean has since been an opening act on the Weeknd's After Hours til Dawn Tour, during which his arrangements have been included in the Weeknd's shows. Dean also created a remix for the Weeknd's song "Starry Eyes" from his album Dawn FM, which Dean has performed live in his opening sets on the tour. Dean contributed the musical arrangements for the "After Hours Nightmare" Halloween Horror Nights haunted houses at Universal Studios Florida and Hollywood. In 2023, Dean contributed live arrangements to Metro Boomin's performances at Coachella, during which the Weeknd appeared as a special guest; Dean also appeared as a guest musician during 070 Shake's performance during the second weekend of the festival. He co-wrote and produced the Weeknd's single "Double Fantasy" (featuring Future) for the soundtrack of the Weeknd's HBO series The Idol, which Dean is part of the starring cast of, and premiered on June 4. Dean released his fourth mixtape, 4:23, which the Weeknd co-produced, on April 29.


Studio albums

Live albums

  • Echoplex (Live 2021) (2021)

Production discography[edit]


  • Def Squad, Texas





































Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2023 The Idol Himself Guest star [29]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result Ref.
2005 The College Dropout (as engineer/mixer) Album of the Year Nominated [30]
2006 "Gold Digger" (as engineer/mixer) Record of the Year Nominated
Late Registration (as engineer/mixer) Best Rap Album Won
Album of the Year Nominated
2008 Graduation (as engineer) Nominated
Best Rap Album Won
"Good Life" (as songwriter) Best Rap Song Won
2012 My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (as engineer/mixer) Best Rap Album Won
2013 "Niggas in Paris" (as songwriter) Best Rap Song Won
"Mercy" (as songwriter) Nominated
2014 "New Slaves" (as songwriter) Nominated
2015 "Bound 2" (as songwriter) Nominated
2016 "All Day" (as songwriter) Nominated
Beauty Behind the Madness (as producer) Album of the Year Nominated
2017 Lemonade (as producer) Nominated
Purpose (as producer) Nominated
"Famous" (as songwriter) Best Rap Song Nominated
"Ultralight Beam" (as songwriter) Nominated
2019 "Sicko Mode" (as songwriter) Nominated
2021 Jesus Is King (as engineer/mixer) Best Contemporary Christian Music Album Won
2022 "Jail" (as songwriter) Best Rap Song Won
Donda (as producer/songwriter) Album of the Year Nominated
2023 Renaissance (as producer/songwriter) Nominated

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kelley, Frannie; Muhammad, Ali Shaheed (27 June 2013). "Mike Dean On Working With Selena, Scarface And Kanye". NPR. Retrieved 2015-08-30.
  2. ^ Pikblo, J. (24 June 2013). "Kanye Producer Mike Dean Talks Yeezus". Retrieved 2015-08-30.
  3. ^ HipHopDX (15 February 2010). "Producer's Corner: Mike Dean". Retrieved 2015-08-30.
  4. ^ "Beat Construction: Mike Dean". Retrieved 2015-08-30.
  5. ^ Schwartz, Danny (28 June 2016). "5 Producers You May Not Know On Desiigner's "New English"". Hotnewhiphop. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  6. ^ Boykins, Austin (29 June 2016). "Desiigner Teases Upcoming "Timmy Turner" Track With Mike Dean". Hypebeast. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d "Mike Dean Talks Launching New M.W.A. Label & Signing First Artist Dice Soho". Billboard. May 2017. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  8. ^ Strauss, Matthew (20 April 2020). "Producer/Multi-Instrumentalist Mike Dean Releases New Mixtape 4:20". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2020-04-21.
  9. ^ Newstead, Al (21 May 2021). "Surprise! Lana Del Rey just dropped three new songs". Triple J. Retrieved 23 May 2021.
  10. ^ Schwartz, Zachary (April 20, 2020). "Kanye West and Travis Scott Producer Mike Dean Releases His Long-Awaited Debut Album". Rolling Stone. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  11. ^ Groundwater, Colin (April 26, 2021). "Mike Dean's Playlist Is a Synth Voyage". GQ. Condé Nast. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  12. ^ Ech, Joey (22 April 2022). "Pusha T, Blxst, Mike Dean and More - New Hip-Hop Projects This Week". XXL Mag. Retrieved 2022-04-23.
  13. ^ "Sherm – Sherm Smoke". Discogs. 30 October 2001. Retrieved 2016-05-17.
  14. ^ "Listen To Kid Cudi's Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin' Now". Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  15. ^ Mamo, Heran (January 10, 2020). "Selena Gomez Dreams of Adele Singing 'Lose You to Love Me' & 6 More Highlights From 'Rare' Release Party". Billboard. MRC. Retrieved April 6, 2022.
  16. ^ Hermes, Will (January 14, 2020). "070 Shake Charts Inner Desire and Outer Space on 'Modus Vivendi'". Rolling Stone. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved April 6, 2022.
  17. ^ Draughorne, Kenan (March 30, 2020). "Review: Don Tolliver Steps Into The Spotlight On 'Heaven Or Hell'". HipHopDX. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  18. ^ Brake, David Aaron (July 16, 2020). "Review: Pop Smoke's No. 1 Album Proves He Was A Star Outside Of 50 Cent & Quavo's Help". HipHopDX. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  19. ^ Elder, Sajae (August 10, 2020). "Burna Boy shares details about new album, Twice as Tall". The Fader. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  20. ^ Yang, Rachel (December 7, 2020). "Kid Cudi releases final album in Man on the Moon trilogy". Entertainment Weekly. Dotdash Meredith. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  21. ^ a b Eustice, Kyle (December 3, 2021). "Producer of the Year Mike Dean on Kanye West's 'Chaotic' 'Donda' Sessions and Vibing With Lana Del Rey". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  22. ^ Pierre, Alphonse (October 13, 2021). "Don Toliver - Life of a DON". Pitchfork. Condé Nast. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  23. ^ "Mike Dean and Rich the Kid Link Up for New Song "Blue Cheese"". Complex. Retrieved 2022-04-23.
  24. ^ Empire, Kitty (January 15, 2022). "FKA twigs: Caprisongs review – party tunes and hard-won notes to self". The Guardian. Retrieved April 6, 2022.
  25. ^ "https://twitter.com/therealmikedean/status/1512280119598993408?s=46&t=xapq6zRUPT_0J78QUE9jIA". Twitter. Retrieved 2023-03-23. {{cite web}}: External link in |title= (help)
  26. ^ "Pusha T Releases New Album It's Almost Dry: Listen and Read the Full Credits". Pitchfork. 2022-04-22. Retrieved 2022-04-23.
  27. ^ "Megan Thee Stallion Unleashes Her New Banger "Plan B"". iHeart. Retrieved 2022-04-23.
  28. ^ "Christine and the Queens is working on a new album". 9 November 2022.
  29. ^ Petski, Dade Hayes,Denise; Hayes, Dade; Petski, Denise (2022-08-21). "'The Idol': HBO Releases New Teaser For Music Industry Drama". Deadline. Retrieved 2022-08-22.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  30. ^ "Mike Dean". GRAMMY.com. 15 December 2020.

External links[edit]