Legendary Rap Producer

Rap Producer Mike Dean Launches New Label

Producer Mike Dean, known for his work with Scarface, Ghetto Boys, Do or Die, UGK, the Weeknd, Beyoncé and more, is launching a new record label, Apex Sound, with longtime collaborator Apex Martin. Its first signing is New York-based singer, composer and producer Sash. The SoundCloud regular releases the noir-ish single and its equally dusky video, “Lemon Sorbet,” today, ahead of a debut project called “Bittersweet” scheduled for release on December 2.

“Apex has been telling me for years about Sash, but then again, he’s been telling me about a lot artists who are popping now,” Dean told Variety. Acknowledging that he has long appreciated Martin’s music and beats (he’s been signed to Dean’s M.W.A. Records since 2017), Dean believes that his partner in Apex Sound has his ears finely “tuned to the culture.”

For his part, Martin — who produced and co-produced records by Future, Ty Dolla $ign and the late PNB Rock — calls meeting Dean “some crazy shit. I used to hit him up every day on Twitter to the point that he started replying. Then, I began DM-ing Mike for him to give me his email address so I could send him some beats. He would give me feedback for a number of years until we met. When we did hook up, we chilled, we smoked… Our relationship was organic. Never forced or industry.”

Though Martin has plans to produce projects and release music through Apex Sound in the future, his and Dean’s focus, at present, is on Sash. “The first time I heard Sash’s music, it sounded like something I had heard before, but also sounded fresh and new,” says Martin. “There was something there already, a potential for him to find his own way and his own style. He writes and records his own music, and has total say, even down to the beats. He’s intuitive and hands-on.”

To that end, Sash co-produced each of his six tracks on the upcoming “Bittersweet” with Martin, while Dean has a hand in three. “Sash influenced the whole project down to the sound choices that I made… the beats and the synths,” says Martin. “No matter what song you pick on the project, you’re going to understand why we use the word ‘bittersweet’ as the title. Some of the song’s notions may be sad and delicate, but the beat is hard. Or we’ll be saying brasher things, softly. That’s the duality of Sash.”

“It’s all a vibe… lots of layers, all delicate, all tied together,” adds Dean.

Apex Sound’s business model centers on “fast cycles” and “small packages of six songs-or-under,” says Dean. “We’ll get more attention putting out six great songs, than say, 18 good tracks.”

Martin calls these Apex Sound releases, “little packets, so that we don’t lose you. People have really short attention spans now.”

The co-founders also point to the label’s sonic profile as a key factor in its future signings. “We’re trying to make music that doesn’t emphasize money, misogyny, violence or shit like that,” says Martin. “We influence the culture, whether we know it or not. The less that I can add to that fire, I’m good on it. I just want to make clean, quality music. Trust me, bro. We’re bringing the real shit back, because so much of it now is so un-organic.”

Adds Dean: “Too many people are getting killed. We’re definitely not trying to make violent music. All that is played out.” S: Variety